“Fortune always leaves a door open in adversity in order to bring relief to it,”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra,
We are fighting windmills; while the fight and the ideas behind it are sound. We must entreat ourselves to acknowledge as such that there is a time and place for all thing as said in Ecclesiastes. The culture wars have been a problem since day one because the focus was on the wrong creature. Our goal as Christians is to aid a dying world with healing and the live giving Word of God. While we should not depart from speaking on the Law and sin we need to realize that Christianity needed to lose the culture war.
First, let me start off with what I mean by “Christianity”.
When I speak of Christianity; I really mean American Christianity.
American Christianity is the broader cultural and political movement that in its innate nature has taken on different sects theological points and has altogether blended it with American Zionism, moralism and social activism.
While I believe many of the same things about the world as others in American Christianity. There is a fundamental difference with how I look at the issues. With that said we need to understand a couple of different things.
1. That the appropriation of Christian Theology and American culture as one thing unto itself is both bad on the Christian faith and our political/social cultural identity. The reality is that American ideas of democracy and do it yourself is in fact the worst thing to be infused with Christian doctrine and practice.
2. There should be separation of American politics, social activism, and the actual practice and dogma. What I mean is that these things should be rarely if ever combined. While I believe in fighting for a culture that respects life how that is politically or culturally achieved cannot be done by the church but rather the individual.
3. While there were ‘Christian’ founding fathers. It is time we understand that the majority of them were not orthodox Christian but more deists and or cultural moralists. We need to understand that while there is morality in the Christian faith it’s an organic by-product and not the focus.
4. That the Christian faith must maintain always Christ centered / cross focused Gospel preaching and liturgy.
So what’s so right about ‘American Christianity failing?
While there has been an uptick in legislation across the world aimed at preventing Christians the freedom and right to speak our faith we must also realize that some of the cultural wars we have fought have been ugly and not well thought out. We argued on the basis of natural law and morality then we did for grace and compassion. Now I am not speaking of a no law zone but we must realize that if any thing we say does not point to Jesus and his works, teachings and life then we are doing something wrong. While American Christianity has been right to see the bad effects of sin in the world and the attacks on church and family. It has lost sight of why anything this is bad and what the solution is.
The more I grow older the more I realize the importance of libertarian ideas when it comes to how we deal with the issues. It should never be the aim of the Christian to use force to change the things we don’t like or think is good. We must remember that we too are sinners and that God showed us grace when we did not deserve it either. God does not force his love on anyone but rather he shows it in the vocational lives of his children. If we want real change then we must first live it in ourselves.
This of course leads to a real issue, we forget or simply ignore when we fail to live by God’s standards and us Christians are sometimes the worst at it especially when we should know better. Christians have gotten a bit lazy and it has come to bite us back. We have played loose and fast on several dogmatic and moral values of God. We have been very secular in our own lives and so we should not be surprised that our non-Christian friends and family do the same. We have also been benefited by having a culture here in America that has loosely been ‘Christian’. It’s hard to be honest with ourselves on family issues when we have been hypocritical. How many of us have had sex outside of marriage? How many of us have been using condoms and birth control. Yet now we want to be for life. Don’t get me wrong this is not every Christian but there have been enough of you to make us all sound like hypocrites. Christians have far long been devastating on marriage long before any bill passed to allow same-sex couples to get married. We have had huge divorce rates and have failed to put Christ in our marriages. The simple truth is that some of this issue of cultural wars if failing to live our lives and to understand that all have sinned.
If anything the culture wars put the focus more morality and sex then it ever should. Now I am not saying these things don’t play a role and that is not part of the sin problem but when we clearly don’t get sin or limit it then we limit Jesus and his mercy. Far too long we have been snobs and Pietists. We sought to make ourselves holy in our own doing and lifestyles that we have been very judgemental about other lifestyles even of those in our own ranks and we have harshly judged others. (NOTE I AM NOT SAYING NOT TO DISCERN SIN THAT IS DIFFERENT). While struggle in itself is not a good thing sometimes conflict and misery have a way of showing just how much we need God. Now may very well be a time in our lives where we are forced to go underground in our faith but remember that is how we grew in the first place. The Christian faith has always been counter-culture and we long forgot that in America. We have grafted American exceptionalism in our faith and we have brought that sort of nationalism in our faith and that is a bad thing.
We as Christians needed to be reminded that we are not supposed to change the world through force. We are here to share our hope and to live our Christian faith according to it. We are to be in the world but not of it. We are to remember that the time to time our faith should never be popular but rather at odds. We have a radical faith that at times makes no sense. This should be remembered in our journey. We are to not lean on our own understanding but I would suggest adding to that. We should not lean on our own lobbying or politicizing. The world will either know our faith and live it but it will be by God and nothing we do. Time to dial down our hubris and time to realize that a little conflict can be good for purging. If we have fair weather faithful this is the time to see how much they trust in God even when our culture rejects us. Being the dominate force in culture wars is not our message. Jesus dying on a cross for all is the answer. While it is important to discuss the role of sin the cultural war is not the way.