Lately I’ve been mulling over the idea of red state vs. blue state and how both are impacting society. But there is an element which seems to be missing among the arguments we have regarding conservative vs. liberal.
Once upon a time in America, it was just automatically assumed that we were one nation under God. More than a two-word addition to the Pledge of Allegiance dating back to 1954, for most Americans adhering to the tenets of their religion was second nature. Thus, actions which were deemed immoral were frowned upon: selling alcohol on Sundays, having children out of wedlock, and swearing in public were just some of the actions which ran afoul of our sensitivities. Then, as now, we were all sinners who fell short of the grace of God but it seems like we as Americans tried harder to stay in line in that bygone era.
Naturally, over time the “blue laws” were gradually erased, children who were born out of wedlock lost the derisive moniker “bastard” and became commonplace, and the entertainment industry began a contest to see who could get away with racier and racier content. As this devolution of society in the name of “tolerance” continued we were ordered to accept “alternative” lifestyles. Christians of today in general, and parents who wish to “Train up a child in the way he should go,” to borrow from Proverbs 22:6, face an increasingly treacherous minefield of having to monitor their kids’ entertainment, education, and circle of friends. Unlike any other era in America, Christians are being marginalized and segmented in society as just another subset: Mary went to the Christian store to purchase Christian books and movies while listening to the Christian radio station.
In his Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky once wrote that agitators should pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. In many respects, that has occurred with the term Christian because it is far too often used as an adjective. With a little help from the society and culture, we have set ourselves apart from the rest, yet on a cultural level it has led to the perception that to be Christian is to be inferior – “oh, so-and-so is just a Christian artist” or “this student went to some Christian school.” With a wink and a nod, we are signaled that this hick is simply one of the unwashed masses – look at how elites think of those who come from the “Bible Belt.”
So why is that implied to be a bad thing? In most cases, it’s because they vote for conservative candidates. States in the deep South began shifting from Democrat to Republican a half-century ago, with the election of Ronald Reagan finishing the shift. In large part this was because Democrats embraced the cultural changes with which Christians disagreed. The consequence: as a generation steeped in traditional values has died away, those who had lesser mooring in absolute truths have steered society in an even more radical direction.
For example, I didn’t know what “gay” meant (in the modern usage of the word) until I was in high school – I just assumed boys liked girls and vice versa. Much of that was because in my youth we weren’t constantly exposed to the homosexual lifestyle through the media. No Christian couple would have run afoul of the law for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding because extremely few even considered the concept of same-sex nuptials to be a viable one. That wasn’t on the radar screen in 1982 when I graduated high school.
But move forward a generation or so and churches are being threatened with the loss of their tax-exempt status if they refuse to participate in same-sex weddings. Some churches in more moderate denominations have already knuckled under, but most remain standing against this practice. Yet, cowed by the media and radical groups, the Republican Party doesn’t seem to have the gumption to fight anymore against gay marriage, abortion, or the downward redefinition of deviancy.
So where can we turn?
The inspiration for the phrase “white state” comes from the Christian flag, which is mainly white as that color symbolizes purity. And while in print white denotes the absence of color, as a function of light white reflects all colors equally. To me this is quite symbolic and much more inclusive than a rainbow flag will ever be, for a rainbow separates colors while white blends all together. Yet a Christian flag is not all white for that would signify surrender, and we must never surrender.
And what seems to be setting us apart from the “red vs. blue” narrative is a faith in God rather than government. At one time, a key social function now relegated to government was taken care of through the church. Christians still take care of the poor and infirm to a degree, but many more of the downtrodden rely on the welfare state that didn’t exist even 100 years ago. In a two-pronged attack, government stepped in to take care of the poor while freeing their conscience from many of the behavioral obligations placed on them by the church.
In short, we need to once again create a situation where the state is subservient to the people, who in turn are subservient to God. At that point red and blue aren’t as relevant as wrong and right, with the arbiter being God’s Word. By no means am I suggesting we should have a theocracy; however, there are many millions who could use a gentle course correction for their lives and making it more difficult to prosper from poor choices through the heavy hand of the government is a good way to motivate them.
Yet this is the place where we Christians need to set ourselves apart and create a united front in order to work through the system we have in place. Of course, the other side knows this as well so they try and keep us divided like the colors in the rainbow flag and dispirited to keep us from being motivated to change. Victories may be few and slow in coming, but in America we have had revivals every so often and we are overdue for another. It’s time to shine all our colors together and be indivisible under God.