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There has been much debate and discord among professing Christians about the proper extent of Christian involvement in politics and in opposing harmful changes to Western culture. Many, particularly those who welcome much of the recent changes in our culture, deride those of us in vocal opposition as “culture warriors.” And they often look upon past Christian leaders who warned of what we are now facing — Francis Schaeffer especially comes to mind as one of these faithful warriors — with disdain. That even when events prove these leaders downright prophetic.

But even some who do deplore the direction of Western culture also think engagement in culture wars an unwise proposition. Better to strengthen the bulwarks of church and family against the rising flood of evil instead of engaging in losing or already lost battles that often seem to succeed only in alienating people and entangling Christians in corrupting and fruitless politics.

Rod Dreher has been perceived as being among these, of urging that we strengthen the bulwarks in line with his now famous book The Benedict Option rather than being culture warriors. But his view is actually more balanced. His current position on this question is well summed up in this paragraph from a recent post:

A Christian friend whose opinion I respect counseled me to quit writing all these culture war posts. The war has been lost, he said. Better to spend your time and energy trying to construct arks within which we can ride out the storm. I agree with him, mostly, but I can’t give up the fight just yet, even though I believe it’s a fight we are going to lose, or mostly lose. Why not? Because there are some people who might yet be saved. [Here he mentions children who need to be saved from the “trans trap.”] We have to fight because it’s the honorable thing to do — but we must ALSO make plans for the long resistance.

So Dreher writes that it is “honorable” and necessary to be culture warriors during a time such as this even if we shall likely lose. And he does expect “we are going to lose, or mostly lose” and should prepare for that. Nonetheless in his own writings of late he has been by no means retiring but remarkably courageous and outspoken in opposing the enormities of our speedy cultural decline. It’s a wonder he has not been cancelled yet. Perhaps he prefers to go down fighting.

The question of whether and how churches as institutions should be involved in the current culture wars is a complex and difficult one that I will leave aside. But it sadly has to be said that churches and clergy actively being on the wrong side, such as through hosting drag shows or openly supporting proabortion candidates or pushing ideologies such as Liberation Theory, Critical Theory and their toxic variants, is not tolerable. In such situations, there should be church discipline, including excommunication.

As for individual or groups of Christians being culture warriors, I think the best guidance is similar to St. Paul’s guidance in Romans 12:3-8 and elsewhere on spiritual gifts and the church acting together as the body of Christ. “Not all have the same function.” We are all called to obey Christ and to serve him and others, but we are not called to do it in the same fashion. Some may have the gifting and drive to speak and write as Francis Schaeffer did and Rod Dreher does. Others may assist in getting their message out. Others may not be not so gifted or so bold, but instead diligently teach their children, not letting this decadent world indoctrinate them. Others may quietly “construct arks” for faith and learning as St. Benedict did and as Dreher calls for. Fr. Brian Foos has been doing just that in the mountains of Northern California.

As Dreher documents in Live Not By Lies, that was how the resistance to Communism in Eastern Europe conducted itself. There were brave people who risked their lives in openly defying and speaking out against Communist regimes. But there were many more who avoided the totalitarian gaze as best they could and quietly led and taught friends and families in small groups, and there were many more than that who simply lived not by the lies pushed by the regimes, but were quietly steadfast in living by the Truth. With God’s help and through these mix of responses, Christianity and Christian culture survived behind the Iron Curtain.

So, looking at today, the best answer to the question of whether it is appropriate for Christians to be culture warriors is: yes but it’s not for everyone. There are other and needed approaches Christians should also take for the sake of their families, their churches and their country. And who knows if a time is coming when being an open culture warrior is not feasible due to persecution and censorship. Like Dreher, we should speak out while we can and prepare for when we cannot.

Yes, we should be prepared to lose while remembering that Christ wins in the end. The history of the church contains a great multitude who refused to bow to decadent cultures and thereby suffered loss, even the loss of life, but who now share in his victory. The history of nations also remembers those who bravely suffered loss for what is right and thereby helped make victory possible for the next generation or the one after. Let us also prepare to lose and yet win.

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