In the last chapter, I addressed the first two questions of the church’s moral dilemma:
Which values are central to the Christian life and which are peripheral?
Which central values are internal to the Church only and which should Christians promote in the society at large?
But now, it is time to take up the third:
How should individuals and churches promote them?
How It Has Been Done
In the last 100 years, my tradition, the (mostly white) evangelical church tradition, has worked hard to promote some uniquely Christian values to the broader society through the implementation of laws and public policies. Here’s a brief summary of but four successes evangelical Christians have had in the creation of public policies.
First, one Christian value is “personal holiness,” and promoting this value to the broader society was the backbone of the temperance movement that led to Prohibition, but that’s only one time when issues of “personal holiness” were codified into law. Prohibition and the broader temperance movement became the spiritual father for a significant amount of evangelical activism to this day against mind-altering or mood-altering substances. The political peak of that activism was the evangelical support of what was called “The War on Drugs” in the 70’s. With the encouragement and activism of the evangelical church in partnership with the Republican party, laws were enacted to inflict serious penalties for the use, abuse, possession and distribution of addictive substances like marijuana and cocaine. Strangely, the evangelical church promoted these laws and strict punishments for their violation, but didn’t advocate similar laws over the use and abuse of other substances like nicotine, caffeine, alcohol or even sugar. Additionally, the evangelical church didn’t raise a voice when the punishments were applied inconsistently leading to harsher sentences for certain forms of cocaine over others and harsher sentences for people of color over white people. Although the Bible never delineates a difference between various addictive substances, evangelical Christians leveraged significant political influence to outlaw addictive substances inconsistently. A deeper look into these things is certainly warranted, but my point here is just to illustrate the prior successes of Christian activism, so I’ll move on.
Secondly, Christians in my tradition have been and continue to be activists for individual responsibility specifically as it relates to what is called the social safety net—welfare, unemployment, medicaid, medicare, and social security. Abusing the value of sacrifice to enforce sacrifice on others, and ignoring the values of grace and economic equity, evangelical Christians continue to be at the forefront of efforts to reduce the social safety net and put the greater burden of responsibility on individuals to help themselves. This is easily illustrated from the strong partnership between the Reagan administration and the evangelical churchgoers in America. Before Reagan, evangelicals often voted for Democrats. Jimmy Carter was an evangelical Christian himself! However, Reagan’s rhetoric against the so-called “Welfare Queen” and others who might take too much advantage of the social safety net systems resonated with evangelical Christians, and their votes were a major reason he won each of his two elections to the Presidency. Evangelical Christians have the power to elect presidents!
Thirdly, evangelical Christians took personal and religious freedom so seriously that they became activists for greater freedom in many areas of life. With the support of evangelical Christians in partnership with the Republican party, individual (and corporate) freedoms have been regularly strengthened through the reduction of taxes and regulations. Furthermore, despite Jesus’ instruction that his followers “turn the other cheek” in response to violence, evangelical Christians have become strong proponents for the expansion of gun freedoms as another aspect of personal freedom. This activism has produced significant results. Christian activism has been able to produce laws that strengthen their own freedom even if that freedom conflicted with someone else’s personal or religious freedom. In 1993, Bill Clinton signed a law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was designed to protect religious liberty in all its forms. Its original motivation was to protect the rights of participants in the Native American Church to smoke peyote in their ceremonies. However, evangelical Christian groups have since pressed their states to enact similar laws with the primary aim of protecting Christians from anti-discrimination lawsuits. Because of Christian activism, many states have done so.
And finally, I’ll mention one more way the activism of evangelical Christians has been successful. Evangelical Christians were instrumental (and perhaps the deciding voting bloc) in the election of Donald Trump. There were many reasons for this support, but for many evangelicals, it hinged on their desire for an anti-abortion President. Trump promised to put justices on the Supreme Court who were committed to overturning Roe v. Wade and allowing states to make abortion illegal, and that one promise was enough to gain the support of many evangelicals. The activism of evangelical Christians in the fight against abortion resulted in Trump’s election and a complete transformation of the Supreme Court. Today, in 2022, the court is heavily conservative and has already made significant changes to the way abortion laws are handled in our country.
