An Open Letter to Young, “Post-Partisan” Evangelicals

It’s that time again — the time when the younger evangelical generation surveys our damaged nation, observes the terrible reputation of leading evangelical “culture warriors” in the pop culture and with their peers, and says, “You guys blew it.  It’s time for a new approach, for a post-partisan approach.  We’re not in anyone’s political pocket.  We’re not focused on politics at all.”  You look at books like Jonathan Merritt’s A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars and think, “Finally someone is speaking to us.  We’re about Jesus — not about Republicans, not Democrats, just Jesus.”  Young, post-partisan evangelicals, this letter is for you.

Dear fed-up idealists,

I used to be you.  I know that’s hard to believe.  After all, I’m pretty darn partisan.  I’m a religious liberties lawyer, a pro-life activist, the founder of Evangelicals for Mitt, and the most recent winner of the American Conservative Union’s Ronald Reagan Award.  I serve my country in uniform in the Army Reserves and am a veteran of the Iraq War.  In other words, for a lot of you out there, I’m less role model than cautionary tale.  I’m the guy you’re trying not to be — the guy you think is destroying our Christian witness.  Heck, I’m the guy that even I used to hate.

How did this happen?  Why did this happen?  The short answer is that it happened because life happened — real life.  So let’s take a trip back through time.

–1991–

Step 1: Despising my elders.  We called ourselves “Solomon’s Colonnade” after the temple area where Jesus delivered one of his many stinging rebukes to the religious leaders of the day.  There were only a few of us, friends from college, but we were determined to upend the silly, partisan hypocrisy of the religious right.  I blame Bono, really.  I attended a U2 concert during the 1987 “Joshua Tree” tour, and was enthralled as Bono (a real rock star!) not spoke openly about his love for Jesus, he wound up his rousing mini-sermon with a passionate condemnation of the televangelists who were then dominating public religious life.  His words were both shocking and exhilarating: “Here’s my message to the televangelists: get the f**k off my TV screen!”

Well, that generation of televangelists did eventually “get the f**k off” the TV screen — doomed by their own insatiable appetites — but that wasn’t enough for me.  Simply put, I was convinced we hadn’t been doing church right, and my friends in Solomon’s Colonnade were going to do what we could to reboot the whole thing.  We spent hours talking late into the night, discussing everything from ideal church governance to the right way to engage politics and the culture.  We didn’t reach any consensus other than the consensus that we could do it better — whatever “it” was.  And we had to do better.

I graduated from college, Solomon’s Colonnade faded into oblivion, but my goals didn’t change.  Oh, I was philosophically conservative — a biblical literalist, an admirer of Edmund Burke, and very deeply pro-life — but I was convinced that the core, life-affirming values of my faith were being wasted and squandered by partisans and charlatans.  Shortly after law school, while reflecting on the latest media-reported “outrage” from Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson or James Dobson, I remember emailing my friends something like this: “There has to be a revolution in American Christianity.  The old guard has to go, and we have to put Jesus at the center of all we do.  I don’t have to lead the revolution, but at least let me drive the tank.”  How those words would come to haunt my conscience . . .

–2004–

Step 2: Encountering life.  I was living my dream.  Sure, I was still pro-life (I co-founded Harvard Law School’s only pro-life student group), but you couldn’t categorize me!  I had also written a then widely-read op-ed arguing that gay marriage was “inevitable” and that the state had forfeited any legal grounds for denying gay couples the “right” to marry.  No labels for me!.  Shortly after publishing that op-ed, I found myself not only leading a nonpartisan free speech organization but also being profiled in a progressive Christian magazine (sadly defunct or I’d link the article) as an example of nonpartisan Christian leadership.  My friends in Solomon’s Colonnade would have been so proud.

But I soon realized that my nonpartisanship had a steep price.  I could be pro-life, but not too pro-life.  You see, if you’re too pro-life; if you talk about too much, then you can’t be post-partisan.  One political party is completely dedicated to legal protection of abortion on demand.  The other political party is completely dedicated to repealing Roe v. Wade.  If you talk too much about abortion, others will define you, and if you’re defined how can you be independent?

“No problem,” my hip inner voice said.  Pro-life is really whole life.  Anti-poverty programs, environmental advocacy — that’s all ‘pro-life’ in the broad sense, right?  Can’t I be pro-life and maintain my independence?”  But my rational inner voice quickly rebelled.  If I’m “whole life” without talking about unborn children then I’m functionally pro-abortion, but if I’m “whole life” and bring unborn children into that conversation in any meaningful way, then I’m right back where I started.  Besides, the effect on life of driving a Prius over a pickup truck can’t be measured with a (metaphorical) electron microscope.  But if an abortion clinic shuts down or a young mom is persuaded not to abort, a real live human being is born — a person of incalculable worth.  Yes, I want them to grow and flourish in a just society, and yes I want them to have economic opportunity.  But it’s tough to enjoy justice and opportunity when you’re dead.

So I was pro-life.  Firmly.  Actively.

I clung, however, to my marriage position — with even greater ferocity.  But my rational voice rebelled once again against my hip inner voice.  Didn’t no-fault divorce fly directly in the face of biblical marriage?  Weren’t legal regimes that were focused entirely around adult self-actualization having measurable and devastating effects on our culture?  Why then would we continue down the path of marriage as a legally recognized means of adult self-actualization rather than marriage as a legally-protected institution of cultural preservation?

Then, as a lawyer, I saw the catastrophic effects that normalization of same-sex relationships was having on religious liberty.  And I realized I was wrong.

As I decisively entered the “culture war” I discovered something shocking: there aren’t that many of us.  (What’s that?  Are you telling me that Christians aren’t obsessed with gays and abortion?  That’s what all the polls say!)  As I traveled around the country and spoke at churches, Tea Party rallies, and conferences, I realized that the number of Christians who truly fight the culture war is quite small.  How small?  In 2011, I researched the budgets of the leading culture war organizations and compared them to the leading Christian anti-poverty organizations.  Here’s what I found:

How do those numbers stack up with leading Christian anti-poverty charities? Let’s look at just three: World VisionCompassion International, and Samaritan’s Purse. Their total annual gross receipts (again, according to most recently available Form 990s) exceed $2.1 billion. The smallest of the three organizations (Samaritan’s Purse) has larger gross receipts than every major “pro-family” culture war organization in the United States combined. World Vision, the largest, not only takes in more than $1 billion per year, it also has more than 1,400 employees and 43,000 volunteers.

In other words, Christians are overwhelmingly focused with their money and their time on the poor, not on culture war issues.  Then why are Christians portrayed differently?  Because the media is obsessed with the sexual revolution and demonizes dissent.  If news outlets focus on Christians only when engaged on culture war issues and ignores the much more extensive work we do for the poor in Africa, in Asia, and at home, then it’s no wonder the wider world sees us as politically-obsessed.  Anyone who believes that Christians are in control of their own public image does not understand how public perceptions are created in this country.  No one is in total control of their own image and reputation.  Not even the President — and shame on me for not realizing that in my days of naive rage.

–2007–

Step 3: Becoming my elders:  I’ll never forget the day I met James Dobson.  I was preparing to appear on a Focus on the Family broadcast highlighting a number of my cases on behalf of Christian students.  In a very real way that broadcast would cement my transition (not that anyone cared about that but me) from “post-partisan” to firmly, completely “religious right.”  I was joining Focus and many others in their long fight against cultural and legal trends that result in millions of aborted babies, millions of broken families, persistent poverty, and increasing inequality.  On that day, I was struck by Dr. Dobson’s humility and the humility of his staff.  There was a palpable feeling that they were answering God’s call on their lives — serving their role in the Body of Christ, a role certainly no more important than that played by others but vital nonetheless.

Of course they’re not perfect.  Of course I’m not perfect.  Of course I’m in fact deeply flawed.  But so are relief workers at World Vision.  So is the pastor you may admire so much.  So were each one of Jesus’s disciples and apostles.  As we fight the culture war, we’re going to make mistakes, we’re not going to agree with each other, and sometimes I still get deeply frustrated at my own side.  But I no longer believe the lie that there is a path for Christians through this culture that everyone will love — or even most people will love.  I no longer believe the lie that American Christians are “too political” and if we only spoke less about abortion we’d be more respected (the mainline denominations have taken that path for two generations, and they continue to lose members and cultural influence).

So, “post-partisan” Christians, please ponder this: First, as the price for your new path, are you willing to forego any effective voice at all for unborn children?  Are you willing to keep silent when the secular world demands your silence?  After all, that is the true price of non-partisanship — silence.  Second, if you believe that a more perfect imitation of Christ (more perfect than the elders you scorn) will lead to more love and regard for the Church, consider this: No one was more like Christ than Christ, and he wound up on a cross with only the tiniest handful of followers by his side.

Follow Jesus, yes, but don’t think for a moment that will improve your image, and don’t be surprised if He takes you down much the same path He took the generation before you.

Read more on the Faith and Family Channel

  • Steve Billingsley

    As someone who has walked a similar path, there really is another reason that people don’t like to voice for the stance of the young “post-partisan” types. Many of them (certainly not all, but a bigger percentage than want to admit it) are “tired of the culture wars” because they want to be liked. Or to put it a bit more bluntly, they want to be “one of the cool kids”. Being a committed evangelical Christian with conservative stances on issues of sexual ethics as a teen or young adult is to be in the distinct minority and if one is open with their convictions, is to open oneself up to ridicule and depending upon where one lives (or goes to school) to accusations of being “intolerant”, “a bully” or worse. No one likes that and it is often just easier to keep one’s head down and mouth shut – or, to accept some of the stereotypes and try to prove that one is a “different kind of Christian, not like those bigots”. In my generation, it was not being like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. The names may have changed now (I have young boys and am not particularly invested in pop culture at the moment) – but the pressure to conform remains the same. I felt it in my twenties pretty acutely. But sometimes being a Christian demands taking an unpopular stance. I don’t feel particularly persecuted (especially when I consider what some of my brothers and sisters in Christ endure in other parts of the world) – but I do know that I am sometimes called to stand for what I believe to be right, even in the face of opposition. That’s just part of the deal.

    • David French

      Steve, I think you’re quite right. It’s common for young people to distinguish themselves from those “bad Christians” by going out of their way to mock and reject conservative Christian leaders and adopting the cultural posture and attitudes of their peers. Oh, the stories I could tell from my work on college campuses . . .

    • barbara

      I am 28 years old. I don’t care what my peers think or about being hip. I care deeply, viscerally about LGBT rights and gay marriage. Please, continue to stand for what you believe is right. And I will too. That is the only way to make true conversation possible. But if what is most important to my heart is dismissed because of age, because my age maybe or probably implies I just want to be liked, then we’ve lost an opportunity. Some want to be hip, but I think it’s a smaller percentage than you imply.

      • Another Barbara

        Ah, but what about the spiritual health of the LGBT? And what about the health of the nation? Leviticus 18: 6-30 makes a very clear relationship between the degree to which we embrace God’s design for sexuality and the degree to which He protects the state of the land.

