Mar 8, 2013

The Culture War


I'm starting to wonder about my ideas of what is good for Christianity.

What is good for this world.


I have so long wanted a return to something more simple, a life more wholesome and less conflicted and not so polluted with evil and selfishness. I've read about times when the American family was more stable and culture was less sexual and the Bible was respected in government and school and acknowledged as a good moral foundation for the country.


Sounds pretty good to me.  


But here's the thing: maybe the old times and the old ways in which Christianity lived among and within society are not meant to be unchangeable. Maybe that kind of society is not even able to survive for too long because, let's be honest with ourselves, precious few things in this life are eternal. 


The way that Christianity and biblical thinking/teaching permeated the moral culture of earlier times in history may have been a characteristic of those times, but it is not an invincible characteristic on which Christianity depends.


The Gospel of Christ lives outside of the patterns of this world, it does not live and die among them.


So when society begins to change, when the modern world begins to reach outside the Bible for it's identity and values, what do we do?


Do we try to drag the Gospel and the Gospel's previous effect on culture into the modern arena?


Do we keep fighting, keep pushing, to defend what we perceive as being a healthy society based on Christian values? 


I listen to Christian radio while I sip my tea and fry eggs in the morning, so I hear it.  I know that it's basically assumed that Christianity is thriving and purposeful when it's affecting and defining the morals of our culture.  But what happens when so many disagree and want to reject it?


Is it still then the best thing for Christianity to be the definer of rules and laws, the dominant influencer of culture at large, OR.... do we need to accept that it simply no longer is -and that has nothing to do with whether or not the Kingdom of God is alive in this world?


The Gospel and the way it lives and breathes among people have always been two different things.  


The way Christianity affected government, schools, traditions, and moral values in Colonial America (my personal Happy Place) looked very different than the way Christianity looked as it was lived out by a missionary among the tribes of Africa or the way it took root on the shores of the Pacific Islands, or the way it looks now in the homes of new believers in Muslim countries or in the underground churches of China.


The Gospel is a seed more than an already-grown-up-tree, and that's true as it's carried from one people group to another and also true as it is carried along throughout history, throughout the years of an ever-changing world.  Maybe we need to accept that the more we try to uproot and replant this one tree (what we believe to be a healthy Christian culture in American society), the less healthy the tree is going to be.


Like it or not, the soil is changing and that tree can't survive forever.


What if we stopped worrying so much about defending our rights, preserving our way of life, and just embraced the opportunity to replant?  Maybe it's time to discover what this new season of Christianity must be - how the Gospel will live in a modern world that is no longer conducive to it.  


Seriously, what might happen if Christians stopped fighting cultural wars like they were the main thing


Because I have to admit, the more I love Jesus, the less I care whether or not my dollar bill says "In God we trust" or if evolution is being taught in public schools or whatever else is being elevated as the current headline of religious news.


The more I love Jesus, the more I want to love and act and think like he did, the more I start to wonder about what's my fight and what's just not my fight.  


The Gospel is the thing we live and die for, it is the only thing worthy of so much time and attention and energy.  The rest is beyond our control and I'm flat-out weary of the burden that says we're losing if we can't keep things the same.  In fact, I think it's a lie that says we are winning victories for the Kingdom when we manage to maintain some sort of biblical-looking culture among a people who disdain it. 


And who disdain us for it.

And I don't write this to push politics one way or another. 
I write this to say I might just be ready to lay the burden down and admit that the best thing for Christianity may be to lose the war in a cultural/political sense.  

It's never been about an earthly kingdom, anyways, right?  


Jesus could have done that himself.  He could have gone straight to the top and changed the world that way, but he didn't. 


He started low and stayed low and then laid down his rights and died low. And it wasn't a loss for the kingdom, it was a win. It was The Win.


So if we live in a world where it seems like we aren't winning, maybe that's okay.  Maybe that's good, even.  Maybe it will help us to become more like Jesus. 


Maybe it will helps us to remember that we aren't here to defend Christianity's influence on the world, we are here because we are Christianity's influence on the world. We are the ones walking around as invincible conquerors, bearing an unquenchable fire that cannot and will not be shaken no matter what is happening in government, politics, culture, society, etc.


So we can take courage and have hope.


Courage to become who we are called to be in this world, in this time, and hope that believes it's going to be a beautiful thing.



“Remember not the former things,


    nor consider the things of old.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;

    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness

    and rivers in the desert.
The wild beasts will honor me,
    the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
    the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.
Isaiah 43: 18-21
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9 comments:

  1. thank you so much! This is what I've been thinking for some time now, but hadn't figured out how to say without getting attacked by many Christians out there. You're right, it's not about an earthly kingdom at all.

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  2. thank you...!! and is not here is where we are going!

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  3. Culture wars are the product of a bigger problem-sin. we fight this battle because there are many lost souls. the heart is what we are trying to win and we win it with the gospel. so should we still fight the culture war? i think absolutely because in many of those battles we are fighting for godly principles which actually hit very close to the gospel. Can we legislate morality? No, but i think we should try (and i'm not saying that legislating morality is or shares the gospel, it is separate). I may not be able to share the gospel with the girl who is going for the abortion, but if she decides not to in the end because of side walk prayer warriors or the chance to see her ultrasound before the abortion procedure then Amen!

