When it comes to the culture war, conservatives are up against pretty formidable odds. Last March, San Francisco’s city supervisors passed a resolution against a group of young people who were peacefully demonstrating on social issues. The resolution called them a “negative influence.”
On a recent road trip, my husband and I stopped for lunch in a small rural town in the heart of the Bible Belt. Inside the restaurant, a teenage girl in an evening gown explained that she was the high school homecoming queen and that she would be in the parade that afternoon. A few minutes later, I saw the girl talking with her friends while holding her baby. That’s how far we have fallen—in a small rural town, in the heart of the Bible Belt, an unwed teen mother was elected homecoming queen.
In a new book being pushed by a very expensive public relations campaign, a little-known author says his book is ammunition for “rational Americans” in their fight against the “Christian right.” Further, he claims that eradicating religion is comparable to abolishing slavery. I compiled a list of more than a dozen new books attacking the religious right. Clearly, there are competing visions for American culture that include deep-seated disagreements and different perspectives about moral absolutes.
Sadly though, many people are not even aware of these conflicts and others prefer to ignore them. In fact, University of California sociologist Steven Brint asked why it’s called a war when two-thirds of the soldiers in the Army are non-combatants.
Brint makes a good point. Too many Americans are unwilling to join the battle; they seem to think that, by ignoring those who are ripping up the cultural fabric of the nation and by denying that there are people who are working to undermine Judeo-Christian values, the whole problem will just go away.
Sometimes I don’t really blame those who are sitting out the culture war; it’s dangerous out there and few of us who join the fray come out unscathed. Ironically, one poll revealed that fully 84% of Americans call themselves “Christian,” and they routinely go to the polls to vote down things like “gay marriage”—even in liberal states such as California and Oregon.
The question that confronts us is: How best do we combat the changes that are going on in so many aspects of our everyday lives when the values that have served as a foundation for our nation are trashed and the issues are constantly re-framed by those who want to undermine the moral foundations of our culture?
The battlefields are right in our backyards. Nothing drives people ballistic any quicker than for someone to state unequivocally that there are moral absolutes. The knee-jerk rage of liberals’ response to the religious right’s participation in the political process is a sight to witness. Why are they so angry? Because the religious right believes in God’s authority to decide what is right and what is wrong; what is good and what is evil. Sadly, far too many people shake their fists in the face of God and assert their right to do as they please. But, God determines what is right and what is good!
Those identified by Bill O’Reilly as “secular progressives” don’t want to hear that:
- Sex outside of marriage is wrong.
- Homosexual behavior is wrong; that it is contrary to the order that God ordained.
- Abortion is murder and that it is wrong.
In all of these cases, the central issue is man’s challenge to God’s definition of what is good.
So, I believe that there is a biblical basis for our contemporary culture war.
The issues at stake are serious and substantive. The culture war is a battle for the soul of the nation. It is a battle over:
- What kind of country we are going to be
- What will be taught in our schools
- The values and morals that will govern our actions
- What is acceptable and “normal” behavior and lifestyles
- Parental involvement in the decisions of their children
- The relationship between faith and freedom
The culture war is also a battle over process. It is:
- A battle over how to go about mending the social fabric of the nation
- A battle about the role of government and how to balance that role with individual responsibility
Clearly, those are two very different strategies driven by differing priorities. The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D.-N.Y.), an influential liberal who looked at the data without rose colored glasses, said, “Liberalism faltered when it turned out it could not cope with truth—even the tentative truths of social science.”
We who are conservative must document and spread the word about the massive failures of 30 years of social engineering. That’s our ammunition in the battle to restore America’s commitment to moral principles. Right now, the only “acceptable” policy solutions are based on progressive ideology! Yet, those solutions have proven bankrupt in so many areas of public life—from welfare entitlements to comprehensive sex education. The corrupting values of the left and the subsequent public policies have torn great, gaping holes in the fabric of our culture.
If we don’t act on the truths that the data are shouting, we are doomed to see the continued disintegration of American culture. That is not as easy to do as it sounds. Michael Novak predicts that it will take “tens of millions of moral conversions if this country is to have a fourth Great Awakening.” The struggle to bring that about, Novak says, “will really sear our souls.”
How much more will it take to sear our souls?
Certainly after the horrendous shootings of innocent school children last week, our souls ought to be seared!
Yet, unseen assassins are attacking our children right under our noses. Since the secular progressives can’t win elections, they have to win over our children. They have plans in place for capturing the next generation of leaders. Even Bill O’Reilly acknowledges that we are the underdogs. He says, “While we have the folks, they have the media, think tanks and the universities.” O’Reilly, interestingly, believes that we are already winning: “Right now, those who are morally offended by our permissive society are winning the culture war because they are more engaged in applying religion to social standards.”
It is too easy for us to fall into a typical pattern regarding social standards described by Chuck Swindoll. He said, “First we condemn it, then we tolerate it, next we accept it and finally we practice it.”
The right way—the only way—to end the culture war is to turn our political rhetoric into practical action. We must operationalize the vision. Let’s take a look at practical examples of how to do that! The Sexual Revolution of the 1960s had a devastating impact on American society. The Sexual Revolution—in practicality—meant that one generation was unsuccessful in transmitting to their children our fundamental Judeo-Christian values and morality. The cost of this failure has been enormous: The weakening of the family has put this nation’s moral health in severe jeopardy—drugs, unwed births, abortion, divorce and cohabitation. In the last 10 to 12 years, conservatives have made some headway in putting the brakes on some of the pathologies unleashed 40 years ago—but not all. Welfare is down 60%, and teen births and abortions are down as well. But STDs are still up, divorce is still too high, and cohabitation continues to replace marriage for large percentages of American young people.
We must not relent in this battle for the hearts and minds of our children. I’ve already noted many of the vicious, ferocious ways that the secular progressives/humanists/feminists are fighting. If we abandon the field, they will take us down the path that Europe has followed. Look at the Netherlands, where you will see a picture of what America will become if we fail and the secular progressives—MoveOn.org, People For the American Way, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the National Education Association to name just a few—put their agenda in place.
So unless we want to be like the Netherlands, we had better make sure that Judeo-Christian values prevail in American culture, and we need to make certain that conservatives will train the next generation.