A few years ago the dystopian genre enjoyed a resurgence with hit books (and later movie/TV adaptations) like The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Divergent. Alongside predecessors in the genre like 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and Anthem, the books depict a world in which everything has gone terribly wrong. In such settings, societal norms have collapsed and widespread suffering and oppression rule the day.
Two common features of the worlds these novels depict are the inability to speak the truth, and the slow drift into losing our humanity. Obvious facts have to be subverted, and soulless conformity is forced on everyone. Even children’s stories like The Emperor’s New Clothes and the Pixar movie Wall-E utilize these plot lines to show a bleak world.
Looking at recent history, it’s starting to get uncomfortable how real such tropes are becoming. We live in a world where medical professionals will declare “men can get pregnant.” Talk of the “Metaverse” and moving our lives almost entirely online continues to gain steam.
As Christians, it should make perfect sense to us that such fictional hopeless futures stand in direct contrast to life under God’s rule. Christianity would not exist without a Savior and His disciples committing themselves so wholly to the truth that they would stand for it even when it meant torture and death (Acts 4:20). Christianity also emphasizes a life together in Christ built on “what every joint supplies” (Ephesians 4:16), relying on each other and living for our King in such a way that we realize the fullest purpose of our humanity.
So, as we look at a world sliding in the opposite direction, it is only by doing what Christians have always done that we can do our part to push things back in the right direction.
These two simple steps you can take each day are things anyone can do, but it’s vital that you and I commit to regularly doing them.
Tell the truth
There’s a high motivation to quiet down and keep uncomfortable truths to ourselves. At times I’ve even advocated for such in hopes that it would stem the tide of our growing societal division. But to be silent in the face of untruths is to help build the future where truths can’t be spoken at all.
To hold our tongues is to be complicit in the lies, and such lies are all around us. Tell the truth when you hear them, for that’s the only way forward. A “fetus” is a human life. Men are men and women are women, and those are the only two genders. The vaccinated spread the virus, too. Marriage was intended for one man and one woman, for life. Free speech does not end where someone’s feelings start. All religions are not equal, because Jesus walked out of the tomb. All who are outside of Christ are not saved. 2+2 is still 4.
Saying these things and genuinely believing them is often taken as offensive, but without a willingness to give necessary offense, lies rule the day. We don’t have to show up to every battle placed in front of us – sometimes it’s wise to sidestep it and live to fight another day. But there are opportunities to say “This is ridiculous,” and “Of course that’s not true.” There are plenty of people around us who see the absurdity. Speaking up gives them the knowledge that they aren’t alone in seeing that the Emperor has no clothes on, or that the record-setting female Jeopardy champion isn’t actually female at all.
Sure, we shouldn’t aim to be offensive. Just tell the truth in love and let happen what may.
We can work from home, “watch church” from home, spend our free time on social media or gaming, have food and groceries delivered in, have our relationships come through a screen… all things which aren’t fully wrong in and of themselves, but when combined start to slowly drain us of our humanity day by day as we lose real human connection.
It’s very hard to “love one another” through the phone or computer screen. Life was meant to be shared together. We are not islands unto ourselves. When commanded to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), that necessarily implies putting the time and care in to know what burdens others are bearing, and being vulnerable enough to share our burdens as well. The more divided and atomized we become, the less human we become toward one another. Shake a hand, share a meal, talk with somebody face to face. Be human.
It really is as simple as that. If Christians will commit to tell the truth in love, even when it’s unpopular, and to be human with one another, even when it’s inconvenient or even looked down on, we can change the world with the love of Christ and His design for our humanity.