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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


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Conservative Christianity's Three-Front War

It seems that we have multiple wars inside the United States. The  War on Christmas and the War on Women are two of the most well known wars that "exist." Of course they are not official wars, they are simply descriptions of cultural conflicts in society. However, I would like to add one more to the list of wars in American society. That war is the religiously conservative Christian War Against Change. Considering that many of us religiously conservative Christians (a.k.a., flaming fundamentalists with flaming referring to being passionate about the tenets of Christian Fundamentalism) view America as very our own special homeland. It is our homeland because we view America as starting as a Christian nation being built on biblical principles. And what we have seen is a spiritual societal coup by secularism so that many of us feel that we have lost our rightful place in society. That place is that of being privileged in exercising some degree of control over society's laws and its culture. But in the words of a famous piece of Jazz music, 'things ain't what they use to be.'

From my experiences on the Christian blogfront, my fellow religiously conservative Christians understandably see current changes as threats and are fighting a three front war against change. I should note here my political views differ quite a bit from most of my fellow religiously conservative Christians. I am a socialist and they tend to be either Republicans or Conservative Libertarians. Because of the differences in our politics, I can't agree with their war against change. And that tells us something right there. That perhaps, this war against change is more naturally driven than spiritually driven.

The fronts on which many of my fellow flaming fundamentalists are the Modernism front, the Post Modernism front, and a historical front where the historical subject of front is our nation's past.

What are meant by Modernism and Post Modernism? One way of understanding human time periods is to break them up by what metanarratives are predominantly used by people to understand the world around them. Metanarratives themselves refer to beliefs and stories people used to interpret the world. There are three time periods using the predominant metanarrative of the time to distinguish each division of time. They are Pre Modern, Modern, and Post Modern. With Pre Modernism, people used some kind of faith or belief in the supernatural to interpret the world around them. In other words, one's faith or belief in the supernatural served the metanarrative that most people relied on. With Modernism, people rely mostly on science and reason to interpret the world around them. Thus here, science and reason served as the metanarrative for most people. Post Modernism is the odd child of the three. For with Post Modernism, the metanarratives of both Pre Modernism and Post Modernism are rejected. What serves as a basis for truth then? It is kind of a mixture between relativity and an outcome-based truth system. With the latter, the truth of a belief or set of beliefs depends on whether they have produced oppression or exploitation, Since history is replete with many examples of people using their faith or science as a justification for dominating over others, both are rejected as having any ability to provide a metanarrative. Thus, Post Modernism is the most reactionary of the three time periods.

So now we can discuss the first front on the Christians War Against Change: the fight against Modernism. Now what will be said here are general statements that apply to the majority of religiously conservative Christians I have encountered or observed. They are not absolute statements applying to all religiously conservative Christians.

Now it isn't the case that religiously conservative Christians who are fighting against Modernism reject all that science and reason have to offer. Rather, there are two specific areas where these Christians see themselves in a battle. These areas are climate change and the social sciences. What is the Christian beef against the science of climate change? It is that if the claims made by climate change scientists are true, then we Christians must make changes to our way of life here in America. In addition, many businesses which serve America must also make changes.

In other words, there isn't anything about climate change science that directly challenges Christian belief. And yet, climate change science has spurred a tribal response from many religiously conservative Christians. And by tribal response, I mean that Christians tend not to accept what unbelieving climate change scientists say about what is happening and our future. They will sometimes listen to fellow believers who talk about climate change. But outside of that, there is real skepticism experienced by my fellow religiously conservative Christians toward climate change science. 

And this tells us something that perhaps we Christians may not want to admit. That the reason why we are skeptical is because of what we have so tightly associated with our Christian faith: our nation's status quo and business interests. Of course, there is another factor involved in the Christian opposition to climate change science. That other factor is that of a turf war. Who can best describe the world around us? Is is secular science with its rejection of Creation and belief in evolution, or is it the Bible with its Creation account?

Psychology is another battle front where religiously conservative Christianity is fighting against Modernism. And though the battle lines are not as sharply defined as they are in Christianity's fight against climate change science, what we see is still a turf battle for who can best describe the world around us. What we do see here is more intermixing between Christianity and psychology than we see with climate change. But the more conservative the Christian, the more suspicious they are toward what can be learned from psychologists.

The second front religiously conservative Christians are fighting on is the one against Post Modernism. And the particular battle where most of the fighting takes place centers on LGBT issues. The current battle over same-sex marriage served as the Waterloo for Christian control over culture according to many of the religiously conservative Christians I have read. And when we add transgenderism to the mix, what many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians have concluded is that American society has rejected belief in absolutes and objective truth.

But why did so many religiously conservative Christians feel the need to oppose the legalization of practices like Same-Sex Marriage (SSM)? Many of the Christians bloggers I have read felt that it was an attack on marriage and that society's future revolves on the health of marriage. But such doesn't provide a complete answer because the state of marriage without SSM was not good anyway. Divorce rates and the number of single parents were way too high to say that marriage was doing well. My intuition says that much of the religiously conservative opposition to SSM was a look at who is moving into the neighborhood argument. Basically, this refers to neighborhoods in the past whose property values might have fallen once minorities moved into homes. Unfortunately, such reveals just a sliver of nation's deep historical problem with racism.

So here, many religiously conservative Christians argued that marriage would no longer be valued as it was if same sex couples were allowed to be married too. This in-your-face cultural change of having to see same sex couples' marriages being put on an equal status with heterosexual marriages signaled a 'sky is falling' response by many a Christian. Rod Dreher's Benedict Option was in response to changing sexual mores, especially the acceptance of homosexuality in society, such as seen in SSM.

The final front is more historic in nature. It is the belief, despite the rampant racism in our nation's history, that this nation was founded on biblical principles and thus was created as a Christian nation. And that nation was not only Christian, it believed in limited government. And thus the belief in limited government has become strongly associated with religiously conservative Christianity. So here we see the political front of the War Against Change. And many religiously conservative Christians seem to believe that conservative political ideology, especially when it emphasizes limited government, is wedded to their faith.

But why would this be the case? The only answer I can come up with revolves around tribalism and the resulting turf battles between secular liberals when they are in charge of government and the Church over who knows what is best for the American people. Many religiously conservative Christians who believe in limited government believe so because they see the Church as being solely responsible for helping those in need. Of course for that to happen, government would have to support the Church and that would give the Church a privileged position in society. While
for others, they simply want as little interference by the government as possible.
But the tribalism itself is another key to understanding why many religiously conservative Christians believe in limited government. For that tribalism tells many of us religiously conservative Christians that we have everything to teach these secular liberals and nothing to learn from them.

It is unfortunate that many of us religiously conservative Christians are fighting on any of these 3 fronts, let alone all of them. It is totally unnecessary. For many of us, the fear of compromising or even losing our faith by benefiting from unbelievers drives us to fight this war. Ironically, this doesn't stop many of us religiously conservative Christians from wedding our faith to conservative political ideology. In addition, intolerance and fear of those who are different is also a contributing factor. In the end, our War Against Change not only hurts us and not only hurts those around us who would benefit from change, it dishonors the Gospel which has been sent by God to save those who believe.

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