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Changing the World

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”

- John 3:5-7

The cultural division in our nation seems to deepen every day, and the intensity of the disagreement is ratcheting up as the June celebration of “Pride” month opens. Everywhere we look, we already see rainbow flags and the pink, blue, and white trans flags supporting the LGBTQ+… people? Community? Movement? Cause? As large companies increase support for LGBTQ+, conservative Americans have begun boycotting those perceived to express the most egregious disrespect for traditional values – codpieces on girls swimsuits, for example.

The boycotts appear to be making a noticeable financial impact on Bud Light and Target, both in sales and in stock prices. Rumor has it that 24-pack of Bud Light sold for as low as $3.99 over the Memorial Day weekend. I’m not sure it’s a Christian claim to fame to change brands of beer, but then, conservative and Christian are not one and the same. However, with about 80% of American companies and organizations publicly committed to the socio-political and economic restructure of the U.S., traditionalists in favor of boycotting may end up needing to move to the hinterlands somewhere to live off the land.

How are we supposed to respond? One major retailer (of which I am aware) is selling children’s Disney Lucasfilm Pride tee-shirts emblazoned with such words and Life and Light, Hope, Love, and so forth. Those are words with specific meaning in Christianity, much as the rainbow has specific meaning for Christians and Jews. I do not think we are too far off in seeing a measure of intentionality in these ad choices. Who exactly is making the choices is not clear, but that the choices seem to coincide contradictorily with Christian belief is a bit suspect. As Christians living in a culture that is openly antagonistic toward our faith, what is right, and what is our responsibility?

I want to be careful about suggesting the degree to which Christians engage in the culture war as Christians. Our God wants every human being to come to the knowledge of Him, to know that they are loved by Him, and to love Him in return. Likewise, it is unrealistic to think that individuals understand themselves wholly on one end of the spectrum of belief or the other. That is true of Christians, and in spite of the exhausting cacophony of anti-American rhetoric and protests, I suspect it's true of the majority of non-Christians. Most people simply want to live their lives.

Regrettably, we are ultimately looking at mutually exclusive ways of living, thinking and being with incompatible views of human beings and incompatible definitions of “the good.” Unlike political differences of the past, the issue is not which means to the end, but the desired end itself. Commitment to traditional Christian faith and life eventually contradicts what is touted as woke. Woke has the ideological framework of an atheistic religion, with pro-LGBTQ+ as a major theme, as are full-term abortion, anti-white racism, net-zero climate change, and so forth. It’s obvious why the political stakes are so high and politicians so vitriolic.

When Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again, Nicodemus naturally thought of the birth of a baby, but Jesus spoke to Nicodemus of spiritual birth instead of the birth of flesh. Birth is a profoundly personal and intimate event. The whole family can be in the waiting room, but a child’s birth comes down to the mother struggling to push the baby from her body, hopefully with the father standing with her and lending strength and encouragement. Although a baby is born into a family, birth itself is restricted to the mother and the baby. It is hard to be more personal than a mother giving birth to a child.

In the same way, to be born again – born of the Spirit – is a similar struggle. It is deeply private and very difficult. A baby born of flesh can be cramped and unable to move, but the baby will resist passage from the womb into the world beyond. Birthing a child of God is very much like that. No matter how uncomfortable, dark, and restricting a life has become, until one is forced to leave it, a person will not. No amount of haranguing anyone will change that. Christians who do so are about as effective as an older sibling talking to Mommy’s tummy and telling the baby to hurry up – and a lot more annoying.

We do not imitate our Lord when we ignore who and what God created human beings to be, or when we encourage self-destruction in any form. It is the thief that comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Thus, if we are going to oppose woke, then we ought to do so on the grounds that it destroys human life and flourishing. In this, the language of evil is appropriate – not toward the people blindly engaged, but toward the force that animates delusions that destroy. Already, the end of woke is foretold in the mutilation of reproductive organs and the inevitable sterility, much like the net-zero carbon adherents do not appear to have realized that net-zero can only be achieved without human beings.

When Jesus had to choose between being right and being loving, He chose to love. He did not hop down off the Cross, point His finger at the Roman and Jewish leaders involved, and prove them wrong. Rather, He used their victory over Him as the means of salvation for all people and the whole of creation. He was about more than winning the moment. He was about winning eternity. We can never forget that Christian salvation is not a wink and nod, and up to Heaven Christ goes. It is costly, painful, and deeply personal.

Coming to know oneself truly begins when we see ourselves in the reflection of our Father’s love, for only He fully values every life and only He knows who He envisioned when He formed us in the womb. The journey for each person is long and arduous, and every step along the way holds value. Even when a person awakens in the futility and misery of past choices, God, in His great mercy and love, has the power, the ability, and most of all, the desire to restore lasting hope, joy, and meaning. There is no place for despair in our Father’s Kingdom, and there is no heartache too great to heal.

Who will win the culture war? I don’t know. What I can tell you is that Jesus will not. Jesus made it clear that His Kingdom is not of this world. If we follow Him, we ought to know that Christians are going to lose in the end, but then, we also ought to know that the end is actually the beginning. Until that day, I think it is a mistake to wage a war for the soul of the nation. Instead, I think we should wage battles for the souls of family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Being born into the family of God is personal, not national.

Should Christians vote their values? Of course! Every person who votes, votes their values and so should Christians. More importantly, though, I think it’s time for Christians to take responsibility for the education of our children if we want them to have the ability to think and to make reasoned choices. There is no small irony in the accusation of brainwashing against Christian parents. Teachers can be well-intended and still teach complete rubbish. A recent (and under-reported) study showed that young children learning about the array of sexual and gender choices and activities exhibited levels of psychological trauma similar to children who had been physically molested. Not surprisingly, five-year-old minds are unprepared to sort through a selection of sexual expression, and they are certainly incapable of thinking about gender.

I’ve been reading a book on how the Romans saw the Christians in antiquity, and from what can be garnered from writings during that time, they thought Christians were antisocial and peculiar, opposed to religion and not well-educated. If circumstances are such that we are called those names again, we can be consoled that we’re in good company. The humble folks in ancient Rome shared the Good News of the Risen Christ personally – to family, friends, and others around them – until the Gospel spread and changed the course of history.

It would take a giant leap of imagination to suggest the earliest Christians set out to impact the Roman Empire, and that is a lesson to us. Our battles are waged in the arena of personal relationships. We will be faceless, forgotten names in human history, but we will shine like the Son when He calls us by name into His presence in His Kingdom.

There are much worse things than being called names and being excluded from a decadent and self-destructing society. The very worst is not breathing of the life from the Kingdom into which you were born by the Spirit. That fate is matched only by failing to share the life you’ve received with those you know and those you meet.

Pray to find the balance the Lord wants you to have between the cultural battle and the Kingdom battle. We can make a difference in our world, and we must stand against that which harms children and destroys lives. But finally, our allegiance is not to a nation, language, or tribe. Our allegiance – our loyalty, devotion, and obedience – belongs to our God and to His Kingdom, the home He has prepared.

In Christ –

Rev. Elizabeth Moreau

© 2023

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