Arcade Fire is set to re-release its Grammy-winning The Suburbs this summer with two new tracks:  “Culture War” and “Speaking in Tongues.”  Both of these tracks explore religious themes more pervasively than we are accustomed to from our pop sensations.   Here’s the audio for “Culture War.”

Here’s my attempt at redacting the lyrics.  I’ve italicized a few phrases of which I’m unsure (accept my sincerest apologies).

Now the future’s staring at me
Like a vision from the past
And I know these crumbs they sold me
They’re never going to last

Though we know the culture war
We don’t know what it’s for
Though we’ve lived a southern strategy
We know it’s never going to last
So, keep it in the past

These are different times, that we’re living in
These are different times
Now the kids are growing up so fast
They pay for our crimes

You left while I was sleeping
You set us down
Oh, I’ve read a little Bible
You see what you want to see 

The dominos they never fell
The bodies they still burn
I throw my hand into the fire
But still I never learn
Will I ever learn? 

We will be soldiers for your mom and dad
In your culture war

We’re soldiers now
So tell me what it’s for

You want it, you got it
Here’s your culture war

Ostensibly, Arcade Fire has launched a salvo against evangelicals.  “Culture War” is the turn-of-phrase commonly associated with evangelicals’ and secular culture’s disagreements on life and death issues, such as abortion and gay marriage.   The song’s critique of biblical interpretation and its specific geography (“southern strategy”) make it all the more likely that evangelicalism has come into the crosshairs of this new Arcade Fire track.

“Cultural War” makes some serious allegations against evangelicals.  The significance, relevance, and accuracy of these Christians’ message are called into question.  Evangelicals are selling “crumbs” that are based upon an arbitrary handling of the scripture (“you see what you want to see”) and that are outdated (“these are different times”).

How should Christians respond to Arcade Fire’s “Culture War”?  Let me counsel you against a few common responses.  First, do not attack back; this is not the occasion to label Win Butler and company “leftists,” “liberals,” or the pejorative du jour.

Second, do not be quick to reply with rehearsed defenses of your positions on the divisive social issues of our day.  You are right on these issues, but the warrant of your position does not rest on your ability to enervate the propositions of a five minute pop song.

Our first response should be to consider why we are garnering this type of attention from a talented artist.  Arcade Fire thinks we have declared war with the culture, and they’ve frankly replied to our overtures, “You’ve got it.”

I don’t believe Christians should consider Arcade Fire’s “Culture War” as an instance of being reviled falsely on account of Christ (Mt 5:11).  In some respects, we’ve earned this criticism because we’ve forgotten with whom we are at war and the weapons God has given us for this struggle.

The Apostle Paul writes,

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”  (Ephesians 6:12-13)

Christians are at war, but it is not against our culture or the people in it.  Our opposition is “the spiritual forces of evil.”  The weapons of our warfare consist of the “whole armor of God”:  truth (Eph 6:14), righteousness (6:14), the gospel (6:15), faith (6:16), salvation (6:17), and the scriptures (6:17).

Have we made enemies out of pro-choice advocates or proponents of same-sex marriage?  Has our vote become the most potent weapon in our arsenal?

May those with whom we differ on these critical issues become the objects of our mercy, whom we seek to win with our gospel conduct and witness.

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