FARGO — When my picture book, “First Salmon,” emerged in 2005, I didn’t realize how much I’d come to understand a life swimming upstream. But as a Christian now, it’s unavoidable.

Gone are the days I worried more about pleasing the world than God. Back then, my utmost goal was to not say or do anything to offend others. But as I grew in faith, my conscience grew, too, and I realized that being a friend of Christ means being at odds with the world.

In “Five Reasons Why Christians are Public Enemy Number 1,” Jennifer Roback Morse explains the perplexity thus: the world seeks utopia, but Christians know its futility.

To be clear, Christians seek utopia, too, just not in this world.

Roback Morse says promises like total elimination of pollution, free sex without consequences and full control of COVID set us up for failure, and Christians seem to sense it.

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In accord with such promises, she says, the “savior class” emerges — those insisting they alone can fulfill the ideal, if only they’re granted enough power. This impossible promise requires unlimited propaganda to convince others the dream is both possible and desirable.

Inevitably, those refusing to go along with the fantasy become the “scapegoat class.” “Every totalitarian ideology … has had a scapegoat class,” Roback Morse writes. “The communists blamed the kulaks and rich peasants and crypto capitalists. The Nazis blamed the Jews.” And the sexual revolutionaries? They simply “scapegoat Christian hold-outs …”

Faithful Christians often end up as the scapegoat class, she explains, because we know “heaven on earth” to be impossible. Jesus promised troubles in this life, with heaven our reward for perseverance.

We also don’t take to the savior-class idea, she says, because we have one savior, Jesus, and can’t agree to give someone else enough power to achieve the impossible. “We owe the experts in any field a respectful hearing,” but not unquestioned obedience.

In turn, we deserve “respectful answers to our questions and concerns,” Roback Morse says. “At the end of the day, the experts in public health or in so-called sexual health or climate science or the global economy are ordinary citizens just like the rest of us.”

The necessary propaganda also fails to entice Christians, she explains, since we hold that truth exists, and everyone has a responsibility to live in it. We’re therefore less likely to buy into deception necessary to push these idealistic, futile pursuits.

Finally, scapegoating doesn’t work for us, since we hold the premise that all bear original sin and have no delusion “that we could cure the human race of all evil if we could just get rid of Those Bad People Over There.”

Swimming upstream can be challenging at times, but as Jesus reminded, though we are in the world, we’re not of it. Our reward for staying true to him will lead to the only real utopia: life eternal. Thankfully, this pursuit leads to interior freedom, and plentiful splashes of deep-seated joy — not only in heaven, but here and now.

Salonen, a wife and mother of five, works as a freelance writer and speaker in Fargo. Email her at roxanebsalonen@gmail.com, and find more of her work at Peace Garden Passage, http://roxanesalonen.com/