I have nothing but respect for Michael Craven. His leadership at the helm of The Center for Christ and Culture should be applauded. His well written columns reveal a deep thinker who has a heart for God and heartache for the state of our culture.
But I have to disagree with Michael's latest column The Culture War is Over: We Lost! I admit his arguments for our defeat are strong. Evangelicals are certainly not winning the debate over homosexuality. Craven is correct that "If the attitudes of the next generation remain as they are; the present opposition to same sex marriage will not remain much longer." He is also correct to point out that when all things are considered, "the future of traditional marriage is in doubt."
No honest observer of the current trends in our culture would say things are getting better. But the war will not be lost as long as God has a witness in the culture. For the believer, winning is not measured by Supreme Court appointments, number of marriage amendments passed, or even in a reduced number of abortions. Winning is simply the act of standing. It is finding a dark corner of culture and starting a fire of righteousness.
When you consider the track record of Jesus earthly ministry you would be hard pressed to place much in the win column. Jesus was abandoned by the throngs that initially flocked to His ministry. His followers were weak and wishy washy. Peter, the strongest one in the bunch, refused to even acknowledge He knew Jesus when Jesus was hauled up in front of the Sanhedrin. All of His closest followers fled when Jesus was nailed to the cross. By every human measure of achievement Jesus was an earthly failure.
But the proof of Jesus power came on the other side of the earthly appearance of failure. The rag tag gang of cowardly Galileans was transformed into fearless spiritual warriors who stood up to the Sanhedrin, refusing to be silent in the face of great persecution. The coming of the Holy Spirit made faithful giants out of fearful spiritual midgets. The world was turned upside down by people who realized they couldn't lose if they would just stand firm in what they knew to be true.
The culture war cannot be lost unless and until the church decides to quit. Craven says at the end of his column, "It is not that I am giving up, certainly not! It is merely that I want to understand how best to engage the culture." One thing is sure…declaring the battle lost is not the way to engage the culture. If the battle is lost there is no reason for us to stay engaged.
Personal evangelism must remain the primary passion of every believer because real cultural transformation will be realized when enough transformed hearts are engaged in cultural transformation. But as we witness we must also confront and never concede to the spreading darkness that threatens to envelope every area of culture. But how can we roll back the darkness?
We do it by being the light wherever God gifts us and calls us. If you are a carpenter then build for Christ and confront the darkness that exists in the construction business. If you are a teacher, go into the public school system and allow the light of Christ to shine in the classroom through the love and concern you show for your students. If you are a lawyer, demand social justice and a return to a measure of common sense in the judicial system. If you are a businessman, demonstrate honesty and fairness in the way you conduct your affairs. If you are a reporter report the truth and refuse to be manipulated by anyone's personal agenda.
In other words, take the gifts and abilities God has given you; listen for His call, and then boldly stand for His principles in whatever area of life God has called you to serve. The culture war is not going to be won by victories measured by the world's definition of success. It will be won as each one of us fulfills the words of the apostle Paul, "Finally, my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." The culture war will not be lost as long as at least one believer is willing to put on the armor and stand.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.