        • Sagrav

          Leviticus also has passages stating that God likes the smell of burning animal flesh. Think about that. God, a non-corporeal super being, went out of His way to tell a tribe of desert nomads that He sure likes the smell of burning cow. But not shellfish! Yuck, abomination!

          This is the problem with taking everything in your religious texts literally: You are stuck with believing the silly parts.

          • barbara

            Well said Sagrav. What about not wearing two pieces of clothing cut from different cloths?

            The spiritual health of LGBT folk depends on their inclusion.

          • Pearson

            If you would like to have a real and genuine conversation about the texts that you are misrepresenting, then please feel free to e-mail me. I am more than happy to put my real e-mail address (unless that goes against some regulation, in which case it may be erased): cjpearson03 (at) gmail (dot) com. Forgive the strange format…don’t want any bots, ya know?

          • Sagrav

            We are already having a real and genuine conversation. We’re just doing it in public, and I intend to keep it that way.

            I don’t believe I am misinterpreting anything, but please feel free to point out some hidden chunk of wisdom or context that would make Yahweh’s preference for the scent of burning meat make a lick of sense. Or you could explain why an infinitely powerful immortal being would care about how the dominant bipedal animals of planet Earth dress, eat, and have sex.

            Is it simply some kind of divine hazing ritual? God wants to see if we’re willing to suffer the cognitive dissonance of literally believing a young Earth creation story in face of mountains of scientific evidence to the contrary. If you are, you’re in! If not… I guess God watches you burn forever.

          • Chezy J.

            About what Sagrav wrote about God liking the smell of burning cow and not taking texts too literally. I wanted to ask you if you like the smell of red herring cooked over straw man, but you don’t seem like someone who would.

            Really, though, I’ve always wondered about that myself, and recently I heard that cows were to be sacrificed and burnt because in Egypt they were worshipped. So if I understand it correctly, God wanted the Israelites to know where they stood in relationship to those idols.

            I don’t think it was like the smell of napalm in the morning, but the smell of diseased blankets being burned.

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  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    “Then, as a lawyer, I saw the catastrophic effects that normalization of same-sex relationships was having on religious liberty. And I realized I was wrong.

    Thanks for this excellent post, and the link back to the earlier post. I thought the following was particularly good:

    “I was wrong in believing that there was essentially “no harm, no foul” legally or culturally in recognizing “gay marriage.” I was wrong to believe that the proper response to the damage to done to the institution of marriage was to essentially throw our hands up and allow even further damage. And I was definitely wrong to believe that legalizing same-sex marriage — as a practical matter — is a libertarian decision in the real world.”

  • Jesus Morales

    Mr. French, a great article as usual. I can definitely understand where people come from with the whole post-partisan angle. Obviously, Christ should come before our politics. Republicans may have the same goals as Christians now, but that may not always be the case. All that said, you are totally on target. For what it’s worth, I’m a young evangelical who realizes that we will have to take unpopular stands. Even if that causes friction with friends and family. Sometimes people will be offended, but so long as I was not offensive, that’s the price we pay and it is a small price compared to what many of our brothers and sisters endure in other countries.

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  • http://www.prolifetraining.com Jay Watts

    This is just outstanding. When I made the transition from atheism to Christianity one of the things I promised myself was to never try to be one of the “good ones.” As in, don’t judge me by those awful outspoken Christians over there, I am one of the good ones. One of the insights I carried over from my former perspective was that the good ones were always barking up the wrong tree. As an atheist, I thought they were either just as silly and ignorant as the Christians they were trying to distance themselves from or in many cases functionally about as Christian as I was at the time. Either way, the person ultimately most responsible for changing my ideas about Christ and Christians was a deeply loving young woman who lived unapologetically differently from me in almost every way.

    This line particularly struck home:
    “As I decisively entered the “culture war” I discovered something shocking: there aren’t that many of us.”

    I tell people this every day. The reason I know so many people they read and admire is because there really are a lot fewer people doing this than they think. Only the talent and devotion of some extraordinary people make it seem like there are more involved than there truly are. Keep up the good work.

    God bless,
    Jay

    • David French

      Jay, thank you. I just read your comment out loud to my wife. It made my day.

  • http://www.PrestonVickrey.com Preston A Vickrey

    I will try best to self identify who I am.
    I am a Christian, I believe everything the Bible says is true and its instructions are for us to follow.
    I am young, 24 to be exact. (Since I am young I reserve the right to be convinced I am wrong)
    I am independent politically. I think both parties are deeply flawed, and many movers and shakers in both parties are causing incredible harm by deepening the divide that our nation has. I think they are driven by a desire for more and more power. I know their is hope beyond politics, but that until Jesus returns we will be working in this flawed system called politics.
    I’m not a member of the religious right because of some issues I have with those who self identify there.
    I am clearly and bluntly pro-life, whole life. From conception to natural death. I am as a result pro-adoption.
    I am pro-immigration, I am the offspring of immigrants, many generations ago.
    I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. It is God, not man, ordained and as such the state shall either define it as such or define it not at all.
    As both a pastor and a Christian I believe we should be people of convictions informed by the Scriptures, that we should not align ourselves with one party or politician. That we should work with any and everyone to accomplish what the Scriptures call us too. That we should defend, even to the point of imprisonment or death, the rights of: the weak, the marginalized, the unborn, the orphan and the widow.
    And most of all that we should do this all in the name of Christ.
    I have personal opinions about politicians and politics. I have public opinions about abortion, murder, definition of marriage, freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of students within the public school systems etc. as a result of that I have public opinions about policies related to those things.
    So if that makes me “post-partisan” and puts me in the cross hairs of David French or someone else, I am willing to engage and hopefully learn something. If that makes me “right wing” I would say not really, it would make me a man of convictions founded upon the Scriptures.

    • Sean Hughley

      Well said dude, well said.

    • LIu

      I enjoy your post. I am a Christian. Recent immigrant. Pro-life and pro-family. I am also pro-middle class and environment.

    • Justin Weeces

      Perfect, Preston! The only thing I can add is that I am 41 and took the polar opposite track as Mr. French. I used to be the young(er) Christian waving the flag and advocating anything Dr. Dobson said. Older age wisdom (if that is where Mr. French wants to go) and better Scriptural understanding has moved me to where I am now. I have not become my elders but left them instead.

      GOD does not take kindly to those who compromise His Word. I will gladly look silly and have people frown on my vote by equating it to a vote for the enemy. I know that I will delight in honoring my LORD and Savior. To Him alone be the glory.

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  • Brian

    Great article. I just have one point.

    Your job as a Christian is not to be cool. Your job as a Christian is not to win political influence. Your job as a Christian is not to win culture wars. Your job as a Christian is not to be the most popular sect or win the most converts or change the most minds. Quite simply, your job is to love God and love others. Period. Everything outside that is outside the bounds of your duty to God.

    Somewhere along the way, American Christians completely lost this perspective. It’s called a “personal relationship” not because you require it of others, but quite the opposite. A man coerced into morality by law is not moral. A man who does the right things for the wrong reasons is not righteous.

    Babys are dying, and sinners are sinning, and today is no different than any day before it in that regard. What matters is not worldly justice, or cultural conformity, but personal sacrifice. If your values are pro-life, then live by example and don’t get an abortion. If you believe homosexuality is a sin, don’t get a gay marriage. A Christian’s values are their own, and no one else’s. To expect otherwise is to miss the point entirely.

    • Rob Smith

      Brian, that’s not what Christians are called to do. We are called to be “the light of the world” and the “salt of the earth”. You seem to be calling for us to hide our light under a basket or keep our salt in the shaker. The way a Christian shows love to a woman who’s had an abortion or a person living as a homosexual is not by letting them continue to held in bondage by their sin but by exposing them to the “good news” of Jesus Christ and how they can be released from the bondage.

      • Brian

        Matthew 22: “37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.””

        Did I miss the part where Jesus commands “and make sure your neighbor does too”? Being a light, and a salt, is still about YOU, not everyone else in the world. Being a light means living by your own values, that’s it. It’s incredibly simple, it amazes me how many people misunderstand this.

        The way you show love to a woman who had an abortion is not by putting her in jail, or humiliating her. The way you love a homosexual is not by denying them rights and privileges given to every other member of a secular society, publicly shaming or otherwise ostracizing them. This is what the world hears when Christians say they need “tough love”.

        Exposing them to the “good news” is fine. Political battles to impose hardships is not.

        • Jeff Schultz

          Somebody is going to make the laws, Brian. And all laws are about morality. We live in a country in which we have the privilege and responsibility to vote and make laws. It sounds like you’re suggesting that Christians shouldn’t bring faith or values into the political process. Who, then, is allowed to make laws, and on what basis?

          And working to stop the legalized slaughter of unborn humans is actually loving my neighbor.

          • Brian

            I believe you’ve misunderstood morality. Morality is a personal code, not a legal one (at least, not in this country). Morality is for you, but our laws (ethics) must take everyone into account.

            If you’d like to sample a government that rules via religious moral doctrine instead of ethical positions that account for a plural population, I would suggest visiting Saudi Arabia or Iran.

            I don’t have a problem with Christians being involved in their government, quite the opposite. Everyone should be more involved in fact. But when we take on such a task or are in positions of law making, we have to be careful to keep in mind that what we have chosen for ourselves personally does not need to be imposed on everyone. This is a country that values individualism, and laws based on personal doctrine, and nothing else, violate that. Even if one feels strongly that their way of life is the correct one, we must be careful to respect the choices of others even when they differ from our own, so long as they conform to the broader social contract (do no harm to others).

      • Jesus Morales

        Rob, I agree with your point. We’re not here to set up a theocracy, but there are some pretty basic stands we can take, both in the personal realm and the public/political realm. The law is a great teacher. Who here can deny that our society would be different if no-fault divorce and abortion were not the law of the land? Even if you’ve never had an abortion, never had a divorce, those two political/legal changes have impacted your life. I would argue they have largely had a negative impact.

        How can we transform this world for Christ if we allow such things to stand? I want to stand for Christ in my personal life and show love to people. But do I really want to stand before Christ and say that when given the opportunity to vote for something that is in line with His word, I chose to do nothing? Or even to go against His commands? No thank you.

        Quite frankly, I find the Bible is useful for public policy because God made us and He knows how we function best. That’s why for issues like abortion and same-sex marriage there’s not just good Biblical arguments to oppose them, there’s good legal/common sense/public policy arguments for opposing them.

        No matter how you look at it, I see no problem with Christians taking a stand on issues like abortion. It shouldn’t be our only way of taking a public stand for God, but it certainly is a legitimate one. Withdrawing from the political arena is just to cede that ground to Satan, and then sit back and scratch our heads and wonder why the culture is going to Hell in a handbasket.

        • Brian

          “How can we transform this world for Christ if we allow such things to stand? I want to stand for Christ in my personal life and show love to people. But do I really want to stand before Christ and say that when given the opportunity to vote for something that is in line with His word, I chose to do nothing? Or even to go against His commands? No thank you.”

