“Hear this, you who trample upon the needy, and bring the poor of the land to an end …” Amos 8:4.
You can imagine what comes next in that passage from the prophet Amos. You don’t need to have it spelled out for you. And that’s why David Brooks is both wrong and right in his column “The Next Culture Wars“. His assumption that “Christian Values” were ever in alignment with the values of the culture suggests he is missing something essential to what it means to follow Jesus. It has never been primarily about sex; and to the extent that Christian leaders and churches have obsessed on sex, marriage and the details of human procreation serves only to show that Christians struggle to take seriously what Jesus has taught.
Let’s face it – Christians (and I suspect this is true for persons of other faith traditions as well) who are focusing on these cultural values are doing their politics and assuaging their lust for power under the guise of religious principles.
Mr. Brooks is spot on in the article as he spells out what Christians should be doing. We should be focusing more on Dorothy Day and less on Moral Majority, more on Albert Schweitzer than on Franklin Graham. It’s not sex that is tearing the fabric of our society; it’s poverty, unemployment, and whether or not the people struggling on the lower rungs of the social ladder will be offered meaningful ways that lead toward greater prosperity.
I’m not sure Mr. Brooks is right when he suggests social and religious conservatives are best positioned to respond to the real needs of our time. The reputation Christianity has earned for itself in those circles is one of exclusion and self-righteousness. The hard work of acceptance, tolerance that springs from the sincere desire to love, and the self-control and discipline required so as to share the blessings life has to offer are just as available from liberals as from conservatives.
Pounding the Bible and stamping on the rulings of the Supreme Court are poor indicators that one is a faithful follower of Jesus. It’s loving justice, doing mercy, and exhibiting humility that are characteristics of a Biblical faith. Those are the values we need to see in action today. That’s what Christians can do.
So … go do it today! A blessed Tuesday.