A Christian Counselor's Perspective
on the Culture War
By Mark Sandford
DEC 12, 2018
A root of bitterness is a lens that colors the way we see others. If my boss doesn't notice my good work, it can't be because he's having a hard day and is lost in thought. It's because, “He doesn't care about how hard I have worked” (just like my Dad). If my pastor doesn't notice my pain, it can't be because the poor man is in burnout. It's because, “He doesn't care about how I feel.” Through a lens of bitterness, every man in authority becomes Dad. We ascribe evil motives to entire categories of people, based on a bitter root judgment toward someone who hurt us long ago. By repenting of judgments, forgiving, and choosing to honor those who seemed dishonorable, we take off the colored glasses and learn to see people as they really are.
Maureen and I long to counsel the Body of Christ as we do individuals, for as we look at the culture war, we are convinced that prejudice — whether racial, gender-based, political, or religious — is a culture-wide bitter root judgment. One group wounds another. Bitterness grows until people don the colored glasses and begin to ascribe evil motives to their opponents.
So, if Christians believe the Bible about homosexuality and transgenderism, it can't simply be because they have come into agreement with time-honored biblical precepts. It must be because, “They don't like us.” In the eyes of the political left we are all bigots, motivated by hate.
What is more troubling is when Christians see the left through the same kind of lens. We complain about being called “haters” and “homophobes,” but do we expect others to act like Christians while we post videos on Facebook that call leftists “snowflakes” and “idiots”? Do we listen to those who disagree with us, taking time to find out how they came to think the way they think? Do we speak before finding out what pain might have been inflicted on them by some who call themselves “Christians”? Do we get to know leftists as individuals, or do we ascribe motives based on a blanket picture of what we think “they” are all about?
In the first place, why do we even regard ourselves as being in a “culture war” with the left? Ephesians 6:12 says, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We are called to wage war on behalf of both sides of the cultural divide, for we share a common enemy! If we fight this war by throwing bombs at people who throw bombs at us, we are guaranteed to lose. Our blindness is painfully revealed when we need to be reminded to do what is at the very heart of the gospel — loving our enemies. Blessing those who curse us. Listening to others before ascribing evil motives. Praying for them, not against them, as fellow sinners, not as the bad guys on the other side of the fence. Bestowing dignity, even upon those who strip us of ours.
Yes, on many points we should disagree! Call evil ideas evil; do not give up an inch of biblical territory! But while you make your stand, look upon the heart, not the outward appearance. Many who outwardly look like adversaries may inwardly be probing God's truths. There are those who will listen to Him, if only someone would care enough to listen to the struggles that tempted them to slide in another direction. No wonder this generation craves a world filled with tolerance and justice; they didn't grow up in one! They have been aborted, abandoned, and neglected more than any generation before them. Few found a listening ear in their childhood home, if they even had anything resembling a loving home. Ask God to help you provide some of the understanding they've missed out on. This tool of spiritual warfare will help us win the war that God is waging.
Yes, there are those who demand “tolerance” by insisting that the only way you can love them is to agree with their worldview. Their own “love” is conditional; they demand that others earn their love at the cost of denying their personal beliefs. And yes, there are those who, like a petulant child, call others names if they don't get what they want. But not all of them are leftists. (And not all leftists are doing this.)
It's time to grow up and become an example of what tolerance truly is — unconditional love, freely given even in the face of disagreement, from a heart that is as understanding as it is uncompromising. Take off the colored glasses. Rein in the petulant child and stop calling leftists “snowflakes.” Grant them the dignity you wish they would give you. We need to repent of a collective bitter root judgment that motivates us to fight prejudice with prejudice.
© Mark Sandford 2019