I hate that term. I hate the concept, too. “Culture Wars.” Who came up with that anyway? I mean, I understand the thinking: “Our Country is going to hell and it’s our responsibility as Christians to stand up and prevent it!” I think that’s what bothers me the most. Is that really our calling? Is it even within our ability to do so?
I’m not saying it’s not our responsibility to stand up, and I’m not saying it’s not our responsibility to stand against sin in our world. The greater question to me is how are we supposed to do it and what is our ultimate goal?
For so many (which, I admit, included me at one time), the idea of “fighting sin” was more along the lines of boycotting and writing senators and picketing and the like. While I readily admit there may be instances where people are genuinely called to take a similar stand as was the case with Francis Schaeffer, who at times picketed abortion clinics, I think that sort of action usually has limited results, often at the expense of the spreading of the Gospel. More importantly, I think the motivation must be checked before anything is done.
I have found that the usual motivation for taking a stand has less to do with wanting to see people come to know Christ and more to do with protecting our own way of life. While I understand the fear, I don’t share it.
Look at Jesus. When he ministered on earth, the Jews were under the rule of the Romans. Many who hailed the coming of Christ understood Him to be a great military and political deliverer. They were hoping for another Maccabean revolt, only this time with better results. They had no concept of the kind of Messiah He turned out to be.
In our day, Jesus would be expected to march on the Capitol, rebuke senators and call the president out to be the antichrist he surely is. However, Jesus didn’t do that in His own day, and I’m not sure He would do it in ours. He seemed to have a different agenda. It was a Kingdom of God agenda, which was more focused on spreading the good news that this, regardless of how good or bad it got, was not your best life now. There was much more to life than current experience. So, he didn’t overthrow the Roman rule (which was the vehicle God used to carry out His death). He essentially overthrew the Pharisee rule (which was the vehicle God used to bring about His death). He had more to say about the problems within the current religious establishment than the governmental one.
That is not to say that there are not plenty of problems with the governmental rule we are under here in the United States. There are a plethora of problems and we should stand against those that run contrary to Scripture. The issue I raise is how we go about it.
We will never be able to legislate morality and, because of that, we’ll not be able to win on all of the cultural battlefields that exist in our world today. These include everything from gay marriage to abortion to general corruption in government. It won’t happen. The only thing that WILL happen is that the Church of Jesus Christ will continue to be marginalized as just another right-wing, special interest group of the Republican Party (much the same way that the liberal churches are of the Democratic Party). When this happens, we lose our voice as The Church: The voice of God called out to speak to all of culture from a biblical perspective, NOT from a political one.
So, what are our options? As I see it, we have two very powerful ones:
1. Preach the Gospel. In Romans 1:16, Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”. This is an important point we must not miss. The gospel of Christ is the power we possess and through it, change occurs. We cannot legislate morality, but if, through the gospel, men and women are saved bringing about transformation in their lives, culture will change. Now, let me say something to clarify: I do not believe that everyone is going to be saved, nor do I believe that all the problems in this world are going away this side of Christ’s return. We’re told they won’t. Our goal is not to establish Utopia on earth. However, the goal of the Church is to be used of God to establish His Kingdom, not any earthly one. Preaching the Gospel addresses the issues we face, but does so in such a way that the Church maintains both her integrity before The Lord and also a humble, grace-filled reputation before the world. I rarely see “political Christians” with either.
2. Pray. Sounds like an over-simplified Sunday School answer, I know. Be that as it may, it is a powerful weapon against the evil in our world. Look at what God said to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
The healing of the land does not come through cultural warfare, but spiritual warfare. The problem is we are a people of action who want to see immediate results and if we’re not standing against those godless people in our world, we’re losing ground. The reality is that that view is short-sighted Christianity. It demonstrates we don’t have a clear understanding of either the warfare or the enemy. Paul was clear to point out who the enemy is:
…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against lthe cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
If we understand this, our culture war will be replaced with the spiritual one, we’ll do battle through prayer against satanic forces and, unless Scripture is wrong, we may actually see the tides turn. We may actually see people coming to Christ, having their minds renewed, lifestyles altered and hearts softened, rather than the hardened attitude towards the things of God because of the actions of the people of God.
You may very well be called to take a particular action in the face of atrocities like abortion. That’s great with one condition: You have spent long, intensive amounts of time in prayer and are motivated from the grace of God to see people’s hearts change so that they will be internally motivated to cease the support of such atrocities. Then, and only then, do I think the glory of God will be revealed through His people in such a way that the battles will actually be won.