These are but four examples of how the evangelical church has been active and successful in the political / social arena. I could go on for a while simply sharing from my own experience in my own church tradition the policy platforms I have been encouraged to support over the years. However, what’s fascinating to me these days is the realization that most of the things I have been encouraged to support in the public arena are actually things that Scripture tells me I should hold personally and in the context of a church, but not in the context of the public arena.
I’ll say that again. Most of the things I have been encouraged to support in the public arena are actually things Scripture tells me to keep inside the church. Neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament tells me to work toward the creation of a society that values “Individual Responsibility.” Nothing outside the laws governing Israelites tells me to advocate for a society of “Personal Holiness.” And when it comes to personal (or corporate) freedom, Jesus actually tells us to embrace persecution rather than trying to achieve or maintain our own freedom.
In other words, in the last decade or so, I have come to realize that the things Christians are actually supposed to be promoting in the public arena according to the values of Scripture are actually the things Christians in my tradition have been ignoring in the public arena, and the things Christians in my tradition have been trying to legislate in the broader society are the very things they should be promoting only among themselves!
It appears to me that in many ways, the evangelical Christian tradition has gotten its political involvement exactly backward with regard to the teaching of Scripture on the topic. So let’s dig deeper into Proper Christian Activism by considering a few examples of how our activism principles might be applied.
Applying Proper Christian Activism
CHRISTIANS SHOULD ADVOCATE FOR DIGNITY AND JUSTICE
Christians should use whatever voice or influence they have to take up the cause of the weak, marginalized, disregarded, or oppressed in their society to ensure all people are treated with dignity and justice without regard to the moral condition of those people.
Dignity and Justice… as applied to same-sex marriage
A recent hot-button issue directly related to this value was the legalization of same-sex marriage. The way most Christian churches in my tradition addressed the issue at the time was to talk about how same-sex unions were not endorsed by God and that God, who created marriage, should have the final say about what gets called a “marriage.” This was moderately hypocritical because for decades, those churches had required couples to receive governmental endorsement of their marriage before the church would recognize it as a marriage. Those churches had made a big deal of telling couples they shouldn’t be living together until they were married and when they said “married” they always meant legally recognized marriage—the process of getting their union endorsed and validated by the government. In other words, the churches wouldn’t recognize a marriage as a marriage until the state recognized it as such. Inconsistently, evangelical churches looked to the state to define and endorse marriage but then got upset when the state chose to define and endorse marriages that didn’t fit the biblical mold. Their activism then shifted to convincing the government to follow the Bible or at least tradition and to withhold the rights of marriage from same-sex couples.
The logical inconsistency of that position is only part of the problem, though. The more significant problem is that the church opposition to secular same-sex marriage was actually a violation of two biblical principles: (1) that Christians are not to judge people outside the church, and (2) that Christians should be in favor of justice and human dignity for all regardless of their moral or spiritual condition. Now, if you are an evangelical, you are probably starting to get nervous wondering what I’m about to say. I understand your hesitation, and I invite you to read the rest of this section slowly. I think it will help. Start with the principle I just labeled #1. You might be starting to accept that idea. You might be growing comfortable with the idea that Christian morality should be kept inside the church and not legislated in the broader society. However, you might have a problem with the #2 principle in this context. That principle sounds like I’m about to say same-sex marriage is an issue of justice and human dignity. It probably sounds to you like I’m about to say Christians should support secular same-sex marriage, doesn’t it? Well, let me walk you through a simple line of reasoning, and you can draw your own conclusions.
