culture warWe finally find ourselves past the point of no return concerning a virtuous republic. We have been vanquished by the moral and intellectual errors following the demise of authentic theology and philosophy, whose peak was in the high Middle Ages. The skein of moral and intellectual confusion spanning the centuries has become a Gordian knot of perplexing perversion. All man’s efforts to disentangle the inevitable mess are doomed to fail. The sexual revolution is what necessarily follows the generations of progressive secularism inflamed by Bacon’s dictum to “conquer nature by applied science.” If man is going to make his own heaven on Earth, he must control all the variables of the experiment, including the fate of the family. The family is the building block of civilization and the key component of all societies. The sexual revolution is the technological means by which to destroy the family and thereby artificially shift power from the family to the state. The Supreme Court ruling of June 26, 2015, is merely the rotten fruit from a bitter harvest whose fields have been cultivated thus for generations.

Those of us who are Christians face tough times ahead as we strive to live out our lives conforming to Christ’s twin commandments to love God and neighbor. David Brooks, writing in The New York Times, offers us some advice on how to proceed with the culture wars. He suggests that we have lost the war pertaining to the issues of the sexual revolution: sodomy, abortion, sex outside of marriage, etc. Claiming that he stands to the left of faithful Christians on social issues, Mr. Brooks says, “I would just ask them to consider a change in course. Consider putting aside … a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations from any consideration of religion or belief. Put aside an effort that has been a communications disaster, reducing a rich, complex and beautiful faith into a public obsession with sex. Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose.”

Mr. Brooks goes onto suggest that we instead ought to focus on going out into communities to make them better places. He recommends that “social conservatives could be the people who help reweave the sinews of society.” He advises that we “build community institutions in places where they are sparse.” While he admits that he doesn’t expect social conservatives to change their positions on sex, he avers that “the sexual revolution will not be undone anytime soon.” He concludes that the “more practical struggle is to repair a society rendered atomized, unforgiving and inhospitable.” Though Mr. Brooks tries to couch his plea in a kind of spirituality, he is speaking here of utilitarian ends, doing what might work instead of attempting to meet an ideal that seems impossible.

By all appearances the culture wars concerning the sexual revolution are indeed lost, but this is wrong judgement; God doesn’t judge by appearances, and Christians must not either.

Mr. Brooks’ advice is deeply misguided, but attractively so by its appeal to practicality, pathos and pride. His culture-war plan is not for Christians but for those wishing to obtain the peace of the world and human respect. The truths of Christ alienate souls steeped in vice. The saints also offended people by their holy witness, but their actions were properly understood to be grounded in love. It is not the fault of the saints that most people are turned off by the truths of the faith, yet it is still their duty to speak the truth with love. To abandon Christ’s call to witness to the fullness of truth because disordered souls are feeling alienated is un-Christian. Christians can give no thought as to whether or not the Gospel message is a “communications disaster.” Christ’s own words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood were a communications disaster that alienated nearly everyone who had ever known Him, and He was abandoned by all but those very closest to Him.

UnknownMr. Brooks’ advice reflects the propaganda endlessly repeated by the enemies of the Church–that all our talk about sexual morality concerning the rightly-ordered family has reduced the Church from “a rich, complex and beautiful faith into a public obsession with sex.” This ironic inversion is inexcusable. It is those obsessed with sex who accuse souls who speak of sexual ethics of being obsessed with sex. Our point about sexual morality is that to be obsessed with sex acts, particularity outside of marriage, is the embodiment of the culture of death signaled by the abortion holocaust and the rising tide of suicide and euthanasia. The attempt to normalize sex acts outside of marriage that are unnatural and damaging to human bodies and souls are in full swing, and our children need us now more than ever. The Church is concerned with rightly-ordered morality because “we are here,” as Monsignor Ronald Knox put it, “to colonize heaven, not make things better on Earth.” This is in no way an obsession with sex; rather, it is a reflection of a proper understanding of the nature and importance of the marital act according to God’s plan of Salvation. It is foundational to the Christian worldview.

Finally, Mr. Brooks suggests that we abandon our witness to the truth about the rotten fruit of the sexual revolution because it is a battle we are “destined to lose.” This disordered line of reasoning appeals to the world, but not to the Church. The war has been won by Christ; our duty here is not to win the war but to win as many souls for Christ as we can while we battle against “evil spirits prowling around the world seeking the ruination of souls.” There is only one way to do this, and that is the way of the Cross. We don’t look for outward signs of success. By all appearances, Christ had lost the battle as he lay dying on the Cross. The world mocked and taunted him. We Christians are not afraid of losing battles but of lacking courage for the good fight.

One of Mr. Brooks’ biggest errors is in saying that moral and material poverty go hand in hand; they do not. One precedes the other, and the other follows as fruit from a tree. Material poverty follows spiritual poverty. As Christians, it is foolish to give material wealth where spiritual poverty thrives. Mr. Brooks suggests that we enter communities and help build them up. It sounds good, but this is impossible. A family either thrives or falls from within. It is an artifact of socialism to believe that outside influences can lift families out of moral poverty or even material poverty in anything but an artificial and temporary way. It is foolhardy to believe that we could abandon the foundational principles of sexual morality that undergird the well-formed family and provide a kind of meaningful support to families who do not choose virtue for themselves. It is just this misguided thinking that has gotten us Americans to this dismal point in the first place. We Christians must never abandon the Gospel message grounded in the notions of the rightly-ordered family.

Mr. Brooks’ plan is one for secular humanists, not for Christians. To retreat from the battlefield would be soul-death to Christians and would constitute playing into the hands of the devil. When Christ Himself was hated by the world, he didn’t run away and hide but went boldly to confront what was wrong with society. John the Baptist didn’t shy away from pointing out the sins of the king, even though it cost him his head. It is a spiritual work of mercy to admonish the sinner, and sometimes it requires the accompaniment of righteous anger, as demonstrated by Jesus Himself when he drove the money changers from the temple.

In the end, Mr. Brooks’ suggestions will do more to exacerbate the culture wars than to shift the tide in our favor. His suggestions to compromise represent a shift in focus from first principles to second things. As C.S. Lewis reminds us, in undertaking such a misguided course of action, we would probably see measurable gains in those second things we go after at first, but in the end we would lose both the second things for which we strive and the first things we abandoned at the suggestion of a man aiming for the peace of the world. As Christians we must not shift our focus from the Creator to the created things. Our combat is spiritual, not political or material.

KneelingAtTheCrossChristians are not meant to be worker bees trying to build up society by good works, but to be soldiers for Christ by proclaiming the Gospel message by their habits of being, with the end being the conversion of souls.

Mr. Brooks’ call to action is appealing, but it is unwittingly sympathetic to the aims of the enemy. Christians must reject his suggestions wholesale while we continue to speak truthfully about sexual ethics as a matter of divine and natural justice. There is no compromise for Christians. Mr. Brooks would have us abandon the narrow path of virtue for the wide and easy path of comfort. Sorry, Mr. Brooks, a Christian cannot do that.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility.

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