The Church and Cultural Power

Times are definitely changing—we’re watching the rise of a generation for whom religious freedom, and indeed freedom of speech, are not the self-evident social goods which they were once considered to be.

Yet for all of the furore concerning society’s current anti-Christian moral tendencies, it is worth pausing for a moment to ask if Christians themselves have been complicit in the formation of this culture. Take marriage, for example—as Robby George argued in What is Marriage?, marriage was redefined as a sentimental attachment to last only as long as convenient to the parties involved by the advent of no-fault divorce. How many churches—and how many florists and cake bakers—have effectively accepted such divorces as legitimate?

 

A recent article by Douglas MacKinnon on the Fox News website asked an interesting question: “How long will I be allowed to remain a Christian?” I must stress at the outset that I share MacKinnon’s love for (and concern about) religious freedom and the manner in which it is under some cultural and legal pressure in the United States. Times are definitely changing—we’re watching the rise of a generation for whom religious freedom, and indeed freedom of speech, are not the self-evident social goods which they were once considered to be. There is no doubt that the lives of many Christians are more uncomfortable in the US than they once were. Few face the financial ruin of the cake bakers and florists who have been sued over refusal to provide services, but many find workplaces increasingly difficult to navigate as the politics of sexual identity seep into every area of life.

Yet for all of the furore concerning society’s current anti-Christian moral tendencies, it is worth pausing for a moment to ask if Christians themselves have been complicit in the formation of this culture. Take marriage, for example—as Robby George argued in What is Marriage?, marriage was redefined as a sentimental attachment to last only as long as convenient to the parties involved by the advent of no-fault divorce. How many churches—and how many florists and cake bakers—have effectively accepted such divorces as legitimate?

We might make a similar argument about abortion. Yes, abortion is a deep evil, but it arises within a society that prioritizes human beings as individual economic producers, not image-bearers of the living God. Plenty of Christians functionally buy into a paradigm that sees children as accessories or as impediments to careers, rather than as one of the primary purposes of marriage.

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