Dear Christians, The Culture War is Over, We Lost.

blue merica
{I don’t normally post on political topics, or even on solely spiritual ones. Mostly I write about filmmaking from a biblical worldview, or church tech, etc… but I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while. Regular posts will resume after this brief interruption.}
Dear Christians,
In a short time the Supreme Court will rule on marriage in America. But no matter what that ruling is, it won’t change this fact:
The culture war is over. We lost.
We lost because it took 20 years for us to realize we were at war. This war of ideals started in the 1960s, but the Religious Right got going in the 80s. By then we were already on the defensive. We were most concerned about maintaining the power to enforce our rules. But legal authority alone does not engender revival.
We lost because we decided to let school and church teach our kids the most important lessons. We shirked our responsibility as parents. We are supposed to “train up a child” and teach them what it means to live a righteous and holy life. Instead we left that education up to Sunday School teachers who saw kids for 1 hour a week. How can we be surprised when a college student leaves home and then drops out of religious practice? We didn’t teach them what was important. Someone else did. How can we be surprised when our children’s views differ from our own? We didn’t teach them.
We lost because our own faith is little more than weekend window dressing. We go to church, and then go home and live like everyone else in the world. We don’t live as Christ did. Non Christians look at us and see little beyond a seemingly irrational, deeply-held belief that we are right and they are wrong. But if we are different and correct, why don’t we live differently? Why don’t we love differently?
We lost because we were fighting the wrong war. By all means, vote and speak up about morality, injustice, and erosion of freedom. But those things are not the reason we live on this earth. God didn’t ask us to protect our way of life, he asked us to be ambassadors of the reconciliation. I fought in this political war. I wrote about it, I voted my values, and railed against changes. It’s easy to get riled up about things that erode your status quo, it’s hard to live a life that proves your claims are real and better. The war against sin is less about other people’s actions, and more about our own.
We lost because we were fighting a political war when we should have been fighting a spiritual one. Do we believe our enemy is not flesh and blood? Do we really believe there is a spiritual aspect to this conflict of ideals and morals? It’s easier to rally the vote and cry about discrimination than it is to get on your knees and pray and trust that God hears and is in control. Want to change the world? Coercion through legal means doesn’t change anything but outside behavior, and that’s temporary at best. Change the world- truly change the world by changing hearts.
We lost because we were more concerned with making sure everyone behaves correctly than we were with making sure everyone has a personal, life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. We were more concerned with proving America was founded on Christian principles than leading Americans to Christ. We were more concerned with telling people what was sinful than we were in helping people find the one person who could take that sin on himself.
We lost the culture war.
Let the spiritual revolution begin!
2 millennia ago a small group of believers was not in a position of political or legal authority. In fact, many were killed for their beliefs. They focused on one thing, making disciples. They didn’t shy away from speaking the truth, they called people to repentance. They lived lives that marked them as different.
Let the spiritual revolution begin!
Their lives were not easy, and they were often persecuted. But they were faithful. They made disciples. And that small group of believers grew to over 2 Billion today. Somewhere along the way we, in Western culture, lost the sense of urgency, lost the love for people and desire to see them in a reconciled relationship with God. We became satisfied. We became preoccupied with maintaining the status quo. I fear the only thing that will shake us from our steadfast satisfaction is the shattering of society as we know it.
The culture war is over, and we lost. Let the spiritual revolution begin!
Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think below. Normally I post about media from a biblical worldview, like these short films/shows.

22 thoughts on “Dear Christians, The Culture War is Over, We Lost.

  1. Sarah Wilson

    Um….there is no culture war, and there never was. There are only my religious beliefs, and yours, and every other American citizen’s, and the mutual respect where they don’t intersect. Period. Anti-LBGT Christians (or anti-equal treatment and anti-nondiscrimination, anyway) have erred by listening to their pastors/hierarchy rather than their own hearts–mine tells me that my God could not and would not allow someone to be born homosexual then require them to live a life of celibacy and unnatural self-denial to adhere to God’s will. Nope! Can’t be. The much easier and correct explanation is that people wrote the Bible 2000 years ago, in a time in which loving homosexual relationships did not exist/were not accepted, and wrote it in a different, ancient language that is easy to misinterpret. This is the explanation for why we do so, so, so many things today that are forbidden in the Bible. Meanwhile, certain Christian beliefs about LGBT lifestyles are contributing to violent attacks against people and justifying denial of civil rights. Discuss.

