By Dudley Rutherford
A well-known, yet misguided, quote says, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” The opposite is actually true. What happens in Vegas can stay with you the rest of your life.
In California, we have our own adage that rings true: “What happens in California will sweep across the country within 10 years.” My guess is it’s actually two or three years, but who’s counting?
When I think of the moral decline on display in California today, the only word that comes to mind is avalanche. And I am not talking about a little snowball rolling down a mountain that becomes the size of a large boulder. I’m talking about a mountain of snow, breaking loose and cascading down with tsunami-like power and destroying anything in its path.
I hope you get the idea, because it’s coming to a town like yours.
Let me paint a little picture of reality here in California. Here are four laws that even I can’t believe our state Legislature has passed in recent years:
• Passed into law on August 2013: AB-1266 is known as “the bathroom bill”; it states that any child can go into any bathroom, shower, locker room, or be on any sports team he or she desires. If your daughter in junior high comes home from school and tells you there were boys in the locker room or bathroom, there is nothing you can do about it. It’s the law of the land.
• Passed into law in July 2011: SB-48 requires all public school teachers in every grade to teach the value, history, and achievements of homosexuals for an entire month. It was called the “role model bill.” If a teacher who is a Christian refuses to comply, that teacher can lose his or her teaching credential.
• Passed by the House and Senate and waiting on the governor’s signature: SB-1306 would remove all references of “male” and “female” as well as “husband” and “wife” in the state’s Family Code, and replace these words with “spouse” and/or “married persons,” thereby removing any and all references to gender identity.
• And one of the most shocking bills that recently passed: AB-154 allows nonphysicians to perform abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy. This means nurses and nonphysician staff at clinics are now able to obtain an abortion license, making it much easier to destroy the life of an unborn child.
You might be asking, “How in the world do these laws get passed?” The simple answer is that we, the people of California, keep voting for and putting into office left-leaning politicians. Currently, our Legislature is comprised of two bodies: the California Assembly (55 Democrats and 24 Republicans) and the California Senate (28 Democrats and 12 Republicans). It amazes me that only 83 elected members of the California State Legislature, plus our governor, are passing laws that 38 million-plus Californians must abide by. And because Democrats have a supermajority (two-thirds of the representatives) in both the Senate and Assembly, liberal lawmakers can pretty much do whatever they please. A conservative member of the Legislature recently told me people would be shocked if they knew the vast majority of time spent in the halls of Sacramento discussing and voting on issues that further the homosexual agenda.
It was therefore no surprise when I read an article in the Los Angeles Times on June 30, 2014, entitled, “There’s Been a Tectonic Change in Sacramento.” It was about the first-ever elected lesbian
Assembly speaker, Toni Atkins, and how 20 years ago, you would not have seen a lesbian Assembly speaker walking to the rostrum holding hands with and kissing her partner as other members of the State Legislature gave her a standing ovation in front of news cameras on the day she was sworn in. (Just so you know, the Assembly speaker is considered the second most powerful post in state government.)
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the next logical step will be for these same legislators to pass laws condemning anyone who holds the biblical view of marriage and making it a hate crime to simply speak the truth. Yes, it’s coming—and it’s coming quickly—that pastors and Christians will lose their religious freedoms and face many forms of persecution in the U.S.
My point is that what’s happening in California is sweeping across America. In just one generation we have personally witnessed the complete reversal of the culture’s definition of good and evil.
We all remember when marriage was considered as a union between only a man and a woman. Today that opinion will get you labeled as a hater and a homophobe.
Most of us can remember when life inside the womb was just as sacred as life outside of the womb. Today if you hold that opinion you will be blamed for instigating a war against women.
I remember when pornography was considered sinful and degrading. Today it is glorified and found on almost every phone, computer, and tablet. I also remember when the Ten Commandments of a holy God were posted on the walls of every public school across this land. Today anyone who even refers to God in a public setting is accused of being narrow-
minded and bigoted.
As I watch this avalanche sweeping across our country, I find myself earnestly and prayerfully searching for what we, as Christians, should do. In Ezekiel 33, God clearly instructed the prophet to be a watchman on the wall and to diligently sound the warning of incoming danger. Although I fully agree with sounding the warning, as I’ve done in this article, I would also like to give some simple and concrete action steps that may help stem the tide and turn this nation back to God before it’s too late.
We need bold preachers who are willing to stand in the gap. Our preachers must not be afraid to speak in love regarding the biblical principles of marriage, protecting the life of the unborn, and lifting up God’s Word as the standard for our way of life. Second Timothy 4:3 exhorts us to preach not what people want to hear, but what they need to hear. Let’s not be afraid to call people to repentance and encourage everyone to live godly lives in Christ Jesus.
In Matthew 4:17, we see that Jesus preached a message of repentance. We should do the same. As we are emboldened in our message, I believe our people will be emboldened in their walks with Christ.
We need to lift up Jesus, in all things and in all ways. Jesus alone can save. As John 3:14, 15 declares, “The Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
I am always mindful that, because of the direction we are headed, our nation may have only two options. One is judgment and the other is revival. It’s one or the other. I believe unequivocally that revival is possible. I pray for it. I work toward it. I long for it. And the secret is to keep preaching Jesus, high and lifted up. He will draw all men unto himself, and he will lead men and women to turn from their sin and turn to him.
Let’s positively and completely lift Jesus as high as we can—in our preaching, in our testimonies, and in word and deed.
We must love people in the midst of their greatest need. Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Luke 5:31). He envisioned himself as gingerly caring for those who are in need and healing those who are ill.
All around us are hurting people who are lost, lonely, confused, and empty. They are trapped in sin and blinded by the evil one. Our response should be that of a tenderhearted physician who goes to great lengths to care for, love, compassionately address, and offer up hope and solutions to even the gravest of situations. Christ, our Lord, mastered this delicate balance, and so can we.
We can’t be afraid to get involved and encourage Christian men and women to run for office. Imagine if we could find just 10 Christians in California who would run for office and help get them elected. The difference in just 10 votes by God-fearing people would be enough to reverse some of these perilous laws that are being passed. I know we, as Christians, are mocked and ridiculed by many, but if we banded together and exercised our God-given rights as citizens of the United States of America, we could help stem the tide.
Lastly, we ought to be prepared to endure the coming persecution. Second Corinthians 11:22-27 tells how Paul was flogged five times, thrown in prison again and again, stoned, and threatened at every turn. He willingly gave everything for the sake of the gospel. He encourages other believers in this manner, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). A modern-day persecution is upon us. We must be prepared to stand strong.
I am praying that our eyes are opened to the coming avalanche. We can no longer sit on the sidelines. Instead, may every believer in this great nation of ours boldly speak the truth of God’s Word in love. May we lift up the name of Jesus, while compassionately reaching out to those in need. Let us not be afraid to get involved in the political arena, encouraging God-fearing men and women to run for office, and voting for those who hold biblical values. And may we ready ourselves for the coming persecution, knowing that heavenly blessings await those who patiently endure (Matthew 5:10-12).
Dudley Rutherford serves as pastor of Shepherd of the Hills Church, Porter Ranch, California.