There is probably no more sought after title among writers, activists and idealistic university students than that of "contrarian"—the martyr-like defender of a righteous cause. Many even attempt to become contrarians by wittily opposing the mainstream as much as possible, in spite of the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to appear the martyr by opposing global warming. I find the desire to be a contrarian to be extremely self contradictory—if a contrarian is indeed one who defends a righteous cause, than while the contrarian may in fact be a voice crying in the wilderness, he should not enjoy being so. Instead, a contrarian by definition should long for his views—if indeed he actually believes them to be true—to be main stream.
And what true contrarians are left in today's washed-out culture? It often seems as if the era of youthful rage against injustice is over, simply because the great causes of today are more or less agreed upon. Environmentalism is trendy, even to some extent among conservatives. No one is advocating for any sort of racist apartheid or devaluing of any ethnic group. Every one pretty much agrees (albeit with much apathy) that the genocides in Darfur, Congo and elsewhere are horrific and should be put to an end (just not by us.) For the most part, what passes for controversy today are manufactured tempests in teacups, with greedy journalists eagerly waiting for someone, anyone to say anything that resembles racism, or sexism, or some other "ism."
Ironically, I think that the last real contrarians are the Christians.
Christians do not want to be contrarians. They want to be main stream, simply because Christianity is a religion that makes universalist claims. If Christians actually do believe their own faith, they must believe that the entire world would be better off following biblical truth. Of course, much of this truth is quite uncomfortable to today's culture of instant gratification and moral relativism.
We believe abortion, based on embryology, biology, and moral philosophy is the wilful destruction of a human life that we have no right to take.
We believe that gay marriage should not be permitted, based on both religious truth and the societal implications that reflect that truth.
We believe that promiscuity is not only immoral, but damaging to society.
We believe that Christianity is the only true faith.
These views, while once prevalent, are not very popular now, although I would argue that all but the last of these statements is self-evident. If you challenge our culture on abortion, you get called "anti-choice," or "misogynist," or some other creative slur. If you challenge the idea that gay marriage is a valid concept, you get compared to George Wallace or some equally distasteful racist. And if you point out the ill effects of promiscuity, you get called a prude, or sexually repressed, or worse.
Yet, Christians do not wallow in the idea that we are "contrarians," hugging this epithet to ourselves as a badge of honour. Because, as any genuine contrarian, we would prefer that others would recognize the truth in what we say and change their minds. We genuinely believe that if people would comport themselves in a Christian fashion, society would be better off.
Now, I realize that it may be hard to believe that country that lacked a sky-rocketing STD rate, plunging demographics, and broken homes could be better. But we actually believe it.
Even if everyone else thinks something to the contrary.