    1. Sarah, thanks for your perspective on this. I’ll leave comment on biblical translation and LGBT topics for others. Books have been written on these topics, by more learned folks than I. But regarding the culture war… From my perspective, growing up in the 80s in conservative churches, there was a sense that we were in the middle of a “war” for our culture. This erosion of status quo in religious-based cultural ideals has been ongoing. We who hold conservative religious views have been engaged in this war of words and ideas for decades, but my point is that we got off track. We’re putting fingers in the dam when we should be diverting the course of the river. Being a “minister of the reconciliation” isn’t about hammering people who don’t act like we think they should.

    2. Sarah, I’m with you on this. Spiritual study and contemplation exist to help us humans live our lives well, to help us learn not to hurt our fellow humans, and to help us learn to lead a life of meaning. And it has to evolve to address our changing needs and understandings. When spiritual thought doesn’t adapt to evolving understandings, it loses nourishment and dies. Simple as that. Thank you for your thoughtful response.

  2. Kevin

    Sarah, in one sense, (as a pastor & scholar) you are wrong in the sense that the Bible was wrote in a different ancient language that is easy to interpret… it was wrote in Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic. If you research (on non-biased sources) the way scribes passed down and copied their beliefs, scriptures, history and way of life you will see… They were meticulous about it being the exact same- because they were protecting their way of life & beliefs… much like people do today
    As for the homosexual relationships being accepted in biblical era’s- they absolutely were. Greeks, Romans, etc… it was common back then for a man to have a woman as a wife (or wives) and a male lover… was it accepted? By some… and it was rejected by some also…. just like today. Nothing was mis-interpreted or lost in translation. We have Biblical translations now that are the literal interpretations of the Hebrew & Arabic scrolls, Greek Papyrus, etc… Not the King James that has been accused of being off…
    As for the LBTG comment/ tangent you had…. I didn’t get from this blog that it was targeting LBGT…. I got that it was targeting Christians for being judgmental, and holding the protection of their morals & values/ way of life- over reaching people far from God… It was saying that all this time- we have been fighting the wrong war.

  3. Perhaps we are “losing the war” because God said it would be that way? 2 Timothy 3 King James Version (KJV)

    3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

    2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

    3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

    4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

    5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

    6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

    7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

  4. You lost because you didn’t know who your enemies were. You thought corporations were your friends and I don’t know why. You let them raise your kids with corporate ethics, which is the furthest thing I know of from Christ’s teachings. You not only allowed the corporate propaganda machine into your homes, but you made of the television a shrine, the very focal point of your “living” room. You not only permit this evil into your homes, you pay for the privilege. Show me a home that professes itself to be Christian, and 90% of the time they will not be able to shut their TVs off even during meal time. TV, corporate owned and operated TV, says you deserve it, do what feels good, you deserve a break today, you go girl. Never does it tell you to sacrifice, never does it tell you to seek solitude or prayer.

  5. Jeana Jackson

    What we forget the most is that some of us judge and find things repulsively wrong. When really we’re no better than what we find repulsive and wrong. Jesus was not a christian. Buddha was not Buddhist. Muhammad was not Muslim. They were teachers of LOVE. Love is what they taught. Not judging people for their right or wrong. But showing they were there for the people that loved them and that they would never turn their backs on them no matter what. That’s the big picture we have missed all along while misinterpreting what we thought was wrong.

    1. Jesus was the master (pun intended) of showing love while instructing in what was good/ sinful. Take the woman caught in adultery. He defended her, protected her, and then instructed her to go an sin no more.

  6. tille

    Maybe our purpose in life is not to win “the cultural war”? I’ve never seen Jesus doing this neither his disciples. The disciples were concerned about the church (the actual believers) and not the world.
    In my opinion what the church is lacking most are the fruits of the spirit and not the moral standards.

