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Broken Censors

The fallout from the despicable Capitol storming continues, in the social sphere as well as the explicitly political. Tech corporations have silenced not only certain social media accounts, but the platform Parler, an alternative to Twitter. In principle, these communication giants are just trying to stop people from using their platforms to promote violence; but, accusations of selective enforcement of such policies call this into question. More significantly, this is only a ramping up of a pattern of technocratic suppression of conservative and Christian speech. What can we observe from what the tech giants censor, and what they permit? Because, of course, there has always been censorship. That is to say, societies have mores, and they tend to enforce those mores in some way and to some degree. I was reading the other day Francis Schaeffer’s Escape from Reason. Writing about the Marquis de Sade, Schaeffer observes that “Twenty or thirty years ago [from 1968], if anyone was found with one of his books in England he was liable to have difficulties with the law” (38). Now, Schaeffer is talking about shifting moral standards, for he goes on to say, “Today, he has become a great name in drama, in philosophy, in literature.” But I just wish to remind people that there was a time when sadistic ‘literature’ was censored—and such censorship is good for society, not only because sadism hurts people but because it appears that the (natural?) result of failing to censor immorality is that eighty years down the road you end up censoring morality. In the early 20th century in the west you could get into trouble for advocating pagan sexual morality; in the 21st, for advocating Christian sexual morality. The call for a society free of moral censorship was a transitional stage in imposing a new (im)morality, just as feminism was a transitional stage to the abolition of gender. I am not saying there is a mastermind behind these things, but that when you kick out the foundation the house will continue to crumble. And, to extend the metaphor, other people may come along and try to build something new out of the rubble, according to their own designs and with very unsound architectural principles. A morally neutral society—secular, in that sense—is an illusion. You can maintain that illusion for a while, living off the (appropriated?) social capital of residual Christendom even while denouncing it. But man is a moral animal. A new morality emerges, and it may yet prove as heavy-handed as it is immoral. Consider this: Planned Parenthood has a Twitter account. Yes, that unabashed destroyer of innocent life tweets freely. Promoting violence is, apparently, quite acceptable to Twitter. The recent social media purges, then, merely highlight the instability and double-mindedness of a society in rebellion against the Lord of Life. But the Lord is King, and His Kingdom stands in the midst of this dark world, and His victory is unstoppable. The Word of God cannot be silenced. He is exalted, and “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Php. 2:10-11, ESV). We do not need to fret or fear the turmoil around us. We do need to focus on Christ and His kingdom. The tremors in our society are an ominous but useful reminder to live as kingdom citizens in this world and in our nation: as men and women, to live lives of true discipleship; as families, to raise our children in the knowledge of the truth and the fear of the Lord; as churches, to operate as outposts of the kingdom of God, and cultivate a Christian counter-culture that has the kingship of Christ at the center. If the church did that, we might get to be the ones rebuilding the crumbled house of western civilization. Who knows? With God all things are possible. But, more importantly, our perspective must remain eternal. Nations and civilizations come and go. God is King forever, and His children persevere in this life because in the life to come they shall be with their Lord in the new heavens and new earth, where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

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