Ryan Powers’ Happy Easter message is that the American culture war is over, the Christians’ surrender having been offered by James Dobson, retiring leader of Focus on the Family:
“We tried to defend the unborn child, the dignity of the family, but it was a holding action,” he said.
“We are awash in evil and the battle is still to be waged. We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles.”
The battles do seem to have been lost. In many respects the best that Christians can hope for is to moderate liberal, secular policies and, perhaps, for federal courts to regain their respect for states’ constitutional rights to make their own law on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Where is a Christian to turn for good news these days?
On Easter it seems even more appropriate than usual to reflect on Jesus’ teachings, few if any of which had anything to do with pulling the levels of governmental power.
True Christianity starts from within and works its way out into the world from there, in the form of attitudes, moral actions, and Godly deeds.
While Christians’ involvement in cultural issues is a secondary concern – the primary being one’s own personal walk with God – it is a logical extension of our moral sense of right and wrong to want to see something like it observed as our state or nation’s legal standard.
In this respect, Christians’ desires are no different than those of the opposition. Liberals certainly want to gain and wield power – of that there can be no doubt. Is it wrong for Christians to recognize the wrong that’s inherent in the changes made in the name of progressive politics and work to counteract them? Not in the least.
A growing legion of disenchanted grassroots believers does not blame liberal opponents for the decline in faith or the failures of the religious Right. Rather, they hold responsible Republicans – particularly Mr Bush – and groups like Focus on the Family that have worked with the party, for courting Christian voters only to betray promises of pursuing the conservative agenda once in office.
Frankly I don’t think that’s true at all.
Christians do not blame George W. Bush for the million+ abortions that will be performed this year.
Christians do not blame James Dobson for the various court rulings that have forced the gay marriage issue upon unwilling citizens in Iowa and other states.
Christians do not fault the Bush administration for restricting embryonic stem cell research.
(Bush and company get low marks for their fiscal irresponsibility and also for poor initial execution of the occupancy of Iraq, but those are different issues.)
James Dobson is undoubtedly discouraged as he comes to the end of his career and sees that Christian values have diminished in this country. It discourages me, though I’ve done much less to try to promote them than Dr. Dobson has.
Even so I see recognition of the understanding in the eyes of fellow Christians, understanding that tells them that these societal ills have been caused by the acts of men and women whose moral relativism demands the dissolution of everything that Christians hold dear.
Whether a new generation of Christian leaders will emerge to push back against excess liberalism via the political process remains to be seen. Christians may retreat into their private faith and leave the political field to the liberals.
I do not believe that will happen. The stakes are too high and the level of incompatibility with radical liberalism is too high for Christians to allow terms to be dictated to them.