Are Christians “on the wrong side of history”?

Are Christians “on the wrong side of history”?

It seems that whenever a traditional Christian viewpoint on a hot topic is raised, Christians are accused of being “on the wrong side of history”. Many see this as a deal-breaking argument. They assume that society has moved on from Christian principles. Why would anyone hold to such a view, they think, when most people in our current culture believe something different? We should think about this accusation clearly; it is not the convincing put-down it seems to be.

An obvious problem with the accusation of being on the wrong side of history is that the popular view on a lot of issues has changed so dramatically over time. If you asked people about whether some races are superior to others in the 1900s and 1910s, the vast majority of people would agree with you. Respected scientific institutions published major works reinforcing this viewpoint. Anyone who put forward a view that all people were fundamentally equal would be laughed at for being unpopular and on the wrong side of history. Yet the popular opinion of that time was wrong both Biblically and practically.

This accusation also assumes a view of history as progressively getting better. It assumes that as we move through time, we are becoming more accurate in our viewpoints. We are getting better. While this is a very Enlightenment world view, it is hard to justify based on the evidence. The past hundred years have not been the utopia of a society that has become enlightened! There is just as much conflict and war and evil as ever; perhaps we have become better at hiding it or sneakier at carrying it out.

What is popular in a culture at any one time is not what is right. There is a connection there that we need to see. No-one wants to be left out and unpopular, that’s true. But it is very possible to be right and have an unpopular view. Think of Wilberforce in England standing up against slavery in a culture that overwhelmingly supported it. Think of Copernicus saying that the earth revolved around the sun when everyone assumed the opposite. When we want to examine whether something is true, the prevailing view cannot be assumed to be the right one. It has not been in so many times in history.

The thing that matters is not whether your viewpoint is a popular one in your culture right now; what matters is how your view measures up against the true God. That is why Christians rightly go back to the Bible to see how to think about controversial issues. We must not move our viewpoints because they are unpopular. We can change our views as we understand the Bible better but not as we ingratiate ourselves to a culture that overwhelmingly opposes God.

It is possible to swim against the tide and have views on issues that are unpopular. That makes life difficult in many ways right now for faithful, Bible-believing Christian people. It is hard to believe in something when everyone around you sees it as superseded, bizarre or even just wrong. Christians should hold the line. Don’t compromise what you believe because it is unpopular. You are not on the wrong side of history when you look from God’s perspective.