Jerry Falwell was fond of describing his Liberty University as “conservative as Harvard is liberal.” In other words, if Harvard University is on the far left, then the appropriate Christian response is to run in an equal and opposite direction. It is Newton’s Third Law of Motion as applied to a Christian political and social agenda.
“The enemy of my enemy is what I will be”; no one could express that quite so well as the late Rev. Falwell. But his brand of logic was not buried with him. Here are a few examples of dialogue which I run into all too often:
- The environment: (a) Those environmentalist tree-huggers worship nature instead of God; (b) environmentalists warn that global warming is caused by excessive carbon emissions; therefore (c) run in the opposite direction! Finger the whole global warming theory as a myth and a conspiracy and throw the church’s weight behind oil and gas companies.
- Health care: (a) a number of politicians voted in favor of the healthcare overhaul in 2010; (b) socialist countries also show an interest in health care, so obviously were talking about socialism here ; (c) therefore, run in the opposite direction! Denounce healthcare reform in all its permutations.
- “Political correctness”: (a) Senator So-and-So expresses concern about the disproportionate number of blacks who are executed in America; (b) said senator is progressive on other issues, such as the environment and healthcare; (c) therefore, run away! The senator is an agent of political correctness; we need not waste any time thinking through his views.
- A person who is a socialist says he is in favor of “social justice”. Therefore, denounce social justice as a tool of the devil to smuggle Communism into the church! (Sadly, one does not have to go far to see this, as in The Statement on Social Justice & The Gospel by John MacArthur)
This reasoning leads easily to the belief that a good Christian is obligated to reject the environmentalist, the healthcare proponent, and the “politically correct” senator and all their works. Too many preachers are equating one public policy or another with Satan’s conspiracy against God. Pastors who speak this way are, I fear, committing a fundamental mistake, and should meditate deeply on the ramifications of their words and the basic misunderstanding of the gospel upon which their reasoning is based. For by definition we evangelical Christians believe that in some cosmically meaningful way, we have been given truth and can make truth statements with regard to theology, spirituality, history, ethics and so forth. We are supposed to tell the truth of God, without falling into the idolatry of claiming to speak for God when we have no clear message from him.
This also should make us wonder at those people who delight in saying something offensive, just to create an to be able to add, with a wink and a nod, “Well, I guess I’m just not politically correct!”
To return to my question: Should a Christian be politically correct? Perhaps I have led you on, reader, since I regard the question as illegitimate. I refuse to answer and urge you not to answer, because it is not the question that God asks me, either today or on Judgment Day. Why should I let someone besides God design the question and then tell me to answer Yes or No? Christians should not allow themselves to be pulled into the world’s paradigm by saying “now then, should I be PC or not PC?” They must not look at the world’s highway and instinctively hug to one side of the road. Rather they will reject the world’s right to define the rules of the road. They will not, as Paul put it, “conform any longer to the pattern of this world” (Rom 12:2), and that’s ANY pattern from any direction. They will try to speak the truth as they understand truth, period. If the truth comes out sounding anti-PC, then there you have it. If that truth sounds a little too PC, so be it: God does not care about human definitions, and neither should we.
PS – Liberal Christians act the same way, and “liberal reactionary” is I think a real animal, but they can tidy up their own house.
“Should a Christian be Politically Correct?” by Gary Shogren, Professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica.