What kind of world would it be if the only thing that silenced anyone ever was the truth? Shame. Ridicule. Legal-action. Expulsion. Exclusion. What if all of these tactics became powerless to the desire and proactive commitment of every person to pursue, discover, understand, and elevate what is right?
What kind of world would it be if the only thing that silenced anyone ever was the truth? Shame. Ridicule. Legal-action. Expulsion. Exclusion. What if all of these tactics became powerless to the desire and proactive commitment of every person to pursue, discover, understand, and elevate what is right? Perhaps it’s a dream, but ask yourself honestly, what prevents that? What are the forces that cow the truth into silence and shadow, that prevent good people from advancing good in the face of cloaked intentions, ulterior motives, shadowy reasoning, brutish slander, and stilted justice?
Could it be that truth is too good?
Before you laugh that off consider what the Apostle Paul said about the righteous and the good: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die” (Romans 5:7). Is it possible that the very character of truth makes it attractive to the kinds of people that are too nice to defend it?
Let’s revisit a national disgrace that happened on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. A high school youth attended a March For Life event in our nation’s capitol, an event that promotes the protection and health of the most vulnerable among us. His presence, his faith, his skin color, and his hat(!) made him a politically-correct target for intimidation by a racist, hateful political group, a professional activist, and a number of media outlets who have long abandoned the concept of investigative journalism. What seems refreshingly unusual about the aftermath of that scenario – (details that are expectedly going unreported) – is that Nick Sandmann and his family are pushing back, and winning.
But why is that unusual? Why has it become more common that sensible, moral, and caring people are expected to shut up and take it? Could it be that they are sensitive to the death of civil debate? That they recognize there is no real dialogue of differing opinions in a public square so congested with marginalization, stigmatization, and demonization? And are they too “nice” to combat their fear?
Gareth Sturdy, a science teacher in London, catalogues a growing number of cases in the British school system where teachers are literally being targeted for expulsion if they do not conform under a growing climate of censorship. But not all the censorship is external. He says: “What starts with acts of intimidation against the few who dare to dissent will end in the self-censorship of the many. Society faces a bleak future if the people charged with teaching the young how to think become too afraid to think for themselves.”
What should concern us most, I believe, is this self-censorship. What if this isn’t just a problem in politics and in education? What if this is the growing problem, as well, in our Christian faith? And what if, by our chosen silence, our desire to not initiate any dissension or discord, we become accessories to a crime, the death of truth?
The experienced mountain climber is not intimidated by a mountain. He is inspired by it.William Arthur Ward
We do not need an exhaustive list of examples and scenarios to agree that the Gospel is politically incorrect, which means the absolute truth has been deemed fashionably unacceptable. Listen! Good Christian, this has been the case since 1AD. The first eye witnesses of the Resurrection knew the truth, but it was not enough to prevent their being cowed into the silence of a hidden, upper room. Fortunately, God intervened – again – and sent his Spirit to move them beyond the self-absorption of fear and into the public square for one specific, world-altering purpose: To speak what they knew to be true! …even in the face of marginalization, stigmatization, demonization, and persecution.
Now to convince today’s Christian that their calling is the same, I grant you, is becoming itself a difficult endeavor. The fear of what looks to be an insurmountable mountain of cultural acrimony is naturally paralyzing to good people. But good people need to do good things not just even, but especially in the face of what is evil. And the faithful, as the old hymn puts it, need to “go tell it on the mountain.” God help us if we chosen mountain climbers should become intimidated by this mountain.