There is a parasitic fungus known as Ophiocordyceps unilateralis which grows in tropical rainforests. The fungus grows and reproduces itself by attaching to the bodies of carpenter ants. The Fungus then penetrates the exoskeleton and through a chemical process changes the ant’s behavior. The ants, now unable to control their bodies leave their colonies for the warmer, humid climate of the forest floor, bite down onto the bottom of a leaf, and over the processes of several days die as the fungus takes over the host’s body. The fungus will grow its stroma out of the ant’s head and then spread its spores. Infected ants, dubbed “zombie ants” also exhibit convulsions while the fungus grows inside them.
For me personally this is one of the most disturbing parts of nature I’ve ever seen. One of my most deep-seated fears is parasites living within another body and feeding off them. And what I find most disturbing about this fungus is not that it kills the ant, organisms kill other organisms all the time, it’s not that it uses another animal to reproduce, flowers do this with bees. What disturbs me about Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is that it developed a way to take control of the host and direct its behavior. By all accounts the ant is still an ant, but all its energy has been shifted to support the fungus which then leads it to a suitable place not for the ant but the fungus before ripping it apart and killing it from the inside. The dead ant is just an empty shell with a parasitic fungus growing out of its head. This process, as bad as it must be for the ant, would be unimaginably horrifying for a human being.
I find the relationship between Ophiocordyceps unilateralis and the carpenter ant to be a particularly apt comparison to that between progressive ideology and institutions. The process of embedding itself into the host’s body, redirecting its behavior to serve a different purpose, leading it to where it will die, and then spreading seems to play itself out anywhere progressivism takes root, and for me it’s particularly painful to see it happen to Christianity.
I’m sure we’ve all seen churches like this, usually an older building built long ago, with a rainbow flag flying outside and a short haired female pastor preaching inside about social justice, feminism, racism, and how all religions are basically the same. Her words echoing across rows of empty pews being heard only by the occasional liberal baby boomer or the 80 year old grandmother who attended the church her whole life.
This is the end result of the infection of progressive ideology into a church. It has the appearance and all the trappings of a church, but the beliefs coming out of it are clearly based in something well outside the Gospel. And of course the progressives don’t just stop at corrupting Christian beliefs, but the church itself dies. Mainline, liberal, protestant churches are among the fastest dying denominations. Pews are usually empty and the average age of the church member is about the same as that of the average viewer of Fox News and CNN. So how does this happen? How does progressivism embed itself within Churches, warp them to serve their own needs and then ultimately kill them?
The progressive takeover of a church starts with using Christian’s own beliefs against them. When an impressionable, socially conscious Christian asserts their belief in traditional marriage, the response from a progressive (in face to face conversation) is not to scream how much of a bigot they are. They will instead try and guilt Christians into accepting their views by asserting that traditional marriage is actually the unchristian position. They will use arguments like “Christianity is about loving others” and “Jesus said don’t judge” Make no mistake these people despise Christianity and don’t care what the Bible says, but they understand the value in using it to manipulate Christians.
These arguments are what we call sophistry, on the surface it sounds like it makes sense, because love is such a fundamental element of Christianity. Of course this is a complete corruption of what love is and anyone who actually thinks about it for 2 seconds will realize that love does not mean supporting everything a person does. Parents who love their children don’t give them everything that they want. But because acceptance of a practice like homosexuality is so heavily pushed in our culture, and because the progressive is saying in a very understanding way, it’s easy to go along with it.
Of course if you then bring up what the Bible actually says on the issue, that it clearly states that homosexuality, and all sex outside marriage between a man and a woman is sinful, they will twist the passages and assert everything from “that’s not what they were referring to” and “well it’s in the Old Testament so it doesn’t count”. Again the problem here is that people are too willing to take the path of least resistance and go along with this. So this is how the progressive infection of Christianity starts, they use Christians own beliefs about love against them.
The point of no return for this is, like when the fungus pierces the ant’s exoskeleton, the simple but unbelievably dangerous concept that theology can be changed. That the truth of God isn’t actually absolute and needs to be updated to modern society’s standards. This belief of course opens up churches to believe in whatever is fashionable in the culture, no longer does it actually have principles and a fundamental belief that doesn’t shift with what’s popular. At this point the Church, like the ant has its purpose redirected. “Progressive” churches become mouthpieces to promote progressive ideas like feminism, abortion, divorce, universalism, and gay marriage. And of course this then leads to the death of the church.
Truth doesn’t change no matter what a flowery intellectual says. And for those of us on the other side of the schism, for Evangelicals, the response progressives have to people like us reveals their true nature. Evangelical Christians offer little value to the progressives, the churches we worship in, whether it’s in an abandoned movie theater or a megachurch do not carry the same cultural weight as the old Episcopal church with stained glass windows. Evangelicals don’t claim to preserve or uphold the secular culture but instead act as a counterculture. Most importantly though Evangelicals refuse to go along with the progressive narrative. Because of all this, the only option for progressives is to openly and directly denounce them as hateful, backwards, intolerant idiots. When you back up your belief about the biblical definition of marriage with facts and reason and show you don’t buy their lies, then the progressive calls you a bigot.
My point in saying all this is a warning for Christians, particularly young, college-aged Christians. Progressives, no matter how well meaning and how good their arguments sound on the surface, hate you; they hate your church and they hate Christianity. It may not look like it at first, but see how they react once when you refuse to go along with them. Progressives are parasites, and they’re the type of parasite that, when it realizes you won’t let it in, will viciously attack you.