“I do not know any country where, in general, less independence of mind and genuine freedom of discussion reign than in America.”  ∼ Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Alexis de Tocqueville was the great French chronicler of the early United States.  Nearly 200 years ago, he spotted a basic tension in our national character. It’s this:  Americans place a big stress on individual rights. But we’re also big conformists. The dynamic of self-assertion and fear of being out of step with the herd is one of the key contradictions of American life.

Nobody wants to be told what to do. But most of us urgently want to be inside the constantly shifting range of acceptable opinions.

A good example happened recently.

On Tuesday, August 29, a group of prominent evangelical scholars and pastors—including respected public voices like Russell Moore—issued the “Nashville Statement.” It’s worth reading in the original, rather than reading about it. Nothing in the document is shocking or belligerent.

On the contrary:  In its preamble and 14 articles, the text simply reaffirms historic biblical beliefs about marriage, chastity and the nature of human sexuality. Critics might question its timing or structure or wording. Some evangelicals have done so. In a normal time, though, the Statement would be a non-story.

But we don’t live in a “normal” time. We live in the midst of a culture war. A methodical effort is now playing out in the mass media to recast biblical truths as a form of “hate,” to reshape public opinion away from those biblical truths, and to silence anyone who stays faithful to Christian teaching on matters of sexual behavior, sexual identity, family and marriage.

Read more at Crisis Magazine.