American Christianity Is Being Subverted by “the Culture War”

Whoo, boy. This is a tough one. No harm done if you wanna hit the back button and come back next week for a light-hearted post.

I’m going to talk about things I’m seeing lately and my own experiences. I’d like you to bear in mind that I was obsessed with “the culture war” before I delved into the Living Word and really started pursuing God. Over the course of 2-3 years, He pruned me and made me realize how I wasn’t reflecting Him or following His commands. It’s been painful at times. In light of my ongoing santification journey, I hope you’ll receive my words graciously rather than reacting rashly. I’ve been guilty of a lot of things I speak against here. Before God started working on me, parts of this post would’ve “triggered” me. And now, I’m the one writing it. That’s a testament to the power of the Holy Spirit working in my heart.

If the first couple paragraphs set you on edge, please, just stick with me to the end.

FYI: “Hyper-conservative” means far right, and “hyper-leftist” means far left. Though American conservatives refer to leftists as “liberals,” I feel weird using the term “hyper-liberal” because a classical liberal supports the free market, generally considered a conservative viewpoint. Yep, it’s really that convoluted.

When social media turns sour

As I write this post, I’m thinking about something I saw this morning–the image to the right. Great question. Incidentally, I’ve found that the true pursuit of God’s heart and will is complemented by a deeper humility. Criticisms of Christianity used to put me on the defense immediately. Now, I acknowledge those critiques and ask how I or we, as the church, can do better. Maybe it’s a side effect of actually loving my neighbor…I want to address and correct the ways we have ignored or harmed them.

I’m feeling emotional as I write this post. Tears are stinging the back of my eyes. Why? We American Christians have made partisanship an idol. It’s horrible and heart-breaking. I won’t say “most”…but too many American Christians have turned their Facebook profiles into a billboard for minimalizing problems and spreading hate. Racial inequity? A hoax. Liberals? Deranged and evil pedophiles who want to destroy our country. People who have a problem with America should GET THE HELL OUT! Trump 2020–bet you liberal snowflakes won’t have the BALLS to post this! [I’ve literally seen all of these and worse.] Oh, and here’s the occasional verse from a Bible that I evidently don’t read much…

OUCH! Was that too harsh? I’ll tell you something. When I did things like refer to liberals as “autistic” and insist that Muslims deserve to be persecuted and tell people of color that their experiences were invalid, I sure wasn’t in the Word. In fact, I was more in Daily Wire and the Trump supporters’ subreddit than the Word.

Embracing nuance

I don’t want to leave conservative Christians out in the cold. Liberals post divisive things on social media, too. My prayer lately has been to balance peacemaking with Godly justice (listening to my neighbors, advocating for equity, standing with the needy). In my observation, hyper-leftists prioritize justice, and hyper-conservatives prioritize peace. But one without the other is incomplete.

The official Black Lives Matter organization has some Marxist leanings I don’t support (but I’m down with the grass-roots groups). Though I condone social programs to help communities thrive, I’m not a socialist (though I think crony capatalism is out of control, and it’s immoral how we treat third-world workers who produce our cheap goods). Before editing this post, I watched a YouTube video from a Christian hip-hop artist who immigrated to America but grew up in the Soviet Union. He responded to another American Christian artist who regularly tweets about abolishing capitalism. He described how his family actually had to wait in line for food rations during his childhood, and he strongly advocated a free market system. I think God puts these reminders in my path that, in the process of turning away from one extreme, I must be cautious not to approach the other.

In America, political oppositions have transcended to a full-scale culture war; if you critique one side, you must be a member of the other. I’d love to hear from some non-Americans in the comment section: how does this dynamic look in your country? This sentiment is repeated so often it’s practically a cliche now, but I’ll say it again: we are losing the ability to appreciate nuance. The guy I just referenced has another video where he speaks on white fragility and supporting the BLM movement (but not the actual organization).

Gasp–someone who supports capitalism and calls out young hyper-leftists for thinking they’re so woke yet also speaks on white fragility and racial inequity? You’re not allowed to have all those opinions at once! You can be right or left–now pick one! (BTW, where is Jesus in all this?)

