“Culture wars” has become one of the latest buzzwords in the last few years. It first came to my attention in 2020 when the “wars” were mainly centered around the Covid pandemic and all the disagreements about masks and shut-downs.
However, according to this article on Politico (“How the ‘Culture War’ Could Break Democracy”), the phrase “culture wars” was first popularized in 1991 by a book of that title by James Davison Hunter. Interestingly enough, in the early 90s, the culture wars centered around religion and family values—and that’s largely where it’s returned to in the past few years.
Many people, including many Christians, accuse one another of being engaged in “culture wars” if they bring up divisive issues or try to take a moral stance on something. It has a negative connotation as if people shouldn’t be all that concerned with taking a moral stance—or having objective standards of right and wrong. Additionally, some Christians say we shouldn’t engage too much in political issues because we should be more concerned with sharing the gospel with people.
While I don’t know where the author James Davison Hunter stands on matters of faith, he made this point, “On political matters, one can compromise; on matters of ultimate moral truth, one cannot.” When he speaks of “political matters,” I think he might be referring to things like economic policies, foreign affairs, and practical matters like infrastructure in a city or even a nation. While those decisions generally have some kind of moral underpinning guiding them, it is easier to compromise across the aisle when necessary.
However, the biggest issues showing up in today’s “culture wars” are based on that ultimate moral truth which cannot be compromised. And that’s where Christians need to have a full understanding of these issues so they can take a stand for truth that is quickly crumbling in our society. Many progressives in our society claim there is no objective truth, which is why they get angry with Christians for claiming there is. Yet at the same time, these progressives are making definitive moral stances and forcing others to agree with them or be rejected.
Hunter also made the statement, “Politics is an artifact of culture. It’s a reflection: culture underwrites our politics.”
The political tensions are high in our country right now because they’re being fueled by a cultural war over values—values that both sides want protected by law. It’s not enough to simply say, “You believe what you want to believe, and I’ll believe what I want to believe.” Those beliefs are now being pushed into the spotlight because their proponents want them enforced by the laws of the land.
All laws are based on morality, and this morality in turn shapes how a society functions. We’ve now come to a turning point in our country where we have to decide what kind of morality is going to shape our communities, our schools, and our nation.
But more than simply pushing a certain kind of “morality” on people, Christians should be caring most about the championing of truth in a world where objective reality seems to be melting away. Right and wrong are being reversed, and confusion seems to be the reigning ruler. Sanity is questionable, the “mushy middle” elevated, and compromise is being pushed on people so everyone can just “get along.”
But we can’t “get along” without truth to guide us. Every human hungers for truth. We were made for it, just as surely as we were made to worship God. The most loving thing for us to tell our friends and neighbors is the truth—the truth about who God is, who we are as his creation, how we’re sinners in need of a Savior, and how we can gain that salvation by putting our hope in Christ.
And if we compromise on the truth of what God’s Word says, we will never truly be pointing people to God. The New Testament is filled with warnings against false teachers.
2 Peter 2:1-3a says, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.”
We have seen a rise in these false teachers in recent years who have brought in destructive heresies to the church. They have blasphemed the truth, but in a way that seems “kind” and “loving.” And they’ve gained a following as people respond emotionally, wanting what makes them feel good and happy. As Christians, we need to be aware of where these lies are coming from and boldly speak the truth in love in response. So what might some of those top areas of “culture wars” be that we need to stand up for?
Abortion. Christians need to be the first to take a stand for the dignity of the smallest, most vulnerable lives among us who are daily being killed. We need to love women in desperate situations and provide them with whatever assistance we can, yes, but we must not waver on the truth that each baby in the womb is a life that God has created and who deserves to live.
The LGBTQ Agenda. We should also be the first to love and respect each person who struggles with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. But we should also point them to what they need the most, which is not affirmation, but salvation in Christ. Additionally, there truly is an agenda targeting kids and teenagers with LGBTQ indoctrination through schools and social media, and this, too, is something that believers should take a stand against. Our children’s minds are vulnerable and malleable, and they don’t need confusion pushed on them from a young age.
Critical Race Theory. While debates about race issues continue on in America, one thing believers need to understand and be wary of is critical race theory. Critical race theory is the idea that racism is woven into all systems in our country, that these systems were founded on and are run on white privilege and white supremacy, and that all white people are inherently oppressors, and all people of color are inherently oppressed. This is antithetical to the gospel which doesn’t make any distinction of people’s sins being based on their skin color. We are all sinners, and we are all morally responsible for the choices we make. Being wary of critical race theory doesn’t mean denying that racism exists. It does, and it’s a sin. Being wary of CRT means we’re not supporting wrong ways of thinking about the reasons for racism and our response to racism.
As Christians, God calls us to be wise and discerning. He calls us to think critically about issues like the ones above and many others. And he calls us to be unwavering in our fight for truth. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
We aren’t fighting people in this war for truth. We’re fighting the lies of the enemy that are pushed by these ideas and agendas. We must love those whom we disagree with, but love doesn’t mean we simply give into whatever they want us to think. We love them by being kind and gentle in our approach, but also firm and unwavering on what truth is.
Ultimately, our goal is not to win “culture wars,” but to win souls for Christ. We know that one day, Jesus will return and restore the culture to the way it’s always meant to be. However, that doesn’t mean we simply ignore what’s going on in the culture and pretend like it’s not important. We are called to be salt and light, to stand boldly for truth when opportunities arise, and not be afraid of the persecution that will come.
So let us “fasten on the belt of truth” and “take up the shield of faith” and fight the good fight to which we’ve been called. We go forth for the cause of Christ.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.