My morning routine involves listening to Albert Mohler’s daily podcast, The Briefing. Those familiar with this podcast can hear Mohler describe the show as, “a daily analysis of news and events, from a Christian worldview.” Mohler’s episode on Tuesday, August 23 focused on the issue of “culture wars” and how Christians ought to live in an increasingly secular society, and Mohler’s comments inspired the thoughts I’m sharing in this article.
There are two myths floating around in our political discourse, and both of them need to be put to rest. The first is the myth that Christians who care about politics are simply trying to impose their belief system on the rest of the world. This myth is largely propagated by non-Christian people, and nothing could be more offensive in a postmodern world. It seems that this myth was largely in response to people like Jerry Fallwell and movements like Falwell’s “Moral Majority.” This myth certainly carries weight with Christian people because we know that only God can change hearts, not politicians or laws. Additionally, Christians want to be known for their kindness rather than for forcing our beliefs on other people.
A second, more recent myth says that any conservative Christian who cares about politics has succumbed to “Christian nationalism,” whatever that means. This myth is propagated both by non-Christian people and left-leaning Christians. These voices argue that conservative Christians only care about political power, not following Jesus. Any attempt to live one’s Christian faith out in the political realm is immediately labeled “Christian nationalism.” This myth seems to be a response to evangelicals who overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump, much to the dismay and embarrassment of progressive liberals and progressive Christians. This myth ignores the fact that the left routinely appeals to Christianity for political purposes.
As we move into November and mid-term elections, and as we speed toward another presidential election in 2024, I think it’s time we move beyond these two childish myths. Conservative Christians need not be intimidated by those who accuse them of trying to impose their beliefs on other people through politics, nor should they be intimidated by the accusation of “Christian nationalism.” These myths fall apart when one considers the following realities:
First, everyone has a worldview. You may or may not realize that you have a worldview. Your worldview may or may not correspond to reality, and it may or may not be coherent and consistent. But everyone has a worldview – a way of thinking about life on earth. This is true for conservative, traditional Christians. It is also true for progressive, liberal, secularists.
Second, when Americans vote, they do so as an expression of their worldview – the way they view the world. Third, this means there is no neutrality when it comes to worldview or voting. Christians are not the only people who believe certain things and express those beliefs through the political process. Secular people do the same thing. Every vote is an expression of worldview, belief, preference, and conviction.
Fourth, our voting puts politicians in office, and politicians produce laws, policies, and judgments. Understood rightly, every piece of legislation is the imposition of some worldview, some value, some deeply held belief about the world and how we ought to live in the world. Again, this is true for politicians on the right as well as the left. There are no morally neutral laws.
Fifth, as Mohler rightly argued on the August 23 episode of The Briefing, the political left has instigated the culture wars through their efforts to push the moral fabric of Western culture toward moral and societal revolution. Conservatives may have been stuck with the label of “cultural warriors,” but it is the left who started the culture wars. Sixth, the political right has every right to push back by engaging in the political process. Call it “culture warring.” Call it “Christian nationalism.” Call it whatever you like. Just understand that conservative Christians did not instigate the culture wars. The left started that fight, and the right has every right to push back in a desire to promote a culture that values what the Bible values.
Seventh, the common ground that was once shared by right and left has largely disappeared as the left has continued to run further left in the name of “progress.” The idea that anyone in the United States is politically neutral is a childish myth, and it’s high time we moved on from such nonsense. There is no neutral, independent politician, nor are there neutral, independent laws. Politics, rightly understood, is a corporate, cultural, societal attempt to live out a particular worldview. The challenge in 2022 is rooted in the fact that the two dominant worldviews in the United States have never been further apart.