  7. Melody

    Hi there! I just got linked to this site by a Christian friend of mine who I think is a little weird and overbearing but, well, religion evangelical-ness, right?

    Personally, I think there wasn’t a cultural war of any sort— only an evolution of sociocultural understanding, just as there is all the time. It’s the basis of literally all of our history and I think religious views are like that, too. (And was also the basis of literally a good large chunk of history.) Your church did, after all, go from some guy apparently walking around the Eurasian continent making friends and trying to teach people to make life choices and ending up worshipped for it to an organised group that tried to teach everyone to an even more organised group that started killing people for disagreeing and interpreting the Bible that someone scrawled up in ways that was politically convenient and furthering goals to people getting pissed off at those people and some of them breaking off and making Christianity less to do with churches and more about an individual’s personal relationship with god and then later secularising the government and letting people do as they will about their religious beliefs and generally kept on going with that. (Wow run on sentence runs on.)

    In all of that, there have been people who disagreed with people disagreeing with them and they all tried to fight it in a multiple of ways, some probably more successful than others (given we’ve never really heard about the times it failed) and what you’re talking about it an evolution of that (in my personal opinion). Maybe people are more distant but I’ve never really found that I needed a book to help me make decisions about my life or something— the socialisation process helps us abide by the social contract and that’s kind of how civilisation has worked out so far. That religion, or more specifically Christianity, has become less of a big deal? Well, so what?

    It hasn’t always been the Big Ultimate Thing. There were the ancient pantheons that came before that and these days, we could very well just count democracy and capitalism as a religion. People have faith in its shining ideals. They use it to make life choices and it guides them through life. The government is built upon it and people fight wars over it. Is that not what a religion is?

    I consider myself an un-religious individual but I could very well be fooling myself with some sort of delusion that I do not inherently worship the altar of democratic ideals and donate to the capitalist cause. What is life but one great illusion that we fool ourselves into believing? We all have different perspectives so how do we know what we see and hear is what others see and hear? Am I even real? Are you real? Am I reading this off the page or am I imagining it? When you reply, did you really or did I just convince myself you did?

    Okay, that last bit got a bit creepy and nihilist and weird but the point stands. I genuinely haven’t actually considered that there is a “culture war” raging in the background and I don’t really know anyone who does (except that weird evangelical friend of mine). Can a war exist without people believing it to be real? Can you fight one when the other side doesn’t doesn’t realise it’s fighting?

    Certainly the political war is being fought because we can /see/ that happening but this war of ideology is much more subtle. Sure, it exists in my mind now since I’ve read about it but until you manage to convince enough people that it is worth fighting, you then have to convince those you’re fighting over that you’re actually fighting for their eternal soul and salvation or whatever else you believe is important instead of just nagging at them about appearances and whatnot which is what you’re used to fighting, somehow believing that your god will connect to them and whatnot.

    Maybe you’ll be successful but I really doubt it, especially not on a wider scale. People generally don’t consider morals and kindness something you learn from the bible or whatever— it’s something that makes you a good person. You don’t do it because you want to avoid sinning but because you’re making someone happy, you’re helping someone and you’ll both go your separate ways having a good day. Being a good person, what does that have to do with religion and god? What is marriage but a social construct to bind two individuals together so they can have love, a comfortable friendship and awesome, monogamous sex? Does the fact that the bible says that god made the world and people in seven days change the fact that evolution, the birth of planets and stars and the birth of the universe have all been quantified and calculated (and none of it happened in the period of seven days)? What does your god even have to do with any of that?

    Why even fight it when there isn’t really anything to fight over (apart from our supposed souls from the less comfortable afterlife that may or may not exist)? Culture evolves. It’s inevitable and it seems to be heading in a, well, not a bad direction as far as Gen Y and Z is concerned (so long as the old people currently in power don’t destroy the world before we manage to replace them!).

    Anyway, long post is long and I have an assignment due so yea. Discuss. Or flame. Whatever.

    1. Melody, thanks for your reply.
      Having taken the time to leave such a lengthy reply I wonder if you have ever considered how much you and your evangelistic friend are alike? I’d almost like to be a fly on the wall during debates you must have, trying to convince each other.