          You are not responsible for other people’s sins. I think you misunderstand the very definition of sin, in fact. Sin is in ones heart, not ones actions. Legally preventing someone from behaving a certain way does not decrease sin, and does not increase your “I’ve been a good Christian boy” points in heaven. The question you will have to answer is what was in *your* heart, not in others.

          Find me one verse where Jesus took a political position. I know it’s treasonous to say it in the US, but he does not care about America. He does not care about democracy. He does not care about government, or politicians, or policy, or supreme court decisions, or state contractual documents, or votes. It’s just you, and your heart. That’s all you’re accountable for.

          • Jesus Morales

            Oh, well I will make sure to not witness to anyone. Not like I have to answer for them anyway.
            Sorry for the flip response, but it’s clear your mind won’t change. Best wishes to you.

          • Another Barbara

            I am not sure about what you said in regard Jesus not caring for our nation. It seems to me that God judges nations by how well they embrace His design for sexuality. Lev: 18: 6-30 covers sexual sin and it’s consequences. Note verses 25,27, and 29 relate to the nations. Nations in the Promise land fell not by Joshua’s military might but by the sexual perversion of those nations. And In Ezekiel” 16:15-17, 17: 20-21 God is ready to remove Israel from their land because of literal and figurative harlotry and slaughtering their children and offering them to idols. Maybe He just meant this for Israel, but maybe not.

            Now, In response to your last statement: “It’s just you, and your heart. That’s all you’re accountable for,” let’s see what Jesus has to say in Mathew 5.
            17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Call me simplistic but I think he wants us to teach the law, not just practice it. Oh, and BTW, he was talking to the “politicians” of his day.

          • timothy

            Brian,
            I love what you are saying.

            Sadly, though, I fear you are saying it to those who are beyond saving. They do not know, or care to know, of Jesus’ love. They prefer to see their neighbors specks and ignore their own planks, to do unto others however they want and to hats the sinner as much as the sin. They are not capable of living justly, of loving mercy or of walking humbly with God.

            Shake the dust from your sandals, my friend.

        • http://thepersistentkog.wordpress.com Andy Zook

          How did the early church turn their world upside down when they had no legal recourse whatsoever? It can be done. american christians have believed a lie that tells them the only way they can “shine their light” and impact their culture is through political or cultural top-down methods.

    • Sean

      “In other words, if you believe that murder is wrong, then live by example and don’t murder anyone. You can’t expect others to believe exactly what you believe, so just do your bit and don’t commit murder.” An extreme example, for sure, but that’s exactly how far your argument goes.
      Loving God and loving others, as a matter of necessity, includes taking a stand for justice. You raise a good point by saying that our job isn’t to win political battles or be the most popular, but truly loving others involves a lot more than you’re willing to admit.

      • Brian

        Conversely, your argument taken to it’s extreme means we need to require everyone to love Jesus, pray to him, take communion, baptize their children, and send menstruating women outside the city.

        That sounds pretty ridiculous too, I hope. So what’s the answer in a pluralistic society where we have competing value systems? I think the US has actually struck a pretty good balance – your fist’s liberty ends where my face begins. That is to say, we can all agree that we don’t want complete lawlessness. We can all agree that we don’t want to allow murder. But on issues where we don’t agree, there are gray areas left up to personal decisions. Lying, for example, is considered a sin, but not illegal (if you’re not under oath or writing a contract). Neither is adultery, having other gods, lusting, or most of the other commandments. This is where the “so why don’t we permit murder” argument breaks down. Our laws aren’t based on the 10 commandments, and those that agree are shared by every society and culture everywhere in the world in every time period since forever.

        So no, I disagree that loving God and loving others requires us to require non-believers to conform to the American Christian Conservative Evangelical moral code. Actually loving God and others is a lot harder than that.

        • Matt J

          Nicely put, Brian.

        • LIu

          Well thought!

        • http://thepersistentkog.wordpress.com Andy Zook

          Amen!

        • Mitch Mueller

          Brian, the topic you are binging up is very delicate. You are right that we cannot compel others to conform entirely to Christian Moral standards. But does that mean that we cannot place any moral expectations on them whatsoever? Does that mean we just throw up our hands and leave morality up to a moajority vote and hope that the competingf views of the moral marketplace will strike a balance for us? I would say no to both. Though morality comes from God, I think we can place some moral expectations on those who do not believe in Him. This is the essence of Natural Law. There are some moral issues that are SO fundamental, that any society that allows for their transgression cannot survive. Some of these issues include life (murder/abortion), property (theft), and family (marriage, education, religious freedom etc). I think that stance that you are taking is a slippery slope that leads to the self destruction of our culture. We can take a firm stand on the Natural Law without legislating the Moral Code of Christianity. We can stand up for the Natural Definition of marriage without making laws requiring everyone to read their bibles daily. We can create laws protecting the unborn without foring people to pray to Jesus Christ. Faith must be voluntary, true, but the reason the state exists is for the common good which requires some ammount of coercion. The #1 task of the Christian today is to recover an understanding of Natual Law. CS Lewis tried to do thish with Mere Christianity, but the average Christian has shunned CS Lewis for Desmond Tutu, John Piper, and Depak Chopra. Even Dr. Martin Luther King wrote that a Civil Law was just only in so far as it was congruent with the Natural Law, and every law that violated the natural law weakens a society. A weak society means more orphans, more abortions, more suicide, more depression, and lower quality of life. Christ would have none of that. Christ called to witness to this world in tangible material ways in addition to spiritual ways. It’s not an either/or question – its both/and. If we allow for gay marriage and other government activities that violate the natural law we are failing to do our duty as christians and we will regret it when the divorce rates rise, the number of orphans rise, and social cohesion breaks down. Ancient Rome collapsed because they violated the natural law. The same with Ancient China, the USSR, and countless other great cultures. Ancient Israel of king Davids time collapsed in the wake of sexual immorality and child sacrifice. Their nation collapsed and they were exiled. America too will collapse and will be only a footnote in the history books if we fail to uphold that natural law. The Natural Law is written on the hearts of ALL people (Romans) not just Christians. And when we look throughout history at culture after cultre and see marriage upheld over and over and something between men and women – they are a law unto themselves. When we see laws in nearly every culture regarding proprety – they are a law unto themselves. We know that Homosexual unions are not to be treated as marriage because every culture treats them as something DIFFERENT. There is no known culture that has treated Same-Sex relationships the same as Opposite-Sex relationships. Enter Natural Law.

      • Spiritus Nox

        Sean, speaking as a Christian – your analogy makes the rather large miscalculation of equating gay marriage with murder when it is not equal. Explain to me how it could possibly be otherwise, when murder causes dire and severe physical and emotional harm to the murdered and any loved ones they posessed, while two gay men entering into a committed, loving, monogamous marriage harms no one.

        Or am I missing the bit in my bible where Jesus called down a flight of angels to force the Pharisees to believe as he thought they should believe, act as he thought they should act?

        • PuritanD

          The last time I checked, sin is still sin so Sean’s argument still holds. It amazes me that Brian is trying to have it both ways. He does not like murder but hey if you don”t like abortion don’t speak out on it (which is murder in the first place, isn’t it).

          You err to think that “gay marriage” will not hurt anyone. It hurts all, just like no-fault divorce hurts all of society so will “gay marriage”. You may want to reread Matt 23 and the woes against the Pharisees.

          • Spiritus Nox

            They don’t consider it a sin, though. Last I checked, we Christians hadn’t gone around outlawing premarital sex, either. Why Gay Marriage? Why are we forcing people who in many cases share few of our values to live by them?

            Think about this, for a moment. I guarantee you that somewhere in the world, right this moment, as I type these words and as you later read them, many gay couples are having dirty gay sex RIGHT NOW. I want you to tell me who they are hurting and exactly how they’re doing it.

            I’m not asking to be gay- I’m not gay. I’m asking why we have to force other people to not be gay.

            And I STILL missed the part where Jesus forced the Pharisees to act as he commanded. Condemnation and persecution are two very different things, friend.

          • http://thepersistentkog.wordpress.com Andy Zook

            Yes, Jesus condemned them but He DIDN’T go to the courts, kings, councils or legislatures to try and MAKE them do His will! In fact He surrendered (gave up completely) and allowed them to do what ever they wanted to Him…and in so doing He has ultimately ‘conquered’ them. His kingdom blew their world upside down and they were powerless to stop it….

    • C. McDonald

      How do we justify that stance in light of other issues Christians have stood against and we are glad they did? I come from a church tradition that stood strong and very public about slavery. Should we have just kept silent and just not own slaves? What about women’s rights? This is not to attack what you are saying I just know this is a struggle for so many I know. Where do we draw lines?

      • Brian

        Issues of slavery and women’s rights were by no means championed by the church. I’m sure some stood up for them, just as some in the church are now pro-gay-marriage, but the majority did not support those changes. The Bible has no objections to slave owning or the subjugation of women.

        Here’s the line: Do we, as a society, believe all *people* are created equal? If so, one man cannot own another. Do we believe all *people* should enjoy the same rights, rather than having a system of castes and classes? If so, women have as much right to vote and own property as men. These are not Christian values, they are American values, and should not be confused. These are not positions that have historically been taken by the church, they are secular. In the US at least (and in many other secular countries), we have collectively decided that these values are correct, and have built our laws and our culture around them. These values are also what allow Christians to practice openly and freely, along with people of other faiths, and people of no faith. Again, that is a revolutionary value not found in the Bible, and is the tradeoff that we’ve all accepted. We get to live our lives how we want so long as it does no injury to others.

        • PuritanD

          Brian,

          Our nation was never built on secular thought. Your understanding of history of the founding of our nation seems to lack the Judeo-Christian foundation that it was founded upon. This is not France and its secular revolution but truly American of which its revolution was not a secular overthrow of the church.

          Christians were at the fore-front of abolishing the slave trade and slavery of the modern era. Wilberforce was who again? The idea that we get to live our lives how we want if we do not hurt another is a lie from the pit of hell. There is no such thing if the focus is not Biblical, even the “whitest” white lie hurts another person.

          Please review American history for it seems to be lacking in your post.

          • Brian

            [Flipping back through history books...]

            Ah, here’s a good tidbit from the Treaty of Tripoli, signed unanimously by all members of Congress and President Adams in 1797:

            “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

            Seems rather clear cut, doesn’t it? The US was “Christianized” in the ’50s in response to our arch rivals, the communist (and atheist) Soviets. All this “In God we Trust” and “Under God” stuff is a modern creation, and was strictly avoided by the founders for good reason. Our constitution is a product of enlightenment thought, not Christian thought, and is absolutely secular in nature.

          • http://thepersistentkog.wordpress.com Andy Zook

            You’re partly correct about it not being found as wholly secular, but neither was it founded as an evangelical christian nation either in the way the american religious right imagines it.

        • http://thepersistentkog.wordpress.com Andy Zook

          Again, brilliant – right on and amen

    • Koop

      Best comment on the page, Brian. Simple solution turns out to be each believer being a totally commited foller of Christ…Who Knew!

