I Hate the Culture War too

by Luke Moon
From the Institute on Religion and Democracy

It might surprise some of you that I don’t wake up every morning thinking about new ways I can hate on gay people.  Nor do I spend all day making signs of aborted babies.  I  also don’t check the immigration status of the person sitting next to me on the bus.  (Yes, I ride the bus and sometimes I even commute by bike, how’s that for Creation Care?)   I suspect I am like many of you.

I also hate the culture war!

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all just live in peace.  If we just understood that every idea and action was perfectly acceptable.   We wouldn’t have to draw lines, give labels, make moral judgments, there would not be any for or against, right or wrong, instead we could all just “be.”

I am told that all we (Conservative Christians) should “start washing feet instead of waging war.”

Or as Rachel Held Evans ranted after Amendment 1 passed in NC,

“My generation is sick of the culture wars.

We are tired of fighting, tired of vain efforts to advance the Kingdom through politics and power, tired of drawing lines in the sand, tired of being known for what we are against, not what we are for.”

The absurdity of this argument seems to escape people like Rachel Held Evans who seems to have convinced herself that she is somehow holding neutral ground. The fact is there is no neutral space here and none of us live in a world where lines are not drawn, labels applied, or judgements made.

Let me explain what I mean.  According to the American Psycological Association,

“Since 1975, the American Psychological Association has called on psychologists to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations.”

Back then, very few people, religious or not,  would ever have envisioned the President of the United States saying on national television,

“we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

Between 1975 and today there were lots of lines being drawn.  There was the line of “tolerance” then came the line of “acceptance,” then came the line of “affirmation,” and finally the most recent line, the coercive power of the State compels all citizens to accept and affirm same-sex marriage.

So if all those lines have been crossed, why should there be any lines at all?  How about “age of consent” laws?  How about pedophilia? How about polygamy or polyandry?

Before you say, those lines will never be crossed, you should know that there is a group of psychologists and mental health officials looking to de-stigmatize pedophilia. In an article from Fox News,

“The organization, which calls itself B4U-Act, is lobbying for changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, the guideline of standards on mental health that’s put together by the American Psychiatric Association.”

“Stigmatizing and stereotyping minor-attracted people inflames the fears of minor-attracted people, mental health professionals and the public, without contributing to an understanding of minor-attracted people or the issue of child sexual abuse.”

Would Rachel Held Evans not join me in drawing a line around pedophiles?  But why there?  Because it hurts children?  Divorce hurts children too.  What about that line?  The real issue, that Rachel and others refuse to identify, is not whether we draw lines, but where we draw the lines.

Is it really the lines that are driving young people from church or is it something else?  Perhaps these younger evangelicals who are abandoning church are simply unwilling to accept the limitations that Jesus, the Bible, and the Church all put on sexual gratification.  As my colleague, Kristin Rudolph noted in a recent blog,

“According to recent statistics reported by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), 80% of unmarried Evangelicals between the ages of 18 – 29 have had sex.”

How many of these young Evangelicals are going to be offended when the church says, homosexuality is sin, sex before marriage is sin, divorce is sin, etc?  It should be of no surprise when the Church is the only institution in society saying, “no” to people’s unrestricted passions and base desires there might be some anger.

Scripture repeatedly assures us that the message of the cross, which in part calls us to self-denial, is both offensive and encouraging.  It also reminds us that we are in a battle, not only for ourselves, but for our families, churches, and ultimately the whole world.  But as St. Paul admonished, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”  So with God’s help, we fight the battle in the realm of ideas, where “arguments and pretensions” hold sway.

Ultimately, I don’t fight in the culture war because I love it, but because I am called to it.  I hate the culture war against families, against children, against fathers, against stay-at-home moms, against people who hold a high moral standard.  What is at stake is not simply personal preferences, it is humanity itself.  If that is not worth fighting for than what is?

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11 Responses to I Hate the Culture War too

  1. toadspittle says:

    .
    “I am told that all we (Conservative Christians) should “start washing feet instead of waging war.”