      Obviously, we disagree. That’s OK. I’m sure you realize that you’re not the intended audience for this piece. Had I been writing for you I wouldn’t use the word “war” but would have generally talked about the erosion of status quo, or something similar. But for believers in Jesus Christ reading this, they know exactly what I mean.

      Oddly, for all you said that I disagree with, your final point is one that I’m more willing to accept; why fight this erosion of the status quo, this evolution as you call it? I’m calling for surrender, if you will. We, Christians, have spent far too much time and energy involved in this struggle of ideas, when we should have been busy doing other things. Because your’e right, the more important thing to fight over/for is the soul of every person. But it’s not just about eternity, it’s about the amazing life we can have living reconciled to and with God.

    2. Melody

      Of course we’re similar! We both got ENTP for our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which means we can either be seen as the Visionary, the Debater, the Inventor or the ultimate devil’s advocate. When we get together, literally the only thing we do is argue over everything and anything that springs to mind 😀

      For me, this is largely because I am fascinated by other people’s perspectives. I want to know why you think this and how you got to that point and I’ve been informed that when I meet new people, I have a habit of interrogating them about things that are, perhaps, more personal than I would appreciate. If I offend anyone at any point, this is unintentional. I am trying to share my perspective with you in an attempt to catch a glimpse of your thought processes because even after almost eight years of arguing with each other, her worldview still doesn’t make sense.

      What I do not understand about my friend and about religious people in general is why they do not question the existence of their god/s. For someone who questions everything, I find that I cannot reconcile with the idea that I must accept the existence of something to provide meaning for my life. What would god or allah or whatever have to do with the everyday? With the people who live in unfortunate environments around the world? The millions that starve to death or die of dehydration while I enjoy two types of clean water out of my taps and basically an infinite variety of food that I can purchase with money I earn from my part-time jobs as I learn in one of the best tertiary educational institutions in the world?

      I am privileged and lucky to be born where I have been while billions only dream of living in a house the size of my living room with their large, extended family and get clean, cold water, be able to provide their children with a single filling meal a day without concern for themselves. How would religion help those people but force them to resign themselves to poverty and poverty for their children and descendants? My friend likes to call her god “just and loving” but where is this justice? How is this love in any understanding of the concept? Because it certainly must be an alien one indeed to allow such disparity even between believers and those like me who do not even comprehend the idea of believing in a higher entity.

      I feel there is something fundamental to a Christian’s (or any religious individual’s) understanding of the world that I either cannot understand or cannot accept. For someone so otherwise logical and loving of change to cling so tightly to what I see as a safety blanket of years past is something I cannot wrap my mind around and my friend cannot seem to explain. As fellow students of science, I cannot see why she would reject certain advancements on a “religious basis” and support others so wholeheartedly and with such enthusiasm when I see the potential of both in improving the lives of so many.

      You call for a surrender yet you insist on fighting over people’s “souls” when we’re a bunch of molecular miracles powered by electricity-induced action potentials along the axons and dendrites of of the central nervous system in response to the peripheral and the atavistic instincts that keep the involuntary systems going. When my elementary school Catholic scripture teacher tried to reconcile me with god, I apparently drove her to tears and stress and madness and prayer to the point where she retired because she “failed me”. While I was indifferent as I child, a decade on, I can appreciate she was probably a sensitive person who was genuinely concerned over the state of my immortal soul. She probably also didn’t like the questions I asked and just wanted me to resign myself to the state of the world and appear the miracles or something that exist in the everyday. I don’t think she quite understood that if those things she called miracles are gifts from her god, her god probably favours the first world very much without too much overt concern for those poor individuals who live in places where such opportunities don’t exist or are so rare as to actually be worthy of the title of “miracle”.