    • Andy

      My first thought to Brian’s post was: what does he think about evangelism and missions? (Great Commission anyone?)

      “If your values are pro-life, then live by example and don’t get an abortion. If you believe homosexuality is a sin, don’t get a gay marriage. A Christian’s values are their own, and no one else’s.”

      If you’re like me, this “live by example” thing seems a bit off, not only because if you insert something else, as was already pointed out (I’ll use, “if you believe spousal abuse is a sin, don’t beat your wife”) you get an absurd statement, but simply because this entire “be a good person and don’t impose your values” seems to be based on some contrived philosophical position rather than Scripture.

      It’s just that when 11 of the 12 disciples got killed (and the other boiled alive), it doesn’t seem like they were very private “live by example” individuals. And you could hardly categorize under this “live by example” platitude someone who goes around yelling:

      Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started! “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

      I guess it begs the question of what the “love” that Brian speaks about really is. Since the God-man who uttered the aforementioned words was the perfect manifestation of love, it seems like love is more than just smiling 24/7 and giving some change to the homeless guy on the street…

      • Brian

        The important distinction is that Jesus was speaking to the leaders of the religious community, not the ruling government (Romans). Jesus had little to say about how Romans lived, only about how those who proclaimed themselves faithful to God lived.

        If you can show me one example of Jesus imposing Jewish law on Gentiles I’ll reverse my position.

      • Spiritus Nox

        Ah, yes, do tell us what love is, you who would relegate those who refuse to follow your values to second class citizens in a country that is not, and has never been, just for us Christians.

        I’m sure the Gay Population feels overwhelmed by the power of our love. It’s not as though gay teens are relentlessly bullied across the country to the point that Suicide rates are higher amongst gay teens than any other demographic. And it’s not as though, time after time, I see ‘Christian’ groups protecting these bullies under the auspices of simply ‘exercising their values.’ And it’s not as though comparing two people of the same sex having a comitted, loving, monogamous relationship is an absurd false equivalency or anything, no sir.

        Clearly the only true way to express our love for all people is to raise people like us above others and lay low those who refuse to conform to our values, even if they do no harm to anyone.

        You know nothing about the love of Christ.

        • Spiritus Nox

          Small edit – I meant to say that “It’s not as though comparing two people of the same sex having a comitted, loving, monogamous relationship to murder or abuse is an absurd false equivalency or anything, no sir.”

          I await your compelling argument as to why you choose to lump gay people in with murderers and abusers.

      • http://thepersistentkog.wordpress.com Andy Zook

        To Andy, But again – did Jesus and the apostle do much more than “live by example” – yes they spoke in churches and in the markets, and street corners but that’s about it! (yes they had some opportunities to speak to higher authorities but most of those times were forced on them by martial persecution) They did not seek to change society via political means period. Why is

        • http://thepersistentkog.wordpress.com Andy Zook

          Why is surrendering to Jesus’ example so difficult?

    • http://thepersistentkog.wordpress.com Andy Zook

      Well said Brian… yes some of my beliefs/convictions still align with the religious right but where I depart from (and from the writer of this article) is what we do with those convictions. I plan to stick to living them out – maybe talking about them, hopefully persuasively if asked….but that’s it. Hence I can’t, like Mr French make a full circle back into the religious right. I respect their convictions but can’t affirm the means that many employ to get to the end they desire. And yes I will continue to aspire to post-partisanship…

  • Jeremy Forbing

    As a Christian who does not believe that life begins at conception (though I do believe it begins sometime in the womb, which is as much as Scripture tells us), the subordination of Christ’s teachings to a largely unrelated political agenda is not something I can perceive as maturation. We all have different paths to follow in our walk with Christ, and God certainly did not intend for us all to agree on how best to serve Him, but dismissing worldly political idealogies in favor of devotion to God’s Word is *precisely* the example of Jesus Christ. We see it over and over again in the gospels, this theme of rejecting the Pharisees and other self-appointed authorities who presume to speak for God, in Solomon’s Colonnade and beyond. These actions in the Gospels do not strike me as youthful naivete, nor does a statement like “The old guard has to go, and we have to put Jesus at the center of all we do.” Is putting Jesus at the center of your life really an immature sentiment that needs to be condescended to? Especially in the context of deprioritizing devotion to the Savior in the name of social and political concerns which are, at best, merely touched upon obliquely in Scripture itself?

    Life is an incredible gift, and in the course of it, our Creator’s plan for us sometimes takes us to new unexplected places– raising a family, a career in political activism, etc.– but sometimes the same pursuits we believe we’ve taken up in God’s holy name become the very nets we are called to put down to become fishers of men.

    In this open letter, you submit that your beliefs have matured, and of course, they surely have, the same way you yourself have grown older and matured. But I do not believe– and I don’t think you do either– that one can ever mature past the example of Christ Himself.

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  • http://www.westmetro.org Ryan Abernathy

    The fundamental premise of this article is deeply flawed. You assume that there is a biblical mandate to fight a culture war. That is not the case. There is a biblical mandate to make disciples, to serve the poor, and to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Politics, particularly as practiced by the “religious right” in this country, are not the answer. Our association with one party has rendered us much less effective than we should be, simply because it is assumed that one has to changer their party affiliation when one becomes a Christian. That is not only unbiblical, it is heresy. The early church did not spend it’s time fighting a culture war- and the culture it was in was as deeply flawed, or more so than ours- instead they spent there time among the people proclaiming Christ and leading men and women to faith. The Church has to stop being the shill for the Republican party- and has to stop voting for people just because they have an “R” after their name on the ballot, no matter their values- and we have to stop embracing politicians as our saviors. We only have one Savior, and He is not on Capitol Hill.

    • PuritanD

      Really, Paul was not fighting against sexual immorality of the Corinthians? The early church opening up orphanages was not fighting against the exposure of babies to death? We are fighting a “cultural war” when we live by the Biblical worldview. It cannot be helped.

      Do we stand up and support Crises Pregnancy Centers? Is this not a “cultural war” or do we continue to allow babies to die? The early church if that is your example would beg to differ on your understanding.

      • Slow Learner

        ‘Babies’ – or as they’re known to normal people, foetuses.

        Over 90% of abortions are in the first trimester. That’s six whole months of development away from being a baby; or twice as far from being a baby as it is from when it was two separate cells in two different peoples’ bodies.
        It’s at a stage when a huge proportion (at least 25%) of fertilised eggs abort spontaneously – so if you really believe these are full human beings, your highest priority should be medical research and development to save those spontaneously aborted foetuses, because that’s got to be one of the main killers of human beings today…
        But no, you think it’s more important to impose your opinions on women who may not share the smallest whit of your religion.

    • http://thepersistentkog.wordpress.com Andy Zook

      Amen – Ryan

  • Joe White

    EVERY law ever passed was an expression of morality, someones view of what is right and wrong in a given situation. Lets not kid ourselves about ‘not legislating morality’. C’mon.

    • Brian Westley

      So which is immoral; driving on the left side of the road, or the right side?

      • Jeff

        Driving on the left side of the road is immoral in the US, on the right side in the UK and most of Europe, etc. Why? Because we value human life and and if there is not order on the road people will be killed. All laws ultimately come from a moral base. Go on, ask about tax laws – because it is a moral position to advocate for redistribution of wealth to support the needy, though I don’t think this is the best way to do it.) Ask about property laws -because belief in private property and protecting against theft are based in morality. Every law on the books is an expression of how people will interact or not to maintain a society, and every one is based on a moral position.

    • Slow Learner

      If something is truly moral, you should have secular reasons for it, in terms of genuine human harms or benefits, not “God says so”.
      E.g. people of all religions and none see murder as wrong; likewise with theft. However, abortion and gay marriage are matters where the secular reasons given by ‘pro-life’ and ‘traditional marriage’ campaigners are not persuasive [for instance, show one secular harm of permitting gay marriage?], and the real reasons for their opinions are religious.
      As such, legislating your moral opinion is interfering with the free exercise of religion by others.

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  • Rafiq Rabinowitz

    I was pro abortion leftist in the 1970′s, then came to Christ. As soon as I saw a Melody Green tract about what an abortion really was, I knew I had to be against it. When I saw the Democratic party appeal to homosexuals and encourage their homosexuality–who would encourage adultery, philandering, fornication, or any other–albeit legal–sexual proclivity!

    • Spiritus Nox

      I’d be fascinated to hear how allowing two men or two women to enter into a committed, monogamous, loving, long-term relationship would encourage people to leave their spouses.

      You do realize you can’t catch ‘the gay,’ right?

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  • http://none Judy Zabel

    Dave, You have said it just right. Thank you.

  • http://alastairadversaria.wordpress.com/ Alastair Roberts

    Could it be that one of the reasons why so many younger Christians want to be post-partisan is as a result of the unsatisfactory character of the particular partisanships that are on offer? If there were forms of Christian partisanship that were less consistently framed in terms of a left-right opposition, perhaps a fuller Christian witness could be borne within wider society. This is one of the reasons why I appreciate Catholic social teaching’s ability to speak to sins across the political spectrum, without so easily being situated within it.

    • Spiritus Nox

      No, no, no. The problem is not that we don’t have a Christian party – the problem is that we think we need one! We aren’t allowed to legislate based solely on Christian values, that violates seperation of Church and State!

      Remember how everyone made a big stink because people were trying to paint Obama as a Muslim? (And please tell me that you know he isn’t.) Because they were so terrified that he was going to bring Sharia law and enact legislation that favors Muslims over them? That would be awful, right?

      So why is it okay when Christians do it to Muslims, or Atheists, or Gay People (who themselves come from a wide religious background)?

      I want the Church to get right the heck out of politics. Church and State are separated for the benefit of both – a Church, when politicized, becomes more about power and voting Republican and drawing lines in the sand then about the transcendent love of Christ, while the State run by the Church becomes a theocracy as foul as any in the Middle East.

  • Sean Hughley

    I think there are some great thoughts in this post, but…do we really have to align ourselves politically with the right or the left in order to have a strong voice on moral issues that we believe in? Just because we will be “labeled” or “defined” by others based on our views, does that really mean we need to become partisan? That sounds almost as much of a people pleasing move as trying to be “post-partisan.” The trouble for me with partisan politics as that usually when someone aligns themselves fully with one party or another, they become unable to see clearly and hold each side accountable for their actions. The republican party is responsible for just as many evils as the democratic party. I am firmly pro-abortion and anti gay-marriage, but I look at both parties as extremely flawed. I am not afraid to voice my views on these hot button issues, but I’m deeply troubled by both parties and thus refuse to align myself with either, regardless of how I might be labeled.

    • LIu

      Well said!! Totally agreed!

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  • http://frightfullypleased.blogspot.com Stephen

    Thank you for this push back. I’m a 43 year old father of two so I probably can’t be considered a “young evangelical.” In any case I’d propose what we need is not post-partisanship but something like trans-partisanship. For instance like you I’m unmovably pro-life and pro-traditional definition of marriage. However, I also sympathize with the concerns of Occupy Wall Street types, support a single payer healthcare system, and believe the Iraq War was a tragic and bloody mistake. I also see how consumerism and industrial capitalism that many Christians uncritically support undermines community, including families (read Wendell Berry on this). I believe a truly holistic Christian worldview would find us uncomfortable being solely identified with either the Right or the Left.

