The Desecration of Easter

John Stonestreet | BreakPoint | Updated: Apr 02, 2024
The Desecration of Easter

The Desecration of Easter

BreakPoint.org

On Good Friday, President Biden declared Easter Sunday as “Transgender Day of Visibility.” Though he must have known the outrage that would follow, his defenders were quick to note that March 31 has been recognized in this way for over a decade and just happened this year to coincide with Easter. Thus, they argued, Christians should not take offense that our “devoutly Catholic” president would desecrate this day recognized as sacred by millions for over two thousand years. This, in spite of the fact that two dozen other made-up days (not to mention three different months!) are marked on our calendars in recognition of the growing list of sexual identifications.

The president’s actions can be best understood by an analysis of the spectacle that occurred in February inside New York City’s St. Patrick’s CathedralWhile the salacious details should, in the spirit of Paul’s warning to the Ephesians, be left unspoken, Professor Carl Trueman described in First Things a funeral held for a man who was a militant atheist, who dressed as a woman, was often outlandishly perverted, and engaged in prostitution. Funeral-goers made speeches meant to shock and offend and proclaimed the man a saint.

Trueman noted how the event marked a shift from what he called “disenchantment” to “desecration”:

The struggle for the heart of a culture always takes place in two areas: time and space. As the Christian transformation of the Roman Empire was marked by the emergence of the liturgical calendar and the turning of pagan temples into churches, so we can expect the reverse to take place when a culture paganizes. …Our age is not marked so much by disenchantment as by desecration. The culture’s officer class is committed not merely to marginalizing that which previous generations considered sacred. It is committed to its destruction.

German sociologist Max Weber first used the term “disenchantment” in 1918 to describe the Western world’s shift from the belief in the divine and transcendent to materialistic scientism. In fact, the German word used by Weber translates more closely to “breaking a magic spell.” More recently, Charles Taylor popularized this notion of secularism as “disenchantment” in his magisterial A Secular Age.

However, as Friedrich Nietzsche predicted in his parable of “The Madman,” a divine and transcendent view of the universe has been harder to abandon than many expected. The French revolutionaries were more than happy to abandon the belief that the king was divinely appointed but still proceeded as if there were moral absolutes, such as libertarian freedom, and other transcendent truths, such as that some have the right to exercise authority over others. Even so, Nietzsche’s “madman” predicted that, eventually, the “death of God” would leave many taken-for-granted beliefs about dignity and morality untethered and, therefore, vulnerable.

He was right. The disenchantment of the West has, in fact, left us gnostic, doubting even the givenness of material reality. Some even appeal to scientific authority to say that our physical bodies are unrelated to sex and gender.

This is the latest form of the Gnostic heresy that has taken various forms throughout Church history but always prioritizes an inner, “spiritual” knowledge about God and His world over and above anything He revealed about His world. In all its forms, gnosticism absolutizes the mistaken distinction between the “sacred” and the “mundane.” This distinction conflicts with a biblical vision, which teaches that God created all things spiritual and material, including human beings.

Scripture also proclaims that Jesus was present at Creation and is Lord over heaven and earth—something that will be acknowledged at the end of history when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Here, Paul is not describing a personal, non-material, “inner” experience of Christians saying privately inside their hearts, “I think Jesus is Lord,” or “I’ve made Jesus Lord of my life.” What he’s describing is what Christianity teaches: that Jesus Christ is lord over time, space, and history.

For example, almost as soon as Christ’s followers had the freedom to do so, they built grand, intricate cathedrals as sacred spaces within time and space as a way to proclaim His authority over time and space. These spaces were, in a sense, physical representations of the incarnation, the divine inhabiting the mundane. Not only are places like St. Patrick’s in New York City beautiful, but they were meant to say something about the kind of world in which we live, and the kind of authority God holds over all of it. Easter is not just a day off for fun and family, it is a remembrance of the obedience and victory that Christ had within time and space as the defining moment of human history.

It only makes sense then, that those who wish to challenge God’s authority would attempt to reclaim these spaces for themselves. This is what Professor Trueman meant by this shift from “disenchantment” to “desecration”—a shift we’re in right now. “Disenchantment” describes the cultural detachment from transcendent reality. “Desecration” describes what inevitably follows, the attempt to usurp God’s claim to authority and instead claim times and spaces for another authority. Or, as Louise Perry tweeted in reaction to President Biden’s attempt to claim Easter Sunday for a different religion, “We are repaganizing.”

The ideas of the sexual revolution, including the normalization of homosexuality and the denial of biological sex, begin by denying God’s role in creation and end by rejecting His authority over all of life. For revolutionaries, it’s not enough for others to merely “tolerate” their revolution. All must “affirm” it. 

Almost certainly, the kind of “desecration” we saw on Sunday will continue and even become more shocking. But, the truth remains: Christ is Creator and Lord. The truth is that every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that “all authority in heaven and on earth” belongs to Jesus.

For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.

Image credit: ©GettyImages/Boonyachoat

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.


BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.



The Desecration of Easter