      I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this considering I haven’t slept in an extended period of time but I really actually genuinely want to understand how you reconcile reality with god and suffering with his love for everyone. Do you call it tests of piety and free will and be done with it? How do you reconcile with the alien perspective of an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient individual with the words of love from Jesus Christ who martyred himself (and then undid it by reviving or something)? Can your god really be the three omni’s if he supports free will? Can Lucifer really have rebelled if god was omnipotent and omniscient since that implies that he induced the rebellion (so cannot really be rebellion)? Or if he allowed it, the sheer apathy that requires is, well, I cannot accept that.

      Share your perspectives! Or flame! In the quest for understanding, others’ reactions or inactions tell a lot more than some may think! I’m not sure what my friend expected when they linked me but I’m sure they won’t be surprised that this happened. At the end of the day, a true scientist only wants to understand everything and then share it with everyone to improve the world. Your god does but, well, I’m sure you can see how those two things clash. Just a bit.

  8. Thanks again for your thoughtful comment. We’re straying a bit off topic, but since you asked me some questions, I’ll answer, in as poor a fashion internet commenting can answer anyway. (I’m not a fan of debating on the internet, too much of communication is lost when tone and body language are missing. missing that instant feedback when the other pressing understands what I’m saying. I’ve basically given it up years ago.)

    First, about “surrender” – I was following the analogy using the term, but yes, I would like to see Christian give up on the status quo fight, and spend as much time and energy “making disciples’ and this reason is simple… If I truly believe that everyone without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will not only miss out on a life unlike any other, but also die and end up eternally separated from God, how much would have to hate others to not try to tell them how to be reconciled to God in their own lives? This is the reason Christians talk about their faith and evangelize others. I hope they don’t do it in an offensive way, because the Gospel is weird enough without us making it harder to accept because we are jerks. But we have to do it.

    The problem of pain… How can a loving, all powerful God allow natural evil in the world? To be honest, this is the philosophical issue I struggled the most with when I was examining my own beliefs. I can tell you that I won’t give you a satisfactory answer. Smarter people than me have written a lot more than I can about this. But here’s a nutshell from me. (maybe more nut than shell).

    I get moral evil. People are by nature sinful, and absent higher purpose can make horrible choices. We hurt other people. We hoard food instead of feeding the starving. etc… But whose choice caused the tornado that wiped out the family down the street’s home? earthquakes, floods, just pain in general. I can trot out the standards like “pleasure without pain isn’t really pleasure” and “when sin enter the earth, the entire earth suffered…” Like I said, many books have been written about that stuff.

    For me, what sealed this for me… we have this human based desire that God is like we want him to be. We project onto the Creator our expectations, and wonder why he doesn’t live up to them. Sometimes when God doesn’t deliver what we think he should, based on our understanding of who God is, we infer that he must not be real.

    But what if we just don’t fully understand? What if God is bigger, so much more than we can comprehend, and no expectation we ever levy on him will ever fully envelope who he is?

    Maybe instead of asking why an all powerful, good God doesn’t make the world like I expect it to be… maybe we should be asking is it possible that the world as I know it with my limited understanding was created by a God, who has revealed himself to me? It is possible for a God that I cannot fully know or understand, who spans eternity and knows infinitely more than I do, to create a world like this one, with natural pain allowed, and still be a God that cares for his creation?

    Why didn’t God create the world differently? No idea. I’m gonna ask him someday. But I came to the conclusion that God could have made a world like this and while I do not, and will not, ever fully understand Him or it, it is possible for him to exist and still be the God who has revealed himself to me. Certainly not a neat and tidy package, but there you go. I probably didn’t explain it very well. But that’s probably as good as I can in a comment section. Thanks again for your comments.

    1. Melody

      Thanks for sharing your view! I don’t get it at all but it sounds very similar to what my friend says when we debate. I suppose this is just one of those things I could spend my entire life trying to understand without ever really getting it.

      Thanks again for sharing 🙂

  9. i think our purpose is to lose this so called war .. we are not to determine where the world goes or what direction humanity goes … but as Christians….there is a time coming where our belief choices are going to be persecuted…. we will be put to death for believing in Christ …then we can truly be with the Father

    1. American Christians don’t know what real persecution is, and i agree, the time may be coming when we find out. The good thing is that under heavy persecution the number of Christ followers often grows. For whatever reason, revival seems to follow persecution in many countries.

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