If the government maintains a social contract it calls “marriage” for the benefit and protection of its people, the government has the right to extend that contract to whomever it wishes, but for the sake of human dignity and justice, it should apply that social contract equally to all people regardless of their religious perspective or spiritual condition. If the government doesn’t apply this beneficial protection to all people regardless of their religious perspective or spiritual condition then that government has become a government of preferential treatment for some and is no longer promoting human dignity and justice for all. If one religion or worldview thinks that marriage should be limited to only heterosexual monogamous couples, and another religion or worldview thinks differently, the government should not offer preferential treatment to one worldview or religion over another. The government should make its decision purely on the question of human dignity and justice. Likewise, Christians, following our translatable Christian values, should use whatever influence we have to advocate for universal human dignity and justice and for the universal application of government benefits and protections.
That seems to imply that Christians should support the government endorsement of same-sex unions, but that puts us in strange and uncomfortable moral waters. Can a Christian support a governmental policy that allows or even endorses immoral behavior? I still personally believe the Bible presents a sexual ethic limiting sexual behavior to the context of monogamous heterosexual lifelong marriage. I still teach that ethic as a central moral value for Christians, but a commitment to universal human dignity in the secular world seems to require that I support the government’s endorsement of same-sex marriage! How should a Christian handle it when the translatable value seems to lead to conclusions that violate an internal value? More generally, what voice (if any) should the church have in a culture where a concern for “dignity” and “justice” leads to conclusions that are outside the boundaries of Christian morality? Should Christians support “dignity” if unbelievers link their “dignity” to their sin? Should Christians ever actually advocate for sinners to have the opportunity to sin more fully? Although it is sure to be controversial, I think the answer should be “Yes.”
Don’t run away just yet. I think I have a good reason for this position.
The easy answer is to remember that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was put in the garden by God himself. Giving people the freedom or opportunity to sin is not itself sinful, but let’s keep our focus specifically on the issue of marriage.
When we consider the issue of marriage, we should recognize that marriage in this country comes with a number of benefits that no other contract has. Married couples experience numerous financial benefits including the elimination of gift taxes and estate taxes between spouses. Married couples automatically have power of attorney over each other in many areas of life including medical and financial decisions. Married couples also have a number of social benefits both tangible and intangible. In other words, the social contract our government calls marriage provides a kind of dignity to people that is only available to those within such a contract. When the government decides who is allowed that privilege and who is not, it becomes a question of justice. Therefore, this truly is an issue of dignity and justice, and from the perspective of this value, it is right for Christians to support the expansion of the government’s social contract even if the name of that contract is “marriage.”
Now, I’m a pastor, and I perform weddings. I have not and will not officiate over a same-sex wedding because I don’t see any Scriptural endorsement of such unions, and therefore, as an agent of the Kingdom of God and not an agent of the state, I don’t have the authority to officiate over such a union. In other words, my own conviction of what marriages I will endorse fails to line up with the government’s idea of what marriages could be endorsed. It was nice when the secular social contract of marriage appeared to line up with the one Jesus gave, but in truth, the secular social contract of marriage never actually did. Jesus’ definition of marriage was always more restrictive than the government’s, and our country has never governmentally upheld “Christian” marriage.
That doesn’t mean Christians should give up the notion of “Christian” marriage or endorse the morality of homosexual behavior or the unions arising from it. Even though some modern churches embrace homosexual behavior as a fully viable lifestyle, I maintain that the biblical limits on sexuality are incompatible with homosexual behavior. Additionally, the Bible speaks repeatedly about the problems a person faces when they engage in sexual sin, and the church shouldn’t keep silent about it, but as we have seen, the church is supposed to live that morality in the public arena and speak of it internally without wasting energy pointing fingers at the broader society. In this way, it is completely reasonable for a church or a pastor to support a governmental expansion of marriage while maintaining a more limited, narrow, independent and internal definition of marriage.
Dignity and Justice… as applied to social welfare programs
I want consider another area where the church should advocate for “dignity” and “justice” in the broader society even when doing so appears to conflict with some internal values of the church. Let’s consider social welfare programs. One of the most important verses to evangelicals when it comes to social welfare programs is this one:
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us…. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.
