How should we engage our culture for Christ?
by Travis Dickinson
We spend a lot of energy concerned about the condition of our culture, especially about aspects and practices that are contrary to biblical principles and Christian values. But I think we often find ourselves unsure of what to do about these things. We worry, for example, about the prospects of same-sex marriage and unrestricted abortion, but what exactly does one do about these things?
It seems to me that there are at least two broad approaches that are completely appropriate for the concerned Christian. First, one could pursue legal/political change. Here we would aim to elect like-minded officials who represent our views and would (when they don’t lose their nerve) vote according to Christian values. Many of us would rejoice were abortion to be outlawed once and for all, as this is perhaps the greatest injustice of our generation. We can aim to affect legal change, and this is a worthy end that can have great impact on the culture.
I think, at some level or other, all Christians should indeed be actively involved in this legal/political process. Some of us have a call on our lives to be engaged at the highest of levels of our government, and we should support and pray for those with these aspirations. The rest of us should be as involved as we can, where being an informed and activist voter seems to me to be the basic level of commitment.
The shortcoming of the legal/political approach for affecting our culture, however, is that, without a change from within, legal change does not typically have lasting impact. Often times, the law will sooner or later be a thing of the past, and all of that political effort comes to nothing (a good
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example of this is the laws prohibiting alcohol sales in the 1920s). Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13). This is, of course, rich in meaning, but it seems that Jesus is calling us to bring “Kingdom-flavor” to the world. Salt is both a preservative and flavoring agent, and I think this gives us a nice picture of what to do about a culture from within.
The place to start is in our homes. By all accounts, we live in a post-Christian culture. We can no longer depend on the community at large to help instill Christian values in our children. The moment they walk out of our homes, they confront a radically secularized world. One of the profound problems we currently face as a church is that the culture and worldview of most Christians is also post-Christian. Sound like an oxymoron? Sadly, it is not. Our homes do not look substantially different from the world. The culture of our homes mirrors the culture at large. What’s the solution? I say we need to, as a church, homeschool. Now, I don’t necessarily mean that all Christians should pull our children out of public and private schools and teach them reading, writing, and arithmetic at home (though some of us should do just this). What I mean is that our homes need to be the sharp contrast from the pressures and dangers that are outside of the home. No matter if our children are in public school or not, we need to provide them a home education where they learn a robust Christian worldview. Moreover, the home needs to be filled with love, fun, and acceptance, which are all, on my view, robustly Christian values.
Secondly, our churches themselves need to bring Kingdom-flavor to the culture…