Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

How the Culture Wars Might be Destroying Your Church

The culture wars have been ongoing for some time now, but they always get more heated in an election year. This year is no different. It is still early on in the election process, but already my Facebook and Twitter feed has been filled with pleas to save our country from perpetual doom. Although I am concerned about our country, I am more concerned about the state of the church and the effect the culture wars might have upon it. For more than 30 years churches have waded into the realm of politics, in order to fight in the culture wars. Thankfully, some Christians are now questioning whether or not this has been beneficial. Many younger Christians have outright rejected the culture wars, and are looking for a more effective way to influence our culture. Here are a few reasons why the culture wars might be destroying your church.

Fighting the culture wars distorts the purpose of the church. When we embrace the culture wars we are asked to win people over to a certain issue. This is not what Jesus calls us to do. He calls us to win souls for Christ. Even if the issue you are fighting for is one that Jesus agrees with, you have distorted what the church is to be doing. The purpose of the church is to call people to the gospel, not to an issue. Once a person encounters the gospel, then they begin the transformation into the image of Christ. It is in and after conversion that a person begins putting off the old and putting on the new. The renewal of our mind happens after we become a Christian. When a church or a Christian strives to win people over to a certain issue, instead of winning souls over to Christ, then they have missed what Jesus calls us to do.

Political messages and endorsements drive people away. Although endorsing a candidate or an issue might fire up your base, it will drive others away. Most people do not come to worship on Sunday morning to hear what political issue or candidate you are now supporting. The kingdom of God not only crosses borders, but it also crosses political affiliations. In every congregation I have ever been a part of there have been Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Whenever politics comes up in church it drives people away. Most often it drives away the people you are trying to reach. It drives away the unchurched and younger Christians who often think the church is too political already. Endorsing a political candidate or issue might excite some people, but it also might be the very thing that keeps your church from growing.

Embracing the culture wars distorts the churches theology. The culture wars hone in on a few specific sins (abortion and gay marriage), and ignore many others. When churches embrace the culture wars they allow this to affect their theology, whether they know it or not. Certain sins get highlighted, while others get ignored. The sins that are highlighted are most often sins that the congregation itself is not dealing with, while others sins that may be alive and well in a congregation get downplayed or ignored. This makes for an unhealthy congregation.

The culture wars promote a mentality of bitterness and hatred. The culture wars are often viewed by many as a battle between good and evil, where the goal is to conquer and destroy the enemy at all costs. This is very different from the mentality Jesus calls all Christians to have. We are supposed to love the lost and love our enemies. We are supposed to do everything we can to bring the lost to Christ. If someone is involved in sin we are to approach them with a “spirit of gentleness” not with a sharp and demeaning tongue. Much of the rhetoric on TV, radio, and the internet concerning the culture wars is full of hatred and bitterness. If we are not careful that same rhetoric will spill over into the church. We are to stand for the truth, but we are to do so in a loving and kind way. We are to speak of truth in a way that people will listen, not in a way that drives them further from it. We should strive for conversations, not arguments.

Focusing our attention on the culture wars diverts our attention from local matters to national matters. The greatest impact a congregation can have is within their own community. People have fought the culture wars for years with little or nothing to show, while ignoring what is going on all around them. If we want to make a difference, then we will begin by addressing the problems in our midst. We may never get abortion outlawed, but we can save children from being aborted in our own community. We can show we are pro-life by saving lives all around us. We can feed the hungry. We can make sure children receive proper medical care. We can work to stop violence within our communities. There is so much we can do in our own communities that we should have little or no time for what is happening nationally.

Embracing the culture wars sets us up for failure. When a person embraces the culture wars they are on a roller coaster ride. They may win a victory here and then lose two others. Even if they win a victory by getting a law passed this does not change the behavior of people. Abortions and homosexuality will thrive no matter if it is legal or not. Our victory should not be in laws or politicians, but in Jesus. When we put our faith in politics or government we are setting ourselves up for failure. They are going to disappoint in one way or another. Our faith needs to be solely in Jesus. We can have an impact on abortions and homosexuality, but it won’t be by any laws that are passed. It will be by the lives we change. When we put our trust in Jesus and seek to share His message with others, then we cannot lose.

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2 Responses to “How the Culture Wars Might be Destroying Your Church”

  1. The more the church seeks to impose its will through the political power that Jesus rejected, the further we stray from his path. It distorts the gospel and it’s doing us no favors.


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