Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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The Culture War

Tug of war

by Dennis Pollock

In recent years many Christians and conservative pundits have spoken of a culture war, a clash in America between those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian values and those who consider these values primitive and archaic. Is there a culture war? Are Christians even supposed to be engaged in changing the culture? Do we ignore our ever darkening world and content ourselves that we have been delivered from it, or should we actively engage in attempting to turn things around?

Clearly there is a great struggle for the soul of America, a struggle between a secular perspective that ignores and often flatly rejects Biblical morality, and a Christian view that sees Biblical morality as the only proper standard for our nation or any nation. The reason that Christians find themselves at odds with their culture is actually pretty simple: secular values are always changing and evolving, but Biblical morality never changes. Christians may change their clothing styles, listen to IPODS rather than the record players of their grandparents, send brief texts instead of mailing letters, and work at cubicles rather than out in the fields, but when it comes to their ideas about sex, honesty, hard work, forgiveness, submission to authority, child-raising, and a host of other issues, their beliefs are identical to those of their evangelical ancestors of a thousand years earlier. To believe in the divine inspiration of the Scriptures is to be locked into a value system that is iron-clad and unchangeable. The secular progressive types find this primitive and simplistic, but evangelicals find it perfectly reasonable. If God truly inspired the Scriptures it is hardly likely that He will change His mind as He observes the prevailing culture moving further and further from the morality of Peter, Paul, and James.

This culture war is played out on many fronts, but the primary battleground is in the area of sexual morality. Above all else, here is where the ungodly howl the loudest as they demand the right to not only practice their own sexual preferences, but to have society approve and affirm them as they do. The two sides could hardly be any further apart. The secular view sees all sex as legitimate as long as it is between "two consenting adults." Once you pass that magic age of eighteen, anything and everything goes. As long as you can get another adult to consent, have at it!

A Different View

The Biblical view is decidedly more conservative, allowing sex only within the boundaries of marriage between an adult man and his (female) wife. It is summed up by the writer of Hebrews, who tells us, "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). But the struggle is not only with the sex itself; it is also manifested in the glorification of sex. The secular world wants sex in every television show and every movie theater; they want it to saturate every sit-com and stand-up comedy act, and fill every magazine. If a little sex is good, a whole lot is far better.

The Bible views sex as a beautiful act between a married man and woman, but it also champions privacy and modesty. Sex is for the bedroom only, behind closed doors, between a married couple who have made vows to stay together until death. It is not for public display, nor is it to be considered the main purpose of life. Sex is God's dessert given to couples who seek through their marriage to live uprightly and honor their Creator. Faithfulness, honor, compassion, sacrifice, integrity, friendship – these are the main courses which must be given the most attention. When these are in place, the dessert of sexual enjoyment will be healthy and beneficial – and will result in children, a not so insignificant aspect of marriage.

At this point I need to make a statement that will make many Christians cringe, but still needs to be said: We Christians are losing the cultural war. I know that won't sit well with those who insist that we must always speak positively about everything, but it is the truth nonetheless. This is so evident it hardly needs proving. I was reminded just how badly we are losing when I watched a clip from a morning TV show recently. The news team was celebrating the engagement of their meteorologist. That sounds tame enough, but the problem was that their meteorologist was a gay man, who was now engaged to his boyfriend.

Not only did they announce his engagement, they gushed, they celebrated, and they gushed some more. One news anchor told him, "I've just got to thank you for starting off our week on such a happy note." Speaking of all the positive emails and tweets the meteorologist had received, he enthused, "It must be great to feel all that love." Another anchor called them "a great couple." They brought his boyfriend to the studio and flashed his picture frequently so that everyone could see exactly who he was marrying. Never in the history of America or in the history of television could this have happened, until the last few years. The push for homosexual acceptance in America has reached critical mass, and there is no slowing it, let alone reversing it. But it is not merely homosexuality that is gaining ground. Divorce is more accepted, sex outside of marriage is more widely embraced and practiced, and nudity and sex acts in movies and on TV are tolerated more than ever. In short, we put up with and accept as normal things today that our parents and especially our grandparents would never have endured.

