Should Christians Fear Being “On the Wrong Side of History?”
I cannot count the number of times I have heard people, including some Christians, say that Christians should adjust their view of sexuality (viz., become “welcoming and affirming” and support same-sex marriage) because, otherwise, they are going to turn out to be “on the wrong side of history.” That’s code for turning out to have been like our ancestors who defended slavery, oppression of women, and resisted the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Allegedly we Christians all dragged our feet on those movements for justice.
First of all, let me say that we need to stop accepting that ALL Christians dragged our feet on those movements and turned out to be on the “wrong side of history” about them. SOME Christians were in the forefront of those justice movements—arguing for abolition of slavery, equality of women, and full civil rights for minorities long before the rest of society got on their bandwagons.
As I have urged here earlier, I think it is always good for everyone to ask “What will future generations think of us?” But I don’t think Christians should decide what positions to take on theological or ethical issues based primarily on the drift of culture. Being on the “right side of history” should not be a major concern. At least not on the same level of importance as truth. The drift of history does not decide truth.
What Christian church has any real problem with couples divorcing anymore? Often both individuals continue to attend the same church and nobody even asks “What happened?” It’s their decision. At most it’s “between them and God.”
I could name many other areas where we, American Christians, have by and large gone along with cultural history and adapted to it without critical reflection: materialism, nationalism, anti-intellectual pragmatism, pre-marital sex and cohabitation, alcohol consumption, etc., etc. Whether you agree with my examples is not the point. Who can deny that Christians by and large mirror the rest of society and its cultural norms about what behaviors are acceptable—even within the churches?
Being “on the right side of history” should not be our concern. Being righteous should be our concern and that should put us outside of history, in many cases, and ahead of history in other cases.