Dancin’ in the Streets
“Callin’ out around the world. Are you ready for a brand new beat? Summer’s here and the time is right for dancin’ in the streets.”
One interesting thing about the culture wars is that winning has become the ultimate goal. Each time an issue is decided, or even a major victory is scored, the winning side starts dancing in the streets shouting triumphant slogans. Meanwhile the losing side slinks off into a corner and makes dire predictions of the slippery slope that will surely follow this horrible defeat.
In the recent Hobby Lobby decision the Supreme Court narrowly decided that the owner’s religious freedom protected their right to deny certain types of contraceptives be included in their employee health care. Predictably, Christian conservatives are shouting about this great victory. While some have the tact to disguise their crowing as “praise” others did not even try to give that cover; they just crowed about the win and called us to rally for the next battle.
Liberals and progressives are meanwhile busy describing all the largely imaginary woes that are sure to follow this defeat. There seems to be some sort of contest in the liberal media/blog world to see who can visualize the worst case scenario. My favorite was the fellow on a cable channel who declared this decision is the first step toward a “religious theocracy in America that mirrors what ISIS is doing in Iraq.” Yeah, sure. We probably aren’t far from lining up progressives, shooting them in the head, and burying them in mass graves.
Does anyone recall the Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act? If you do then you will probably recall that the strutting and hand-wringing was exactly reversed. Progressives were dancing in the streets and Christian conservatives were giving slippery slope warnings of the soon coming threats of polygamy, forced marriages of children and people marrying animals. This was only last year; something that tells me that no matter who wins in any situation the victory will be short-lived.
I don’t think there is any way to stop the culture wars. The left/right divide gets worse and worse. Today is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. As a teenager I was horrified by the bombing deaths of little girls, the deaths of freedom riders, and a host of other horrible scenes that played out on my TV screen. What strikes me as I look back at it is the picture of the signing ceremony for the bill. President Johnson, while signing it, was surrounded by Democrats and Republicans. Can you imagine such a scene today? Me neither.
Here is my concern for Christians who want to take part in these culture war battles. In a war mentality you win by winning. It is a war mentality that sets winners to dancing in the street. But I am going to say this in boldface so there is no mistake. Winning by winning is a grave theological error. Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek, to pray for those that persecute us, to go the extra mile. Our faith has always been counter-intuitive. How in the world do we convince ourselves that dancing in the streets with every victory is a great way to serve the God who gave himself for us on the cross?