This was such an interesting election to say the least. Now that there has been time for me and you to collect our whits, I am left with a couple of thoughts that I think are important for the church to come to terms with. And with the church, I mean the suburban white church that I am a part of.
Here is my take away: After all the exit polls and post mortem of the election, I see the election as a choice between two cultures: The Judeo-Christian White Man vs. Those who have been wronged by that culture combined with those who feel bad for those who have been wronged. And for the first time, ever, the Judeo-Christian suburban culture has been rejected by the majority of Americans.
Before you react, think about it for a second. Think about who you voted for and what values you were choosing. Think about all the demographic information we have learned since the election. Think about who you want to cast your lot with? For the first time ever the majority cast their lot against the Judeo-Christian, suburban, middle class, married, white man. And if not him specifically, the culture he represents.
Suburban Christians have lost the Culture War: Now what?
For those of us who do ministry in this suburban context, this movement into the minority culture has some very important implications. There are huge implications politically, and even more so in how we do ministry. Here are some of my take-a-ways:
1) We can not legislate morality. It is obvious that the electorate rejects Judeo-Christian morality. With the legalization of marijuana and marriage equality winning in several states, Pandora’s box is now fully open. There is no putting away this genie. This is a losing argument politically and we must concede that culturally we have been left in the dust of close minded bigots. The more we fight this battle, the more we lose any real chance to do ministry in this increasingly post-modern and post-christian context.
2) Let’s free up our legislators from our litmus tests so they can work for the “common good.” I know this blog is not about politics and that I have absolutely zero influence or impact politically. But if I did and could speak a little truth to the right wing political establishment, let the moral issues go. Embrace marriage equality and quit trying to reverse Roe v Wade. Be about fiscal responsibility and find an ideology that unites us in a common good and doesn’t vilify half the electorate who have different morals that we do. (Ok, no more politics because . . .)
3) Politics is not our battlefield. We are the church for crying out loud. Our hope, our calling, our mission has not one thing to do with the powers that be. It has everything to do with establishing God’s kingdom here as it is in heaven. The second we sell out to a political party (like what the religious right did and the religious left is now doing) we cut off our nose to spite our face. In this increasingly post-christian context we find our selves in, we must not soil the name of Jesus by using power and money to crush the opposition. His kingdom is a tiny mustard seed, it is a mystery, and no matter what, it has more to do with us decreasing than us increasing our influence.
4) Homosexuality and Marijuana are culturally acceptable. We can not respond politically. There is no argument in the public square that is going to help the church. Gone are the days where we could tell our kids to look to the laws of the land and that is how you define morality. We are Spirit filled people who major on discernment, grace, and love. We take the planks out of our own eyes and then graciously help our sisters and brothers in distress. The Christian life is going to have to be less and less about self-righteous moral legalism, and more about helping others find there true identity in Christ as they travel the long and winding road of sanctification.
5) Our hallmarks of Christian maturity need to change. Being married and going to church while you judge those still do the things you used to do before you cleaned yourself up has not worked for the church’s reputation. Judging the sins that are furthest from your struggles or experience has not worked well for the church either. We must find a new paradigm in which to engage Christians and the world. We are going to have to have more grace for others and more truth for ourselves. We are going to have to focus our discipleship around identity formation and true sanctification. Having good theology and little to no personal reflection can not be our reputation anymore. We will be known by how we love one another, by being the fragrance of Christ, and by being a blessing to everyone. We must no longer be known for our politics, our fear, our judgementalism, or our hypocrisy. We must be true christians, exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ.
I think it might be time to say no to knee jerk reactions and yes to discernment, humility, and grace. We do this so we can truly build Christian community, not a Christian nation.