What I want to demonstrate is that, however well intentioned it may be, contending merely for morality is flawed at its root. When I uncover a few of the flaws, many will wholeheartedly agree with these flaws. However, what we need to do is not agree on these flaws, but rather examine ourselves to see if we ourselves are guilty of these flaws lest we merely correct our thinking and yet continue on living in the same way.
As people we often see things in a one-dimensional way. We fail to think critically and notice the whole picture. This is just human nature and understanding that, let’s examine what a modern American evangelical viewpoint tends to look like. A modern evangelical considers America as a Christian nation founded by Christians that has then has gradually become more and more morally corrupt due to liberals, foreigners, politicians, and left wing celebrities. As this corruption has been gradually escalating it is now being manifest in the rampant growth of abortion, homosexuality, promiscuity, terrorism, and other social ills. That corruption is now threatening to overturn the Christian heritage of America by codifying itself in law through abortion laws, homosexual marriage, stem cell research, and other issues. In order to confront that corruption we must therefore throw all the effort we can to battle the “liberals” on these individual moral issues that we might preserve a “Christian” America and return to the idyllic environment of our grandparents. If you are honest I think you can agree that this is a fairly honest assessment of typical American evangelical thought.
Now if I appeared trite and demeaning I did not mean to be. Since it is pretty much only evangelicals that will read this, and I would be considered one, I am not being derisive in any way but rather just exposing our thought processes in order to make a point. The current battleground in America, in the mainstream evangelical mind then, is the battle ground of public policy and the battles raging are the battles over individual moral issues. In other words, if we are truly honest with ourselves, our battles in the nation have been reduced to morality. Yes, I mean to say reduced. I say reduced because the church was made to contend for something far greater than morality and yet morality is about the only thing I see the church at large in America currently contending with society for.
As evangelicals this is deeply ingrained in our culture and we tend to believe that contending for morality is God’s work. It certainly can be, but do not forget that the devil contends for morality as well. In fact the Jew, the Muslim, and the Mormon can contend for the virtually the same morality as we do. In fact, sadly enough, some of these groups generally demonstrate a higher morality than Christians in the western world. To demonstrate this, how many times have we seen an awkward situation where other faiths have called upon evangelicals to align with them to work for a moral agenda? These uncomfortable allegiances should help illustrate that while we may agree on basic morality with other religions, there is a root deeper than morality for which we must contend. If it were not so, then these allegiances in the pursuit of morality would not have that uncomfortable feel to them that they do.
We must shift our thinking and realize that morality is merely a symptom, and it is not a root issue. This does not mean that moral issues are not relevant or that we do not contend for them, but only that we should be contending for morality only within a much larger contending for something far bigger. If we consider the current battle in the nation as a forest fire, then the conflicts over morality are merely small fires along the periphery and not the heart of the blaze. While those fires need to be extinguished, we are called to go right into the heart of the blaze. So, if morality is not the battle ground, what is? I am glad you asked that question. Answering that question is pivotal to our understanding of Christianity and how it should engage American culture.