The past few days, social media has (rightfully) been outraged by the failure of our culture’s major media outlets to report on the horrific trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. I agree. It certainly does reveal that contemporary media is compelled by opinions and agendas. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
The vastly more important question we should be wrestling with is this: Are we really asking media outlets of our world to fulfill the risky, arduous, cross bearing, obligations of biblical justice? The responsibility to shed light and bring an end to this evil in our land does not belong to NBC, CBS, and ABC. It belongs to me, and it belongs to you, Christian.
I am continually amazed by the vibrant zeal for justice that has captured the rising generation of Christians. Something special is stirring within this group, and I can’t wait to see where it will take Christ’s Church in the coming decades. I am well aware of the critiques, and I’m sure I have offered them myself. Concern for justice has been reduced down to changing your Facebook moniker, sharing youtube videos, and re-tweeting pithy quotes. I get the failures. But at the same time I do believe all these tweets are symptomatic of a restless passion to see a better world. Perhaps it’s reactionary, perhaps it’s being taken too far, but the exclusively vertical Christianity that has marked the evangelical Church for a while now is being reoriented to consider again the horizontal implications of our gospel.
Simply walking an aisle, saying a prayer, and embarking on a personal relationship with Jesus, is now being recognized for what it is—a woefully shallow view of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Youthful Christians are just not impressed by their parent’s Bible studies; they actually want to do something for Jesus, particularly in a cool urban setting (I couldn’t resist). They have reminded the Church again that our Lord has inextricably bound together love of God and love of neighbor. And we have much to learn from them.
A recent example of this zeal was a conference held in Atlanta, aptly named Passion (pictured above). At this conference, 60,000 college students gathered together to worship God and lament over the injustice of human trafficking. They raised three million dollars at this conference, and even more importantly unleashed the “End It” movement that is truly making a difference. Happenings like this are amazing and should be celebrated!
But here is my subtle challenge in the form of a question…where is the concern over injustices that aren’t cool to be concerned with?
I’m so thankful for the outcry against racism, slavery, orphans, and poverty—these are real problems that God deeply cares about, and it’s glorious to see young Christians rise up against them. But it’s also really hip to stand against these things. You know what’s not hip to stand against?
Being passionately opposed to abortion can at times have the feel of angry, old, fundamentalism, and the hipster Christian fears nothing more than that label. On MLK day, social media was in a frenzy of excitement about racial equality—as it should be! And then immediately following was the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, and the outcry was glaringly more silent. I hate to use my twitter feed as a barometer of cultural trends, but I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that it’s very cool to tweet against racism and controversially uncool to tweet against abortion.
Biblical justice bears with it a cost—a social cost. Not just time, money, and effort, but reputation, status, and esteem. The MLK led civil right’s movement was so powerful because it was so unpopular. Wilberforce is a hero of justice because slavery was culturally acceptable when he stood against it. No champion of justice is ever cool when they are alive; they become cool long after they’re dead.
Things like racism and human trafficking are certainly still gross evils that should be a deep concern of God’s people. But outside of crazy people on the fringes of society, does anyone in our culture actually support institutionalized racism and slavery? The question of biblical justice forces the Christian into those cultural areas of deep divide.
Where is the hidden darkness of society? Where is the wretched evil that the world around us has the audacity to call good? Where is it that God’s people, underneath the weight of social pressure, will be tempted to cower, turn a blind eye, and protect their esteem? Where is it that you have to believe the gospel in order to have the courage to stand? It is there where the fight for justice is found.
Studies show that the word “abortion” is the second most controversial word in our culture right now. If you talk about it, you will not be relevant and cool. If you protest it, you will be maligned. If you creatively strategize and channel that youthful zeal to actually bring an end to it, you will be persecuted. So be it. These are the costs of justice.
Abortion is evil, and it has to be stopped. But it won’t be easy. The silence of the media has revealed what we already know. This injustice has the unwavering support of the current cultural narrative and likewise the support of bedrock institutions infused with that same narrative. It seems impossible to overcome.
But I truly do believe that the rising generation of Christians could be God’s answer. All that creativity, passion, and perhaps even naïve idealism, if channeled rightly, could be the answer to so many prayers for this atrocity to finally come to an end. So my challenge and plea to this zealous young generation of Christians is for you to lead us in this. Lead and the Church will follow.
It won’t be cool, but it will be just.
Rev. Robert Cunningham is Senior Minister at Tates Creek Presbyterian Church which exists for the glory of Christ and the good of the Bluegrass, in Lexington, Kentucky