Caring about politics without being enslaved to them

Aren’t Christians supposed to be “separate from the world” in a sense? Of course, political decisions affect our lives, so we should care. But, how can we justify being so intertwined with politics that it basically shapes our personalities? Jesus said to give Caeser what is his and give Him what is His. But now, we walk around wearing Caesar hats and talking about Caeser constantly and insisting God anointed Caesar to save us from (fill in the blank).

I’ll wrap it up by returning to the meme from the beginning. In this post, I discussed how American Christians have gotten way too swept in a culture war when ours is a spiritual war. HOWEVER, it is important not to confuse that message with the notion that Christianity is an individual, personal, spiritual experience that has no bearing on the real lives of real people who are suffering from pain, poverty, oppression, abuse, etc. As with politics, we must appreciate the nuance here.

We are not called to put a political (or any other) identity before our identity as a follower of Jesus, God’s adopted son or daughter. But we are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Being His hands and feet means striving for Godly justice AND peace. We Christians, especially American Christians, need to seriously reflect on our priorities and the ways we’ve thrown “WWJD?” out the window, all in the name of winning a culture war. Let’s reject the divisive idol of partisanship.


Thanks for reading! Have you seen the American political divide morphing into a no-holds-barred culture war? Follow up question: How did this dynamic look in the past? [I’m just 26-years-old.] Do you embrace nuance with your viewpoints? Are you more loyal to God than a political party? Please be civil. Thanks and God bless you. ♥

Here’s another video from the guy referenced earlier in which he discusses racial issues, why he feels the immigrant mindset is actually a privilege, growing up in communist Russia, and more. Say it with me: WE LOVE NUANCE! 🙂

P.S. Just as Jesus healed people spiritually and physically, and just as He said that we can’t live by bread alone but also by God’s words, I think we need to work at providing spiritual and physical nourishment. The Kingdom of God is not just a far-off place; it’s also here, now. Also, living out our faith can open the door to more witnessing opportunities. Some ways of being the hands and feet of Jesus include:

Advocating for affordable housing, school funding, and job opportunities with a livable wage

Supporting or hosting community programs and mission efforts–food banks, free clothing closets, tutoring/GED, after-school care, sports, a program to help with a different family’s bills each month, collecting and distributing school supplies, packing UMCOR kits, you name it

Supporting legislation that addresses inequities and becoming educated on social issues

Hosting Vacation Bible School, revivals, Christian music shows, and other events to bring new people to the church to hear the Gospel

Prison/nursing home/etc. ministries–taking the Gospel outside the church walls

19 comments

  1. Thanks for the insight. It seems to we aren’t in a “culture war”.

    Jesus gave us our mission and focus:

    Jesus said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    Our battle is to establish the Kingdom of God not the city of man along with it’s culture.

    Keep the faith. Blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. While the death of Christendom starting with the Enlightenment meant the end of politics infecting the church and vice versa, the citizens are now free to act without regard for others. I’m growing upset at Christians on the Left & Right and there’s enough hypocrisy and hyperbole to go around for both. The hope for me would be that we could return to the Apostolic/Patristic era that didn’t need the state to accomplish Kingdom purposes. I think we may be moving there as the gap between Church and state widens. I’m perfectly okay with the state acknowledging Christianity as permissible by law but making belief a legal requirement is ridiculous. I try to stay above the political fray and share silly memes to break up the craziness of social media feeds hoping that folks on both sides can call ceasefire for 2 minutes to laugh at the joke.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like the part about trying to get both sides to call a ceasefire to share a laugh. Ha! That can be hard when we spend too much time taking ourselves so seriously. You’re right that Christians on both sides are acting hypocritical and hyperbolic. I would also prefer the gap between state and church to widen. I’m not sure if this is what you were alluding to, but I think the body of Christ is handicapped in its ability to truly follow Jesus if the church is an institution that essentially props up “the status quo.”

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It saddens me to see both sides so polarized and how Christians buy into it. When I say I am Pro-Life, I mean from conception to natural death hopefully of old age. What that means to me is that we need to help the poor, provide educational opportunities etc. The problem started when some seminaries embraced liberal theology abandoning proclaiming the gospel and teaching the Word of God and emphasized social issues. In reaction, those who proclaim the gospel and believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God began to view helping the poor as the social gospel.

