From the editor: January 10, 2014

Baptism & Cultural Warfare

Everyone is sick of the "culture wars," right? And if they are over, shouldn't honesty require that Christians, of all people, just admit defeat and get on with being the church the best we can?

Ignatius of Antioch

I think it's a bit more complicated than that, and ultimately I don't think any "strategic withdrawal" or attack, for that matter, is really "the answer." I say this in part because I consider "culture war" itself a slogan, a media-driven sound-bite that reduces the complexities of human life, sin, and faith to a phrase a reporter can Google.

The answer is the same as it has always been, and that is Christians should be engaged in spiritual warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil 24/7. Our calling as Christians is much more rigorous than any culture war I've seen in my lifetime. Baptism means you wear the uniform of Christ. If defending life and marriage are tiring, what of our daily struggle against sin?

Any decision to defend life and marriage should not be that hard to make, since these are primordial goods: God created life and God created marriage. (He didn't create government bureaucracies.) The Christian's duty to daily repentance and to carry the cross is likely more rigorous than any engagement in a contemporary culture war—unless the culture is violently anti-Christian, in which case carrying the cross may mean martyrdom, as it did for Ignatius of Antioch (pictured in the icon). The defense of life and marriage in our society is not so heavy a duty to bear (for many, it may involve minimally a mere voting choice). Becoming holy is the harder thing, but Christ's grace is sufficient, if only we would continually seek him and be faithful in small things.

If we desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, we will be persecuted. That's what Paul wrote to Timothy (II Tim. 3:12). So, no matter what, do not be discouraged. We are in Good Company, for all who are persecuted for righteousness sake—theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He has already overcome the world.

—James M. Kushiner