Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is There a Moral Majority?

Is there a moral majority? And was there ever one? The idea is that the United States, as a nation, largely embraces Christian morality, but there are a few opinion leaders who are steering us away. If we could just replace those leaders, pass a few right laws, and use our political clout, we could change the nation back to where it used to be. I am convinced this is based on a false understanding. Western Civilization embraced Christianity in a kind of foxhole conversion. The Roman Empire was falling apart, and they needed something to hold society together. This need continued through at least the early part of the Middle Ages, after the Roman Empire fell and Europe was plunged into political chaos. In this period the Christian church was the one of the chief glues preserving civilization through the upheavals. But when the crisis was over, there began a struggle between those who wanted to preserve Christianity and those who wanted to throw off the yoke. It did not help that the Christian church had been corrupted through compromise with the culture it had helped to preserve. The history between then and now reflects a process of deterioration of the Christian dominance in our society impeded by those who have tried to restore and purify our Christian commitment. In this, there has been a slow eating away of historic Christian commitments, first in the area of beliefs, then in morals, and finally in outward profession.  This decline was not inevitable, but it is not surprising. We are told that the world is hostile to genuine Christian teaching (John 15:18-21; 16:1-4; 1 John 2:15-17).

The problem is, the United State's departure from the Christian viewpoint is the end of a long process. It is for this reason I am convinced that we as Christians need to let go of the past and start to rebuild from the ground up. We need to see ourselves as being in a non-Christian society and need to work to convince people one step at a time of Christian truth. In this, I do believe it is our duty to work for justice in society. But we need to see this as working for the long haul, requiring more than getting the right person elected or a few laws passed. Failure to do this sets us up for frustration when we do not get what we want or else we do and it does not solve the problem. Also, realizing we are Christians in a no longer Christian society helps us to reach out to people in love rather than being angered that they do not meet our standards (2 Timothy 2:24-26; 1 Peter 3:15; Colossians 4:6). In many ways our situation is a good thing. There is nothing like a superficial dose of Christianity to protect you from the real thing. But to take advantage of that, we need to see the situation as it is and be willing to deal with people where they are really at.

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