2 Thessalonians 3:6,10-12 NIV
Christians in my tradition have adopted this verse and a few others like it from the Apostle Paul to conclude that social welfare programs are evil or that they at least enable people to be lazy “busybodies” who leech off of others. There may be some actual reasons to think that social welfare programs enable laziness, but the thing my church tradition frequently forgets is that here too, in the teaching of Paul, the instruction is for inside the church family and not a statement about what a secular government should do for its people or how the church should approach the needs of the world around it. In fact, there are many reasons why a secular government might want to provide social welfare programs even if some people might take undue advantage of those programs. To offer one example, every child in every family lives under a parental welfare program until they move out of the home, and many of those children take undue advantage of the generosity of the parents. No child offers to the parents equitable compensation for the services they receive. And that’s okay. Moreover, we consider that proper. It is the responsibility of the responsible parent to meet the needs of the irresponsible child while attempting to nurture that child toward responsibility.
There are good reasons why a government might choose to provide social welfare even when people will take advantage of it, and therefore, there are good reasons why Christians should support it too. Remembering that Christians are not supposed to judge the unbeliever, we can set aside moral judgment regarding those who might take undue advantage of those programs. Then, we can begin to think about what a society would look like that elevates the dignity of those who live within its borders even if some take advantage of it. In fact, we should go further. If a society can elevate the dignity of those who live within its borders, then Christians in that society should promote actions that result in such elevation.
To be sure, there are caveats upon caveats here since we never know what a change to one part of our economy might do to another part of the economy and whether elevating one group of people might work to the detriment of another group of people, and whether too many will just take advantage of it without ever becoming responsible citizens, but Christians should not be overly concerned by such worries or fears. If Christians can help their society become more aware of and attuned to issues of dignity and justice, then whenever one action creates a problem, the society will already be primed to see and address the new disparity as well. With Christians as a consistent voice for dignity and justice, the entire society will grow more dignified and just.
CHRISTIANS SHOULD ADVOCATE FOR WHAT IS TRUE AND GOOD
Christians should use whatever voice or influence they have to promote what is true, noble, right, pure, excellent, or praiseworthy, including art, science, journalism, and social policies even if it includes promoting something unfamiliar or unpleasant.
There was a time when Christians were at the forefront of science and art. Christians like Rembrandt, Bach and Handel produced the most beautiful works of artistry in their day, and they did it because of and for the glory of God. Isaac Newton developed calculus and an entire system of physics because he wanted to understand God and the order he wired into Creation. Additionally, Christians today, motivated by love for their neighbors, are pursuing the sciences of biology and medicine to bring relief to millions around the world. Christians are employing this science to eradicate polio, HIV, malaria and more through education, vaccination, medication, and other public health measures.
However, in the past century or so, despite the long tradition of compatibility between intellectual pursuits and Christian faith, an antagonism has developed from members of the evangelical Christian community against the broader world of science and art. As artistic endeavors were taken up by more and more people unmotivated by Christianity, more and more artistic works became repulsive to Christians, and more and more Christians rejected those artistic enterprises entirely, abandoning the mainstream world of artistic endeavor and isolating themselves into Christian enclaves. A similar thing happened in the sciences compounded by doctrines like Young Earth Creationism and its problems with geology, anthropology, and evolutionary science. Today, there are many in the evangelical Christian tradition for whom “art” and “science” are words spoken with disdain or at least skepticism. Furthermore, the pursuit of “truth” among evangelical Christians has dwindled into an exclusive focus on “biblical truth.” Attention is given only to the truth of God’s Word to the rejection of truths found in God’s world. Truths obtained through journalistic or scientific methods are rejected unless they confirm previous biases built up through sermons heard or passages taken out of context.
It’s time for evangelicals to reclaim what their institutions of higher learning have claimed to believe for decades: “All truth is God’s truth.” It means we can give God credit for truth wherever we find it. No longer should we wage war against scientific or humanistic pursuits. It’s time for evangelicals to embrace everything in God’s world that is true, noble, right, pure, excellent, or praiseworthy even when those things are unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Let’s get more specific. There are at least two ways modern evangelical Christians need to rediscover and embrace truth and beauty.
