By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
It’s as predictable as Chicago and Northwest Indiana snowfall during the winter months. Every year around this time, someone will file a lawsuit or wage a protest against public displays of affection for Christmas – you know, the Nativity scene or a cross topping an evergreen.
These folk rant at how they have the right NOT to accept Christianity and to either follow another line of worship or believe in no deity at all. They complain that it is an affront to be driving in their car down State Street or Broadway and be confronted with artistic figures of a baby in a manger surrounded by shepherds and kings.
So they file a lawsuit and more often than not, get their way. The Nativity scene or cross topped Christmas tree is removed.
Let’s take a moment to look at the larger picture. While there may not be an actual “War against Christians” as some of the far-right hypocrites proclaim, there is definitely a shift to making it far more acceptable in the mainstream than has been allowed in the past – except when it comes to Christ.
What do I mean? Well, look at the plots of some of your favorite television shows. There was a time when a television show featuring a married couple such as “Leave It to Beaver” or “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” had to show viewers a bedroom with two separate beds for man and wife. Even married couples weren’t allowed to give the implication that they embraced each other in bed at night, much less engaged in more intimate activities.
Now on “Empire,” two shirtless single men are graphically pawing over each other in the same king or queen bed – leaving nothing to the imagination.
Turn on BET to “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” and you can hear every profanity known to man – with the exception of the “f” words or any derivations thereof. Imagine, regular television – not cable or satellite – with expletives no longer deleted, during regular viewing hours. And you know all ages are watching.
Then consider the promiscuity that is commonplace on TV and the big screen. Maybe with half of marriages ending in divorce and seven out of 10 families in many communities headed by a single parent, the conventional concept of boy meets girl, they fall in love, run off to the church and get married, raise children who eventually raise children of their own, then retire and live happily ever, after has become a fairy tale. Maybe folks have given up on even the concept of a loving two parent home.
While too many variables to mention factor into the ultimate demise of many families, the one thing that seems absolutely unacceptable, is no longer even trying to create such a family.
Finally, it’s hard to tell the heroes from the villains any more. Characters glamorized in our society are those who look out for number one – legally or illegally. Whether one sees celebrities without a conscience, or drug dealers poisoning the air for young people desperate for role models and teachers, rarely is the hardworking, regular guy with a sense of morals and compassion touted as someone to emulate any more.
So should it really be any surprise that there is such a fuss over public displays of belief in Jesus Christ? Long ago, retailers reduced the celebration of Christ’s birth to an opportunity for profit – commercializing what is supposed to be a time to reflect on our Lord and Savior. All the warning signs have been increasing over the years for a nation focused on material gain, and style over substance and humanity.
We will have leadership in Washington beginning in 2017 that is bound to worsen a bad situation, with increasing contempt for the most vulnerable in our society, with growing access for those already in positions of power and wealth.
Our reality as a nation begs that we offer more, not less praise; that we return to the ideals of true Christianity rather than stray from symbols of worship and praise.
While the holiday is what it is, in terms of gift-giving and unrelated ceremonies and partying, at some point some of us have to offer a prayer during the season that our dignity, purpose and sense of right and wrong as a nation is not irretrievable.
Be thankful for what you have, and what you have had, and what you hope to have. We serve a living God.
My Christmas wish for you and your family is that you find joy within, and peace during this season and throughout the year – and that this nation looks for more ways to engage in a closer walk with Jesus rather than push Him away.
More than ever, we need to explore ways to live that cliche that challenges us to observe the spirit of Christmas throughout the year.
There is still a balm in Gilead.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].