Brooks is a good writer and makes a good case for what I consider to be the right position.
In essence, he says evangelicals have lost the culture war over sexual matters, and so should consider being more like the Salvation Army than the Moral Majority. Become useful again. Actually, there is a lot of that going on and Brooks says evangelicals should become known for our good works of community as opposed to outrage over gay marriage.
It is hard to look at the ministry of Jesus and find fault with Brooks’ suggestions. Christians getting all mad over losing some political power doesn’t look like the New Testament to me.
Speaking from experience, the other culture war was exciting. There was a feeling of doing something important and meaningful. I thought the objective of defeating the godless liberals was a noble cause. Being a part of the in-group is a power social experience. However, I believe there is a better way to live.
Culture warring (on both extremes I think) requires lots of confirmation bias and self-deception. As I began to raise questions about the intellectual honesty of, for instance, the evangelical positions on the causes of same-sex orientation and the lack of change really happening, I was strongly discouraged from going there. I went there.
After I went there, certain evangelicals demanded my college fire me, my family was lied about and various other in-group rejections happened. I still believe in the same Jesus and still sing from the same hymnbook, but you can’t be an A-List evangelical unless you’re willing to believe a particular set of premises. Nothing much has changed; if you go after sacred cows, the cows’ caretakers get angry, often in Jesus’ name.
I write all of this because I fear that, without some kind of retraining, the hard core evangelical culture warriors may not be up to what Brooks says is a struggle for which social conservatives should be well-equipped:
The more practical struggle is to repair a society rendered atomized, unforgiving and inhospitable.
Brooks’ suggestions are good, but there are practical problems. Evangelicals can’t even agree that it would be a good idea for a Christian to serve all comers in our businesses. We can’t even agree that being hospitable and Christlike means bakers should bake a cake for gay customers. The culture warriors applaud the person who takes actions which are inhospitable. Currently, evangelicals need to own our part in rendering society “atomized, unforgiving, and inhospitable” and to repair our own community, before we can help anybody else do it.