Jonathon Van Maren

From the front lines of the culture wars

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Our cultural battlefields are littered with the corpses of children created in the image of God, but butchered with Herodian zeal. Peter Paul Rubens. Massacre of the Innocents, 1611–12

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The real ‘war on Christmas’: it’s not what you think it is

Jonathon Van Maren Jonathon Van Maren Follow Jonathon

Christmastime has something that enlarges the heart of everyone--even, I suspect, the grinchiest of atheists. Whether it is lightly falling snow, or visiting family and friends, or Christmas caroling, or an audience surging to its feet at the crescendos of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus, there is something about this time of year that seems to put people in better spirits. No matter how far militant secularism has spread, the Christmas story has incredible cultural power.

I find that the Christmas story has much to remind those of us in the pro-life movement, things that might be easier to forget throughout the year. Everything we fight is in direct conflict with the beauty and the message of that story. And when we look closely, we realize that the Enemy has not changed so much since Herod sent his soldiers into Bethlehem to slaughter all children under the age of three, chopping and stabbing and desperately trying to extinguish the Promise with the blood of the innocents. Two thousand years later, the war on innocence and promise still rages—and the Enemy still lets his mask slip every now and again.

The “war on Christmas” isn’t just about atheists whining about nativity scenes. It manifests itself everywhere in our culture’s rebellion against self-sacrifice, truth, and beauty.

I’ve found it interesting to note, for example, that abortion supporters pouring out to protest the pro-life message often quote the Lord Jesus—even if they do it by accident. “My body!” they scrawl crudely onto cardboard signs, and shriek at those who oppose the shedding of the blood of pre-born boys and girls.

Jesus said the same thing: “This is my body”—but followed that with one of the most beautiful phrases ever spoken—“which is broken for you.” The declaration of abortion supporters is one of war: My body, and I will kill anyone who I perceive as infringing on me. The words of the Lord Jesus meant something entirely different—He offered His body on the cross for His Church, the ultimate redeeming sacrifice. Abortion is, at the end of the day, the precise opposite of the Gospel, in brutal and bloody contrast to the Christmas story.

So it is with the various crude manifestations of the hook-up culture. True self-sacrificing love between those committed to love each other for better or for worse is often traded for the masturbatory facsimile of booze-fueled encounters in which the biggest “party foul” is to pretend you care too much. Marriage, intended to be a symbol of the relationship between the Lord Jesus and His Church, is precisely the opposite—sacrificing your own good for the other is at its essence. The physical heresies of today’s sexual culture are yet another example of our rejection of beauty and our culture’s sad conflation of happiness and pleasure. In our abandoning and destroying of marriage, we again illustrate our hostility to the Gospel message.

If marriage was created as a beautiful and self-sacrificing institution, then perhaps no trend defies and destroys that to the extent that the pornography industry has. Pornography is in many ways the perfect example of something demonic. Consider this: Instead of the husband sacrificing himself for the wife, a reflection of the Gospel story, we have millions of men across North America actively arousing themselves with scenes of physical destruction that reduce many of the women and girls on the screen to human rubble. Sacrificing the bodies of others for our own pleasure, we display our utter contempt for the Gospel message.

The “war on Christmas” isn’t just about atheists whining about nativity scenes. It manifests itself everywhere in our culture’s rebellion against self-sacrifice, truth, and beauty. The various machinations of the Enemy have set the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve at war with one another, with horrifying results. Our cultural battlefields are littered with the corpses of children created in the image of God, but butchered with Herodian zeal.

But the Christmas story reminds us that in the midst of all of this, a daughter of Eve gave birth to the Son of God Himself, Who came to earth to save sinful human beings. That story is full of hope and redemption and promise. And on Christmas day, we go to church to hear that story once again.

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Jonathon Van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.