The Christian's Responsibility in a Pagan Society
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. (3:1–8)
Here Paul moves from how believers are to live in the church (chapter 2) to how they are to live in society. This is a crucial section of instruction for today. The United States essentially is now a pagan nation. After being blessed with some 150 years of strong Christian, biblical influence, our country has been rapidly declining, especially during the last half of the twentieth century. Millions of Americans still attend church regularly, and many more consider themselves to be Christians. According to polls, most Americans claim to believe in God. But practical atheism and moral relativism have dominated our society for many decades. For the most part, the few vestiges of Christianity still reflected in our culture are weak and compromising. A growing number of those vestiges have become apostate or cultic.
Many observers have referred to this period in the United States, and in Western society in general, as post-Christian. By any measure, it is certainly sub-Christian. Although many parts of our culture still wear some sort of religious mask, in reality it is largely pagan. Through its leaders, its legislative bodies, and its courts it has adopted not simply a non-Christian but a distinctively anti-Christian stance and agenda. Anything and everything that is explicitly Christian and biblical has been swept away under such guises as separation of church and state, equal rights, and religious and moral tolerance.