Shepherds were tough, hardy men. They guarded their flocks patiently, passionately, and – when necessary – brutally. Among the last things a ravenous wolf or thief would feel when threatening a flock of sheep, would be the crushing blow of the shepherd’s staff or a rock striking their head. The protection of the flock was of paramount importance.

The soft shepherds leading many Christian churches today amount to little more than an ironic joke. For the faint applause of the godless elite, they abandon their flocks to the spiritual and physical dangers of the fallen world.

It was bad enough when pastors stopped calling out sin. Pulpits have long fallen silent on calling out the “fashionable” sins of the cultural elite – and when they do it is with an apologetic tone. They are in such fear of losing donations, or even the exalted “tax deductible” status of their churches, that they mute themselves and censor God.

Far too many pastors have resorted to the safety of sermons treating Scripture like a second-rate self-help book. The left has been pulling out the threads of the nation’s moral fabric with the tacit approval of our clergy.

Meanwhile, criticism of leftist government policies are verboten, and critiques of government are silenced unless they can be framed in a way that denigrates political conservatives.

All of which has made a safe space for physical cowards. These are the pastors who intentionally conflate thuggish criminality with systemic persecution. They draw false lines between the criminal who breaks into your home to steal your TV and threaten your family, with the enemies of faith like Nero, Hitler, and Stalin. That criminal doesn’t care about your faith; he’s just a plain old evil-doer.

One such pastor is Protestant author John Piper. Not long ago he wrote a commentary for the Washington Post in which he equated violent crimes with acts of persecution. Piper specifically encourages Christians to practice a foolish pacifism in the face of crime that would have befuddled church leaders even a century ago.

The intellectual and moral dishonesty is breathtaking.

While “just call 911” might be a nice sentiment for overpaid media personalities safely ensconced in a gated community, when uttered by pastors it is a death sentence – or worse – for most of the flocks they fleece. When seconds matter, police crime scene investigators are a lifetime away.

Treating base criminal acts as if they are the persecution of the church makes a mockery of the sacrifices made by martyrs through the centuries. It is absolutely sin when a hardened criminal breaks into a home and murders a family, but it isn’t persecution. Letting criminals roam unchecked isn’t a sign of godliness, but of cowardice.

The life of liberty in America began with exhortations from the pulpit. In the American Revolution, pastors stood literally on the front lines – often armed with a musket in one hand and a Bible in the other. If liberty is to die here, that death will have been preceded by whimpers of ecclesiastical acquiescence.

The shepherds of our churches must protect their flocks, or go back to hiding under the beds. This is a time that requires physical boldness, not spiritualized cowardice. We need strong pastors. We need shepherds in the pulpits willing to kill the wolves, literally.

Now, more than ever, America needs a muscular church unafraid of earthly powers and principalities, and willing to confront them – physically and spiritually.

NOTE: I’ve included a link to a fantastic article I learned about after publication, titled “Turning the other cheek? What it meant in its historical context.”

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."