Christians need to be competent with truth.
Christians should be comfortable with and competent in understanding the principles and methodologies of science. Christians need to know how the scientific method actually works along with the profoundly important conclusions that method has produced and why they can be trusted. Christians should understand the mountains of evidence and detailed work that has gone into our current scientific knowledge, but more than that, Christians should joyfully accept the discoveries of science: our universe is unimaginably old, the history of life on this planet is hugely diverse, and the mechanism God employed for the creation and evolution of species is beautiful in its simplicity. Christians should praise God for the development of medicines and medical technologies including psycho-therapeutics, vaccines, and public health measures that protect, prolong, and preserve life.
I’m not saying Christians should blindly accept all the conclusions of science, because blind acceptance is actually anti-science. Scientists themselves don’t blindly accept all the conclusions of other scientists. The whole point of the scientific method is to test and retest assumptions and to evaluate and re-evaluate conclusions. But the scientific method also depends on the willingness to rely on the expertise of others when that expertise has been well-established. No biologist will have the time to reproduce all the physics experiments that led to the development of the electron microscope they use in biology every day. There is a baseline in science for what things can be trusted and which things need to be skeptically re-tested, and that’s exactly why Christians need to understand the procedures of science as it actually works. If scientists say the universe 13.5 billion years old one year and then change it to 13.7 the next year, Christians shouldn’t use that as “proof” that cosmology is wrong and disdain its conclusions as being “only a theory.” Rather, Christians should rejoice over the process of increasing knowledge. As people who are supposed to love the truth, Christians need to be competent in the topics they discuss, and they should understand the real meaning of terms they use (ie. “theory”). If Christian activism requires us to be advocates for the truth, our first point of application is to become knowledgeable of the truth and the methods employed for its discovery!
Scientific truth is not the only truth Christians need to embrace. Christians should also be comfortable with and competent in understanding the basic principles of journalistic practice and historical study. Our very Scriptures are given to us by journalists and historians, and it behooves us to understand how to decipher legitimacy in the writings and testimonies of other people. For decades, Christian apologists have been appealing to principles of journalism, historical study, and even archaeology to verify the legitimacy of the Scripture texts we value, but those same principles should also be employed in our efforts to understand truth in journalism today. Furthermore, we should not feel threatened when a new academic paper arises challenging some preconception we had about the world. Absolute Truth is our bedrock, but that doesn’t mean we already know all the absolute truths or that our current truths aren’t actually falsehoods. Therefore, Christians should not be afraid to encounter and interact with difficult academic methods or challenging historical analyses including methodologies like Critical Race Theory or others that may arise in the future.
Thirdly, there is truth that isn’t objective, truth to be found in artistic expression. It’s a truth that touches us differently and is more properly called beauty. Sometimes a work of art is visually beautiful, but sometimes it is mentally beautiful because of what it represents or what preconception it challenges. One of my favorite artists is Piet Mondrian who is mostly known by his paintings of colored squares. I remember when I first saw one of his paintings, I consciously thought that I could do just as well, and I disdained him for it. However, the subtleties of his paintings captivated my curiosity enough for me to learn more about him. It didn’t take long before I discovered that his paintings of grids and rectangles grew directly from his incredibly beautiful but increasingly abstract drawings of trees. I understand that there is a vast difference between Mondrian’s Tableau I and Van Gogh’s Starry Night, but I find each of them compelling for their own reasons and each of them beautiful in different ways. Furthermore, I found myself repulsed by the vulgarity and violence of rap music in the 90’s, but as I have continued to learn more about the cultural environment out of which it grew, I have gained a greater respect for it. I still don’t endorse the lyrics, but I have learned to see beauty and truth in them nonetheless.