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  • http://@matthew_hand Matthew Hand

    Both the Republican and Democratic parties are man-made institutions and when we place our hope in what either party can do, our hope is misguided. As one who is ardently pro-life, I cannot ignore that the wealth disparity in this nation makes abortion a tempting alternative rather than face further financial hardship. Although the GOP is historically pro-life, they are more focused on pro-business. Post-partisan Christians aren’t concerned with being liked, we are more concerned with knowing exactly how the political system works. Christians cannot become single-issue voters, because the single issue of Abortion is not a priority in Washington – its red meat used to stir the base and get people to the polls, but little action is taken once these folks secure elected position.

    The Church should be focused on the Kingdom of God and not the kingdom of GOP-flavored American idealism. Overturning Roe v Wade will not change a person’s heart, only the gospel can. Christians need to put more effort behind making disciples rather than political coalitions. It is true, when we face-off in the “culture wars” we give voice to our values, but we also prioritize those cultural values above the purposes of ministry.

  • Nathaniel

    “Children do better in two parent homes.” No, really. You do realize that that argument supports gay marriage?

    Oh yeah. There are millions of gay people parenting. Like, right now. Have been for years. Where’s your “pro-family” support for banning gay adoption or in vitro by those godless lesbians?

    Well, I guess its part of your “loving” religion that you don’t openly advocate for banning and tearing those families apart. You just want to make sure they have no legal protection or recognition, that the state could take away these couples kids at any time, that hospitals could deny visitation rights, and that if one or both parents became disabled the kids would be denied benefits, because their family wouldn’t be recognized by the government.

    Because of “loving” people like you. James “beat your kids and your pets with a belt” Dobson.

    And oh, by the way? Those researchers who found that divorce and single parent homes have generally worse outcomes for kids?

    Same sort of people who concluded recently that lesbian couples do better by their kids on average.
    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1994480,00.html

    I’m sure you’ll update your support for lesbian couples accordingly. After all, for you its all about the children. And family.

  • James

    So what you’re telling me is that you wanted the culture to be different, but you couldn’t do it. You wanted there to be a third option, one that was neither Right nor Left, but Jesus. And you failed in finding one that felt, to you, relevant. You failed. So it must be impossible, surely. Might as well just co-opt into the dominant culture. Because you couldn’t do it, so no one can.

    I wonder if, after Jesus’ death, the Zealots thought the same thing. “Poor Jesus. Too bad he didn’t join us. Surely being a Zealot is the only way to overthrow Roman oppression!” Jesus’ power was wasted, from that perspective; he didn’t win the game, because he was determined not to play that game. He spent his life trying to build an alternative to that culture, rather than fighting a war against it. From your point of view, did Jesus lose? Are you saying that the way of Christ was alright for Jesus and everything, but when you grow up and encounter “real life,” you realize that the path of Christ just isn’t practical?

    Just trying to get clear on your message. I would hate to waste my life in trying to change a broken culture, especially if it would be better to waste my life fighting within it.

    • David French

      I look forward to hearing how you are effectively fighting abortion from completely outside the political system and without any third parties tagging you with a partisan label. The reality, however, is that I’ve found my ability to transform a broken culture to be immeasurably enhanced by focusing on the fight over the image.

      • http://www.westmetro.org Ryan Abernathy

        How about we fight abortion by offering loving support to pregnant single moms, by helping them to take care of their children, or by adopting them into our homes. Further, why don’t we do all of this without acting like judgmental jerks and instead by loving them where they are in their sins while doing all of this. That would make a greater difference than passing a law. Further, there would be no need for such laws if we spent more time sharing the Gospel and less time worrying about lawmakers.

        • James Knudson

          Ryan, why do you assume that Mr. French and other politically conservative Christians are somehow opposed to offering support for pregnant women, social services, and adoption? This seems an unwarranted assumption on your part; the great majority of conservative theological churches in this country do such things, and the majority of people in these churches identify as political conservatives. Also, why the assumption that politically conservative Christians act like judgmental jerks? I can assure you that both the left and right have a great number of jerks. Certainly Christians must express love to sinners but part of doing so is also proclaiming truth in a loving way. Jesus certainly reached out to all of us as sinners, but he also proclaimed hard truths to us. “Go and sin no more” and “be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect” go beyond tolerance and call for repentance and holiness.

          I do agree with your earlier point that the Church should be a prophetic voice to all political parties and should not align itself solely with one of them. However, to leave politics is not the solution. The slave trade in England and segregation in America were not ended because of a cultural revolution, but rather through engagement in politics (Wilberforce in England and King in America). Abortion cannot be halted by a cultural revolution without a change in law for the simple reason that we are sinful people living in a fallen world.

          • Slow Learner

            Because Conservative Christians in America oppose comprehensive sexual education and contraceptive provision, which are the two most effective means, by far, of reducing the abortion rate. If you don’t believe me, check out the comparative abortion rates between the Netherlands, the UK, and the USA.

            If Conservative Christians really cared about reducing abortion, they would be campaigning to improve the social safety net, improve access to contraception, and improve sexual education. If they really cared, they would be aware that restrictions on abortion don’t reduce the abortion rate, they make the abortions which take place more likely to be unsafe, and more likely to harm the woman undergoing them.

            And what do we actually see? Conservative Christians voting for the party of no social safety net, abstinence only sexual education, and legal restrictions on abortion. Either they don’t really care about abortion, rather about social control – or they are catastrophically unaware of the clear real-life data on how to reduce abortion.

  • Justin

    I think there’s a difference between being politically engaged and forthright with your views, and being an entrenched member of a political party. Christianity isn’t necessarily hurt by fighting for its causes. It’s hurt when it becomes co-opted by one political party to the point where you can’t see where one ends and the other begins. The problem isn’t that churches are political – they’ve always been political and tried to guide the conscience of their members – but the politically active ones are increasingly Republican in every sense.

    Views on poverty, income inequality, or economic and environmental stewardship are replaced with orthodox Republican positions or ignored, no matter how troubling they are to try to adapt them to Christianity. Republican positions that are entirely incompatible with Christianity such as pre-emptive war or torture are largely ignored, or worse, somehow remade as “Christian.” The end result is a church which drives away members and damages its own faith by appearing hypocritical and little more than a party organ. This is what young Christians are troubled by and what they want to escape.

    I’d also say that with respect to gay marriage, which seems to be a flashpoint between the generations, that younger people of faith that support gay marriage think they are doing so because that position is perfectly compatible with the Bible’s overall message. You might disagree, but it’s not simply “wanting to be liked” by their peers, though obviously that may be a part. Heck, go back a generation and that generation would probably be disgusted by the extent most modern churches are largely accepting or accommodating of gays in public life.

    • David French

      Justin, there is an enormous amount of dissent and debate within the Republican and Democratic parties about war and “torture” (Nancy Pelosi was pro-waterboarding immediately after 9/11). The policies of the last two administrations on both points have in fact been remarkably consistent. Even on issues of anti-poverty programs, etc., the mainstream debate within those parties is often a matter of degree (3% increase in benefits or 6%?) Where the parties part ways dramatically is on the issue of human life — the preservation of innocent human life, specifically. It has been more than a generation since the Democrats nominated a presidential candidate who didn’t vow to protect the “right” of a woman to hire a doctor to kill her child. Even on the marriage question the party differences aren’t quite as stark. Obama — despite his support for gay marriage — says he still wants the issue left to the states, which is the default position of many in the Republican party as well. If one has the proper moral view of abortion and then tries to do anything of substance to end it, then you will quickly find that one party becomes quite inhospitable. I hope that this is a temporary state of affairs (much like the partisan split over slavery proved temporary), but that is our current reality. Perhaps it can be changed by young evangelicals charging the barricades in the Democratic party, arguing that its abortion absolutism is incompatible with its other life-affirming values, but I haven’t seen much of an effort in that regard since the undeniably pro-life Pennsylvania Gov. Casey was denied a speaking slot in the Democratic National Convention almost 20 years ago.

      • Justin

        This is part of the problem. I’m not saying that as a response to becoming a party organ of the Republican party that we should take up with the Democratic party instead. Because Obama turned out to be just as militarily aggressive contrary to his rhetoric and shoved torture under the rug doesn’t eliminate the fact that those positions were morally wrong. Moral relativism and a reflexive response of “the Democrats support these immoral things too” is a political response, not a person of faith’s. What does Nancy Pelosi’s support of waterboarding have to do with my moral view that it’s wrong? And if anything, the complete abandonment of both parties on the moral issues of war and torture shows what happens when the strongest moral voices in the nation become Republican party organs. Somehow these immoral positions became the new normal in the last decade.

        And this ignores the extent to which focus on one (or two) issues and a willingness to subsume ourselves within one party because of those issues hurts the greater message and the faith as a whole. Moral actors outside of the political system have been enormously effective in changing views on abortion and thus making lowering the number of abortions at least the nominal position of even those that advocate abortion should be legal. That’s the primary way for a church to create change.

        I’m willing to say I’ll vote Republican to protect life, though that’s only one of a number of different moral issues politicians face. I’m not willing to say that I’m a Republican through and through and become an organ of the Republican party. But that’s increasingly what has happened. Issues are ignored, moral views changed, or entirely political responses adopted to support the Republican candidate or hurt the Democratic one. It’s hypocritical and turns people away from religion. Which, in the end, is what I’m far more concerned about.

        • David French

          I think we begin with different starting presumptions that are largely based on differing views of the moral gravity of legal abortion in the United States. Abortion isn’t just one of a menu of issues, but a life and death issue of central moral importance for which there is not a single coherent Christian argument in support. (That’s not to say that some Christians don’t try). There are times in a nation’s life when issues like slavery and then abortion assume critical importance. And one side has cast its lot decisively with darkness.

          As for war, I’m confused: Is it your position that a nation can never go to war? If it is not, then the question becomes one as to whether any given war is just or prudent, which (unlike in the case of abortion) a decision on which reasonable Christians can disagree often based upon differing levels of information and understanding about the nature of the threat.

          Regarding torture. Count me as against. I doubt you and I would agree on the definition, however.

          • Justin

            I think we would differ on the gravity of abortion in comparison to other issues that have an impact on human life, though obviously not the morality. And as I said, I have no problem voting on that issue, but not to the extent that we should ignore or change the remainder of moral views or otherwise ignore moral problems with Republican candidates or Republican policies. That’s the biggest problem I think the younger generation has with the relationship between Christianity and the Republican party.

