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?