A lesson on the culture war from “War Horse”

Stuck in trench warfare

In the movie War Horse, there is a scene where the horse is trapped in barbed wire between the opposing trenches. A young British soldier calls a truce and walks to the horse to cut him loose from the wire. A young German comes out to assist him. Each finds humanity in the other and the viewer gets the sense that neither of them is eager to resume the bloodshed and would prefer to go home.

War HorseAs I read the dialog regarding issues associated with the “culture war,” I cannot help thinking of that scene. We are like armies in our trenches and most of our respective arguments fall in futility on the ground between us. Those who support traditional marriage are labeled as “homophobic” or worse, regardless of whether they have expressed any hatred or fear of homosexuals. On the other side, homosexuals are accused of seeking the moral ruin of America, a charge that is neither accurate or fair.

Breaking out of the trench

I would remind followers of Jesus Christ that the one we follow told us that our defining characteristic is to be love. Jesus did not say we would be defined by our finely wrought theology. Nor did he indicate that we should be defined by our organizational prowess. It is love that is to distinguish us from the surrounding culture.

Yes, we can disagree with the culture around us, but we are to do it with love and grace. The lesson we should learn from the Moral Majority is that it is possible win the battle but loose the war. To get the upper hand in legislation does nothing to change the hearts of men and women. To win a battle in the legislature is of temporary help only.

We are called to make disciples. We do this by preaching the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Part of sharing the Gospel is being honest about what God says about our sinful nature, no matter how we choose to express our sin. We are all in need of what Jesus Christ offers. Our preaching will only be received if it is given with love and grace.

Our only hope is to get out of our trenches like the two young soldiers and begin to get to know about the other side. We will never bring reconciliation by lobbing accusations and arguments toward the other trench. If we are to win the war, it will have to be with many meetings in the disputed area between the trenches.

Only God can change hearts and for him to use us we need to reject the safety of the trench (or church pew) and make contact with our perceived antagonists. I am sure that we will be changed for the better in the process and we just might find a way to bring relief to those who are seeking it in the wrong places.