David Brooks had a rather interesting NYT piece in the wake of the SSM ruling that is worth multiple blog posts. I disagree with some of his thoughts, but it is a very strong jumping off point for some deep conversations.
For starters, let me grab a paragraph from the end of the piece-
This culture war is more Albert Schweitzer and Dorothy Day than Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham; more Salvation Army than Moral Majority. It’s doing purposefully in public what social conservatives already do in private.
The idea of meeting people's needs in a broken world resonates. It's something that takes the heat off of the rhetoric and addresses the long-term issues that made the events of last month possible. Franklin Graham is more Schweitzer and Day than the caricature of Franklin Graham is; Samaritan's Purse does a lot of those least-of-these things, but it is the occasional political and/or geopolitical comment of Franklin that prompts Brooks' light bag creation.
What hit me this morning as I was reflecting on this piece is that the metaphor of "culture war" is misplaced. If we're using a war metaphor, the winners capture the losing troops and try the bosses of the losing side for war crimes. They purge the loser's philosophy from the military, government and the public square as best they can.
That's not quite how the culture war is going. The reeducation camps for Baptists haven't been opened up yet and Franklin Graham and James Dobson are still free men. The losers have been systematically purged from much of academe, but the occupation metaphor runs out of steam after that point.
The culture war might be better looked at via a marketing metaphor. My post title harkens to the Coke-Pepsi fight for market share. Coke isn't trying to wipe Pepsi off the map; they're trying to sell more soda-pop. Coke wouldn't mind it if Pepsi ceased to exist, but that's not their goal; the goal is to get people to prefer their product over the other available options.
You can get into trouble trying to treat God and His teachings as something to be marketed, but in a framework where people have the freedom to choose what to believe and how to live within very broad limits, "traditional values" are a choice among rival worldviews. It is a "marketplace of ideas" that has political implications as well.
The SSM decision is a symptom of a society that has increasingly turned its back on God or at least on what His followers have taught for millennia. The long-term project is to turn folks back around and to mitigate the damage that move has caused. That is more of a marketing campaign than a military campaign.
It's also not a political campaign. Values and attitudes need to be changed before actions will change, so the effort needs to be more spiritual and cultural than political.
We have more allies than we think on the cultural front, if we proceed with grace. For example, Brooks sees "a society plagued by formlessness and radical flux" and mitigating that will need the support of people of various theological backgrounds, from a transcendent-seeker like Brooks to more orthodox folks.
It is a long-term issue that is done person to person before it is done in the political arena. It also needs to be done taking people where they are rather than dragging them where we want them to be; quoting ten scriptures on sexual purity might not help if they have other priorities.
It is also a spiritual issue. The war is ultimately not of this world. We might not have as many allies to go with that concept, but any "war" is of the spirit rather than of guns or ad campaigns.