On the one hand we have the host’s MSNBC colleague Steve Kornacki writing about Trump as a cultural focal point and that the current poisonous political atmosphere is really a cultural war. I think he is probably right. The biggest evidence I can offer is the roughly twice weekly story I run into talking about how Evangelicals still support the president. Google it up; the hits just keep on coming. Of course such pieces are the oldest game in the secularist book, accusing Christians of being hypocrites as a way of delegitimizing Christianity. It is a complete non-sequitur, the failure to realize some ideal does not make the ideal less worthy, only those that hold it. But then the Left thinks guns kill people, not the people holding the gun.
On the other hand, George Weigel wrote this week just past of a very different culture war. Weigel recounts the story of a man in Canada (where they have single payer health coverage) that doctors refused to treat for a bladder infection because he suffered from cancer and the bladder infection proved a convenient form of natural euthanasia. After some insightful analysis Weigel concludes:
But in Canada, a mature democracy, that utilitarian calculus among government bean-counters wouldn’t survive for long if a similar, cold calculus were not at work in the souls of too many citizens. And that is one reason why the Church must engage the culture war, not only in Canada but in the United States and throughout the West: to warm chilled souls and rebuild a civil society committed to human dignity.
Then there is the civic reason. To reduce a human being to an object whose value is measured by “utility” is to destroy one of the building blocks of the democratic order—the moral truth that the American Declaration of Independence calls the “inalienable” right to “life.” That right is “inalienable”—which means built-in, which means not a gift of the state—because it reflects something even more fundamental: the dignity of the human person.
When we lose sight of that, we are lost as a human community, and democracy is lost. So the culture war must be fought. And a Church that takes social justice seriously must fight it.
Why do Evangelicals and other Christians support the president? That’s simple really, we are busy fighting the culture war that matters, not the one that is purely a media phenomena.
As if Weigel’s story is not monstrous enough I am sure you have by now heard at least a little bit about the CBS story on Iceland and Down Syndrome. Apparently Iceland has virtually eliminated the syndrome via an aggressive program of pre-natal genetic screening and abortion. In other words they are systematically killing an entire group of people. And we’re the racists?
Frankly I don’t care how vulgar the president is, or what a public marital miscreant he was prior to his current marriage – not when whole societies are killing people in the name of economic expediency. Consider it a variant of Just War Doctrine. If the guy will help me win the culture war that matters, then by all means, I’ll support the guy. Do I want a society as vulgar and mean as our current one? No, of course not, but I do have priorities and euthanizing and slaughtering innocents is much higher on the priority ladder. Yes, these two horrific stories are not the US – yet. But make no mistake had we continued on the path we were on, the path of Obama/Clinton, these stories would be happening here, not there.
And yet, I sense that many Christians are getting pulled into the little media culture war and losing focus on the culture war that matters. It’s natural – media is so pervasive, so omnipresent, that it is easy to let them set our perspective. But we must resist such temptation. Ours is a higher calling. Said the Apostle Paul:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
I know, the Sunday morning programs set the weekly agenda. Fine, record them and let them wait for Monday morning. This Sunday, let’s take Paul’s admonition to heart. Let’s refresh, recharge and refocus so that in the week to come we can fight the culture war that matters.