            My position isn’t that a nation can’t go to war, but the counterbalance for prudence and peace as the default positions, given the enormous cost in innocent (and not-so-innocent) human life in any war, seems to have been lost. Some of that was 9/11 and an understandable need to take more action, but I think some of that was a loss in moral voices speaking out or cautioning against conflict. The extent to which some Christians became war’s largest cheerleaders is depressing, and I think a direct effect of becoming Republican that then supported the party’s aggressive foreign policy. Same for torture, to the extent that we’ve gone from abhorring it and everything close to it in all forms, to legalistic hair-splitting over what is or isn’t torture, as if the category matters for the moral weight of inhumane treatment of prisoners.

      • Adam Hawkins

        David,
        I liked the article and it gave me a lot to think about.

        Just two comments – the first is I side with Justin – somehow the Republican party seems to have co-opted christianity, and that is really dangerous. I realize there is some debate about the issues, but I have a hard time believing it is all that robust. I remember just recently the RNC was voting for a new chair – every candidate provided the same rote answer to every position.

        Second, the problem I have with the article is it assumes young people don’t want to be political because we want to be liked. I can tell you I am 29 (not that young anymore) but most of my peers dont want to be political because we do not think the process if effective. That is the real debate for me. I suppose I would rather disciple then spend all of my energy trying to get laws passed. I am not putting down those folks who want to fight the system, but after law school I decided the law was largelly ineffective when it came to changing hearts. For example, in law school I worked with juveniles who got in trouble with the law. Most of them were very poor and had drug problems. I dont think it is quite an either/or, but at the end of the day fighting over laws about drugs and tax structures felt like a waste of time. I would rather disciple those walking through the issues, as we are called to do. Its always raised my hackles that pro-life folks (I am one) spend so much energy fighting to change laws, but have never discipled a young women/couple walking through these horrible decisions. We have an army of conservatives who will go to the polls and “know how to vote”, but if a young woman came up to them and said “please help me, Im pregnant and dont know what to do” they would find themselves totally unequipped (probably myself included).

        Therefore, I am apolitical, not because I am playing some popularity contest, but because I disagree with you over the most effective way to engage cultural. Sure vote, be political, but making disciples is the way to change cultural. That is my humble opinion anyway.

        • David French

          One has to be careful in assuming that because a perception exists that Republicans have co-opted Christianity that this perception is real. In fact, it is a tool of rhetorical manipulation designed to get many Christians to butt out of public debate. In reality, Christians focus far more of their efforts directly combatting poverty but then are told “stop obsessing about gays and abortion” when a small minority of us venture directly into the culture wars. But I am saying that Christians who intentionally avoid “partisan” labels because of the triumph of this rhetorical manipulation are surrendering far more than they should.

          • Adam Hawkins

            Thanks for the clarification. I agree we must be wary of rhetorical manipulation, but I actually believe for many christians Religion has indeed become politics as usual. Do you really believe it is all rhetorical manipulation? I guess my question is where is the disagreement? Pro War, Pro NRA, Pro Austrian School economics. I guess I am just so tired of being unsurprised. When has the last Evangelical candidate come out and said something against the party line based on their Christian conviction. I have not heard one candidate say unequivocally, we do not torture! Instead, they hem and haw and provide nuanced arguments and tie scripture in. I agree that at the ground level Christians do disagree about these issues and that is healthy, but where is this reflected in the politics of the Republican party (or the democratic party)?

        • Grace

          I am a college student (so yes, probably pretty young). I tend to get confused by political discussions, and then just give up. Granted, it wasn’t that long ago that I became of age and gained the ability to vote, so it wasn’t until recently that I felt like I really needed to care about politics. And yes, I will admit – part of my apathy is simply that I not very aware of issues and so I ought to make an effort to become more informed, especially during an election year. So far, everything that I know about politics comes from SNL and occasionally the Colbert Report.

          (Also, for what it’s worth: students both Christian and non-Christian alike on my secular college campus tend to be pretty apathetic when it comes to politics. I don’t know if this says anything about my generation, or if this is just what my school is like.)

          I really appreciate David’s article and I think that he makes many important points, especially on how Christians should not expect to be liked, and that people like James Dobson who we sometimes think of as hurting our image may be truly, humbly trying their best to follow God’s will. However, so far, my own personal opinion on Christian involvement in politics best aligns with Adam Hawkins’, as above.

          With that, I would like to pose two questions: 1) How should I feel about Christians’ disagreeing on how we should get involved politically and 2) could someone please recommend me a resource on how to become educated on important issues, especially concerning elections?

          • Adam Hawkins

            David I am deferring to you. I was an atheist in college, and Christ saved me from some very radical positions. I cut my teeth, politically, on some writers I would never recommend to those at the beginning of their political journey.

      • WB

        President Obama, the first day he was in office, signed an executive order ending the US policy of “enhanced interrogation,” which everyone else in the world calls torture, and we do too when we’re not the ones doing it. That’s a major difference between Obama and Bush/Romney.

        • David French

          WB, enhanced interrogations had ended years before Obama began his term. Obama did keep in place extraordinary rendition — under which detainees are sent to allied countries for questioning.

          • WB

            There was a law that passed the House and Senate restricting interrogation to techniques given in the Army field manual, but President Bush vetoed it in March of 2008, saying “Because the danger remains, we need to ensure our intelligence officials have all the tools they need to stop the terrorists.” I’m not sure what you mean about the practices stopping years before Obama. Cheney, Yoo, and Theissen are still arguing in public that Americans are not safe because we are not torturing prisoners. The former administration fought to keep this ability while they were in power, and they are unrepentant since then. It was opposed in the courts during the Bush administration, but I’m not aware of a case that successfully ended the practice. Again, at the last moment of his second term, Bush vetoed a law that passed the House and Senate restricting interrogation to reasonable legal limits. Then Obama signed an executive order restricting interrogations to the Army field manual, which does not allow torture like waterboarding.

          • WB

            And I wish he hadn’t keep extraordinary rendition or signed the bill last year that essentially takes away habeas corpus for all American citizens. You’ll notice there was no claim in my comment that Obama is perfect, or a messiah. Just that he ended the US military policy of torture. It still seems that way to me.

          • WB

            And by the way, you haven’t said whether you are categorically opposed to torture or not. You’ve just argued, incorrectly it seems to me, that all our presidents are the same on torture. Are you, as a Christian, for it?

          • Barry

            “WB, enhanced interrogations had ended years before Obama began his term. Obama did keep in place extraordinary rendition — under which detainees are sent to allied countries for questioning.”

            Right. A regime which claimed never to have tortured people claimed to have stopped.

  • http://www.thedispersion.net Jack Lonergan

    The problem with Christian conservatives on the right aligning politically is that the emphasis from the individual Christian is not on preaching the gospel but getting a political agenda completed. This is of course very wrong. As soon as Christianity becomes about anything but the gospel primarily then you will lose the label Christian right and will become a religious right.

    • David French

      Jack, that’s not our emphasis, but merely one aspect of our life’s work. Doesn’t God want us to “seek justice?”

      • Brian

        Do you really think God needs to depend on us for justice?

  • Pat Hughes

    It would be nice to remove all political affiliations from our Christian efforts. The problem we face is related to the core of the Gospel. The Gospel – the Good News—is that sinners can be saved. Defining sin is the big problem. We have culture wars because we disagree upon the substance of sin. Some say abortion, homosexuality, and fornication are not sin, but others believe that all these things are declared to be sin by God in the bible. A person cannot be saved until he understands sin. When culture redefines things so that the activities God calls sin are no longer called sin by people in a culture, the Gospel opportunity has been damaged, ground has been lost.
    Romans 1 talks about giving people over to a “reprobate mind” which is a mind that has lost its ability to discern right from wrong. I believe we are rapidly approaching the point where our whole culture has a reprobate mind. So, why fight the culture war? Is it biblically mandated? Is it biblically allowed? I say we must fight it because it is integral to the Gospel itself.
    It is a spiritual battle in which Satan is working to convince people that sin is not sin. Our job is to “preach the word… reprove, exhort, with all long suffering and doctrine” (2 Tim.4) so that sin will be seen as sin.

    • Brian

      Should all sin be illegal? Tell a lie and go to jail? Lust for a woman and get a lashing?

      Or is there a good reason to separate ‘sin’ from ‘penal code’?

    • http://www.intothedesertblog.blogspot.com Nate

      Actually the Gospel is “the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

  • Judy

    I rarely want to stand up and cheer for a blog post, but I’d love to for this one. Also please send this directly to Rachel Held Evans, whom I’ve discovered in the last week.

  • http://www.intothedesertblog.blogspot.com Nate

    You’re last few sentences speak to the shallowest of the “post-partisan” crowd, yes. The need to be looked well upon by society is usually idolatry, and escapes the imitation of Christ when convenient.

    This, however, is not the rationale given by most voices, or at least the best voices, in my reading and conversation, for the rejection of the religious right. The real reasons are the failure of their spokesmen (some of whom you mention) to maintain any sort of Gospel backbone, theological nuance, or tact in dialogue even as they’re taking on the mantle of the Biblical prophet. It’s the confusion of the city of man with the City of God. It’s also that many members of the would-be pro-life party sign onto agendas of war, materialistic capitalism, and end up destroying their fourth marriage or snorting coke with gay hookers in rest-stop bathrooms even while they are pushing their campaigns forward. The story’s been that people simply aren’t willing overlook this stuff cause hey, at least they’re “pro-life.” If that kind of separation kills off the religious right and resurrects something a little more Biblically grounded and Christ-centered in its place, that’s a welcome development in my book.

    This is not despising one’s elders, it’s recognizing who are the clowns, and who are the voices that matter (there are, after all, other “elders” out there who are markedly different from the ones you mentioned.) It’s a determination not to wink at sin in order to solidify your allegiance to The Party. It’s realizing you don’t have to march in lockstep with people like Dobson and Falwell, or actively work to repeal Roe v. Wade to be wholly committed to the end of abortion.

    I see your path, and I’m glad you’re willing to offer the cautionary tale. It’s probably needed in some quarters where they still think Christianity is a big pizza party. But there’s a world of young Christians out there that aren’t simply haters of the religious right. They’re actively committed to Biblical ethics, just not necessarily the party that has been claiming to represent those ethics. Are the reasons not clear? Is it all just a “pendulum swing?”

  • http://heldts.blogspot.com Brianna Heldt

    Oh how I loved this post! I too dabbled for awhile with a more liberal/progressive, “avoid the culture wars at all costs and Conservative Christians are the real problem” mindset, but am no longer in that place. I am pretty far to the right now, because I have a much different/better understanding of the role faith ought to play in the public square (I’m a Catholic convert from Evangelicalism). At any rate, I SO appreciated reading your much-needed perspective. The truth is that NO one is really post-partisan–we are all choosing sides, even if we don’t want to admit it. I look forward to reading more of your blog! God bless!

