There are any number of dangers of a steady pop culture diet. To catch our attention Hollywood must increase the tension. The struggle must get more and more dramatic, the stakes must increase. We don’t merely hope the good guys catch the bank robber. Now they are chasing down a serial killer. It is no longer the cavalry taking on a rogue band of Indians. Now cowboys do battle with aliens intent on world conquest. In order for our heroes to be more heroic than the last hero he must face a nemesis more evil, more deadly, more grasping than the old nemesis.
Some fear that as we watch these increasingly global battles that we are increasingly desensitized to mayhem. A constant stream of explosions and stabbings and gun battles, some say, will make us blind to the horror of violence. They may be right.
My fear, however, is rather different. I’m afraid all our celluloid enemies will cause us to miss the genuine evil in our midst. I’m afraid that the monsters that are all too real miss how monstrous they are, because they so little resemble the monsters on TV. Universe colonizing aliens are not real. Serial killers are exceedingly rare. If we looked at the world through the lens of the Bible we would know how to spot real monsters—they are men who leave their wives and children. Real heroes put their pants on one leg at a time. Real villains take their pants off one leg at a time.
I’ve been to their crime scenes. I’ve seen the tear stained faces of their victims. I have listened to the heaving sobs of abandoned women. Those who are called to the role of hero here are not white-hatted cowboys. They are not grizzled detectives. They are not spandex wearing supers. They are the elders of the local church. And I have watched countless such men of Ephraim turn back in the day of battle. At best they ring their hands, wishing there were something they could do. At worst they baptize the evil in their midst with blasphemous talk of a “grace” that is not at the expense of Christ, but the expense of the wife and children.
Christ has given the church the power of the keys not because it is less potent than the sword, but because it is more potent. That virtually every “church” in America refuses to wield this great weapon isn’t mere theological folly. It isn’t merely another alarming trend toward worldliness to write learned articles about. It is silence in the face of evil, which is evil in itself. Boys were made to protect girls, and elders were made to protect families.
Rise up o men of God. The day of battle is here. Selfish evil men, who know all the right answers to all the trendy theological debates of the day, are dropping bombs on their own homes. Women and children are being torn to pieces. Man your stations. Play the man. No army, not even the Lord’s, can survive without discipline.
Basement Tape #8: Men Without Chests. This conversation among men will, we pray, not merely diagnose and bemoan the problem, but will encourage men to be men, to stand up in the name of Jesus, while others all around them fall.