One thing we know from studying Scripture and history is that truth is counter-cultural. So, if we want to stay grounded in the truth, we need to expect to live a counter-cultural life. I recently discussed six ways we can live that kind of life in Episode 19 of my podcast, CHRISTIAN PARENT/CRAZY WORLD.
Those guidelines were a force field for our faith. They were protective or defensive.
But God has called us to do more than just defend ourselves as we walk out our lives on this earth. We must be a force for good. We must challenge lies. Like Jesus, we must go on the offense.
1. Always define the terms.
This is the very first thing a student learns to do in a formal logic class or in debate.
What do you mean by that term?
What does our culture, the media, this scientist, this study, this professor, or even this pastor mean by that word?
Is their definition consistent with reality?
Is it consistent with science or biology?
Is it consistent with truth?
And when applicable, is it consistent with Scripture?
Our culture is redefining words, making them mean their opposite, taking away any concept of universal truth that lines up with objective reality. We must insist on definitions that are consistent with reality.
Recently, Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee used this very guideline, defining your terms, in the hearings for our next Supreme Court Justice. She gave Ketanji Brown Jackson a very simple request. She asked her to define the word “woman.”
That is not a hard question. It should be a softball. Just a few years ago, we all agreed on this definition. We’ve agreed about what this word meant for thousands of years, but now our culture is redefining the meaning of commonly held words. (See Episode 24 of CPCW for more on how our culture is redefining words.)
Jackson refused to answer. She blustered and finally said, “I’m not a biologist.”
Uh… Houston, we’ve got a problem when a person nominated to the Supreme Court because she is a woman cannot define what a woman is. This nominalist denial of universal reality, the reality of womanhood, is not consistent with the real world or with our mirrors. Our culture wants to split semantical hairs, saying that sex and gender are not the same thing. That split is not consistent with biology, reality, or the Christian faith.
Insist on the proper definition of terms. Challenge the denial of truth in our definitions, and teach your kids to do this as well.
2. Question everything.
One of the reasons that six million Jews died in Nazi Germany during WWII is because not enough people asked questions.
Where are you taking my neighbor?
Why are you taking my neighbor?
Too many people just sat back and let it happen.
But really—the lack of questions began much earlier. Hitler pushed a false narrative about the Jews long before he carted them off to concentration camps.
An article in the British Library called “Learning: Voices of the Holocaust” describes how Hitler and the Nazis “used propaganda campaigns to promote the party’s virulent hatred of the Jews.” They portrayed “the Jews as sub-human, inferior beings who were interested primarily in their own economic gain or in communism. The Nazis built upon the negative myths of the Jewish race which had existed for centuries.”
Hitler also characterized the Jews as a “race-tuberculosis of the peoples.” In other words, they were a disease. This fascist dictator and his leaders lied about the Jews years before they kidnapped, tortured, and murdered them. They convinced the Germans that the Jews were an inferior, sub-human, diseased race of people who were eating away at the nation like a cancer. And many of the German people believed those lies.
The Nazis put false labels on the Jews and not enough people questioned those labels.
So, when the knocks came on doors in the middle of the night and neighbors started disappearing, most of the German citizens just let it happen. They watched it happen.
That—is how a holocaust happens. When people don’t question the narrative. When people don’t question the lies they are being told.
Respectfully, in a spirit of love and kindness, we’ve got to question everything.
We must question our leaders, our medical advisors, our kid’s teachers and professors. We must question the methods and the conclusions of science. And we need to question our spiritual leaders. Do not trust someone who tells you not to investigate something on your own. Do not mindlessly sit by and believe what you are told. Question everything.
3. Challenge labels. (Don’t label and discard)
The enemy, the father of lies, loves nothing better than to call God a liar. He loves nothing better than to take someone who is speaking truth and call that person the opposite of what they are. Challenge those labels. Do not believe what you hear about someone just because everyone is saying it.
Jesus was called a blasphemer. Jesus—the Son of God. Don’t forget that. The disciples were called rabble-rousers and blasphemers too. This is what the world does. They label in order to marginalize and silence someone.
Recently, the media, the White House, and political figures on both sides of the aisle were calling for the censorship of the most popular podcaster in the country, Joe Rogan. This giant of the airwaves is not a Christian, but he is a free thinker. He questions everything. And that is dangerous to our leaders.