  • Rachel Damiano

    Dear Mr. French,
    My aunt posted this letter on my Facebook as an encouragement to me and I want to say thank you so much for writing it! I am 21 years old and a student at a state university. I recently was a part of a discussion over Facebook, as well as in person with peers, about gay rights and was very much ridiculed by Christians and nonchristians alike about my stance. I was told I was spreading hate around the globe and that my kind of talk is what people read and then went to shoot fellow students in schools because of their sexual orientaion. There were more grievous accusations as well but the point is that choosing to take a firm stance on issues is not the path to popularity and as you said, it is a “lie that there is a path for Christians through this culture that everyone will love — or even most people will love”. I am very passionate about politics and am avid that our generation needs to stand up for what is Biblical. I realize I am very young and have a lot to learn but I so desperately wish that young people would stop giving into the lie that “tolerance is key”. We can love the sinner and yet still disagree with lawfully condoning the sin. Our nation will continue to disintegrate if no one stands up to fight against the corruption of our Christian heritage. So thank you again for your encouragement! This letter brings me hope!

    • Slow Learner

      Tolerance IS key.

      You need to remember that unless you go and live in the wilderness, and grow all of your own food, and never interact with another human being, you will be dealing with people who are different from you.
      You can stand where you like on the issues, but when you support legislation to take rights away from others, you are firmly on the wrong side of history; the great campaigns of abolition, suffrage and racial equality share one major thing in common, that they expand equal rights to groups who were previously despised. Trying to prevent equal rights from being expanded to gay people puts you on the side of treating other people as lesser than yourself; treating other people as more sinful and less worthy than yourself.

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  • P mazz

    But if an abortion clinic shuts down or a young mom is persuaded not to abort, a real live human being is born — a person of incalculable worth. Yes, I want them to grow and flourish in a just society, and yes I want them to have economic opportunity. But it’s tough to enjoy justice and opportunity when you’re dead.
    70,000 women die each year from unsafe abortions outside of medical care/conditions–An additional 5 million women are left with disabilities.
    Let’s repeat that: 70,000 dead women.
    But it’s tough to enjoy justice and opportunity when you’re dead.
    How true.

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  • Joel Chan

    David, thanks for this letter. I suppose I would fall into your definition of “young”: I am a 26-year old PhD student, living in Pittsburgh. Since I started grad school, God has graciously made me cross paths with many culture warriors whom I deeply respect. I agree with you that silence is not an option. As a result, I try to be more aware of the issues and events transpiring in the realm of politics – my participation is limited due to my non-citizen status, but I do try to engage others in conversation. Certainly we who are younger must guard ourselves against the hubris and idealism of youth. I have learned a lot from Bonhoeffer about the cost of silence and inaction, and in particular about the virtue of “messy” action that may be frowned upon by others.

    One point of clarification would be appreciated: are you in fact arguing that the “remedy” for the problem of “post-partisan” silence (as you have framed it) is full-blown partisan politics (e.g., always voting Republican, publicly identifying as Republican, etc.)? Or are you instead agnostic to the precise form of the solution, as long as it decries mere “tolerance”, and be perhaps open to positions such as temporary partnership with whichever political party whose primary agenda happens to be aligned with the heart of God in engaging particular issues, with the heart of the remedy being an *indifference* to being labeled as partisan (not actually full-blown partisan politics, as I admittedly caricatured above)?

  • Keith Pavlischek

    “So far, everything that I know about politics comes from SNL and occasionally the Colbert Report.”-I’d say that is a slight problem.

  • Keith Pavlischek

    Here’s the irony: these so-called post-partisan young Evangelicals are remarkably close kin to the pre-Moral majority fundamentalists (and the pre-post-American Sojourners crowd as well, but that is another issue). Recall that Jerry Falwell in the 1960s refused to support civil rights laws because he did not believe Bible-believing Christians should engage in partisan politics. Just preach the Gospel, Falwell insisted. If these post-partisan Evangelicals were transported to the early 1960′s they would be on Falwell’s side, maybe at best being opposed to those who refused to serve black people in their restaurants (they would never refuse to serve black people in THEIR restaurants), but they wouldn’t want to impose their personal morality on the rest of society and to take sides in this bitterly contested political matter. This, they now tell is, is being “progressive.” Go figure!

  • http://csaproductions.com/blog/ Brendt Wayne Waters

    Mr French, just a few questions from an *old* post-partisan evangelical, who was partisan for four decades, and then (to borrow your phrase) “life happened”.

    Would it be possible to admit that your definition of “post-partisan” is not the only one?

    Would it be possible to admit that being “post-partisan” does not mean that one fears, despises, or even dislikes the list of ways in which you define yourself? Or more bluntly, would it be possible to admit that the majority of that list has absolutely nothing to do with being “pretty darn partisan”?

    Would it be possible to admit that your Christian walk and what God has shown you through it may not be 100% applicable in every last detail to every Christian on the planet?

    Would it be possible to admit that, despite your extensive travels and research, you cannot lay hold of a totally exhaustive analysis of the permeation of the culture wars and the number of people to whom they are important? Put another way, would it be possible to admit that Christanity’s reputation, as perceived by the “post-partisan” Christian is not the fault of media spin, but of honest personal evaluation of the professing Christians that surround them?

    Would it be possible to admit that even though there is not “a path for Christians through this culture that … even most people will love”, this does not necessarily mean that we must throw up our hands and pick a side?

    Would it be possible to admit that there is not necessarily a complete correlation between choosing to place one’s faith in a particular set of humans and whether or not one cares about the unborn and can effectively act upon that belief?

    Would it be possible to admit that to suggest (nay, definitively state) otherwise is a massive slap in the face to those with whom you disagree?

    Would it be possible to admit that a person can accept the possibility (probability? certainty?) of ill befalling them because of their stand *for Christ* without necessarily associating it with a stand for a given party?

    And if the answer to at least a few of these is “yes”, would it be possible to admit that the blanket applicability with which you present your argument is pretty much nil?

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  • Joey Panella

    Thought provoking article and I agree. However, several points I didn’t quite catch in the article:

    1.) Not all “post-partisan” evangelicals are exactly trying to be perfectly neutral or not hurt anybody’s feelings. There is at least a group of them that are deeply committed to things like pro-life values and yet they are more precisely reacting to what they perceive as the lines being blurred between the christian faith and republicanism. Reactions are mostly unreliable, but not wrong all of the time.

    2.) You can be non-partisan and yet politically involved and passionate about your values.

    3.) Many “post-partisan” evangelicals(I would include myself in this point) are just trying to take a step back and process what the Bible says about it. That is a quite healthy thing because our generation will have to defend and give an account for things too. We are the next elders and adults and we must be prepared to engage culture.

    4.) Some of us who are coming from the “two Kingdoms” approach to life, are not trying to avoid those discussions but just highlighting the fact that we are part of the Kingdom of grace in an age of rescue and that there is such a thing as unhealthy political engagement which distracts from the Great Commission.

    5.) There are those in the last generation that didn’t agree with political tactics used by Falwell, Dobson, etc. that still hold many similar views and just express them differently. One thinks of guys like John Piper who boldly speak about those things, but is perhaps more known for his passion for the Great Commission.

    6.) Not all of us throw the baby out with the bath water and heap disrespect on Dobson, Falwell, and others. However, some do and I respect your argument there and need to check my heart.

    7.) We also want to be mindful of all of church history, not just the generation that is passing the baton to us.

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  • Russell Johnson

    I struggle with many of the arguments going on here. Here are some of my conclusions. The Bible is God’s holy writ, the US Constitution is not. God’s Church has the answer for a sinful and dying humanity, the Republican party does not. Both policitcal parties are flawed but both are also made up of many well-meaning people. Even Democrats who love Jesus! If you really want to live out the Red Letters of the New Testament you must go beyond whether abortion is right or wrong, or whether homosexuality is right or wrong. That is legalism, and honestly the answer to both are pretty clear. But so are the answers to whether pre-marital sex is wrong; are drug & alcohol ABUSE wrong; is divorce wrong; etc. The important question is, as Christ’s representatives on earth, how does the church respond to those are suffering in these sins. A ministry of “reconciliation” and not judgement would seem to be the Jesus way.

  • Jesse

    I stopped reading at “founder of Evangelicals for Mitt”

    • Dan Kreider

      …but you commented anyways. Classy.

      • Slow Learner

        To be fair, I’ve read the whole thing and a lot of the comments, and reading up to “founder of Evangelicals for Mitt” gave me a pretty accurate sense of where the article was going.

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  • Joanne

    As a long time “culture warrior,” I have many thoughts on this article, but I guess what I’m most curious about is whether non-Catholic Christians don’t get more involved with prolife activities because of the preponderance of Catholics who are involved in them. Not trying to be inflammatory, just a thought I had based on a couple of observations. 1. I’ve done the March for Life in DC two or three times. The crowds seemed overwhelmingly Catholic. Catholic youth groups, high schools, college groups, lay groups, nuns, priests, etc. It’s not surprising that in the Catholic (at least by heritage) city and state where I live that the prolife activities are almost entirely organized and carried out by Catholics, but at the national march, it surprised me. My friends and I were wondering where all the Evangelicals were, since we believed, correctly I think, that we’re mostly on the same page vis-a-vis abortion. And 2. It’s been with great dismay that I’ve realized how contemptuously so many non-Catholic Christians view Catholics and the Catholic Church. Most devout Catholics I know really admire at least the zeal of Evangelicals; it’s been surprising to find that the respect doesn’t seem mutual (although I can tell from the comments I’ve heard or read online that much of this is based on being misinformed about what the Church teaches).

    And even with this HHS mandate: The central issue is not the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception; it’s about religious freedom, and Evangelicals don’t seem as fired up about it as I would expect.

    So, at any rate, I just wonder if Evangelicals’ not wanting to engage is based on who IS engaged…I hope not, but my observations do make me wonder.

    RE: the Harvard Law School right to life group: I attended the talk at HLS by the late Dr. Bernard Nathanson. I’m very grateful that the talk was open to the public and I had the opportunity to hear him speak.

    God bless ~

  • Brian Miller

    Thank you for the article. I have shared with many of my friends and it is a perfect explanation of my own evolution. My first year in college I branded myself a libertarian because I thought the Bush years were fruitless and the culture wars were a lost cause. Since then someone introduced me to Lewis and Chesterton and I could not reconcile my theology with a hands off approach to culture. Now I’m entering Law school and find myself being the “radical” I tried to avoid being three years ago. Thanks for spreading the message and all the work you do. I want to be like you and the generation that went before.

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  • Ron Swaren

    -Evangelicals have come from all political persuasions. The Methodists began a lot of reforms that we would consider liberal, but I think the Wesley’s would be aghast if they ended up at a party of liberal Democrats today. It was in 1980 that there was a huge abandonment of the Democratic Party by evangelical Protestants. So it hasn’t always been the case.
    -Regarding gay marriage, please consider that the present debate is not so much whether they can get together and do their thing, but whether they can enlist the power of the state to achieve parity with normal marriages. They want governmental power to gain taxpayer funded benefits, adopt children, provide instruction in public schools…and essentially normalize their conduct. Why should governments be given this added power? Is it a needed expansion for the highest good? I think there are better ways to achieve social improvement, and our Founders did too when they guaranteed freedom of religion. The only shame is that in the last few decades this freedom has devolved into cynical political activity, but I don’t think we need to overcorrect.

