Matthew Lee Anderson is thinking about this recent post from Rachel Hyde Evans, and wondering about the future of the cultural war.
Jesus first concern is government, but the point has implications for all those creaturely realities that we might be tempted to exalt above the Kingdom of Christ. Like Caesar, “culture war Christianity” has become an object of either devotion or rebellion, a matter for defense or denial by evangelicals both young and old. We have not yet escaped its grasp. And we only will when we can begin our political theologies by speaking of something else.
Perhaps being older, I read RHE in a somewhat different light: this is not the first time that some one noted how engagement in the cultural wars pushed non-believers away. For that, one might want to consult Amy Sullivan’s writing in 2004, another time of intense conflict. If the public thinks that Christians public position is to be defined as rejection of homosexuals (this is the point RHE cited, from Barna), then at the least you have a marketing problem.
You also have something more: a millstone problem.
Public speech, including political speech, must be that which is seasoned with salt as Paul says; we are to speak with graciousness and we are certainly to work to invite people to the Gospel. But if the non-Christian only sees us by what we hate — and that a side show in Scripture — what is this, but the sort of barrier, the burden we are warned against? Jesus is pretty explicit that we are not to work to gain the world if it means losing our soul.
Moreover, when Evangelicals are especially silent about other things that Scripture is utterly not silent about (hint: $$$), how then does this witness have credibility? Again, there’s a Gospel lesson here: log and speck.
Lastly, to speak as a politico and a Christian, I think that folks underestimate just how spiritually stressful politics can be. It summons up passions; it focuses on the concerns of the ego; it constantly tempts with the exercise of power, of lordship instead of servanthood. This is tough work. And the battles of the cultural war trivialize it, or worse pretend that such harm will not touch us.