Many Christian voices, even those of truly faithful pastors, deny legitimacy to Christian involvement in the culture wars. So what justification might there be? This article will lay out some of my reasons for engagement in the culture wars as a Christian. Others may have their own reasons but these are mine; I am not speaking for anyone else. Ongoing misunderstanding compels me to venture forth with some thoughts. First, what is the culture war? It involves exposing as widely as possible the agendas of popular contemporary thought, politics and policy. These agendas are whitewashed by many in the world of media, business, politics and entertainment which are biased in favour of leftism. Thus leftism is turned into the norm and this even pervades the church. C S Lewis noted the media’s stranglehold in ‘That Hideous Strength’:
“They have an engine called the Press whereby the people are deceived.”
Lewis, C. S.. That Hideous Strength (Space Trilogy) (p. 289). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Deception comes not only through misinformation but through silence on issues that need attention drawn to them. The role of Christians and conservatives in the culture wars is to broadcast hidden policies that most of the population, if only they knew, would shirk from. They need to be told clearly and simply so that they can be better informed when they come to vote. Speaking the truth as we see it, those involved in the culture wars usually simultaneously hold in their prayers those whom they are publicly criticising. Yes, we pray for Daniel Andrews. The justification for engaging in the culture wars is to alert the public to real agendas as mentioned but it is also to try to impact, over the longer term, change for the vulnerable who are being mercilessly ignored in all the fine rhetoric of political leaders. Think the unborn and their need for a voice advocating on their behalf. And of course there are other agendas now made commonplace although they were rejected by most Christians and even non-believers until about 5 minutes ago, metaphorically speaking. No, this is not an indicator that our culture is now progressing. It is regressing back to paganism, tribalism and primitivism. Thank goodness for politicians like Bernie Finn, Bev McArthur and a few others.
I will make note of several scripture passages that inform my decision to engage in the culture wars. Firstly, though, I offer the following illustration as an example that most Christians would have no problem with – that of a Christian nurse or doctor working with people in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. No problem seeing this as an act of godly charity. No sitting on the sidelines praying and not acting in this scenario. I believe it is also an act of charity when Christians expose lies in a landscape sparse with truth-telling. Of course it doesn’t mean that we are trying to create a perfect world. For me, the guiding Scripture is Matthew 24:45-46. These verses form part of a parable of Jesus in light of the question of when He would return.:
(NASB) 45 Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.
I personally do not want to be found negligent in doing what I have a strong urge to do – refute lies that have taken hold of the culture and sadly, some of the church. I am not refuting the truth of God’s sovereignty over all human affairs by so engaging but rather acknowledging God’s Lordship over my life and doing what I find possible at this moment in time with the technologies available. I do not believe that the world is improving or that I can improve it without God’s intervention but allowing lies to go unhindered is wrong. Truth is one of Jesus’ central attributes as both God and man –
John 14:6 (NASB) “…I am the way, and the truth, and the life…”
I pray for issues privately but publicly I engage with ideas. I leave the outcome to God, not knowing what it is but knowing that I must obey Him enough to take up the challenge. I do so in faith. In other words, I both act and pray. Throughout the OT and NT the people of God often engaged with the political powers of the day. Examples are Moses and Aaron with Pharaoh; true Jew, Nehemiah, cup-bearer (advisor) with pagan King Artaxerxes; Daniel (defaulting to advisor by request of the king) with pagan-turned-God-worshipper King Nebuchadnezzar; Queen Esther who influenced King Ahaseuras, her husband, for the good of the Jews; some of the prophets in confronting kings of Israel and Judah; John the Baptist in his criticism of the immorality of King Herod; Jesus who referred to King Herod as a fox; Paul who was brought into conversational exchange with Felix, another Judean governor, when Paul was wrongfully accused of sedition against Judaism by the Jews for preaching the gospel. In fact, Paul, like Jesus, referred to Christ as the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law and the prophets. Note that these ancient kings were absolute monarchs unlike our constitutional monarchs who don’t exercise political control to the same extent that these absolute monarchs did.
Changing tack for a moment, I would like to explain a significant term before proceeding. In our day, policy makers have used terms like “upstream” and “downstream”. Take, for example, the issue of whether sugar should have a tax slapped on it in order to help curb the public’s overuse of it. This has been attempted by some nutritionists and dietitians at the political level as a public health measure. Instead of waiting for diabetes and other disease statistics to continue to climb and then treating diseased people at the individual level, a tax could possibly beneficially affect the future health of a large slab of the population by heading off disease at the pass through creating disincentive to keep consuming the quantities we do. Bear this in mind as we read Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan:
Luke 10:30-37 (NASB) 30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
The vulnerable, whether in times past (human slavery) or present (child victims of abuse), need defending and protecting from mercenary forces. This saving can be done at an upstream or downstream level. Saving at the downstream level involves individual, case by case saving of individuals. This is how most people apply Jesus’ parable. And of course that is absolutely true and a right application. Hey, hats off to those who work with people at the individual, downstream level! I have only admiration for good Samaritans. However, given the age in which we live where wholesale brainwashing is causing confusion among the young, even over their identity and gender, reversal of this state of things can hopefully and prayerfully be achieved by targetting change at the political, upstream level. This, then, is an example of upstream good Samaritanism where millions of lives can be saved from harm through changes in law and culture. This will not necessarily lead to people converting to Christianity but it might, simply through removing obstacles to faith. Even if it is just for the good of people in this life, shouldn’t Christians be seeking the welfare of their neighbours?
Romans 12:1-2 (NASB) 1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
One of the biggest problems in the church is conformation to the world with its agendas that are based not on a pursuit of understanding and obeying God but on our culture’s default position, Marxism.
Ephesians 5:11 (NASB) 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;
Although this verse comes after Paul’s list of sins for the Ephesian Church members to avoid, I believe it can be applied to justification for engaging in the culture wars. “Deeds of darkness” need to be exposed. This need for exposing evil as evil is evident in the rather naive, or worse, agreeing, thinking of many believers. Christians are often being used by Marxists to do their bidding. Examples are found in Christian activism in causes such as dubious inclusivity, climate change, abortion, feminism and CRT, a thinly veiled Marxist-fuelled inciting of racial violence and racial division (see my All Black Lives Matter article).
Ephesians 6:10-13 (NASB) 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
These verses do not refute the need for action, they affirm it as they follow on from several chapters indicating how we are to live in this world. We wouldn’t need this equipment if we weren’t on a battleground. It’s a battleground of yes, the spiritual world, but also of satanic ideas. Aren’t we aware of the saying, “The first casualty of war is truth”? Our world is littered with lies.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
If we forget about God at the polling booth we’re not doing this. God is Lord over every aspect of life if we are Christians and that includes our political awareness. I do not understand leaders who think it’s enough to explain away Christian involvement in politics with ideas like, “Well, what would you expect from the world? It’s evil. We are in a different realm.” I say no, we’re not. We have been put in this world at any given point in time to be a preservative (salt) and a light-bearer (light) to the world so that God’s “will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Ancient Israel was to be the model that drew the surrounding pagan nations to God by being salt and light but they failed, instead becoming corrupted by those very nations they were to be a light to. What’s wrong with a Christian exposing truth and lies? If Christians don’t expose them, instead allowing other information sources free rein to influence thought, who will? This is an engagement of ideas just as the Apostle Paul engaged with the philosophers of his day on Mars Hill. Please understand that the culture wars have been going for much longer than you think and by many of God’s people as recorded in Scripture.