"People are tired of the culture war." "The culture war is over." "Christians need to stop being so political." "Christians are damaging the brand with their involvement in politics."
Have you heard any of these statements lately? I have. And I've made these statements. Our generation is in the midst of a good discussion on the nexus between faith and politics. We're a bit weary of a previous generation's highly partisan nature. We feel the Christian brand has been badly damaged. We're not culture warriors.
Or so we think. Except isn't interesting how hypocritical we actually are. I was thinking about the other day. There are some issues that have been labeled as partisan and divisive. For instance, to be loudly pro-life is to be considered too partisan. Stop fighting the culture wars. Preach the gospel instead. Love people.
And yet, if you were to replace your advocacy for the unborn with, say, advocacy for starving children, both here and overseas, you'd be lauded as a hero. You might even have one of those blog widgets where you encourage everyone to get involved. You'd be considered a compassionate Christian -- a different kind of Christian than those angry, right-wing types that talk too much about those babies being killed every day in increasingly heinous ways.
Now, don't get me wrong. Child poverty is a tragic social ill, one that the Church should quickly work to alleviate. Those organizations that compel us to sponsor children are on the side of angels.
But ... isn't this a social issue too? Isn't this a cultural thing, too? Aren't those who harang the church for not doing more to alleviate poverty, aren't they culture warriors like the pro-life folks are?
Do you see how easily we dismiss issues we wish would go away? Or issues we lazily engage without fully knowing the facts?
In a sense we are all culture warriors. There are issues we are all passionate about, about which we compel our leaders to act. But I sense, in my generation, a bit of smugness. That we're not going to do things the way our fathers did. We're smarter, better, more Christlike.
Perhaps we'll avoid some of the unhealthy lust for power of the past. Maybe the Christian brand might be more distanced from the conservative movement. Perhaps we'll talk less about "swinging elections" and more about gospel transformation. If so, that's a good change.
But if we are to be faithful to what God has called us to do, there will be times when our advocacy will have the media and the opinion makers singing our praises. And there will be other moments when our faithful positions will bring us derision.
Which will make us, yes even us enlightened ones, culture warriors. We'd better get used to it.
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