Democratic Delusions

Election night 1992—it was a night of jubilation for the victors and despair for the losers, and relief for all of us that the campaign is finally over. Bill Clinton has triumphantly secured the White House for a four-year reign of liberalism. From my own sampling of friends and Christian leaders, I suspect that most evangelicals voted for Bush, and that they're unhappy today about the outcome of the election. All along many have been worried about Governor Clinton's pro-abortion, pro-gay stance. Evangelical leaders fear that under Clinton, the Freedom of Choice Act will be passed, Title XX funding for abstinence teaching in sex education will be slashed, the socialist trend to bigger government will be vastly accelerated—just to mention a few concerns. Now that Clinton is in office, it is tempting to throw up our hands in despair and hide out in our Christian ghettos. But that would be a big mistake. Why? Because the state our of our country and culture doesn't depend just on who sits in the Oval Office. It depends much more on broad-based values and beliefs expressed throughout society—in our schools, on television, in our business practices, in our churches. The moral tone of a people is set much more by these private institutions than by politics. The reason we often overlook that truth is that we have been mesmerized by the "political illusion," to borrow a phrase from Christian political writer Jacques Ellul. Whenever there's a social problem, we tend to look first to Capitol Hill. A friend of mine, a Christian who just ran for reelection in the Senate, confided to me that he hates the campaign process. As a candidate, he said, I'm expected to stand on the podium and make promises. The standard line is: Just elect me and all these problems will disappear. "I'm virtually forced to play on people's hopes that politics can come to the rescue," my friend told me. "Yet I know most problems aren't solvable through politics. They're solved only through fundamental changes in values and beliefs." The senator is right. The real question is not who governs us but, as Ezekiel put it, how shall we live? What are the basic truths we will live by? So let's not give in to despair just because "our" candidate didn't win the election. The sober truth is that in the past decade, evangelicals have been winning many of the political battles, but we've been losing the culture war. Just look at the entertainment world, the education system, the business community, and ask yourself: Are Christian values growing in influence, or are they losing ground? The answer is obvious: They are losing. So this year, why not look for a concrete way to show that you haven't been taken in by the political illusion. Why not decide to change one school policy you feel is harmful, persuade one shop-owner to stop carrying pornography, choose one ethical principle to push for in your workplace. This is the only way the culture war can be won—one person, one place at a time.


Chuck Colson


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