Democrats vs. Republicans?
Blue States vs. Red States?
Liberals vs. Conservatives?
Since the early 1990s the term has been a constant in political and religious discussions in America.
From James Davison Hunter's 1991 book, "Culture Wars," to James Buchanan's 1992 Republican National Convention Speech, known as "The Culture War Speech," to Bill O'Reilly's 2006 book, "Culture Warrior," the language of "Culture War" has become a common designation for the clash of worldviews between conservatives and progressives.
For Christians who engage in the Culture War, the past few years have presented several key skirmishes that have upped the stakes.
-The Dan Cathy Scandal (Chick-Fil-A)
-The Phil Robertson Scandal (Duck Dynasty)
-The War on Christmas (Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays)
In response to these incidents, Christians have become vocal on social media. Boycotts have been called for. Chick-Fil-A Appreciation day gave conservatives a day to vote in favor of Dan Cathy with their pocketbooks. Apparently, there is also a Chick-Phil-A Day scheduled later this month in support of Phil Robertson.
But before you (My intended audience are those whose first identity is Christian above any other identity) wear your camo into Chick-Fil-A on January 21st to engage in the next edition of the Culture War, it's important to consider the possible casualties of joining the war.
Just a consideration of the language of "war" has certain implications. Because wars have enemies. Wars demand winners and losers. Wars include collateral damage and casualties.
Before we try to win the war, perhaps we ought to consider if winning is worth losing as much as we are sure to lose.
Every war has two sides. And when you fight any war, there are people who inevitably become enemies in the course of the conflict. Make no mistake. When you declare war in a Culture War, you are declaring war on a group of people you are eventually trying to reach.
In the recent flap over Phil Robertson, I saw many Christians post things on Facebook and Twitter that could do nothing but cause further damage to the relationship between Christians and the gay community.
If winning the Culture War was the number one goal of Christianity, then we would be obliged to do whatever it takes to secure victory.
But as I read the Bible, winning a Culture War is way down the list from making disciples of Jesus Christ. In fact, I don't think it would have even made Jesus' top 10 list.
Jesus couldn't care less if the Roman Empire had religious symbols and Bible verses on their statues and monuments. He wasn't offended that "under God" wasn't in Rome's Pledge of Allegiance. He didn't fight to ensure "In God We Trust" was on every bit of coinage Rome manufactured.
He spent his life making disciples who would make disciples who would make disciples.
When we fight the Culture War, we are intentionally making enemies out of people with whom we should be building a relationship.
And when we fight the Culture War, we completely misunderstand who our enemy is. Our enemy is not the gay community. Our enemy is not a particular political party. Our enemy is not Al Qaeda.
Paul says it well in Ephesians 6:
"For 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." (Ephesians 6:12)
If you have a human enemy, you have already misunderstood the true battle. Because every bit of evil in this world is animated by spiritual forces.
Satan loves it when we make enemies out of people.
And that's why I love the Civil Rights Movement so much. King and his followers refused to make enemies out of their oppressors. Martin Luther King Jr. understood that his white oppressors were not the enemy.
One of the key principles of King's notion of nonviolence was to win the friendship and understanding of the opponent, not to humiliate him. Another key principle was that evil itself, not the people committing the acts, should be opposed.
King understood Paul's words in Ephesians 6. And though many of his opponents likely never desired a relationship with King, he had done nothing to close the door on future relationship with them.
It's time to put down our weapons. It's time to take great care in what we post online.
Because there's a whole lot more to lose than a Culture War.