Social conservatism in US rises to highest levels since 2012

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Social conservatism in US rises to highest levels since 2012

June 15, 2023 -

A line chart with a yellow arrow zigzagging up and down, ultimately trending up, an illustration of a recent Gallup poll that says more Americans ascribe to social conservatism than are liberal or moderate. © By Eightshot Studio/stock.adobe.com

A line chart with a yellow arrow zigzagging up and down, ultimately trending up, an illustration of a recent Gallup poll that says more Americans ascribe to social conservatism than are liberal or moderate. © By Eightshot Studio/stock.adobe.com

A line chart with a yellow arrow zigzagging up and down, ultimately trending up, an illustration of a recent Gallup poll that says more Americans ascribe to social conservatism than are liberal or moderate. © By Eightshot Studio/stock.adobe.com

According to a new Gallup survey, more Americans say they are conservative on social issues (38 percent) than say they are liberal (29 percent) or moderate (31 percent). The last time this many Americans said they ascribe to social conservatism was 2012. This despite the cultural forces so prominently and powerfully aligned on the other side.

In light of this surprising good news, what can we learn that will help us make a transforming impact on our lost culture?

“Our opponents had everything going for them”

Acclaimed Princeton professor Robert George recently described the resources supporting Roe v. Wade before it was overturned: “Our opponents had everything going for them: power, money, prestige, control of the leading institutions of education, culture, philanthropy, entertainment, the economy, and, of course, the news media. We had, and have, none of those things.” His words describe our cultural position with regard to biblical morality more generally as well.

For example, as the Colson Center’s John Stonestreet and Shane Morris note, “Each year, the four-week season of corporate and political virtue signaling known as ‘pride month’ becomes more aggressive and in-your-face, and those who promote it more insistent that everybody participates. For a while now, it has seemed as if there is no limit to how saturated programming, shelves, and corporate messaging could become with pride imagery each June.”

And yet they report that Bud Light, after featuring transgender celebrity Dylan Mulvaney on commemorative cans, has lost over $15 billion in market value. After prominently stocking pride merchandise designed by a self-proclaimed Satanist, Target’s cap is down $13 billion.

According to Gallup, 69 percent of Americans now say transgender athletes should only be allowed to compete on sports teams that conform to their birth gender. This is up from 62 percent in 2021, despite the fact that 39 percent say they know someone who is transgender, up from 31 percent two years ago.

In more good news, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that religious participation is correlated to significant positive health outcomes. In one study, those who attended religious services at least once a week had 33 percent lower mortality over a sixteen-year period. Such religious engagement also lowered the study participants’ suicide rate by 80 percent. Attending services at least weekly or meditating regularly also reduces feelings of depression and increases feelings of life satisfaction and purpose.

“The happiest state of a Christian”

Here’s the problem: skeptics can discount evidence for our faith from virtually any source. They can dismiss opposition to Pride Month indoctrination as homophobia and to transgender athletes as transphobia. They can explain positive health outcomes from religious engagement as Freudian wish fulfillment. They can even reject miracles if miracles threaten their social status and power.

Here’s the source of evidence they have the hardest time dismissing: our changed lives.

Charles Spurgeon observed, “God neither chose [his people] nor called them because they were holy, but he called them that they might be holy, and holiness is the beauty produced by his workmanship in them.” He added: “The happiest state of a Christian is the holiest state. As there is the most heat nearest to the sun, so there is the most happiness nearest to Christ.”

Oswald Chambers showed us the way to such happiness: “There is only one thing you can consecrate to God, and that is your right to yourself. If you will give God your right to yourself, he will make a holy experiment out of you.” Others will take note: “If you abandon to Jesus, and come when he says ‘Come,’ he will continue to say ‘Come’ through you; you will go out into life reproducing the echo of Christ’s ‘Come.’ That is the result in every soul who has abandoned and come to Jesus.”

Peter agreed: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, my emphasis).

The closer we are to Jesus, the holier we become. The more countercultural our holiness, the more obvious our witness. The darker the room, the more powerful the light.

“The world despises them as useless pieces of straw”

St. Anthony of Padua (1195–1231) was a personal friend of St. Francis of Assisi and one of the greatest preachers and intellectuals of his day. He encouraged us to be countercultural in our faith and values: “O religious soul, dove beloved of Christ, behold those little pieces of straw which the world tramples under its feet! They are the virtues practiced by thy Savior . . . of which he himself has set thee an example—humility, meekness, poverty, penance, patience, and mortification. The world despises them as useless pieces of straw; nevertheless, they will be for thee the material wherewith to construct thy dwelling place forever in the profound hollow of the rock—in the heart of Jesus.”

When we practice these virtues in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can then “speak as the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of speech.” Consequently, “Our humble and sincere request to the Spirit for ourselves should be that we may bring the day of Pentecost to fulfillment, insofar as he infuses us with his grace, by using our bodily senses in a perfect manner and by keeping the commandments. Likewise we shall request that we may be filled with a keen sense of sorrow and with fiery tongues for confessing the truth, so that our deserved reward may be to stand in the blazing splendor of the saints and to look upon the triune God.”

Will you ask the Spirit to help you “bring the day of Pentecost to fulfillment” today?

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