Plugging the Cultural Dam

July 10, 2015 09:00 AM

Considering the direction society has taken in the last 30 days—or should I say the direction that five members of the United States Supreme Court are dragging us—perhaps it is time to do some thinking.

Opining about the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision on homosexual “marriage,” Alabama’s Chief Justice Ray Moore said the decision was worse than the decision to uphold segregation because “it affects our entire system of morality and family values.” 

At the time of the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, it was likely that morality and family values were assailed as well, though perhaps to a different degree. Nonetheless, Moore has a point. We live in troubled times.

In a recent article, columnist Phil Lawler responded to this quote by David Brooks of the New York Times: “Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose.” This negative insight prompted Lawler to say

Brooks makes a point of saying that he admires social conservatives, and wants to see them succeed. He thinks success would come easier if they stopped arguing about issues such as abortion and homosexuality—that is, if they stopped acting like social conservatives.

Brooks suggests that the movement should have an entirely new focus:

The defining face of social conservatism could be this: Those are the people who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families.

In other words, Brooks instructs us to stop worrying about the causes of moral decay and family breakdown, and concentrate on dealing with the results. To use a familiar image, we should spend our time fishing the drowning infants out of the stream—knowing all the while that we can’t save them all—instead of taking a walk upstream to try to stop the people who are throwing them in.

Reading this several times in order to get a good grasp on what Lawler was actually suggesting has led me to the same conclusion each time: We are the people of hope; we are not the people of settling. We will not be complacent with a little bit of abortion, a little bit of homosexual union, a little bit of contraception, or a little bit of anything else that defies the power of God.

We are not here, involved in this struggle at this momentous time in history, to put bandages on a few little community problems here and there. We are here to press on, swimming upstream with every breath we have in us. Our goal is to stop the people who are tossing the lives, the souls, and the heart of the family into the grimy river of godlessness. How we do this requires creative thinking grounded in optimism of the kind the world cannot shatter. 

We know the truth and should use it in ways that are not provocative, or as some have suggested, an automatic turnoff to the very people who are ignorant of truth, of the natural law, and of the ways of living that make people happy instead of troubled. Indeed, one Southern Baptist lecturer reminds us of something we must take to heart: “If you can’t do it with compassion, and gently, and leave the doors open for evangelism, boy, you destroy everything.” 

Instead of being instruments of that type of destruction, let us follow the words of Pope Francis: “We evangelize not with grand words, or complicated concepts, but with the joy of the Gospel, which fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.”

Plugging the cultural dam is not where we are going. We are going upstream to the devilish source and we will replace it with hope and joy!

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