In this battle with Planned Parenthood that just erupted, certain worried cautions against triumphalism really ought to wait until after the triumph. I would much rather encourage the troops to pour it on, they’re doing great.
And they have been doing great. The Center for Medical Progress has done a wonderful thing in and through these videos — and again I want to stop in order to suggest the Medal of Freedom for David Daleiden. But another wonderful thing has happened as well.
I think that those who are concerned about “triumphalism” are in fact noticing something that really is happening. That something should in fact be noticed, and — given how our worried evangelical leadership frequently works — defended. What I am talking about is all the pro-life exuberance and joy. The pursuit of Planned Barrenhood has been robust, pointed, widespread, funny, hard-hitting, massive, and driven by what can only be called battle joy. Speaking quite frankly, I have simply been proud of and grateful for the behavior of pro-life Christians. We are scaling the castle walls of Minas Sanger on these little rickety ladders, and so I don’t want to spend any energy tsking at those up ahead of me with a knife in their teeth about to reach the top. Not the time. Wouldn’t be appropriate.
But all this does of course provide an opening for those who are given to tut-tutting. They ask, “Is this really appropriate?” Of course, tutters will tut. They will say that our “joy” must mean that we are not really concerned with the morality of the war effort, and neither are we gripped by all the deep concerns that lie beneath that effort. We must not care about the human costs. This is like saying that the sailor kissing the girl in Times Square at the end of World War 2 must not have cared about his buddies who had died. It means that they don’t understand the nature of serious moral conflict at all.
C.S. Lewis says somewhere that if war is ever lawful for a Christian, and it is, then the martial spirit is also lawful. There are times when the spirit of war descends, and in a lawful cause there are few things more exhilarating.
Consider what an eventful few months we have had. On April 24, Bruce Jenner attained unto girlhood. On June 16, Rachel Dolezal grew into her spray tan. Then on June 17 we had the Charleston shooting and subsequent uproar over the Confederate battle flag — a symbol for sober heads of states’ rights. Then just a few days later, on June 26, the SCOTUS beclowned itself an egregious assault on those very same states rights, not to mention Biology 101. And then somewhere in there some enlightened brass in the military started talking about a transgendered fighting force, I mean, what could go wrong there? Then in early July the first eucatastrophic torpedo from CMP landed amidships at Planned Parenthood. Now none of this means that God wants us to stop fighting. But it very plainly means that He wants us to be happy.
Speaking of triumphalism, this is related to triumph. And in Scripture, it is bad when the wicked triumph, and it is good when the righteous do. “Lord, How long shall the wicked, How long shall the wicked triumph?” (Ps. 94:3). Good question, and we should pray that question more. “Moab is my washpot; Over Edom will I cast out my shoe; Over Philistia will I triumph” (Ps. 08:9). But isn’t saying that Moab is your washpot kind of trash-talking, kind of taunting? Isn’t it kind of like saying we are going to scale their city walls and then slap their mamas?
C.S. Lewis mentions that this spirit of battle joy is part of how Chesterton made a conquest of him.
“The sword glitters not because the swordsman set out to make it glitter but because he is fighting for his life and therefore moving it very quickly” (Surprised by Joy, p.191).
Winning, triumph, does present its spiritual challenges. We should consider them thoughtfully if and when we get there. But for the time being we have better things to do . . . like fighting. Like fighting all in. We must fight, and not like a grim-faced, moralistic thug either. We must fight like cavaliers. We must swash and we must buckle, and then we must swash some more.