An understandable and rational Christian response to the pervasive secular (as well as pagan[1]) disease is to quarantine ourselves in our families and, at most, in our churches. The attitude is: even though our society may become more secular, we can become more Christian. A large number of ministries are committed to restoring the family and reviving the church. I support them, and I pray that they’re successful. However, if they neglect the cultural component … — and if they think they can sustain a robust Christianity over time in an evil culture — I believe this view to be not only theologically mistaken, but also dangerously delusional.

The church should indeed impact society, but society has a way of impacting the church. The sociologist Peter Berger popularized the idea of “plausibility structures”:[2] what counts as legitimate and illegitimate, real and unreal in a culture. When secularists create a comprehensive plausibility structure, it means that Christian truth is not so much persecuted, as it is simply meaningless. It doesn’t matter if the church stands up for biblical marriage if the wider culture defines marriage in a radically different way. Trying to restore biblical marriage would be akin to trying to restore the 18th century French monarchy. People wouldn’t fight you; they’d simply look at you as nutty. That’s why we cannot afford to fix just one thing: We cannot afford to fix the family and the church but not the culture. These institutions are all interrelated, and each affects — and infects — the other. What our children and grandchildren consider normal will be shaped not only by what they hear and see in family and church but also in the surrounding culture. Abandoning the culture to Satan and secularists is to allow them a hand in deciding what is normal for our children and grandchildren.

But only God gets to decide what’s normal.

[1] Peter Jones, One or Two, Seeing a World of Difference (Escondido, California: Main Entry, 2010).
[2] Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy (New York; Anchor, 1967, 1969), 12.

From Why Christian Culture?