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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Friday, August 12, 2016

The Post Culture Wars, Conservative Christians' Search For Somthing To Hold On To.

For those who have paid attention, it seems that the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision has become the Battle of Appomattox for religiously conservative Christians in culture wars they should have never fought. Since then, many of us Christians have been trying to figure out how to fit into the new culture while remaining faithful.

Before the culture wars, religiously conservative Christianity had a dominant place in culture and society by determining many of its values--especially its sexual morals. Yes, society might not have been blatantly sexually free back then, but then again, neither were many minorities. So what we had was not just a conservative Christian culture, we had a racially based conservative Christianity dominate the scene.

But something not so funny for many of us happened on the way to the year 2016. It was the '60s. And in the '60s, we had a spurt of real Democracy. Now such doesn't always bring about the best of decisions, but it does disperse power and involve more people in society and even politics. And part of what the people wanted was more sexual freedom. And considering how those from the LGBT community had been more than just marginalized for centuries in the Europeran version of America, there was a sowing of the seeds for their deliverance from abuse and mistreatment. A partial taste of that deliverance was found in the Obergefell decision, though some other battles must still be fought. For in the majority of American states, a person can be legally harassed and even dismissed from their job due to their sexual orientation. But at least the conservative Christian domination over our culture and society has been broken and this has caused a variety of reactions from conservative Christian leaders. 

One reaction is called the Benedict Option. This is where Christians practice a partial withdraw from society so that they regroup their forces and live lives not corrupted by society's new status quo. Some NeoCalvinists see the battle for culture as not being over. They believe that the ability to communicate the Gospel depends on some degree of Christian control over society's values and morals.

In addition to the above 2 reactions comes a reaction by Russell Moore (click here for a bio) who is an important person in the Southern Baptist Convention. In the article being reviewed here (click here for the article), Moore sees the separation between culture and society from religiously conservative Christianity as being good for Christianity in two ways: it will purify the Church in terms of eliminating nominal members, it will help real conservative Christians find clarity in life and in their sharing in society of  God's Word. Moore acknowledges that this separation between culture and conservative Christianity being counted as a good thing for conservative Christianity as being counterintuitive. But he makes a very valid point in saying that where Christianity was used to 'assimilate people into American values and fight Communism,' real Christianity was lost; it becomes theological liberalism. This is a point he borrows from J. Gresham Machen and it is the most valid point made in the article.

But there is a problem here. The problem is that no governmental system, economic system, or society can sustain itself regardless of the civic moral standards and ethics the people adopt. So while Moore goes on to say how Christians should be more empowered now to interact with cultures and our political world, it is a limited empowerment in that he means it to further the Church. Not that furthering the Church is bad, its the self-imposed limitation that is harmful. For religiously conservative Christians, like myself, have had a difficult time in working and playing well with others when it comes to developing a self-sustaining civic morality and set of ethics with others. The aftermath of the Obergefell v. Hodeges decision showed that domination eventually incurs a debt to society that religiously conservative Christians are unwilling and  unable to pay. For that debt legitimately marginalizes our place in society. However, neither attempts to restore our dominance nor some way of running home with our toys and games because we didn't win is a recipe for hurting our witness to the Gospel.

Though he doesn't say this, what Moore is advocating is a cessation of hostilities on the culture wars front--something with which I fully agree. But what he leaves unexplained is how we should coexist with those who are different.  Again, a certain need for religiously conservative Christians to contribute to a basic, sustainable civic morality and ethics is being bypassed or at least saved for the contents of another article.

What is needed is for us religiously conservative Christians to work with, rather than lord over, others in society in creating this workable civic morality and ethics. This does not mean that Christians must compromise what is taught in the Scriptures in order to contribute. What it does mean is we must learn how to work with those who hold to different values, as well as what values can we reasonably expect nonChristians in society to adhere to, while protecting the equality of other members of society. To be able to contribute to society in this way will open up many doors to sharing the Gospel with others.

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