This evening I read an interesting and well-written article by Faith Bogdan in which she says, “Shame on the church. You know why? We are fighting the wrong war.” Yes, she’s referring to all the people (like myself) who have taken a stand on the Duck Dynasty controversy.
Ms. Bogdan is very articulate and her points are well made. I encourage you to go to her blog (faithbogdan.com) and read what she said. In a nutshell, she believes we’ve been called to be a “heavenly army”, that we’re only passing through this world, and that we should not be “fighting a cultural war that we are never going to win.” She wonders what would happen if we spent our energies building up the kingdom of God instead. She quotes several Scriptures, including 2 Timothy 2:4, where Paul said, “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
It’s an interesting point of view, but one that doesn’t square with my understanding of Scripture.
I believe there are not multiple wars that Christians must choose between, so much as there are multiple fronts being contested within the one big war. This week a skirmish broke out on the media front. It’s not the whole war, by a long shot. But to say that it isn’t a part of the larger war and that Christians are wrong to engage emotionally and intellectually makes me scratch my head.
Further, I would suggest that, as is the case in all wars, there are not only multiple fronts, but multiple weapons that must be used. Love and service are two of those, as Ms. Bogdan eloquently asserts. But who could deny that the unsettling message of the Word of God is another? In his amazing passage on spiritual warfare, Paul tells us to equip ourselves with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17) What is a sword for, except to fight?
I also find it interesting that much of the Old Testament addresses the ongoing problem of the pagan culture’s influence on the people of God. The Israelites were given instructions on how to deal with those pagan cultures and they did not include loving them into the faith. Jonah, for example, was instructed to pronounce judgment on the wickedness of Nineveh. He refused, and was punished severely.
The New Testament writers weighed in on cultural issues as well. Their comments about secular culture and the threat it is to the church were unflinching. (See Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 1:18-21, 6:9-11, Ephesians 4:17-19, 1 Peter 4:4-6, 1 John 2:15-17) Who can deny that the Bible writers drew a clear line between what’s Christian and what’s secular…and then defended that line? Part of our job as Christians in this generation is to keep defending that line…to keep it from being blurred. It’s a critical component of faithful Christian preaching, teaching and witnessing.
In fact, I think a strong case can be made that one of the reasons the church has become so worldly is that we haven’t spoken boldly enough on issues of cultural relevance. Some of the most popular preachers in America today won’t touch a “hot button” issue with a ten foot pole. They’re all about love, positive thinking, and making every day a great day. Perhaps this is why I’m startled (and not in a good way) every time I see poll results that indicate how many Christians are pro choice and believe in same sex marriage and cohabitation before marriage.
Finally, I’m struck by Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Speaking to God and referring to us, he said, “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.” (John 17:15) Yes, the Lord called us out of the world in terms of our behavior (John 15:18-19), but he intentionally left us to live in the world. Paul characterized his time in the world this way: “I have fought the good fight.” (2 Timothy 4:6) He may well have been a soldier in a heavenly army, as Ms. Bogdan asserts, but his battlefield was planet earth.
I do understand and agree with Ms. Bogdan’s sense that we Christians don’t always get it right. I’m sure some do read the Drudge Report more than they read the Bible. And yes, Phil Robertson was crass in his comments. And yes, we probably do listen to talk radio voices more than we listen to the Holy Spirit. And yes, we ought to be more congenial toward people who believe and live differently than we do. I have no argument with any of that.
But to shame Christian people who feel strongly on this issue and care enough to speak up (at some risk, I might add), and to suggest that we are fighting the wrong war…I’m sorry, I just disagree.