(A follow-up to https://plstepp.com/2023/01/21/fighting-a-culture-war/)
What does the culture war cost us?
- The culture war makes us hateful.
- To justify our hatred, we convince ourselves (or allow others to convince us) that the people on the other side are not humans created in God’s image for whom Christ died. We convince ourselves that they are evil and satanic and must be destroyed.
- We justify treating people in ways Jesus would never accept. In seeking to defend Christianity, we become anti-Christ.
- We act like twelve year olds, celebrating when someone from OUR side embarrasses (“owns”) the other side.
- The culture war makes us stupid.
- It makes us incredibly easy to manipulate. We become suckers for every con artist who manipulates our passions and fears.
- It appeals to the worst parts of us: fear, anger, self-righteousness, desire to feel grievance and exact revenge. These are the ugliest parts of human nature. Politicians who are skillful at manipulating them rarely go hungry. Talk Radio hosts who know how to manipulate these things become unimaginably wealthy.
- It manipulates the worst parts of us. It gives us an enemy, an object for our “Two Minutes Hate”, so that we can feel cleansed and empowered by self-righteous anger.
- The culture war makes us unable to see ourselves.
- It makes it impossible for us to listen to those who disagree with us; their very existence is an attack on the tribe, after all. (“Every one of you should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” [James 1.19])
- It puts our confirmation bias on steroids. If the only news we ingest is news that agrees with the opinions we already hold, and if the providers for that news know that we are more likely to watch them when we are inflamed, … You do the math. MSNBC and Fox increase their ratings and profits by keeping their audiences angry.
- We can’t see ourselves clearly if our confirmation bias is inflamed, if our prejudices are being manipulated and played on. We can’t examine ourselves, our prejudices, or our actions critically and honestly. And we can’t listen to anyone who disagrees with us about anything.
- We cling to our tribes, assuring ourselves that there are bad people “out there” who want to destroy everything we value, and that safety is found in sticking to the group, not raising uncomfortable questions.
The apostle Paul was rotting in a Roman jail, held by people who worshipped idols and lived entirely immoral, inhumane lives. This same Roman government actively and violently persecuted Christians, at times trying to wipe Christianity from the face of the earth, and would soon remove Paul’s head from his shoulders.
If ANY CHRISTIAN since Jesus had justification to hate the people who opposed him, Paul had such justification..
So what does Paul say?
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Eph 6.12
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has institutedRom 13.1-2
Instead of Paul in a Roman jail, we tend to be more like Peter in the garden.
Asleep when we should be praying and watching.
And when we wake up, we lash out. Remember, when the soldiers came, Peter wanted to save Jesus, so he struck out with his sword … and cut off some poor guy’s ear. And Jesus healed the man, one of those who came to arrest him. And they carried him off anyway, as if Peter hadn’t done anything.
When we’re scared, we wage war with the world’s weapons–anger, fear, self-righteousness, derision, playing to the audience for clicks or lol’s or likes. In so doing, we are anti-Christ.
Jesus doesn’t need you to save him.
Jesus doesn’t want you to defend him.
He wants you to imitate him.