In 1992, Pat Buchanan put the phrase “culture war” on the map with his speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. Since that time, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge, but — we should be careful to note — it is all the same river.
One of the things you may have noticed lately is that various Christians of various stripes have been trying to put distance between themselves and this culture war. They are “tired” of it. It just seems to go on and on, and what’s the point? Instead of all this, the Church should be focusing its energies on things like furrowed brow concern over climate change — something that will garner applause instead of sneers.
When it comes to the culture wars, I would like to begin by making a distinction between those who are tired from being on the right side, and those who are tired of being on the right side.The former have been faithfully doing their part in these culture wars, which means worshiping God, bringing up kids, providing them with a Christian education, volunteering at the crisis pregnancy center, voting faithfully, composing music, painting beautifully, and so on. If you want a naval war, you have to build ships, and if you want a culture war, you have to build a culture. And whether it is Rome or any other city, it is not done in a day.
But they are doing all this in a fallen world, and some of their fellow “culture warriors” are fools and others are hypocrites, and some of the generals are lunkheads. Some think that everything will be settled if they write shrill and counterproductive blog posts, and it turns out that’s not true. And suppose the staff member responsible for abstinence lectures at the crisis pregnancy center is getting it on with her boyfriend. Okay, that’s a problem. My father-in-law served with honor and distinction in the Pacific theater, and was wounded at Guadalcanal, and yet simply being on the right side did not make it all a matter of Simple Valor. He told me that one time he was up at the headquarters on that embattled island, and one of our generals was trying to function up there while flat out plastered. Couldn’t hit the ground with his hat.