In 1979, an ill-advised wedding quietly took place in Lynchburg, Virginia. It was then that Rev. Jerry Falwell teamed up with three Catholics and a Jew to form an organization they called the Moral Majority. The movement spawned by these four social reformers quickly drew many evangelical Christians into a longstanding relationship with the conservative branch of the Republican Party. This hybrid convergence of faith and politics formed the foundation for the worldview many American evangelicals hold today.
Interestingly, there was a time when Jerry Falwell held the view that religion and politics should not be mixed–a position which changed when abortion was legalized in 1973. He became convinced that people of faith could no longer stand silent in the face of such a moral outrage. The Moral Majority was birthed from that conviction.
From the beginning, this alliance was a marriage of convenience. After all, both parties held much in common, including opposition to abortion, pornography and homosexuality. The following year, the Moral Majority contributed to Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory over Jimmy Carter. His presidency, in turn, provided a politically friendly environment and broad base of support for other Christian activists such as Donald Wildmon, Beverly LaHaye and James Dobson.
In 1989, the Moral Majority officially disbanded in Las Vegas. But this would be no quickie divorce. “Our goal has been achieved,” claimed Falwell. “The religious right is solidly in place and religious [conservatism is] now in for the duration.” It was a legacy that would continue to impact American politics and the church for years to come.
However, it wasn’t long before the lines between conservatism and evangelicalism began to blur. As public opinion began to shift on issues like “gay” rights and pornography, politicians began to back-peddle from the moral issues, choosing instead to base their agenda around issues of capitalism, gun rights and the downsizing of government. Conservative pundits such as Rush Limbaugh emerged and became nearly as influential in shaping the mindset of American evangelicals as the very teachings of Jesus Christ.
There’s no question that the Bride’s dowry has been costly. What is debatable is whether or not the hundreds of millions of dollars the so-called “Christian right” has poured into political activism has been worth it. What if we would have spent more time praying and less time debating? Who knows how much good might have been accomplished had we fought this battle on our knees rather than stooping to political infighting. As the apostle Paul said, “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh…” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
I have to admit that many of my own positions on the social issues have likewise been informed to some extent by the messages put forth by the Christian political movement over the last several decades. As I consider why I actually think some of the things I think on those issues, I find myself less concerned with political losses and more concerned about how this marriage has affected the Church. There are two areas in particular that concern me.
First, our corporate shift of focus from examining our own lives in light of Scripture to scrutinizing the behavior of the godless culture around us. Let’s face it; it’s a whole lot easier to point the finger at abortionists, pornographers and homosexual activists than to sincerely consider whether or not our own lives exhibit the humility, love and consecration Jesus expects of His followers. This loss of godly character can be seen from the pulpit to the pew across a broad spectrum of the Church. Especially disheartening has been the loss of the Church’s testimony to the unsaved. While we have vigorously condemned their sins in the public arena, they have had to stomach one Christian scandal after another played out in the media.
Another unfortunate outcome of our alliance with the political class of the day is that we have become too quick to absorb their positions and make them our own without really thinking them through. I’ll mention one example in passing.
“The right to bear arms” is one of the celebrated causes of the conservative movement. How many of us (including myself) have adopted the party line without ever putting forth the effort to think the issue through for ourselves? I began to rethink my stance on this when I became aware of the number of young lives that have been destroyed in part because handguns are so accessible in our country. In 2010, there were 19,392 suicides and 11,078 homicides in the United States by firearms. Most of these deaths might have been avoided had a gun not been part of the equation.
Is the answer to ban handguns and assault rifles in our country? Maybe not, but I also don’t believe that the pro-N.R.A. position held by most conservatives necessarily reflects God’s mind.
I could bring up other conservative causes that should also be reviewed prayerfully and from a position of humility rather than political brinksmanship.
The point of this article isn’t to change your thinking one way or another on a particular issue; it is to encourage you to think them through for yourself. If we are going to know and stand for God’s Truth in this day of great deception, then we cannot afford to allow ourselves to be herded along like dumb cattle by opinionated media personalities or politicians focused on winning the next election.
We must become people of the Word. We need to spend quality time in Scripture so that we can truly digest and assimilate its message. Not only will it correct whatever is faulty in our thinking, but it will also give us the spiritual foundation to discern right and wrong for ourselves.
As I have rethought what I think I think, the foremost conclusion I have arrived at is that the Church always comes up the loser when she gets in bed with the world. That’s what I know I know.
Rethinking What I Think I Think,Share