If there is one thing that characterises modern culture in the developed world it is hedonism. Defined in Wikipedia as ‘a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good’, the main goal of a hedonist is unrestrained pleasure.
The watchword of this and the previous generation, ‘if it feels good, do it’ typifies the lives of many who inhabit a moral landscape devoid of reason or restraint.
The Canadian educationalist, Doug McManamin writing in the Catholic Education Resource Centre (CERC) website argues that, “a typical hedonist today does not aspire to anything larger and higher, but settles for ‘feeling good’. Such a life does not require fortitude. But a truly meaningful life whose meaning (direction) is determined in regards to man's true end, which is the knowledge and love of the greatest good, does indeed require fortitude”.
Sounding curiously dated, the word fortitude is not common currency in the language of contemporary Scotland. It is however alive and well in the actions and motivations of believers across the world. Sadly however, this virtue has waned in the character and practice of many Christians in the increasingly materialistic western church.
Webster’s dictionary defines fortitude as, “mental and emotional strength in facing adversity, danger, or temptation courageously.” Fortitude is not an attitude of ‘rushing in where angels fear to tread’. As one commentator sagely declared, “putting our bodies or lives in danger when it is not necessary is not fortitude but foolishness.”
Fortitude is a virtue on open and sometimes heroic display as Christians in the Middle and Far East, North Africa and the Indian sub continent take a stand for their faith in the face of violent state opposition.
The highest levels of persecution are recorded in the Muslim states and North Korea where imprisonment or death awaits those who share their faith in Christ. In common with Jesus’ original disciples who died violently as martyrs, there are many 21st century believers who do not shrink from what they see as their duty to share the new life that they have found in Christ. Their fortitude should be an example to all believers.
While Christians abroad continue to suffer violence and injustice for the sake of their beliefs, closer to home, a new form of persecution is becoming the norm.
In Western countries like the UK, secularists are now using the law to attack Christian teachings. Thus, Christians who talk publically about concepts like 'true marriage' and 'natural family' are now considered to be propagators of hate speech.
Let’s pray for a real revival and an upsurge of fortitude in the hearts of Scotland’s believers.
Resurgent Christian fortitude........the antidote to the tide of secularism sweeping across our land!!