Salt of the Earth

Saltshaker

The Lord Jesus declared that we who believe in and follow Him must be the means by which our culture is preserved. He declares, "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men…" (Matthew 5:13,14). We who believe on and follow Jesus Christ are the only factor that stands between our world and total spiritual collapse. We are called to challenge and resist every step taken toward the abyss, and to proclaim Jesus Christ as our world's only hope. It does not take a lot of salt to flavor a food, but it does take some. You cannot carefully place two grains of salt on a large batch of scrambled eggs and expect to get much flavoring. The flavoring and preserving quality of salt depends upon the relative amount.

Our nation's greatest problem is not abortion or homosexuality or drug abuse; it is too few born again Christians that take the Bible seriously. It is unlikely that born-again Christians have ever been in the majority in this nation, but percentagewise, we are falling dangerously low. The popularity of trashy sit-coms that desperately attempt to squeeze as many sex jokes as possible into a thirty minute slot, the late night comedians who take irreverence to heights never dreamed of in past generations, the raunchy singers whose albums sell by the millions, the number of brazen politicians who speak in grave tones about the moral necessity of legalizing homosexual marriage, and the multiple millions of voters who vote these politicians into office… all these testify of a nation that is sliding into the pit of decay and spiritual anarchy.

Nobody likes to lose. It can be depressing to think that with all of our evangelistic outreaches, our prayer meetings, our attempts to make our church services relative to the non-churched, our Christian book stores, Christian music industry and Christian movies, our multimedia supported sermons and dramas, our Facebook ministry pages and all the rest, still we seem to be losing ground. We may be tempted to ask, "What good are we doing?"

Will we take over?

There is a doctrine called dominion theology which suggests that Christians will take over politics and the arts, and every other arena, and eventually grow to the point where the entire world will become Christian. If this were true, the present situation sure doesn't give much evidence of this. In reality the Bible says nothing of the kind. Instead we are told, "…in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers… (2 Tim 3:1,2). Paul warns of a great "falling away" before the return of Christ. And Jesus tells us plainly that those who choose to follow Him will always be in the minority, saying, "…wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it" (Matthew 7:13).

While it is right that we engage in this war for the soul of our nation, we must recognize that Christ has not ordered us to convert the whole world; He has commanded us to preach the gospel to the whole world. The converting is His business; the preaching is ours (and the Holy Spirit's). Where we can always see success and transformation is on an individual basis. We can't turn all to Christ, but we can turn some. And the truth is that the greatest means of cultural transformation for good is always when men and women receive Jesus Christ and are born again. The Bible says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). When men and women turn to Jesus, their attitudes change, their politics will likely change, their morals, values, and standards will be transformed, their work habits, their language, their family life, their television viewing (both the quality and the quantity) their spending habits… all these and more will be changed through the simple act of receiving Jesus Christ as one's Savior and Lord. When this happens to one or two it may not make much of a splash in the community or culture, but when this starts happening wholesale, the cultural repercussions are enormous. But even with one solitary man, woman, or scrawny little dirty-faced boy, a soul turning to Jesus is monumental!

A Strange People

In an age of exponential flight from Biblical morality and values, Christians must recognize that they are truly strangers in a strange land. Not only is it difficult to fit in with our prevailing culture; we must not attempt to! It has always been thus, even from the days of the Old Testament. In Hebrews we read of the ancient men of God: "These all… confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13). The Christians in America, just like the Christians in all the other nations, are to be a culture within a culture, a separate people, a people with different ways, different expressions, and different values than the world around us. The only way this can possibly be a reality in a man or woman's life is for them to a) read the Bible a whole lot, b) mingle with others that hold to Biblical values, or c) (ideally) do both.

In many cities in New York and California, there are areas known as Chinatown. These are communities inhabited by Chinese people. Here they can buy the clothes of their native culture, speak the language, eat at true Chinese restaurants, and look after one another's needs. In earlier times Chinese immigrants found that living in these communities was like finding a piece of China here in the United States. It was a culture within a culture. So it must be with the church of Jesus Christ. No, we are not to withdraw from society. We must engage with our generation, sharing Christ and ministering to the hurting. But we must do this as a separate people, marching to the beat of a different, and divine Drummer.

Jesus knew that His followers would never be able to maintain godly values while under the overwhelming pressure of an ungodly culture, unless they met together frequently. For this reason he declares: "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). Special favor and power are granted when His people meet together. No matter how ungodly our world becomes, the people of God, the true followers and servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, will doggedly hold to a morality so ancient that it has its roots in God Himself, a value system which first made its appearance when Moses, the great lawgiver, went up to the top of Mount Sinai and received ten commandments written in stone by the very finger of God.

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