Depending on whom you listen to the culture/cultural war is being won by the liberals or the conservatives. Sometimes I think that each side uses the fear of losing simply as a fund-raising technique. It’s difficult to say with any degree of authority who is winning and who is losing – each side claims victories and suffers defeats. There does seem, however, to be a gradual slide over the past several decades toward a more permissive less righteous society.
There is no doubt that the stakes are high. The vision of one side is for a society that condones abortion on demand, same-sex marriage, radical feminism, big government, and extreme environmentalism. The vision for the other side is quite different. It is for a country that basis its morality on the Bible, restricts the reach of government and respects the environment without worshipping it. The side that wins will create a culture in its own image.
Evangelical Christians play a significant role in the cultural wars. By a large majority we side with the conservative view and we have perhaps the most to lose if the liberals are successful in reshaping our society. While Christians have a significant stake in this debate, and have let their voice be heard, if we lose much of the blame will be ours. In large measure we have responded to the decay in our society in the wrong way. Long before we lose the culture (if we haven’t already) we will lose the hearts and minds of the people. And when we lose their hearts and minds we will have lost the opportunity to speak truth into their lives.
Let me give you just two examples – small ones to be sure, but ones that are not atypical in Christian circles. In recent weeks several videos of services in evangelical (a word that encompasses a broad range of churches that do not always agree, nor conduct themselves in the same way) churches have gone viral. In one the pastor, to the approval of his congregation, advocated segregating all homosexuals into a fenced in area and dropping food to them from airplanes. In another a four-year old sang a song that included the line ain’t no homo goin’ make it to heaven to a standing ovation from the congregation. How do you think that plays to the average, unsaved person in our culture? If I wasn’t a Christian I know how it would affect me – I wouldn’t want to be one. Even now when I watch them I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m a Christian. When an unsaved person hears how we talk about homosexuals or feminist or doctors who perform abortions they turn their hearts and close their minds to anything else that we have to say.
I’m not condoning an immoral lifestyle. It’s clear that God condemns immorality and as Christians we should too. But not with Amens, and Hallelujahs and laughter. If anything we need to communicate what God says with tears and a sense of humility that we have been recipients of God’s grace. Sometimes we act like we deserve grace and “they” (anyone whose lifestyle is different from ours) don’t. While none of us deserve God’s grace why do we think that we are any different from the immoral person as recipients of that grace?
I find it hard to think of Jeremiah or Isaiah exulting over the sin of Israel or singing ain’t no worshipper of pagan idols goin’ make it to heaven to the roaring approval of the crowds. Christ wept over the city of Jerusalem because of their sin and we need to begin to weep over the sins of our nation.
The New Testament talks about the offense of the cross (Galatians 5:11) and it is true that unsaved people will be offended by the gospel message. But they shouldn’t be offended by unkind and even hateful words spoken by those who have been asked to share that message. We have been asked to speak, but to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Stay in the Word