Our Own Worst Enemies

This summer, the Supreme Court struck down Texas's sodomy law in what columnist Jeffrey Rosen called "a particularly expansive way," giving hope to "same-sex marriage" advocates. In light of this decision, can Christians and other social conservatives still influence the culture? Rosen raised that question in a New York Times article titled, "How to Reignite the Culture Wars." Rosen takes note of signs of a cultural backlash ever since the Supreme Court case. A major Gallup poll showed that the number of Americans supporting same-sex unions dropped sharply after the Court struck down the Texas law. As Rosen recalls, another Supreme Court decision thirty years ago -- Roe v. Wade -- had a similar effect. He writes, "A series of conservative interest groups . . . arose in response to Roe in the 1970s and '80s, and they were initially effective. While states had been liberalizing their abortion laws before 1973, they increasingly limited access to abortion after Roe came down." So, paradoxically, the unfavorable decision in Lawrence v. Texas could work in our favor after all. But the Supreme Court isn't the biggest foe we have to fight. It's true that many Americans are coming around to the traditional point of view on marriage and gay rights. But at the same time, many social conservatives are beginning to come around to the other side's point of view on homosexuality. The attitude of the larger culture is starting to rub off on us. Even if fewer Americans support gay unions today, the laissez-faire attitude toward sexual morality still prevails. Many people see any attempt to encourage moral behavior as an unwarranted intrusion on their privacy. For decades, educators, media, and many of our government leaders have drilled into us that the most "compassionate" attitude on any such issue is "I wouldn't do it myself, but I wouldn't try to stop anyone else from doing it." And Christians fall for this. This is why, as Jeffrey Rosen writes, "Even among evangelical and social conservatives, there is a general sense that the effort to stigmatize consensual sexual behavior as immoral has been lost among the younger generation." And this is why he's wondering just how effective social conservatives can be at this time. He quotes sociologist James Davison Hunter's book Culture Wars: "There is the distinct possibility," Hunter writes, "that orthodox communities may become so assimilated to a progressive political . . . culture that they will not be capable of offering any effective opposition to the worldview that currently plagues them." How can Christians keep from getting sucked into a culture that strikes at the very heart of our beliefs? The key is the word worldview: seeing all of life from the perspective of our Christian faith. When we do this, we realize it is never "compassionate" to encourage people to act against God's laws or the natural design of humans. We will never influence the world for Christ when we're letting the world influence us. Learning to think like Jesus, as pollster George Barna argues in his new book by that title, is the best way to keep from becoming our own worst enemies. For further reading: Jeffrey Rosen, "How to Reignite the Culture Wars," New York Times, 7 September 2003. (Article costs $2.95 to retrieve.) BreakPoint Commentary No. 030807, "The Struggle for Marriage." BreakPoint Commentary No. 030729, "The 'Love' That Won't Keep Quiet." James Davison Hunter, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Control the Family, Art, Education, Law, and Politics in America (Basic Books, 1992). Rebecca Hagelin, "Jolted!" The Heritage Foundation, 12 August 2003. "Chuck Colson's Response to the Texas Sodomy Law Decision," BreakPoint Online, 26 June 2003. George Barna, Think Like Jesus (Integrity, 2003). Read this interview with George Barna discussing his new book. Peter Kreeft, How to Win the Culture War (InterVarsity, 2002). "Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn't Work" -- At the April 4-6, 2003, BreakPoint conference, "Christians in the Marketplace," held in Colorado Springs, CO, Jennifer Roback Morse spoke about the "laissez-faire family" and the new definition of freedom: "To be free is to be unencumbered by human relationships."


Chuck Colson


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