Culture War

16Nov08
AK-47 in COD4

AK-47 in COD4

Barring about an hour during a movie last night, I haven’t slept since about this time (10AM) yesterday (Saturday). I attempted for several hours. I read chapter four from one of my favorite books, Blue Like Jazz, in an attempt to lull myself to sleep. Unfortunately that book is too entertaining or I was too restless–at any rate, I gave up and played Call of Duty 4 online for a few hours. Amazing game. I tend to camp with a silenced AK in inconspicuous corners throughout the map and irritate my opponents to death. But I digress.

After quitting that, I decided to come upstairs and start reading my newest book, Myth Of A Christian Nation, which I found out about here: part1, part2, and part3. The premise of the book, which is written by a pastor of what he calls a “conservative Christian” church (quotes because they’re his words and I try to be cautious about labels–especially shady ones like “conservative” and “Christian”). The central premise of this book is that the American Evangelical Church’s unhesitating alliance with the political Right is destroying the Church’s reputation and God’s by association. And I couldn’t agree more.

Disclaimer: the problem is not that people are associating themselves with conservative political ideas or moral values–the problem begins when people start saying that they’re their values are “Christian” values and that anyone who disagrees with that individual is opposed to God. Most people don’t actually say that, but that threat seems to be in the air around many in our Christian subculture.

Anyways, the part that I found to be realy interesting was this:

For some evangelicals, the kingdom of God is largely about, if not centered on, “taking America back for God,” voting for the Christian candidate, outlawing abortion, outlawing gay marriage, winning the culture war, [etc]

The part that caught my attention is the culture war aspect. I guess I always knew it and was always aware of it, but we really are engaged in a culture war, us Christians. We want to make sure everyone understands that our ideas are right and we will stop at nothing to win. We want everyone to know that we’re right and they’re wrong.

If it isn’t obvious to you already, I’ll explain what is absolutely horrible about this frame of mind (and I’ve shared it as much as anyone at times).

First of all, seeking to control the beliefs of other people is not what God’s all about. He gave us free will. He never EVER forces himself on anyone. He doesn’t try to prove himself nor anything he says. He doesn’t operate in political or social power (he operates in weakness and foolishness). And most of all, he doesn’t set himself apart from anyone (save perhaps the religious elite).

That last point means he doesn’t try to make it known that he’s right and we’re wrong. He invites us to reason it out with him and doesn’t force us to agree. If we choose to be ignorant and closed-minded, he lets us. He’s not interested in winning anything because he doesn’t oppose anyone. He doesn’t really establish a group of people as his opposition because their views are wrong (if he did, Jesus would have been much lonlier than he was, considering no one was 100% right except for him).

This is what’s wrong with us trying to win a culture war. If you’re objective is winning, you’ve removed all capacity for love and growth to take place for you or your opponent (lest your opponent decide to take the higher road–then he or she might be apt to improve, but even that is in spite of your efforts and not because of them). Jesus didn’t care to win an intellectual argument. He was interested in showing a broken people that they’re loved by God.

Jesus alone could accomplish that. And he didn’t do it by political power (he denied that one in the desert specifically) or social/religious pressure (he CONSTANTLY opposed this throughout the Gospels). Instead, God showed his love for us by being born in a barn, wandering around homeless, and dying on a Roman cross like a criminal, all so that we can come to know about God’s intense, perfect, renewing Love for us.

Hopefully this leaves you a little more enlightened–especially if you’re as confused about this issue as I used to be.

NOTE: I forgot to add this in, but Megan pointed this out to me last night after reading Velvet Elvis: The Bible is an Open Ended book. God doesn’t try to prove his Word. Furthermore, it really doesn’t assign absolute rights and wrongs but serves as a guide to point to the one true morality: Love. It’s not a rule book. As my college pastor once said, the Bible isn’t a proof text. It’s the living Word of God, open wholly to interpretation. God invites us to read it and reason through it with Him so as to arrive at the one absolute truth. So perhaps we can think twice before we tell other people what God stands for.

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