When Christians appear in the major 'ethical' public debates of our time, they engage on the enemies ground, in a framework established by the enemy, and on the enemy's terms.
(The enemy being the mass media, as the primary fount and agent of the secular New Left agenda.)
I am thinking of the sexual revolution debates (extramarital sex combined with redefining marriage, abortion, redefining psychiatric sexual disorders as positive goods etc); and also the various 'medical' controversies on genetic testing and engineering, experiments on - and use of - human embryos and so forth.
What the public hears from Christianity on such matters is a bunch of knee-jerk fundamentalists who don't care about the sufferings of victims.
That is what they are hearing in all these instances, and that is all that they hear.
It is not what is being said, but it is what they hear.
There are two reasons for this - one superficial but significant, and the other one deeply significant and intractable.
The superficial one is that the mass media select, distort and lie about what Christians say, so as to paint them in the worst possible light.
The deeply significant reason is that even if Christians could get their true message across without the mass media filter - the general public still would not like it, indeed they would dislike it - because they are not Christians.
We live in a secular culture. Most people are not even nominal Christians, most self-identified Christians are CHINOs (Christians in name only).
That is the problem, That is why there is a culture war.
So, really, what is the point in these Christian arguments in the public arena? If overall they are doing more harm than good? And surely that must be the right conclusion, given the way that the culture wars have gone?
So should Christians just give up?
Of course not. We should say no clearly and firmly, and reference it back to the fact that we are Christians; and make it clear that we will not cooperate with immorality, but will resist doing these bad things to the greatest extent of our power and will.
If - or when - the government (etc) tries to force us, we still won't do it unless really, really forced - and then only for so long as force is actively being applied. We will make things as difficult for them as possible, in as many ways as possible.
And we will continue to try to bring as many people as possible into Christianity - because that is the only way that anti-Christian policies can be fought: as they were successfully fought in the past.
There can be no real debate sans Christianity.
First Christianity, then we can have a real debate.
The culture war can only (potentially) successfully be fought on Christian grounds, among Christians as it were - and that is where we should fight it: at the point where the culture impinges on Christians.
If there are not enough Christians, or they are too weak, then Christians might well lose.But really stubborn Christians (like the Amish wrt compulsory education) have pretty-much won some of these battles, even when in a tiny and powerless minority.
The culture war cannot be fought at its source, because the source is not Christian: conflicts against much larger and better armed forces should be fought by defending the citadel, not by set battles out on the open plain nor by attacking the enemy's castles.
[The other thing is that these debates are just so boring - aren't they? Any excuse not to engage in them is welcome.]