Our culture does not like questions. Questions threaten power. Rogan’s questions were threatening the narrative they wanted to sell. He had to be silenced. So they dug up dirt on the guy, and there was some dirt to be found. They called him “dangerous” and said that he was helping to spread “mis-information.” They pinned some nasty labels on him.
It didn’t work (entirely) because “Joe Rogan Is Too Big to Cancel,” according to the New York Times. But when this technique is used on people who don’t have that kind of clout, it can work.
We must not do that, and we must not stand by and watch it happen to someone else. Even people we disagree with.
A person is more than a label. We should never reduce a person to a race, a characteristic, a category, or a class. And we must challenge people who do.
4. Don’t Cancel. Instead, Consult.
The goal so often in our culture today is to label and then to cancel. But cancel culture is nothing new. Consider:
Matthew and Zacchaeus, the tax collectors.
Mary Magdelene, the demon-possessed prostitute.
The woman at the well.
The woman caught in adultery.
The Syrophoenecian woman.
All of these people were canceled by their culture. But Jesus didn’t cancel them. He consulted with them. And as a result, all of these individuals were radically changed.
We must follow Christ’s example here. We are not wrestling against flesh and blood; we are wrestling against powers and principalities that manifest themselves in bad ideas. Ideas that seek to cancel truth. (Ephesians 6:2)
But the truth has nothing to fear. So like Jesus, we must not cancel. We must consult with love and compassion because truth liberates. It heals. It sets people free.
Don’t follow the world’s example. Don’t cancel. Instead, consult.
5. DON’T CENSOR lies. DEFEAT lies with truth!
Sometimes our culture doesn’t flat out cancel someone. Rather, it silences or censors them. As believers, we must not use those methods.
If what you believe is the truth, you don’t have to fear the lie. Truth always wins. Ultimately.
Controlling speech, eliminating voices, deplatforming—this is the way the world operates. It censors ideas that it disagrees with, that’s why it censors the truth. The world silences what threatens its power.
But remember this: CENSORING IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS. If you have a strong position, you don’t need to eliminate a weak one, or even another strong one because in the end, truth will prevail.
Let’s be honest, though—many of us have experienced Christian circles where lies were silenced rather than defeated. You can’t go there or watch this or read that because, well, you will encounter lies.
When it comes to our culture, we need to engage with bad ideas and defeat them, not avoid them. God does not censor lies. He conquers them. He lets them have their day in court, so to speak. And then he overcomes them with the truth. That is what we need to do.
We don’t have to censor lies. Lies, on the other hand, must censor truth because a lie cannot defeat the truth.
Do not fall into the censorship trap that is ubiquitous in our culture right now and in some Christian circles. Examine every idea. Teach your kids to do that as well. Don’t censor lies. Expose lies to the truth—because truth defeats the lie.
6. Go directly to the original source.
Our culture castigates and cancels people. And so often, what is being said about someone is not accurate. Do not believe what someone says about a source second-hand. Find out what that source says for yourself.
I was in a small group recently and we were talking about a notable Christian media figure in the realm of politics. A woman in the group scoffed, “Oh, well that guy is a nutjob. He believes all kinds of crazy stuff.”
I happened to be very familiar with this figure, having followed him for years. There was nothing nutty or crazy about him.
So, I asked the woman, “Why do you think he’s a nutjob? What does he believe that’s crazy?” And she could not offer a single example of what the guy believed. Not one. Instead, she quoted a Christian website that said he was crazy.
As believers, we must not contribute to this kind of baseless character assassination. That is what the world does. So much of our media coordinates talking points and they will form a narrative that you will hear over and over. And over. And so often, people will believe the sound bites instead of engaging with what that person has actually said or written.
We must not do that. That is how the world operates. That is what the world did to Jesus. We need to operate by a higher standard. That standard requires direct contact with an original source. Then and only then are you qualified to have an opinion about that source.
Always go to the original source.
Following this guide of best practices will open doors of opportunity for you and your kids to be a powerful light in this dark world.
To hear all seven guidelines on how to challenge our culture, check out Episode 29 of CHRISTIAN PARENT/CRAZY WORLD, which breaks down these critically important directives in greater detail.