The gods of our age are many, and their worship thickens the cultural air. We have known these gods and, even as Christians, have felt the allure of their siren songs. Many stars battle to be our sun.
Sex is our god. Money is our god. Sports are our god. We as individuals are our god.
I am certainly not saying sex, sports, money, or individuality are bad. They are each good in proper contexts. However, they make terrible gods.
For years, we have seen these gods in their different realms – working together in collusion for mutual benefit, yet still for selfish gain.
For example, every weekend, millions of people sit down to invest attention, emotion, and time in a sporting event. We love the god of sports. As his worship center is filled, the god of money raises his voice at opportunity. Advertisers clamor to the god of sports in the name of the god of money. There are billions of dollars flowing from the temple of sports, and the god of money feasts through sponsorships, advertisements, and ticket sales.
And how will the god of money be worshiped and upon what altar will its sacrifices be made? Not upon its own, but its worshipers will gather at the temple of the god of sex, as advertisers roll out scantily clad women holding bags of Doritos.
The allure of sex is then connected to a product. And why would someone bow to the god of sex? Sex feeds our god of self on the altar of lust. We must be pacified, and our bodily cravings must be satisfied. We deserve and demand because the god of self deserves to be worshiped.
And so on it goes. The combinations are limitless, and this list is not exhaustive, but you have likely seen it play out.
This phenomenon certainly isn’t new. “Sex sells” has been a marketing mantra for decades, and people have been drawn to identity in sports as far back as ancient chariot races and wrestling Athenians.
So if this has always existed, what makes our time so uniquely significant?
The gods are colliding.
While these (and other) gods have been gaining in prominence and power over recent years, I believe we are reaching a point at which they are no longer comfortable in the constraints of their own kingdoms.
We heard rumblings last month as the first transgender athlete competed in the Olympics. However, the god of sport deferred to the god of sex, and little fuss was made. Both gods were accommodated.
But as the kingdoms of these gods have increased, their ability to defer and stay in collusion is wavering.
We are starting to hear the first cries of discontent. I believe in the next few years, we will be watching a battle of ideologies, beliefs, and previously-unquestioned norms colliding with other previously-unquestioned norms.
We are seeing it now, but let us watch as these questions come up more in our culture:
- Can individuality be exalted over the god of sport in its own temple?
- What happens when adherents to Islam, Judaism, and other religions begin to be targeted regarding their beliefs on sexual ethics as Christians have been?
- What happens when sexual exploration runs further into litigation as corporations, leagues, and governments are forced to decide between individual liberty and the stretching of their own pocketbooks?
- What happens when the first transgender athlete begins to dominate in their field or on the flip side, sues a league for competitive disadvantage?
- What happens when an athlete with large monetary sponsorships seeks a different sexual deviation outside of currently accepted norms?
- What happens when a nation founded on democracy and the will of the people begins to be torn apart and litigated because of the sense that a nation built on the common good does not adequately serve the sovereign of self?
We are seeing the battles begin in places like North Carolina where government is being punished for previously non-contentious sexual-related bathroom laws. They are being punished not by the court of law, but the court of public opinion. Lucrative sporting events (as well as concerts and travel) that would bring millions of dollars into the local economy are being transferred somewhere else.
How long can the god of sex and the god of money maintain tension before one snaps?
When the false gods of our time begin to see each other no longer as uses for mutual benefit, rather as opponents to be cleared on the way to Olympus, war is the only option.
And this war is not going to be pretty.
As the gods of sport, money, the individual, and sex begin to no longer serve one another and claim outright superiority, we are going to see massive arguments and battles in the public square.
As Christians, we should not revel in these gods colliding. “I told you so” is not a Christ-like response. Rather, we should know that, at some point, each of these gods will be exposed for what they are – false idols.
As gods are exposed and battles intensify, it is likely we in the public sphere (particularly as Christians) will be caught directly or indirectly in collateral damage. We, however, must resolve to be even more steadfast in holding to and declaring the unshaking foundation of God in Christ and the gospel. There is one true God, and He will be shown for who He truly is. But this will have a cost.
The gods are colliding.
A time of greater tumult and persecution is coming, but so is a time of greater opportunity and truth.