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The social conservative moment?

Christianity has what our broken culture needs

Pro-life activists gather for the National Celebrate Life Rally at the Lincoln Memorial on June 24. Associated Press/Photo by Kevin Wolf

The social conservative moment?

Given the state of our culture, what I’m about to say may sound incredibly counterintuitive—maybe even bordering on the absurd.

Nonetheless, I am left with the conviction that at this present cultural moment, there has never been a better time to be a social conservative.

Given the advanced state of moral debauchery in mainstream American institutions, how could I possibly say something like that? I can say something like that because truth finds a way to reassert itself when we learn what is false.

And what is most patently false about the time we live is the belief that we can continue to sustain ourselves walking the same hollowed-out pathway that we’re currently continuing down. It’s impossible.

When we look at the declining marriage rates, the rise of what we call the “loneliness epidemic,” the transgender madness transgressing the very limitations of reason and nature, the increase in suicidal ideation, and preborn human beings discarded as “medical waste,” we see the reality. When we see the pornification of culture and the objectification of women, drag queens passed off as the new normal, when we see drug-addled criminals pillaging formerly great cities; when we have what is now called “deaths of despair” springing from increased drug usage, we are then confronted with the reality that human beings desire more than what secular progressivism can offer—stability, meaning, community, and purpose. And all these goods are what secular progressivism viciously subverts with stunning effectiveness. The decline of American social capital and the despair of the American people represents the success of godlessness.

This is also a time when many are starting to question the false ideologies of the age and wondering if there is an alternate view of human flourishing. Have you noticed the openness to Christianity cropping up in certain intellectual circles? I sense in ways that I never have previously that secularism’s hegemony is beginning to thaw. Christianity is the antidote to hopelessness, and we should not hesitate to proclaim this to those who seek something new.

Conservatives warned that social disarray will inevitably follow if society breaches certain moral lines.

Whether it is crisis merchants who denounce evangelical Christians at every opportunity as hypocrites and would-be authoritarians or those who insist on de-escalating the culture war by looking to the pillars of liberal democracy as the only remaining safe harbor for us just to be left alone, it’s hard to fathom that it’s the right time to focus one’s energies on criticizing the church and calling for retreat into a libertarian monastery.

While Christians are capable of being hypocrites just like anybody else, the idea that we can tuck pious Christian beliefs away into the inner recesses of our hearts and keep those beliefs from springing outward into the public domain is absurd. Embarrassment and retreat do not supply the true balm: Only Christianity has the message that can save souls and repair civilization. At a time when secularism looks so beleaguered, there has never been a better time to bring our convictions into the public domain. There’s a particular joy that comes with the risk of daring to question the dominancy of secularism.

My suggestion is for us to be boldly and proudly Christian in our arguments. We must remember that political communities are always in flux, and nothing is ever permanent, politically speaking. Yesterday’s losses are not forever fixed. When I started my career, it was never a worse time to be a social conservative. Marriage was being redefined. The Obama administration was making day-by-day assaults on religious institutions and, it seemed, on traditional values. Remember, we’re only eight years removed from Obergefell—where we now have “consensual non-monogamy” and polygamy on the horizon. Progressivism now seems increasingly exhausted and unsustainable.

And what did the social conservatives do? Conservatives warned that social disarray will inevitably follow if society breaches certain moral lines. As those things came to occur and metastasized into even greater perversities, the social conservative warnings have been validated.

We’ve now lived decades since the complete onslaught of the sexual revolution began washing over our shores. And the carnage should be enough to tell us that social progressivism is an acid incompatible with human flourishing. So let me suggest this to conclude: There has never been a better time to be a social conservative. The very things that our culture needs, the Christian church offers. We offer dignity. We offer the teachings of family, fellowship, and community. We offer a sense of common purpose, a common objective morality, and a sense of place to root oneself. That’s what we offer—and that is what we propose.

Now is not the time to run from those convictions. Let’s boldly proclaim them.

Andrew T. Walker

Andrew is the managing editor of WORLD Opinions and serves as associate professor of Christian ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a fellow with The Ethics and Public Policy Center. He resides with his family in Louisville, Ky.

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