In my last post, I noted that the rise of a newly energized gay-rights political force had profound implications for the future of our culture and society. That observation was precipitated by the negative reaction of that community to President-elect Obama’s naming of Pastor Rick Warren to pray the invocation at the inauguration. They see including Warren, who is pro-life and anti-gay marriage, as a betrayal of their socially progressive agenda.
Ironically, there was also negative reaction from another constituency on the other end of the socio-political spectrum. Staunchly conservative pro-life Christians have also been slamming Warren in blogs and e-mail blitzes for associating himself with the radically pro-choice Obama in any way. They see this as a betrayal of the cause and have begun to question Warren’s commitment to biblical morality. In many ways, it is a similar rejection of the diversity inherent in a pluralistic society that gay-rights advocates expressed.
Biblically conservative evangelical Christians are entering a new era, one in which they will no longer have the automatic access to power they have enjoyed for nearly two decades. Evangelicals are not a core constituency of the party in power, and so may not be invited to the political policy table nor be listened to as readily, even on issues of moral impact.
It’s going to be fascinating to see how those who have shaped their entire identity around living as culture guardians and/or warriors will react if nobody really cares about their position anymore. It’s going to be a different world if values voting, congressional letter-writing campaigns and fear-based fund-raising campaigns about “taking back America from the liberal media elite” etc. are no longer effective. What do you do when the folks you want to fight step out of the ring?
This may force evangelicals to do some seriously fresh rethinking about the differences between building our nation and bringing God’s Kingdom. About salt-and-light lifestyles, the nature of gospel-driven cultural engagement and God’s means of transformation. About what we really believe about the value of people (of all persuasions), the nature of sin, the power of the gospel and the centrality of Jesus.
Where will this lead? Who knows? But I suspect things may never be the same. So…watch and pray.