Examining the Beatitudes, we see a stark contrast with what God deems a virtue and what society deems a virtue. To God, the poor, the mourning, the meek, the hungry, and the merciful are blessed. Each will receive a portion that makes up for the deficiency: the poor inherit the kingdom of heaven, the mourning are comforted, the meek inherit the earth, the hungry are satisfied, and the merciful are shown mercy.
Compare with Western society, where people should be happy and wealthy, while the meek and merciful don’t climb the corporate ladder.
But the pure of heart (Mt 5:8) have it the worst. Try standing for the Christian value of your choice and see how far it gets you. Stand for traditional marriage, be called a homophobe. Stand for pro-life and watch as someone starts a blog where your head is photoshopped onto a porn star in the midst of some humiliating sex act. Stand for Jesus as the only way to God and be called an arrogant SOB who thinks people of all other religions are scum, fit only to be eliminated. Watch as people point and laugh at a father-daughter prom where the daughter makes a promise to stay a virgin until marriage.
Why are traditional Christian values so maligned in pop culture?
Paul answered that for us when he wrote that “to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled” (Tts 1:15). He told the Ephesians, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Eph 4:18).
The cure? See life united in faith to God:
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ez 36:25-27)
How can we be “pure of heart?”
It’s actually simple. First, accept Christ and become a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). Then, with his Spirit inside you, live true to your new self. Psalm 51:6 says that God desires “truth in the innermost being.” That’s as good as any description I’ve ever heard of integrity — that the show you put on to everyone actually reflects what is inside. Those who act in a way that doesn’t jive with their inner selves receive some very strong condemnations from Christ in Matthew 23:25-28.
Expect persecution when living by God’s standards. If you uphold that which God holds dear, the world deems you a fundamentalist wacko; a homophobic, misogynistic bigot who beats his children before using time-outs.
Let them think all of those untrue things. Our reward is great: the pure of heart will see God.