As Christians, our goal should not be to preserve some form of art we find palatable, some form of history we find comfortable, or some ideas in science that we learned long ago. Christians should be those who rejoice in the truth wherever it may be found. Our faith is based on a truth claim that Jesus rose from the dead, delivered to us by journalists and historians, verified to us by archaeologists, and preserved and translated for us by scholars, linguists and other scientists! If we are people who don’t appreciate and understand the work of scientists, linguists, scholars, archaeologists, historians, and journalists, then we are people who don’t understand how to find and evaluate truth claims. And if our faith is not based on truth, then as Paul said (emphasis mine):
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
1 Corinthians 15:17-19 NIV
Christians should speak up for truth.
Once we have established a competence in the disciplines of truth, we then must embrace our responsibility to be advocates of truth in the broader society. This is especially true today. We are living in a world where misinformation is spreading like wildfire, and research shows that misinformation always spreads farther and faster than truth. Christians should not participate in that, and furthermore, the Christian voice should advocate against the spread of false information. Sadly, as I write this in 2022, I am in a world where evangelical Christians are among the leading voices spreading false information. In the ongoing COVID pandemic, evangelical Christians are still among the leading voices opposing restrictions on public gatherings because misinformation says such restrictions are just government overreach, opposing masks because misinformation says masking is dangerous, and opposing vaccines because misinformation says they contain microchips, will make your blood magnetic, are ineffective, or are otherwise harmful! As I write this, Christian parents are showing up at school board meetings and writing letters to governors in opposition to mask requirements for schools, churches are eschewing public mask guidelines, and politicians are working for religious exemptions to vaccine mandates.
All of this demonstrates a severe lack of concern for the truth among evangelical Christians when we should be a group committed to advocating for truth. Christians should be openly talking about and sharing the truth about vaccines in general and the current crop of well-tested COVID vaccines available. Sure, there are unknowns with any medical treatment, but the questions about the unknowns shouldn’t outweigh the verifiable truths that have already been discovered. To be blunt, in the context of a public health emergency, Christians should stand with the scientists who invest their lives studying public health issues and not the social media posts written with anecdotal evidence only.
Medical truth is just one area where Christians should speak up. There are of course others, but I will only mention one more. Even as Christians need to understand principles of journalism and historical study, they should speak up for those principles too. Christians should be proponents for truth in journalism, rejoicing equally when the journalists uncover a mistaken drone strike in Kabul under President Biden’s tenure as when the journalists uncover a plot to withhold financial aid from Ukraine under President Trump. Both are evidence of journalistic practices uncovering the truth, and both are causes for Christian affirmation even if one story negatively impacts the person or party you support. Whether journalism uncovers unjust police practices against minorities, inhumane family separations at the border, or repulsive practices at Planned Parenthood, Christians should rejoice equally at the discovery of truth. Even when new historical analysis leads us to rethink the origins of our nation or the racist underpinnings of our legal system, Christians should rejoice in truth even when it is newly discovered or disagrees with previous assumptions. We rejoice in the truth, and we should use our voice to promote the truth.
CHRISTIANS SHOULD ADVOCATE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
Christians should use whatever voice or influence they have to address the environmental concerns that reflect our stewardship of this planet and unjustly impact the weakest members of our world both now and in the future.
On the heels of the evangelical rejection of mainstream science lies the evangelical rejection of mainstream climate science. The reasons for this are many. Some Christians, embracing the Young Earth doctrine, deny the reality of large-scale climate change and presuppose all geological processes are short-term, brief processes. The Young Earth believers additionally reject all modern geological science and therefore distrust all climate science. However, not all evangelicals are Young Earth Creationists. Perhaps the majority of them are, but regardless, even when evangelicals are willing to accept geological science, they often still reject climate science! In some cases, it is because climate science has become synonymous with liberal politics. In other cases, it is because environmentalism is linked in their minds with pagan earth-worship. And in other cases, it is because conspiracy theorists portray climate science as a hoax perpetuated by the elite so they can have more economic control over us.
