Not long ago I attended a strategy session for the culture war.
Participants examined the decline of marriage, the cheapening and flattening of human sexuality into contextless pleasure, the exploitation and destruction of unborn human beings. Speeches were given. Brows were furrowed. Resolutions were made.
War, I was reminded, does terrible things to the warriors.
In the room were veterans of a conflict that has simmered for decades, with few victories for the conservative side. All were earnestly committed to the cause. And most, to be blunt, were not having a very good time.
I support many, if not all, of their aims. There is a time for concerted action and forceful advocacy when a culture is beset, as ours indisputably is, with violence against the weak and the disintegration of our deepest promises.
There was violence and disintegration in the day of Jesus, too. Jesus was hardly shy about confronting the patterns of sin in his culturethough he was consistently harder on the pious than he was on the pagans.
But everywhere Jesus went, life blossomed. The sick were healed, lepers were touched, daughters and sons were plucked from the mouth of the grave. Jesus left behind him a trail of leaps and laughter, reunited families, and terrific wine, as well as dumbfounded synagogue leaders, uneasy monarchs, and sleepless procurators. His witness against violence, amidst a culture in rebellion against the good, was neither withdrawal nor war. It was simply life: abundant, just, generous life. And, ultimately, a willingness to let the enemies of life do their worst, confident that even death could not extinguish the abundant life of God.
Jesus' spirit is evident in some prominent figures in the culture war. I take hope in merry ...1