Conservative Christians have to care about the Culture war
Updated: Oct 22, 2021
I get it. Political and cultural debates are wearisome to the soul. Two sides screaming, talking past each other, and virtue signaling their feigned moral superiority is at times enough to make even the most extroverted among us daydream about off grid living in a cabin deep in undisturbed Appalachia. If Western culture is dying the gradual death of a thousand cuts, what use is there in fighting against the inevitable? This defeatist mindset might be understandable given the current cultural projection, but for the Christian, to misquote the Mandalorian, “This is not the way.”
Not all Pagan Cultures are equal.
It is unfortunately too common for Christians to absolutize and take the position that all pagan cultures are equal. You are either in the Kingdom of God, or the kingdom of Darkness, so if our culture departs from Christ, it does not matter what they believe. This is true in a salvific sense that salvation is only found in Jesus Christ, however it misses the
consequences that arise for life on earth in the temporal sense. Ideas have consequences and not all pagan societies are morally equal. This is easy to demonstrate with a brief thought experiment: would you rather visit an ancient Aztec society that regularly practices human sacrifice, or would you rather take a vacation in modern day Switzerland? It is true that repentance, conversion, and the Spirit of God is the surest way to transform a nation. It is what made Christianity move from a small group of huddled disciples to a movement that transformed the entire Roman Empire. The fact that the Gospel of Christ is the surest way to transform a culture cannot be forgotten in a spirit of pragmatism. But we must avoid the other extreme end of the spectrum that maintains that if people do not repent and believe then our cultural battles are of no importance.
To be united with Christ inevitably puts you at odds with the culture.
Some Christians have the attitude that the church and Christians should not get too involved in political debates and only worry about sharing the gospel. How exactly is this possible for someone who has been made a new creation in Christ? The political issues in our land have real consequences for both ourselves and our neighbors, and in case the point was missed in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, everyone is our neighbor, and we are to care for them. Recently a man who is our neighbor to the north in Canada was jailed for “family violence” because he will not support his minor child’s gender reassignment surgery and does not call his child by the “politically correct” pronouns. A neighbor of ours across the pond in England was recently arrested for “hate speech” for reading the Bible in public. Christians have a responsibility not only to share the gospel but to speak out against societal injustices such as these.
An honest reading of the Old Testament prophets shows that God cares about societal justice. We have a responsibility to vote against politicians who will harm our neighbors and promote wickedness in society. The book of Acts shows that Paul leveraged his rights as a Roman citizen to his advantage (Acts 22). However, voting for elected officials is merely combatting the symptoms of a depraved society. Politics is downwind of culture; political and cultural change can come about through everyday conversations with our neighbors over important issues. When I was in elementary school, I remember a teacher giving the class advice to “avoid discussions of politics and religion.” Unfortunately, this attitude prevails in our society and we are left with people who are unable to have rational discussions on these important issues. Discussing political, religious, and cultural issues with our neighbors is important, and when we have these discussions, we are engaging in the war over the culture, whether we choose to call it “the culture war” or not.
Do not confuse every conservative victory with Christ’s victory.
I am staunchly and unapologetically conservative, both politically and theologically. However, conservative policies and ethics are not necessarily identical with a biblical Christian ethic. Biblical teaching is by nature infallible; conservatism and the policies of the Republican party are by nature fallible since they are the policies of imperfect human beings. It is important to always examine our convictions and “hot takes” on the current political issues of the day to see if they are in line with scriptural principles and not just what our fellow conservatives are going with on any given issue. Our concern should not be on whatever meme, tweet, or video “owns the libs,” but on what is true, noble, and honoring to our King. He has our ultimate allegiance, not our cultural allies.
Accept that cultural change may not come in your lifetime.
Western society in its current state is heading down a dark path. Even many balanced pastors are starting to prepare their congregations for the persecutions that may come. I have heard every prediction from civil war, a coming Totalitarian Communist regime, to the more radical claim of concentration camps for Christians. I am not sure how much wisdom is in these absolute predictions that are made. I am neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet. But what I can say is that without Divine intervention and a complete cultural shift, no matter which direction we head will be a bad one. Few things are as discouraging as being on what is perceived as the “losing side.” You might not change many minds with the conversations you have. But you should have them anyway. Christians around you may compromise with the world and leave the truth for social convenience. You should stand for the truth anyway.
The exhortation to be salt and light in the world did not come with the caveat that it only applies when your side is winning. There is a story about a man who was on the beach and there were thousands of newly hatched sea turtles trying to make it to the ocean as they were being eaten by seagulls. The man was running around frantically picking up turtles and tossing them into the ocean. A man watching nearby mocked him and said, “There are so many of them, you can never save them all so why try? What difference does it make?” The man tossed another turtle into the sea and pointed at it saying, “It made a difference for that one.”