We are a society increasingly built not on truth and principles but on what sounds good, or on the way we think things “should be.”

If you don’t believe me, just look at the transgender issue, the pinnacle of such foolishness. We have men and women rejecting the idea of any objective standard for what is a man and what is a woman. And without an objective standard, how do we decide? Personal feelings. Every one of us is god, in this scenario. To object is to be “hurtful” to them and “their truth.” A man may not be able to be a woman, but they think he “should be,” and their sense of oughtness drives their understanding of truth.

Plenty of people are ready to draw the line at the trans issue, never realizing that every other compromise along the way has been run from the exact same playbook: oversimplification of the issue, and emotional manipulation that plays on people’s empathy. That’s how progressivism finds its way in.

Consider how oversimplified and emotionally manipulative all these narratives have been:

“If you don’t shut your church for the coronavirus you don’t love your neighbor and you’re making the church look bad!”

“White Christians have no right to speak on matters of race due to all the pain we’ve caused.”

“Jesus wanted us to feed the poor, so Christians should support higher taxes/socialism.”

“It’s hurtful to the women and girls in our churches to tell them they aren’t allowed to preach.” 

“Being strongly anti-abortion is hurtful to young mothers in difficult situations.” 

“Men and women are created equal, so male headship wasn’t God’s plan for us.”

“Jesus ate with sinners… so who are we to condemn the LGBT community?” 

These are oversimplifications, because they leave out many facets of the argument.

The truth can rarely be fully explained in a 15 second soundbite, and so in our zero attention span society it loses out. Those who can’t be bothered to look past the surface level will allow themselves to be led astray by what “sounds good,” never realizing the deadly consequences they’re enabling. (And they all play on the Motte and Bailey fallacy, a fallacy I’ve written on and warned about on this site before.)

They are emotionally manipulative because they prey on most people’s aversion to being seen as the bad guy.

Who wants to be the guy who tells the little girl, “No, you can’t preach?” Who wants to be painted as racist for pointing out that the Bible is staunchly against the current zeitgeist on racial unity? Who wants to be labeled sexist and face the wrath of the women of the congregation by pointing out the Bible’s glaring anti-feminist streak? Who wants to receive the backlash for standing behind any number of unpopular truths? Since so few want to take on that kind of heat, the emotionally manipulative narrative wins. 

Progressivism is built to prey on those who are too lazy to dig past surface level for the truth, or too cowardly to say “no” to the crowd.

A word to the church’s leaders

In the face of all of this deception, it’s important that every Christian have a Berean spirit (Acts 17:11) to test everything by the Word and gladly receive true teaching. And, each one needs to be growing to maturity in Christ so they aren’t tossed around by such deceitful teaching (Ephesians 4:14).

But it’s even more important that Christian ministers and elders develop discernment to see through these things.

But unfortunately, many have not. We currently have three camps.

  1. There are the “progressives” who drive such change.
  2. There are the people in the middle who want to avoid the disagreements, not get their hands dirty with controversial subjects, and insist on just being unified.
  3. There are those who will take doctrinal stands to ward off such change.

I can’t give you the exact percentages, but groups 1 and 3 are likely the minorities, with most landing in the middle. The problem is, when group 3 criticizes and draws hard lines against the dangers of group 1, group 2 tsk-tsks the 3s for being unloving and “not showing the fruit of the Spirit.” Thus, group 2 offers group 1 the perfect cover for continued leftward drift. 

This is why we have to read the Bible. All of it. The prophets, the apostles, Timothy, Titus, and Jesus Himself all offered or were expected to offer strong opposition to false teaching. As I asked before, who wants to be the one who deals with the backlash that comes from standing for truth – well, it had better be elders and preachers. That’s the job they signed up for.

In Acts 20 Paul told the elders at Ephesus they would have to protect their flock from wolves. Sometimes keeping wolves away means you’re going to have to fight the wolves. Those who do not have the stomach to do so need to get out of the way of those who do.

It will always be tempting to go with what sounds good or what seems to cause the least amount of pushback. That is not what we’ve been called to do, though. 

We’ve been called to believe, teach, and stand for the truth, no matter the cost.