    The problem is both sides are in error. Yes we need to proclaim the gospel and yes the Bible is the infallible Word of God. But yes we are also supposed to care for the poor and be the hands of Jesus in this world.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Matt, I appreciate the consistency of your “pro-life from conception to death” stance. I also appreciate that explanation about how exactly “helping the poor” came to be misconstrued as “the social gospel.” I never thought of it that way, but your break-down makes a lot of sense. It makes me think of that old figure of speech about throwing out the baby with the bath water. This world needs literal and spiritual nourishment–bread for their mouths and their spirits–the good news and a helping hand along with it! ♥♥

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I have been reading and learning more about non-dualistic thinking over the last several years and have come to believe that it is this – the inability for people to hold two truths at a time – that feels like the root of so many problems and political conflicts.

    If you don’t align with the “hyper” side of either party, you are a “fence-straddler”. There is no place for us in mainstream culture or the political system. It is exhausting.

    The hypocrisy of both major political parties is a constant source of disgust for me. I don’t know the answer to combating it. Other than living out Christ’s teachings to the best of my ability, loving others openly and honestly – even and especially when we disagree – and continuing to put the words imprinted on my heart in a space where others will see them and hopefully plant a seed that will eventually take root.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re so right, it really is exhausting to navigate the sea of “hypers” when we’re not one of them. Also agreed about the hypocrisy on both sides being a source of disgust. I’m in the same boat with not knowing the answer except to follow Jesus and love others. I just keep trying to balance justice seeking and peace making–not being afraid to say the truth, but doing so in a gracious way. It’s so hard!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Lily, so well stated. “Left” or “Right” is not the answer despite the pressure to be one or the other. We have to love one another as we have been loved. These are not just pretty words, but words that can shape our lives and attitudes to make a difference. Thank you for your faithfulness to the Word and to your Lord.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You asked for comments on how other countries see the only two sides nature of the US. I lived in Finland for a year a few years back. It was during that time that I became fully aware of how detrimental our only two sides belief is. It is simple-minded and it does nothing to advance the nation. It makes us more consumed with party loyalty rather than taking care of people and actually solving problems. It is not just partisanship that is one of nation’s pantheistic gods. One of the other idols that works with this is the idol of “being right.” Call it the ego, or narcissism, or anything else, but the idea is that being right has become more important than other things that actually matter. I’m not talking about getting the facts and information correct. I’m talking about boosting our own egos so that others comply with our way of thinking. When we do that, we’re falling for the same sin as Eve did in the garden – to become like God.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Matthew, I appreciate your thoughtful comment and perspective. Great point that pride is also a huge idol! This is how political debates over real issues that affect real people get boiled down to, essentially, a battle of the wits, where people care more about “winning” than coming to productive, rational solutions.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Love this, am a UK based Christian. American politics does seem very partisan, but it seems we’re following suit here. Probably have the anarcho-capitalist leanings you mentioned. But I agree it is so important that we seek to be the peacemakers, the nuance seekers, looking for the redeemable and seeing others through the lenses of grace. Love your blog, stumbled via your post about 3 things you dislike bloggers not doing. Sold! Will be following and engaging more 🙂 thanks for great advice, BW

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment and kind words, Paul! About to give your blog a visit. 🙂 I love how you phrased it when you said we should be looking for the redeemable in others and looking through a lens of grace. Yes!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow Lily,

    I cannot tell you how much I agree with the heart of your post. We need to find balance in ourselves, our neighbors, and our country. I originally started walking because I didn’t think anyone share my point of view. Glad to see I’m not alone. Take care and God bless

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I come from a little bit more of a conservative (though not ultra conservative) perspective, but I appreciate your tone in this article, and I think you’ve posed some good questions! Sometimes the rubber needs to meet the road.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Lily. This is my first time visiting your site. I was actually looking for insight on using Facebook to increase the site traffic for my blog, Christianity Explained. I do know what you’re talking about when it comes to the “Culture War”. It’s on full display over there. We really need to be praying for this country and not launching heat seeking missiles at everyone. For we are not glorifying Jesus.

    Like

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