The Christian life is a journey over a strange and dangerous path. The path itself can take surprising turns and seem to disappear altogether at times. This past week was disappointing for many evangelicals in America and has resulted in much soul searching. Many have concluded that we are now a “post-moral” society and that we have in fact gone over the abyss.
While I am not prepared to come to that conclusion yet, it is clear that we do not live in our father’s America. This is certainly not a predominantly white, conservative, protestant country any more. We are far more diverse and becoming more so by the year as immigration increases and births among minority groups outpace others. Interestingly two of these groups, Hispanics and African Americans, are not generally pro-choice or pro-gay rights and yet they did not vote for the conservative “moral” candidate.
It seems to me that the louder the conservative evangelical voices have shouted into the conversation about politics in our country, the less influential they have become. Our churches may have become more vocal on a variety of issues in recent years, but we are having a harder and harder time convincing people to vote for “our” candidates. Maybe our tone and our lives need some real examination in light of recent events.
While some of the ads that various candidates ran on TV were pretty hard hitting and often had questionable accuracy, they paled in comparison to the negativity on Facebook. Unfortunately, some of the worst attacks were made by evangelicals and not just against candidates. As the comments sections of Facebook posts seemed to grow daily during the campaign, many of these became viscous personal attacks on the people making the comments. Somehow, “in the name of Christ”, many Godly believers left their civility on the sidelines, took off the gloves and responded in the most un-Christlike manner to people that they did not even know. It is no wonder that non-Christians have such negative stereotypes of those of us who claim the name of Christ.
Recently my son wrote a paper and then had to make a speech on a hot topic in modern culture. He chose to write and speak about abortion and did a great job in preparing effective and persuasive arguments for the predominantly secular audience at his public High School. To my surprise, he was not ridiculed or criticized by his classmates for the choice of topic or for his presentation. Interestingly, several classmates even commented that they agreed with his views. Clearly, it is not only evangelicals who understand the horrors of taking the life of the unborn.
On Sunday, we heard a great presentation at our church by Bethany Christian Services, an organization actively involved in making adoptions a viable option for as many as possible. I was deeply convicted about my own lack of concern about this vital issue and how little I have done to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Out of that conviction, I took a first small step to actually doing something. I took a small collection box they had provided for families to gather loose change and brought it home. It sits in a prominent place as a reminder that even small actions can make a real difference. I know that I can do much more and am praying about what my next steps should be.
Maybe it would be appropriate for us to take a “time out” from talking so much about our beliefs in the public square and actually start living out our values on a daily basis. While there will always be a place for the church to speak into our culture about moral values, now may not be the best time. Instead, it seems like we have a lot to repent of and might want to take time to examine the concept of being a “faithful presence” as noted author James Davison Hunter so wisely suggested. If our actions spoke as loudly as our words, maybe we would have more actual influence in the culture we are seeking to change.