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  • Megan

    Would someone please explain the term “cultural warrior” and why it’s considered a positive calling? In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Wouldn’t this imply a cultural warrior isn’t a Christian?

    While Paul used warrior metaphor, he stressed our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood. Paul also said he’d become all things to all men that he might by all means possible save some. God forbid that an evangelist would try to be liked by non-believers!

    I see almost exactly the opposite dynamic in the church, where being a cultural warrior may well gain you accolades from your fellow churchgoers. However, the New Testament seems to favor the post-partisans.

  • shadowspring

    Sickening how you became who you are. Although it’s so evangelical party line anyone could have written it in their sleep. I hope you and your kind die out soon. I guarantee this “I’m so proud of being a misogynist homophobic bigot” won’t change any young “post-partisan evangelical” minds. Same old, same old, emphasis on old.

  • Aaron

    I was one of those evangelicals who left the church shortly after college.
    Support of unjust war, lying about gay parents, etc etc etc this is all beating the same drum. Then when all else fails, throw the baby killer card.
    Support of James Dobson, who still touts the lie that homosexuality is a mental disorder, and encourages parents to not accept their children if they come out to them, doesn’t score brownie points with us either.
    This letter is a perfect example why I left.
    I’ll choose my gay and lesbian friends over evangelicals any day of the week.

  • eva

    the ability to have kids and actually having them is a huge power. humankind needs its offspring, so i understand why homosexuals, infertile people and let’s not forget those in priesthood which demands celibacy could be considered lesser humans. a great power as well is the ability- or more correctly- the willingness to raise those kids in a way that is pleasing to society ( that’s what you are describing, how you have been raised so that you finally fit in with your elders, because that’s how they can obtain equality).
    so we see your elders have not failed, and they are richly rewarded. they are considered worthy, normal, equal. equal to what? i have always thought equality is about being human, not about the ability or willingness to have children and to make them our clones and slaves to society. i know i am being bitter, but that’s how i feel. i am a mother of three, terribly straight, i even believe in jesus ( in a way, but let’s not get into that now) but still i see there are many ways to live while this society allows only for one, and as you yourself implied: those who do not live so, are in your eyes and in the eyes of society not equal, regardless of their humanity.

  • http://www.treehenge.org Themon the Bard

    A culture war is still a war. Someone famous (who might that be?) said, “Who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.”

    You and your fellow “culture warriors” are setting the stage for a major legal backlash against Christianity in this country. I’d suggest a lot more thought before you tear down the wall between church and state, so that you can line up a better shot at the “sinners” you think are ruining the nation. Once that wall is down, you are just as vulnerable as the people you are sniping at.

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  • http://www.elenalouiserichmond.com Elena Louise Richmond

    Would any of you consider joining me on my Facebook Civilties page just to talk and to try to understand one another: https://www.facebook.com/Civilities

  • http://www.elenalouiserichmond.com Elena Louise Richmond

    Would any of you consider joining me on my Facebook Civilities page just to talk and try to understand each other? https://www.facebook.com/Civilities

  • James

    OK, first, I reject the notion that I must somehow be pro-choice in order to be post-partisan. Isn’t that the point of post-partisanship? To not have to be pigeonholed into being “right” or “left”, republican or democrat? The point is I can hold whatever view I want and that Christianity should be disassociated with politics. Why is Abortion even a religious issue in the first place?

    Second, It doesn’t matter that our image in pop-culture is not the reality. It doesn’t matter that we don’t have control of our image. What matters is that we try to regain control of it. If we don’t rage against the stereotype, how can we change our image? If we don’t change our image of hatred, how can we evangelize? Evangelism = love. If we don’t attempt to change our image from one of hatrid to one of love, then we aren’t evangelizing.

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  • BabyRaptor

    Okay. I read your post.

    Now could you actually back up what you’re claiming?

    Please show just one actual bit of proof–not fearmongering, not lies, something that has actually happened–that shows that your religious liberty is at stake if my rights are recognized.

    You can’t. Because there isn’t any. Marriage equality has been law in several states for years now, and not once has there been actual persecution for your personal, religious belief that it’s wrong. Newsflash: You do not have a right to persecute others based on your personal belief. And that’s all you’d be losing if marriage equality became widespread law. That’s it.

    Also, the post you linked to did a nice job of showing your agenda, but there are some facts that you chose not to give. Studies have shown that the only difference in “2 parent” homes where straight/same sex is being compared is that children raised by two women are the best all around. There were absolutely no ill effects recorded in having two same gender parents.

    I get it. You’re against same sex marriage. So…Don’t marry someone of the same sex. It’s really that simple. But leave those of us who don’t follow your beliefs to live our own lives. We have a right to do that. It’s the same right that lets you believe what you do. If your god truly hates homosexuality so much, let him punish us himself.

    • Another Barbara

      Baby Rapter. You nailed it. He will punish, not just the offender but the nation and we would hate to see either of that happen. When God does punish, it will be too late. We do not want to see that happen to you or anyone else. God created one man, one woman for life and any deviation breaks his heart. He does not want to punish those He created, but He is a just and holy God. We do not want to bully anyone, just let them know that the God of love and mercy welcomes back the lost sheep into the fold. But we would never kick the lost sheep. However to protect the rest of the sheep and keep them from straying in the name of “Choice”, God expects his children to not let the lines get blurred.

      Let me tell you a true story. I once knew a home health patient who was devastated by a surgery gone wrong and was so depressed she would not get out of bet to participate in physical therapy. She told me all she could do was wonder what she had done wrong that was causing God to punish her. Her nurse said she suspected she and her roommate were lesbian but to me, that was not an issue. There was a cuxifix on the wall behind her and her stated faith was Catholic. I simply responded to her by saying” If God is punishing you, why is that man hanging from that cross. I could literally see a light bulb go on in her head. Several days later she talked to her priest and from that time on she became fully engaged in her physical therapy and soon began to walk on her new prosthesis. Several years later I heard that she had died. It made me very sad, but not for long. As I was driving home from work that day, the Holy Spirit confirmed to me that she was now with Jesus because I had been obedient in sharing his truth with her. I never tried to change her lifestyle. That is Jesus’s job. I never asked her what her sin was nor confirmed her suspicion that she deserved punishment. I only pointed her to the solution to her sense of guilt and let Him take it from there. And praise God, he did. Now, let me ask you. Do you want to run the risk of punishment, or do you want the joy of forgiveness?

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  • John (not McCain)

    I will protect my family and myself from anti-American trash like David French.

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  • drdanfee

    As a progressive follower of Jesus of Nazareth, I occasionally drop in on other faith channels hereabouts, just to hear a bit of what is being discussed.

    I don’t hear much so far on this thread that does not square fairly well with the USA becoming a distinctly theocratic nation. And the fly in that blessed balm is, Whose iteration of closed, final Christian doctrines will we choose to govern us all without exception?

    As to Hot Button Topics?

    Instead of making pregnancy termination a crime for all involved, it would be much more effective and certainly would reach more peacefully across diverse communities of belief or citizenship in a pluralistic USA, to really gear up as a culture/economy so that no pregnant woman need do without:
    (1) basic prenatal care to delivery,
    (2) basic necessities of life till she gives birth at least,
    (3) vigorous adoption and parent candidate eligibility procedures that hold as their sole, fundamental value center, the best interests of the specific child being adopted under whatever circumstances, given whatever history or health history.

    Being narrowly focused on stopping abortions as permitted medical acts only means that more children in a real world of abuse, neglect, and dire want will be born into the grinding gears that are already chewing up real, live children in our own regional home bases; not very much the child protecting victory that it is so often claimed to be? Yes, you can’t get other good things in life if you are dead; but in far too many instances in our own dear USA, if you are a child right now, you don’t get very many good things anyway.

    If we really want to better the lots of a great many children, we would be well advised to address three big factors which are almost never talked about:
    (A) the economic family life pressures which more or less require two working parents these days, to even have a risky hope of supporting a family with children …
    (B) the high cost/limited availability of ordinary good enough childcare in our local communities ….
    (C) the gaps in our healthcare system which luxuriate over some and completely neglect others, including a great number of children whose parent(s)/family is not living/earning at a high enough income level …

    Thanks for the updated numbers on poverty initiatives, as that is re-assuring and refreshing to know.

    If you happen to be an LGBTQ child or youth (I knew I was gay at four years old, don’t ask unless you want to hear a long, quaint story …), you can count on being called all sorts of demeaning names which tell you how worthless you are. No matter how technical the theology/ethics/folk wisdom gets, the narratives basically boil down to you being dirt, damage, and danger. Then if you survive all that, and beat the legal or public policy barriers which deliberately aim at lowering your access and opportunity to work, pair-bond, … to pursue life, and liberty as an honest productive member of a sexual minority group … you just might find a great life partner who means so much to you that you deeply desire to commit or covenant with him or her, pretty much in ways that straight couples find themselves actively desiring to pledge to one another. Then you face more legal and public policy weights and hindrances, along with the continuing chorus of differently-doctrined believers who persist in defining you as essentially dirt, damage, and danger.

    Get real folks. Most conservative Christian-evangelical believers would not live each and every day, struggling up hill in these skewed social or religious contexts, to the extent that we queer folks more or less take for granted while we work towards some equality that will make it better for the sexual minority kids coming up after us. And, lest you think you get a free pass because you sincerely believe you have a better relationship with God than almost anybody else? Please allow me to remind everybody that we queer folks are your sons, your daughters, your coworkers, your neighbors down the block or across town. We frequently grew up in the Bible Belt states of the USA, where certain trends or bubbles of de facto theocracy do affect us and have affected us. It always strike me oddly, when certain believers summarize all the ways that we are told exactly how we are essentially dirt+damage+danger, as the most righteous and loving thing that anybody could possibly live out for us sexual minority folks.

    But window dressing the narratives does not change what is really going on.

    I seem to hear a lot these days, attributions from a facile trash talk which equates same sex marriage with some continuing narcissistic or self-indulgent habit of wanting to have your cake and eat it too. Given how incredibly challenging it can be, just to be an individual who is not straight, let alone being a life committed couple, or being a committed same sex couple with children … we cast a wary eye on law and public policy which empowers other people to treat us like the essential dirt+damage+danger we are so mistakenly preached to be.

    This whole bad faith mix would be absurd and laughable, if it were not meant and not taken so seriously as an absolute truth about same sex couples making life commitments as bonded beloveds and as parents.

    Alas. Lord have mercy. We have a very long and difficult path ahead of us, to live and let live across our differences. Making all of us who happen not to conform to whatever the specific theocracy is supposed to be, is … well, not the golden answer that many posters seem to think would be God’s Final Solution. Rather reminds me of the independent Baptist pastor down South who recently was video taped when preaching about how to corral all the gay men and lesbians in pens, drop food packages down, until everybody died off. If you weigh that sort of religion-based social engineering as within your inalienable God-given religious freedoms, I don’t think it is going to go over much with all the people who don’t fit your own conformity. And that is … really … an alas, Lord have mercy.

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