Way back when in 2008 I posted Should Christians Fight the Culture War? Perhaps that’s a good place to start. This is an example of what happens when we do try to wrestle with flesh and blood rather than powers and principalities.
Video via CNN, no explicit language or images
In Warsaw, Ohio a strip club owner staged a protest outside of a local church during service on Sunday morning, complete with topless protesters carrying signs. Apparently New Beginnings Ministries has been protesting outside of the local strip club for years, taking pictures of customers license plates and calling the girls that work there things like tramps and whores. Church Pastor Bill Dunfee says it is the responsibility of the church to spread the Gospel, uplift the name of Jesus and confront evil. The confrontation of evil has resulted in a small crowd of strippers, employees and friends of the Foxhole Club to assembling a protest of their own. Be careful when you fight the culture war, the culture may just fight back.
Pastor Dunfee says the Foxhole has no business in the community. But there’s the rub. The church’s protests have been going on for the past nine years. There are obviously enough members of the community patronizing the business, even with the protests going on, that it makes money. After nine years business must be good. Apparently the Foxhole does have business in that particular community. Do you see what I’m getting at? The entire community as a whole does not have the heart and mind of the church or there would be no customers and the business would close its doors. You can’t expect people in the world to act anything other than, well, worldly. If the church members had successfully shut the business down that would not have done anything to change the hearts of the former customers. When the church shared the Gospel and everyone in the community did not respond, the church members picked out an enemy and decided to fight the culture war. In nine years they failed to convict enough customers of their sins or save enough of the girls that the business had to close. (I’m being sarcastic.) The best they could have hoped for was for the business to close up or relocate to another town. But is that winning? The men visiting the club would have the same carnal desires, the business owner would have found a way to make his next dollar and the girls would have moved on looking for something else… and it is unlikely that any one of those people would have joined the church and thanked them for ridding the town of its former filth. Imposing a list of shall’s and shall not’s does not make people righteous. Even a self-imposed list of rules does not make one righteous, at best legalism can only restrain evil.
I don’t want to push the cliche, but let’s try to imagine what Jesus would do in this situation. I don’t think going down to the local strip club and calling the girls whores is it. I’m all for sharing the Gospel. Uplifting the name of Christ? Go for it. Engaging the enemy has resulted in retaliation. Now instead of topless girls in the club the church has topless girls standing outside… during service. The pastor hired an off-duty deputy to “protect” the church and that deputy will be back Sunday if the protesters return, as they promise to do if the church members keep up their weekly protest. Strike, counter strike, escalation. New Beginnings hasn’t gone full out Fred Phelps… yet. But how does any of this grow the Kingdom? Chaplain Mike of Internet Monk has said many times that we don’t win by winning. I am not ashamed of the Gospel nor of the name of Jesus Christ; but you will never see me standing behind a podium on stage debating an atheist. We engage the culture by… giving away bottles of water, filling sandbags, handing out free school supplies, rebuilding homes, distributing food and medicine and telling people there is a better way than whatever else they have tried before. When the hearts of men are changed so they love Jesus more than the culture, when they love their wives more than strippers and pornography, then the strip club will close it’s own self down.