By Alex Brown, Editor-in-Chief
We have all seen the Facebook posts and received the forwarded emails: The diatribes lamenting our backslidden culture, the outcry against Christians’ portrayal in the media.
Our society is one step away from Sodom and Gomorrah, they say, and the proof is in the scandalous top movie at the box office or the latest state’s efforts to legalize gay marriage. Some of these rants claim the end times are upon us; others call for Christians to fight back. Either way, the message is clear: Christians are being marginalized more every day, and if we call attention to this problem fervently enough, maybe we can regain our influence and reclaim the culture.
It is true, Christian voices often are marginalized, but we have marginalized ourselves. Maybe we should stop complaining about being portrayed as oversensitive, intolerant xenophobes. Maybe we should step back and realize that assessment often is not far from the truth. If we want people to stop making fun of us, we should stop adding fuel to the fire by becoming defensive every time they do.
Too many times, Christians are like the child who cries to his mother after being called a tattletale. We constantly look for any sign of a culture out to get us, then act shocked and offended when we are portrayed as paranoid. It is hard to tell which caricature is more ridiculous, the media’s portrayal or our own response.
Problems in our culture are not something we have to fight against or overthrow. They are a symptom of our own lack of positive engagement. Maybe if we spent less time writing petitions or condemning homosexuals, we would have more time to show God’s love to those around us. Maybe if we worried more about loving our neighbors — even if they do not share our beliefs — the stereotypes of hateful, sheltered Christians would die out.
The problem is not with the distorted mirror society holds up. The problem is with our unwillingness to consult the most accurate mirror — Scripture — and honestly evaluate our shortcomings rather than deny the blemishes society ascribes to us.
A flawed culture should not trouble us, and we should not expect society to be perfect. Those who condemn today’s age of tolerance and long for us to return to the values of our nation’s founders should consider whether slavery and misogyny are worth repeating.
We do not live in a perfect nation. We never will. But if we want to be serious about bettering our culture, we need to stop worrying about how it portrays us and evaluate what we are doing to impact its people. Our voice should not be one of self-defense. What appeal does Christianity have if its focus is its own mistreatment? If we offer culture our condemnation instead of our love, we only have ourselves to blame if it responds in kind.