Dear Friends,

Should Christians retreat from an increasingly hostile culture into supportive enclaves in order to be “a people set apart,” or should believers instead fearlessly engage the culture with the truth in order to bring Christ’s light to the world? This debate has been raging in the blogosphere for quite some time, but recently it has reached a fever pitch following the release of Rod Dreher’s highly anticipated book The Benedict Option, in which the author argues that the church should “embrace exile from mainstream culture and construct a resilient counterculture.”

Among the many passionate and articulate articles that have analyzed this question lately, I found Eric Metaxas’ recent piece to be particularly thought provoking. In it, he points to a new book by Makoto Fujimura called Culture Care to make the observation that Christians should most definitely engage the culture in order to transform it, but should do so not by focusing solely on fighting the culture wars: “I believe even more important for Christians than being on the front lines of the culture war is participating in the culture—and better yet, helping to create and nurture it. If the main contribution that Christians make to culture is complaining about it, we’re doing something wrong.”

Interestingly, Rod Dreher himself would likely agree. In an interview a few weeks ago, he said: “Even if Trump does everything we religious conservatives want him to do, it’s not going to turn the culture around—it’s the culture that we as believers have got to pay closer attention to; it’s not about politics, it’s about culture.”

I would argue that believers should employ a “both/and” approach rather than an “either/or” one. In other words, our engagement should not be framed in terms of either fighting political battles or focusing on the arts. When the time comes to stand for truth by supporting a political cause, there should be no backing down. But just as important is the effort to support good art that can in turn influence culture in a positive way.

Metaxas cites Fujimura’s analogy of a garden to illustrate this point: “His image of a garden is just one of many he draws from nature, to show how we can carefully and patiently help to cultivate that cultural environment and make good things grow in it. So, how do we do this? Fujimura suggests that both Christians and the arts community start by learning to look at each other as potential allies, even friends, instead of as sworn enemies. He asks us to consider investing in cultural works, as we’re able to afford it.”

Metaxas continues: “This isn’t always easy work, but it’s extremely valuable and worthwhile. It requires thoughtful engagement instead of blanket condemnation, and it may call for us to broaden our understanding and deal with ideas that seem unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But from such efforts come moments that he calls ‘generative,’ or ‘life-giving.’ Christians who enjoy and support art and culture, who make it a priority in their lives, and who reach out to those in the arts instead of reflexively pushing them away, can help bring the culture toward a renewed appreciation of goodness, truth, and beauty. And that is good for everyone.”

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

Religious Liberty: An Introduction to Our Freedom to Believe  Travis Weber

During His Hearings, Neil Gorsuch Answered Tough Questions With EaseMandi Ancalle

Gorsuch’s Pro-Life PromiseArina Grossu

Don't let 'TrumpCare' come at the cost of Trump's pro-life pledgeJeanne Mancini and Tony Perkins

Should Stay-At-Home Moms Be Forced To Work?Peter Witkowski

Boys Need FathersDan Hart

One Year Anniversary of the United States Declaring ISIS’ Actions to be GenocideTravis Weber

The Amish: America’s Fastest Growing Church?Peter Witkowski

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Justice Alito says country increasingly 'hostile' to 'traditional moral beliefs'David Porter, Chicago Tribune

End Bible classes? West Virginia school seeks to dismiss atheist lawsuitFox News

School Orders Boy to “Tolerate” Undressing with Girl and Make it “Natural”ToddStarnes.com

In Oregon, the left targets an evangelical GOP judgeRalph Z. Hallow, The Washington Times

A Justice Gorsuch will defend religious libertyAmy Vitale, The Hill

International Religious Freedom

To Win Back What We’ve Lost: How Defenders of Religious Freedom Are Fighting to Reclaim International LawBenjamin Bull, Public Discourse

Canada passes motion to silence critics of IslamPete Baklinski, LifeSiteNews

Globalist Illusions and the Folly of Global GovernanceSamuel Gregg, Public Discourse

Military Religious Freedom

Chaplains to Army: Cease training that assaults biblical beliefsChaplain Alliance For Religious Liberty

First Liberty Institute Seeks Justice for Air Force Colonel Targeted for His FaithPenny Starr, Breitbart

 

Life

Abortion

40 Days for Life Prayer Campaigns Have Collectively Saved 13,000 Babies From Abortion – Shawn Carney and David Brando, Life News

California’s Moral Atrocity – Ian Tuttle, National Review

CLOSED: Maryland Planned Parenthood abortion clinic shuts downNancy Flanders, Live Action News

Paul Ryan: Planned Parenthood to be defunded through reconciliationBradford Richardson, The Washington Times

Adoption

First Comes Love, Then Comes AdoptionAaron Menikoff, The Gospel Coalition

Expert talks about the rewards and challenges of international adoptionJon Kelvey, Carroll County Times

Bioethics

Canada Conjoins Euthanasia and Organ HarvestingWesley J. Smith, National Review

Oregon Proposes Outright Legalization of EuthanasiaCullen Herout, Crisis

Handful of Senate Dems help Republicans defeat aid-in-dying billSteve Terrell, The New Mexican

The Demise of Language and the Rise of CloningMichael Wee, Public Discourse

Science For Three-Parent Babies Is Here, But Is It Ethical?Nora Sullivan, The Daily Caller

 

Family

Economics/Education

Family Collapse And Poor Economic Prospects Led To High White Mortality Rate, Study Authors Say – Alex Pfeiffer, The Daily Caller

Lean In’s Biggest Hurdle: What Most Moms Want – Steven E. Rhoads, Family Studies

Marriage

Why the Little Moments in Marriage Matter – Anna Sutherland, Family Studies

Study: Children Born to Married Parents More Likely to Experience Family Stability – Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post

Yesterday’s Love Stories: The Gray Divorce Phenomenon – Rhonda Kruse Nordin, Family Studies

Should stay-at-home moms be outlawed? – Calah Alexander, Aleteia

Faith/Character/Culture

God Will Triumph: A Response to Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

How John Piper’s Seashells Swept Over a Generation – Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, The Gospel Coalition

Are We Living In The Matrix? – Joe Heschmeyer, Word On Fire

The Beauty of Women Will Save the World – Carrie Gress, National Catholic Register

Christians: Stop Fighting the Culture and Start Caring for It – Eric Metaxas, The Christian Post

Human Sexuality

Fertility Awareness-Based Family Planning: Good for Both Body and Soul – Ana Maria Dumitru, Public Discourse

What Is Really Best for Me? Applying the Bible to the Same-Sex-Attracted – Nick Roen, Desiring God

Supreme Incoherence: Transgender Ideology and the End Of Law – Jeff Shafer, First Things

May I Please Speak to My Daddy? – Doug Mainwaring, Public Discourse

Mike Pence’s Wise Family Practices Expose a Deep Divide Over Human Nature – David French, National Review

Blurred Lines: Understanding The Effort To Redefine Gender And Sexuality – B. Christopher Agee, Western Journalism

Human Trafficking

Trafficking Survivors Tell UN: Strengthen Families To Protect Women and GirlsMarianna Orlandi, C-Fam

Pornography

Resources to Protect Your Children from Pornography – Nebraska Family Alliance

Report: Pornography Use Tied to Relationship Dissatisfaction – Thomas D. Williams, Breitbart

4 Problems With Watching Porn You May Not Have Known About – Fight The New Drug

Porn is dangerous … That’s why Arkansas lawmakers are calling it a ‘public health crisis’ – Peter LaBarbera, LifeSiteNews