Whatever the reasons, evangelicals have a presupposition that climate science is somehow flawed morally and therefore somehow flawed scientifically too. Then, this skepticism spreads because scientific literacy is so poor for so many Christians. Well-meaning Christians doubt climate science not because they have read any of the papers on climate change but because they have heard too many other Christians say the science is “debated” or “still out” on the matter.
I want to address this directly. Contrary to the evangelical rhetoric about climate science, the actual scientific community shares overwhelming consensus. According to the statistics compiled by The Consensus Project,
97% of published climate papers with a position on human-caused global warming agree: Global warming is happening—and we are the cause.
The consensus among scientists is strong that climate change is real, that human activity is the main contributor, that the effects are accelerating to the point of soon being irreversible, and that major economic investments must be made now to prevent extreme damage to sensitive ecosystems and impoverished communities. Christians who have embraced the previous point of loving the truth even when it’s difficult should likewise accept the undeniable scientific consensus that our world is currently in the midst of a growing climate catastrophe.
Then, once the climate science is understood and accepted, the Christian responsibility becomes clear. Because Christians believe that all humans bear the image of God and that our first job on the planet as humans is to represent Him (not ourselves) in exercising dominion over the Earth, we should be the lead advocates for greater environmental concern.
Finally, when we consider that species, ecosystems, and even groups of indigenous or impoverished of people are in danger of extinction from climate change, the passion of Christians to make a difference should increase. When we consider that a changing climate will disproportionately impact the weakest members of our world, it becomes even more clear that Christians should embrace climate advocacy as an issue of human dignity. Though some environmentalists hold to a pagan kind of rationale, Christians need not discard environmentalism because of that. Christians have better reasons than they. We have a mission given us by the Creator God Himself to act on His behalf in guiding and shaping this planet for the good of the planet itself, for the good of the people on it, and for the glory of Him who made it!
What should we do about it? Well, even though climate data is clear about the causes of climate change, no one can predict what is needed to truly change things. Mitigation protocols are going to be changing constantly as we get more information and as we take actions and see their results. Nevertheless, Christians can begin to behave with more conscious thought to the implications of their choices, Christians should inform themselves regarding the various mitigations that are currently being proposed, Christians should be willing to talk about the matter with other Christians, Christians should be willing to make personal changes to reduce their environmental impact, and Christians should be willing to support public policies that address these environmental concerns.
CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT ADVOCATE FOR WHAT’S TEMPORARY
Christians should not waste their influence to advocate for or against any cultural trends, social groups, political worldviews, or public personalities unless such advocacy is required by one or more of the previous points.
Finally, it is abundantly important that Christians recognize the total impermanence of all earthly ways of thinking and living. Nothing on this Earth deserves our perpetual, unquestioned allegiance, and since our calling is to neither judge the world around us nor fall in love with it, we should not overly concern ourselves with the temporary and transitory aspects of our society.
Against the popular thoughts in modern evangelicalism, I want to say again that it is not our calling to fight a culture war. It is not our calling to oppose transgenderism, anti-discrimination laws, so-called “cancel culture,” or the mainstream media. It is not our calling to align ourselves with or verbally attack any political party, platform, or individual. It is not our calling to defend our rights. It is not our calling to fight against Critical Race Theory, Evolution, or even Socialism. In fact, in some of these cases, it might be our calling to embrace the so-called “progressive” moves in our society.
To be sure, in our advocacy for Christian environmentalism, for the dignity of individuals, or for the solid truth, we may take positions that sound like they are for or against a specific political system or party, but do not mistake that position as alignment with or allegiance to that political system, party, or person. For example, Christians may oppose a tax increase because of the undue burden it would place on impoverished people, but that doesn’t make us Republicans. On the other hand, Christians may support rules limiting corporate carbon emissions, but that doesn’t make us Democrats. As Christians, we rise above such petty, temporary, earthly allegiances because we have a higher calling for a higher purpose from a higher authority.