Personally I hate the term “culture wars;” I’m not at war with those whom I disagree. I am not battling with those with opposing yard signs or who vote differently than I do. I can resonate to a point with younger evangelicals’ tiredness of such rhetoric even if I don’t agree with their response. I have said numerous times that culture won’t be changed through politics. There is nothing that Washington, DC can do to reverse a moral decline. Revival won’t start in Congress and it is unlikely that our President will lead us, as a nation, to collective repentance like what you saw in Ninevah after Jonah reluctantly shared the message God had burdened him with.
Not to say it can’t happen, because I don’t want to put God in a box. He can do anything He desires to do. Legislation, however, won’t change hearts and minds, just like the Old Testament law didn’t transform hearts and minds. Old Testament law only condemned and it along with any legislation can only be preservative in nature. Hearts and minds will only be transformed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A marriage amendment won’t do it. Striking down Roe v. Wade won’t do it either.
I say this however with an understanding that we do have a responsibility as the Church to be a prophetic voice. Where we fail is that our voice often gets swallowed up in partisan rhetoric and party politics. Matt Anderson responding to a post written by Rachel Held Evans made an astute point regarding our rhetoric.
It may be, in fact, prudent to simply avoid celebrating much altogether. We ought to recognize, after all, that the overwhelming passage of traditional marriage amendments are not signs of our society’s health, but its disease–and we are all implicated in it. Legislation ought to be the fruit of a long and careful discernment, what some have called “judgment” if we can get beyond the stereotypes for a moment. That process costs us all something, for it demands reflection upon both the moral norms we ought to strive for and the society in which we live. The attempt to close the gap, with legislation or some other effort, must be founded upon the recognition of failure. It will not do to foist the burden of responsibility on others before moving on. Not as Christians, anyway. ”Weep with those who weep” is an exhortation given to the church, but it is for the world. For as George MacDonald wrote somewhere, were it not for our tears the world would not be worth saving anyway.
Paraphrasing Anderson instead of being boastful of a victory that happened in North Carolina and 30 other states we should instead mourn the fact such amendments are necessary to begin with. We should mourn that many in our society (and unfortunately in our churches as well) are calling what is wrong – right.
I know I have failed in numerous instances to speak on this issue from that perspective. I know I’ve been guilty of being boastful when marriage amendments have been passed. I’ve spoken uncharitably on numerous occasions that I wish I could have back. Even in the midst of my failure I don’t believe I shouldn’t write about or not be concerned by culture issues such as abortion and marriage, but I know I must take care in how I write and how I express that concern. (FYI – I want to point you to an excellent post by a J.D. Greear, a pastor in North Carolina, prior to the marriage amendment vote.) However I do believe that being salt and light compels me to engage this and many other topics. We must take care about how we speak, but we shouldn’t be silent whether the issue is marriage or some yet unforeseen issue in the future.