    Excellent idea, “Luke.” We suggest you start with your own, and then stop right there.

  2. toadspittle says:

    .
    “Nor do I spend all day making signs of aborted babies.” Well, neither do I “Luke,” because I have no idea what “making signs of aborted babies,” could mean.
    Any offers?
    Kathleen?

  3. kathleen says:

    Not sure about that one either Toad :-?.
    Could be the author means he doesn’t parade graphic photos of aborted babies outside abortion clinics, do you think? That would seem to fit the context – the only sort of things ‘Conservative Christians’ are supposed to spend their time doing.

  4. Luke Moon says:

    Yes, Kathleen, that is exactly what I meant. Toad Spit, what do you mean by the first comment?

  5. toadspittle says:

    .
    As CP&S seems to have morphed into the Kath &Toad show, sadly – let’s try and iron out a few differences with “The Culture War” in mind.
    Kathleen believes that “Gay Marriage” is an illogicality – like “bitter honey”, or “circular rectangles” or “dark white”. I think this is not so. Marriage, being a human construct, is as adaptable as the concept of taxation. We decide (it says here!) whom to tax, and how much. This can, and does, change. Frequently.
    Marriage is also like education. We can have different views on how to do it, but we generally agree it should be done, somehow or the other.
    During my lifetime certain American states still made inter-racial marriage a crime. In the past, in England, there were several laws preventing Catholics doing things, and holding certain offices. There were laws preventing women doing things – like voting. And people pointed at them and said “We do this because it is traditional. Blacks traditionally do not marry whites and women traditionally do not vote. Never have, never will.”
    No doubt, the idea of being married anywhere but in a church was unthinkable, illegal, or possibly both. Certainly untraditional.

    I can’t see how “Gay Marriage” can adversly affect me or Kathleen. Maybe she can. Even if it did adversly afffect me a bit, it might still be worth it if it made some other people’s lives a little less awful. After, all we’re all in this mess together.
    I was indifferent to the idea of gay marriage until recently. I’m in favour of it now, after some careful reflection, prompted in part by reading opinions on CP&S. Very untraditional of me, to be sure.

    I hope Kathleen can see that, although we will inevitably continue to see this issue differently, my point of view is sane and reasonable. Not the ravings of a despot determined to foist his views on unwilling swathes of society.

    (San Isidro day today. (His thoughts on gay marriage are not known, but probably unprintable.) We will take him and his ox out to bless the fields before Mass.)

  6. toadspittle says:

    .
    Good question, Luke. I suppose I was “channelling” the incomparable Oscar (alas, “Gay”) who said “Charity begins at home, and ought to stay there…” or maybe I wasn’t.
    Anyway, we surely agree that “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” (Henry Miller, happily not “Gay”) and the feet are the natural body part to start the washing process, working up by easy stages to the brain.

  7. toadspittle says:

    .
    “Luke Moon” Lovely name! Weren’t you in “Star Wars, Episode 178: ‘Revolt of the Trolls,’ Luke? It was jolly good, anyway!
    Better than Tolkien, or Dan Brown, Toad thought! Better even than the two of them put together, if you can imagine such a thing! (But probably worse than C.S.Lewis.)

    Anyway, welcome to our “Great Big Unhappy Family.” (Tolstoy.)

    It’s nice here on CP&S. Very light-hearted!
    (Many “moons” (if you will pardon the expression) ago, in London, I used to be “chums” with a drummer called Keith. No relation? Very fun guy! Long dead, of course. This is true.)

  8. Brother Burrito says:

    Luke,

    Toad is our “ScareTroll”. Passing trolls see him here, think the place is covered, and move on.

    The rest of us just ignore him.

    Sometimes he reminds me of Salvatore of Montferrat, the gibbering heretic idiot monk in “The Name of the Rose”.

  9. toadspittle says:

    .
    Considering Toad was the only one who bothered to acknowledge your nice little ChristOS piece at all, Burrissimo, well, I’m lost for words, for once. ¡The ingratitude!
    Bit peevish, this sunny morning, are we?

