The Narrow Road is NOT republican! (1 of 4)

Ok, so that title is a little bit of clickbait (the narrow road isn't democrat either).  This is the 1st of 4 post in a series called "opting out of the culture wars".  Over the next few weeks, I want to drill down into some thoughts I have been forming on the state of Christianity in the USA resulting from our current amalgamation of Christianity and politics.  My main thought is this: Christians must opt out of the culture wars.

Today, I want to look at one question: What is a culture war and should we try to win it?  My initial thought is this: When we join the culture wars we abandon following Jesus.

But let's not jump ahead too far.  Let's start with definitions.  What is a culture war? According to wikipedia, a culture war is a cultural conflict between social groups and the struggle for dominance of their values, beliefs, and practices... The term is commonly used to describe aspects of contemporary politics in the United States.This includes wedge issues such as abortion, homosexuality, transgender rights, pornography, multiculturalism, racism and other cultural conflicts based on values, morality, and lifestyle..

- The current culture war in the US seems to be between conservatives and progressives (often Republicans vs Democrats).  Both groups think they are morally right and often attempt to connect political ideologies and methods with Christian rationale. I firmly believe that Christians should work hard to separate our political leanings from our call to follow Jesus.

In the 1st Century, Christians were known for COUNTER-CULTURAL stances. Some were conservative and some were progressive.  Here are a few stances in the early church:
1. They were diverse. They embraced multi-racial and multi-ethnic churches. The early church was one of the only places in society where every race was equal and every member was allowed entrance and encouraged to serve one another. Many consider this a progressive idea today.
2. They were economically diverse. The early church meeting was one of the only places a slave and slave master would be in the same house and view themselves as equals.  Treating each others as equals was very important to Jesus' brother, James, who wrote about it to the church.  In the church, everyone was equal. Many people see this as the aim of a liberal agendas in today's politics.
3. They were sexually defined. They were the only group that said sex should be limited to a married man and woman. The early church was seen as VERY restrictive on sexual freedom. This was a radical, not traditional idea. (The traditional sexual practices in Greek and Roman civilizations allowed men to do many things we would cringe to consider.) We now consider this a conservative value.
4. They were pro-life- Although pre-birth abortions were not prevalent until the last 100 years, many births were seen as inconvenient and there was an acceptable practice of leaving kids to be exposed and left to die or be picked up by slavers.  Christians were the first adoption agencies. They would walk along and take in the kids that had been discarded to die. This is a very conservative perspective nowadays.
5. They were pacifist.  Most Christians would not engage in any warfare or fighting but preferred to pray for their enemies.  This is not a popular view in either political party anymore.  

So what is the point of this?  The point is to show that our current political options will likely lead you down a different path than most Christians would recognize for most of the last two millennium.  Anytime that we get to a place where our current beliefs would be unrecognizable to the 1st century church and at worst, be antithetical to some of the key tenants that Jesus and his followers believed.  

Although following Jesus has always been counter-cultural, it has never succeeded in winning wars through power and might.  In fact, any time the church finds itself fighting a war with might and power, it is usually on the wrong side of Christ!

I am going to spend the following 3 Monday posts to give 3 reasons that Christians MUST opt out of the culture wars and walk a third option. A third option that invites those we disagree with to consider our perspective and invites them to follow Jesus above all.  I am not opposed to someone voting with a political party, but I am very opposed to a Christian identifying with a political party at the expense of living a Christ honoring life.  The Christ honoring life will almost always collide with someone who engages in the current culture wars. Christ honoring life will make Christ beautiful to a broken world.  Engaging in the culture wars will only bring a continued fracturing of our country and soiling the good name of our Savior.
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