This is Why They are Winning
By BILL MUEHLENBERG
I wrote a piece yesterday on the culture wars and why our side is losing so much of the time, while the other side seems to be winning so often. I noted that the other side sees the bigger picture and is willing to work for the long haul.
Christians and conservatives tend not to. As a result, they keep notching up victories and we keep notching up defeats. I said that we too need to see the bigger picture and be willing to go long term in these battles if we want to be successful. You can read what I wrote here: billmuehlenberg.com/2016/04/18/big-picture-long-term/
One clear cut example of all this is the battle over homosexuality. The activists have long had a big perspective on this, and have been willing to take the necessary time to achieve their goals. And they have always been quite upfront about their goals and strategies.
It is just that most folks on our side were not aware of them, or did not want to be aware of them. I have made it my business to be aware of such things. Thus for decades now I have read the homosexual press and followed their strategies as outlined in their books.
Yet many of my colleagues have been rather clueless over the years. Some of them have told me that the issue is no big deal. Even noted Christian leaders have told me that. And when I warned twenty years ago about the push for homosexual marriage, some of these leaders scoffed and said it was just not going to happen.
I suppose I can now say “I told you so” and leave it at that. But we still have Christian leaders in denial or with their heads in the sand concerning various fronts in the culture wars. They still don’t get it and they still are not taking the threats seriously.
Meanwhile the other side takes their mission very seriously indeed. Decades ago they devised strategies and game plans to win, and this is unfolding before our very eyes. They are big picture people in for the duration of the war. We are not. That is why they are winning.
As just one example, I have often mentioned a homosexual strategy manual that appeared back in 1989 entitled After the Ball. In it two homosexual activists offered a detailed blueprint on how they would win America over to their agenda. I have quoted from it often in my own books and articles.
Had our side taken seriously and paid more attention to such strategies, we might not be in the mess we now find ourselves in. And had we taken seriously the need to engage with culture, looking at the longer term prospects and the bigger picture, we might have had some more wins on the board by now.
But for the most part our side is asleep, apathetic and AWOL — meanwhile the other side is committed, dedicated and on a mission. Thus we are losing by default. But some others have been saying the same thing, although likely falling on deaf ears as well.
I am reminded of one very important article that appeared twelve years ago by Al Mohler. He also notes the importance of this particular volume and the amazing progress the activists have made. It is worth quoting heavily from this article:
The spectacular success of the homosexual movement stands as one of the most fascinating phenomena of our time. In less than two decades, homosexuality has moved from “the love that dares not speak its name,” to the center of America’s public life. The homosexual agenda has advanced even more quickly than its most ardent proponents had expected, and social change of this magnitude demands some explanation.
A partial explanation of the homosexual movement’s success can be traced to the 1989 publication of After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s. Published with little fanfare, this book became the authoritative public relations manual for the homosexual agenda, and its authors presented the book as a distillation of public relations advice for the homosexual community. A look back at its pages is an occasion for understanding just how successful their plan was.
Authors Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen combined psychiatric and public relations expertise in devising their strategy. Kirk, a researcher in neuropsychiatry, and Madsen, a public relations consultant, argued that homosexuals must change their presentation to the heterosexual community if real success was to be made.
Conceiving their book as a “gay manifesto for the 1990s,” the authors called for homosexuals to repackage themselves as mainstream citizens demanding equal treatment, rather than as a promiscuous sexual minority seeking greater opportunity and influence.
Mohler notes how the authors made a point of targeting the churches in their campaigns and then writes:
There can be no doubt that Christianity represents the greatest obstacle to the normalization of homosexual behavior. It cannot be otherwise, because of the clear biblical teachings concerning the inherent sinfulness of homosexuality in all forms, and the normativity of heterosexual marriage. In order to counter this obstacle, Kirk and Madsen advised gays to “use talk to muddy the moral waters, that is, to undercut the rationalizations that ‘justify’ religious bigotry and to jam some of its psychic rewards.” How can this be done? “This entails publicizing support by moderate churches and raising serious theological objections to conservative biblical teachings. It also means exposing the inconsistency and hatred underlying antigay doctrines.”
Conservative churches, defined by the authors as “homohating” are portrayed as “antiquated backwaters, badly out of step with the times and with the latest findings of psychology.”
A quick review of the last 15 years demonstrates the incredible effectiveness of this public relations advice. The agenda set out by Kirk and Madsen led to nothing less than social transformation. By portraying themselves as mainstream Americans seeking nothing but liberty and self-fulfillment, homosexuals redefined the moral equation. Issues of right and wrong were isolated as outdated, repressive, and culturally embarrassing. Instead, the assertion of “rights” became the hallmark of the public relations strategy.
He concludes this way:
Public relations is now a major part of the American economy, with hundreds of millions of dollars poured into advertising strategies and image enhancement programs. Observers of the public relations world must look back with slack-jawed amazement at the phenomenal success of the approach undertaken by homosexuals over the last two decades. The advice offered by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen is nothing less than a manifesto for moral revolution. A look back at this strategy indicates just how self-consciously the homosexual movement advanced its cause by following this plan.
Those who oppose the normalization of homosexuality have indeed been presented as backwoods, antiquated, and dangerous people, while those advancing the cause are presented as forces for light, progress, and acceptance. Conservative Christians have indeed been presented as proponents of hatred rather than as individuals driven by biblical conviction. The unprecedented success of this public relations strategy helps to explain why America has accepted everything from homosexual characters and plotlines in prime-time entertainment to the lack of outrage in response to same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.
At least we know what we are up against. Biblical Christians must continue to talk about right and wrong even when the larger world dismisses morality as an outdated concept. We must maintain marriage as a non-negotiable norm–a union of a man and a woman–even when the courts redefine marriage by fiat. At the same time, we must take into account the transformation of the American mind that is now so devastatingly evident to all who have eyes to see.
The real tragedy of After the Ball is that the great result of this is not a party, but the complete rejection of the very moral foundations which made this society possible. In order to address the most fundamental problems, we must understand the shape of the American mind. Looking back at After the Ball after fifteen years, it all comes into frightening focus.
Yep, these folks had a strategy, had long-term goals, had commitment, and had the bigger picture in mind. And with all that, coupled with a comatose, clueless and careless church, they have made tremendous strides in their mega social and sexual revolution.
When will Christians start doing similar things for the cause of Christ and his Kingdom? The early Christians did just that: they turned their world upside down. We need another such Christian revolution, or counter-revolution. I am certainly committed to it. Who will join me?