    The bottom line is we have laws to stop or at least attempt to stop bad from happening. Ex: prostitution is illegal (maybe not in Nevada). People still partake, so we should legalize it right? Just because it happens doesn't mean we should throw open the doors and say "keep on going there's nothing wrong with this!" We should ask: Do we really want to live in a world where this is legal? How would that effect society? What harm would it do, would it do any good? How will it effect me and my family? These are questions that need to be asked when thinking about abortion, homosexuality, marijuana, etc. especially as they relate to legislation. In all of these issues and more it will effect you, it won't do good, it will effect society, etc.

    So even when the majority of the people want what's bad for them, we don't just lay down and die and let them have what will inevitably kill them. We fight hard but still show the love of Christ any and every way possible. And in fact i think we show the gospel as we stand for the righteousness of Christ and defend his glory. We are called to be salt and light and the gospel does divide.I think living out the gospel and fighting the culture war goes hand in hand and yes it is exhausting but its worth it.

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    1. My sweet Sarah, I'm so glad to see you here! I think I'm gonna like this you-being-part-time thing :)

      I agree that we can and should vote for what we believe is best for our society. But beyond that, I do actually think that we have to let people have what they want, even IF it will inevitably kill them.

      My friend and I were talking about this today and she had some insight that made a lot of sense to me. She reminded me that God, in his sovereign freedom and goodness, gave mankind the freedom to make their own choice about Him.

      He places no obligation or law over us, he wants us to obey out of love and freedom. And yet WE want to put laws over others that do not want to obey them. I don't think it's our place. As much as we want it to be our place (b/c we feel like we are protecting them from self-destruction), it's still not our choice to make those decisions and choices for others.

      And I might be wrong here, but I don't know if it's a biblical thing to defend righteousness or the glory of God. Is that ever really something people do? I mean the glory of God just IS. His righteousness just IS. Those things are way bigger than us and they are already alive and unstoppable.

      He doesn't need us to push or argue defend his glory, we are so favored just to have the opportunity to live in submission to it.

      We live in submission to the laws that are written on our hearts and we love and serve others as if they were better than ourselves, thinking of their needs and their pains and their sufferings before our owns. I think that is when we live out the gospel.

      The truth of Christ may divide, but I don't think that means that WE have reason to create divisions. He is the one that draws the lines in the sand, not his people.

      But again... I'm not preaching. Just trying to figure this stuff out.

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  4. When I was in my senior of my undergrad program I was full of passion and opinion. I was sharing with her how my friends and I were going to participate in the "Right to Life" march through downtown Seattle, my hometown. She listened patiently as she cleaned the kitchen when I paused for air, she turned off the water and set aside the dish towel. Sitting at our kitchen table, she grabbed my hands and said,

    "Rhoda, abortion isn't the problem. Unregenerate man is the problem. What kind of message does it say to those who don't know Christ, the ones who don't understand your world view, to participate in this march? Our job as believers isn't create boundaries between ourselves and the lost. It is to build bridges. Is hurting or offending them building bridges? Just think, if we placed ourselves in an open dialogue about faith, rescue, Christ with all the doctors who perform abortions how that would change things. If we ministered to women in tragic circumstances, how would that change her life? If we just got all these people saved it wouldn't matter what our laws say about abortion, there just wouldn't be abortions."

    While I am only one person, and can't prevent all the loss of infant life, due to abortion or war, or hate, or incest, or pornography, I can touch one life at a time through relationship. Jesus was all about relationship and I have never forgotten her words. In my mind, being IN the world, but not of it, is way more important than legislation. This is why I engage in friendships and dialogue with wide set of diverse friends. The Gay friends, the Catholic friends, the Buddhist friends, the Wicca friends, the Muslim friends, the atheists, the agnostics, the evangelicals, and the Unitarians - are all part of my circle bound together by love. Love I can only have in Christ because I am really not that tolerant or that understanding. I want to fight! But Jesus called me to LOVE!

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    1. Rhoda, thank you for your comment!

      I am with you on this. I love how your friend put it... about creating boundaries versus building bridges. There are so many good things to fight for but I believe souls are being lost in the battle because we have elevated these issues into such worthy ideals. More worthy than the people we expect to follow them, perhaps?

      Abortion is a hard one for me, I feel like it's a unique issue and more than just a cultural thing. I think it's more of a crisis of human justice and it IS something that we need to fight for. But we don't fight for the WIN on the issue, we fight for the hurting and confused women with babies they can't support, we fight for education and the eradication of poverty, we fight for freedom from addiction and abusive relationships... we embrace PEOPLE in LOVE and start there. Serve there. And I bet those kind of bridges could make some powerful change.

      Thank you again for speaking up!!

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  5. Wow, Britney. Very well said. This is a view I have espoused for a while and it always seems to feel like I am a voice in the wilderness on this issue. The bottom line is that Christianity was not meant to be nationalized. It's not a Theocracy. Christianity has historically thrived in oppression because oppressed people need hope. Comfortable people... not so much. You can see this when evangelizing in a first world country vs evangelizing in a third world country.

    We are faced with a paradox of sorts. Because, I won't lie, I love the religious freedom I enjoy here. However, it came only because men fought and died for that freedom which is really not supported in the New Testament. Jesus and the apostles taught to submit to those in authority even at the cost of freedom yet here we live in a society which exists because our founders believed we were created with "certain unalienable rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Which though nice for us, is an untrue sentiment. We were never promised life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness on this Earth. We were told we would be hated of men, scourged, and put to death for Him.

    Don't get me wrong, I love this country, I'm not trying to sound anti-American and I certainly do not wish to undergo persecution. But at some point we are going to have to choose between living in a "Christian nation" or living as a Christian in a persecuted nation.

    Thanks for the blog... and God Bless!

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