By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE HAVE to be more aware and familiar with this phenomenon. We have to learn how to deal with it. Man, we can not avoid it anymore. Aware of it or not, it’s with us.

This is actually raging in many developed, multicultural countries, like the US . And since the world is now interconnected, synchronized and shrunk into a global village, we in the Philippines cannot escape from getting involved in it, such that we somehow have our own version of it.

First, let us remember that war or conflict, whether we like it or not, is part of our life. Even in Christian teaching, some warfare is, in fact, both to be expected and recommended, though it’s waged more in the spiritual and personal side—against temptations, sin and our weaknesses.

Of course, given our human condition, with the run of life, this spiritual and personal battle will sooner or later show its effects externally and socially until its elements can form part of our culture.

This is where we can talk about a certain culture war, an ongoing public debate involving not only arguments and doctrine but also attitudes and lifestyles, focusing on what’s right and wrong in some hot-button defining issues.

The debate is usually in the area of religion, faith, and morals in all their different levels and aspects. It involves values, and things related more to the human soul than to our bodily and material welfare. In short, it involves things happening in our mind and heart from which our life is shaped.

The problem starts when these fine distinctions are ignored, and people start weaving their own world-view rooted more on the material and temporal values, while neglecting the reality of the spiritual and supernatural values.

Thus, we come out with categories of people like the more spiritually-inclined as contrasted to the more worldly and materially-attached type, the conservative, traditionalist person and the secular, liberal, progressive one, etc.

From another angle, we can identify this culture war’s protagonists as believers and faith-based people, or non-believers, atheists, agnostics, skeptics, pragmatists, positivists, ideologues whether of the left, right or center, etc.

Of course, in each category, we can have endless varieties. What is important is that we know how to identify them in their cultural orientation. This knowledge, which is at best tentative, can help us to effectively tackle the intricacies of the culture war.

The burning issues that can trigger this culture war, at least in the US context, can be contraception, abortion, homosexuality, same-sex unions, environmental extremists, radical feminism, public morality, discrimination against religious schools, etc.

They divide the parties into either pro-life or anti-life, culture of life or culture of death, etc. Somehow they are distinguished by their attitude toward faith and religion, the role of reason and affectivity and their relationship with faith, etc.

Also, they are identified by the tools and weapons used. The Christian-inspired use truth with charity as lived by Christ and now taught by the Church. They are expected to practice patience and to face trials, insults, sacrifices.

Those less Christian if not anti-Christian and non-believers, can use anything and are prone to bullying their opponents. Remember what our Lord said: “The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” (Lk 16,8) But I believe the last laugh belongs to the believers.

In our country, this culture war can be dramatized in the current debate over the so-called Reproductive Health bills now being deliberated in Congress. I consider them as likely provoking a seismic shift in our culture, since they involve basic realignment of personal and social values.

In spite of their proponents saying the bills are actually pro-life, pro-family and even pro-God, our Church leaders have considered them precisely the opposite because of their suspicious inspiration and their association of a certain world network whose ideology is incompatible with Christian faith and morals.

I personally think these bills are meant to get a foothold in our society via our legal system, a wedge that will later open the floodgates of atheistic and agnostic opinions and ways into our country.

Our culture war is on. We need to know how to deal with it! (