    However, I must agree that “gibbering heretic idiot,” is a reasonably accurate description of Toad. Cruel but fair.

    Not a monk, though. Yet.

  10. marcy says:

    Reblogged this on My Name is Marcy and commented:
    This article started a tangent that is not entirely topical, but I am going to use this reply to formulate those thoughts anyway.

    I am one of those sick of the culture wars. I do not expect them to accomplish anything more than a drug which targets the symptoms and not the sickness. It is true we have a fight to fight, but the war waged in the political arena is not it. We are called to train minds and change hearts: politics does not do that. Politics encourages narrow-mindedness and hard hearts. I am strongly opinionated on a lot of political issues, and the days in which I debated these points with others didn’t do anyone any good. Arguments do not change anyone’s mind and politics is just one great big argument.

    Now, understandably some issues like abortion need to be legislated. If abortion is murder, as Catholics and most other Christians contend, then it ought to be illegal. But gay marriage is not an issue that should be contended with politically.

    There are a lot of reasons. The first is the whole problem with the political process, even when you win, you loose. Catholics are not a political party. Even if we win and we pass the laws that we know are morally right, we have lost. Because our job is not to legislate morality, but to teach it. As soon as our faith becomes tinged with political zeal, it does not matter how right we are because when we prove that we are correct, we alienate and push further away the very people we need to reach. A political victory can only hurt evangelization. If I am gay, and I can associate what I view as hateful behavior with the Catholic Church, why would I consider it? In the same way that our personal experience teach us the reality of Christ, the personal experiences of those we are fighting in the political arena is going to teach them to distrust Christianity. There is no victory in alienating a whole swathe of the population from considering Christianity just to stop a political process.

    I think everyone can see the alienation, but even so most insist that the sanctity of marriage be preserved. And they are right; marriage is a sacred convenant between God, man, and woman. No other way, no substitutions. So we need to ask ourselves then, what on Earth is the government doing in the marriage business anyway? Why are we allowing those little rubber stamped papers they issue to be associated with marriage. Marriage is a sacrament administered by the Church. The government has nothing to do with it. Even if gay rights proponents win, they are really only winning the right to redefine a word: they are not changing or desecrating the sacrament of matrimony.

    The fact that marriage is a sacrament administered by the church really ought to give us pause too. If there is a political fight here for Catholics and Christians, it is not a fight to keep the gays from marrying. It is a fight to keep the state from having anything to do with marriage. If we truly believe marriage a sacred thing, we ought to get the most unholy of institutions out of it.

    And the final thought on these whole culture wars is, look. They are going to win. As long as we make this a political battle we are fighting on their terms, on their ground. And when we loose, not only will they have more fuel to make us look archaic and backwards and evil, but we will undoubtedly have failed to live up to what the Catechism when it says:
    “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”.

    I don’t think a Catholic priest informing them he will not marry them is discrimination. But denying them civil rights is discrimination, and that is what the state is doing when it grants a marriage license: it is granting certain civil rights and privileges. I don’t think gays should marry nor condone homosexual behavior, but I do think that there are homosexual couples that love each other greatly and denying one of them the right to see the other on his or her deathbed is immoral. And as it stands, those rights are given in what the state calls a marriage certificate. As much as we may be opposed to homosexuality, we cannot deny the possibility of genuine feeling in such relationships nor that something such as visitation rights should not be denied them.

    The way it stands, our Culture War is a loosing war because our opponents set the battlefield and we march in. We are playing by their rules and fulfilling their expectation of the Church to be the big bad, hypocritical hater. We aren’t that. But when you are fighting in the mud, you will get dirty. Why should we stoop down to this sort of fight? We know the way we our to fight our enemies, as Christ exemplified and St. Paul said: ut if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.

  11. toadspittle says:

    .
    “…Politics encourages narrow-mindedness and hard hearts…”

    While I agree with a great deal of what Marcy says here, this is too sweeping a statement, for me.
    Everything is politics.
    No doubt it sometimes, quite often probably, does what she says – but on other occasions might produce exactly the opposite effect.

    In any case, it’s all we’ve got.

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