Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:1-6).
“The right side of history.” You can’t talk about any social issue without hearing this phrase. Or its counter, the wrong side of history.
This is something that is thrown around a lot by many who hold to progressivism: history is progressing in a certain direction, and you either get on board with their point of view or you’re on the wrong side of history.
I want to make clear right now: this is not against progressivism. This article is specifically against this phrase, which is so often thrown out as an argument for why you’re wrong when you stand up for Christian doctrine.
Believe that Christ is the only way to God? Wrong side of history. Believe that sexual sin exists? Wrong side of history. Believe that abortion is the killing of children and therefore morally wrong? Wrong side of history.
There are manifold problems with this phrase. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
- It is ultimately an appeal to popular opinion. It does not actually engage the truth of the matter at hand, but instead says, “Well, everyone is going to think this is fine at some point.” Well, everyone can think that it’s fine to kill people named Steve, but that doesn’t make them right. It’s a non-argument, having nothing to do with the truth of the matter, but only with the popularity of the opinion.
- Tied in with (1), it assumes a certain outcome. Nobody knows how history will view the opinions of today. It’s in the future, and we are not in the future. Progressives themselves don’t agree on all points of their doctrine, yet whenever this phrase is used, a specific future is assumed.
- Which point of history are we talking about? History as performed by whom? What culture is viewing this, at what time period? Plenty of cultures throughout history have viewed, for example, abortion as being perfectly fine. Yet we also know of plenty of cultures throughout history—including the US pre-Roe v. Wade, also viewed it as wrong. And now the American cultural view is hotly contested.
The phrase does not just assume a future orthodoxy, but one that is unified across all cultures and sustained across all time. And if you look at real, actual history, you will see that never has been the case, and there is no reason to assume there ever will be such a thing, either.
And all logical fallacies and such aside, here is the most important point:
- You are not accountable to the opinions of others, but to God.
See, here’s our secret: we actually know that history will end, and that God will reign. Even if humanity united tomorrow and agreed that, in perpetuity, abortion is not just morally fine but is healthy and every woman should have at least five abortions to ensure long life… so what?
You are not accountable to some hypothetical future humanity, but to the creator of humanity and of everything else!
Why am I talking about this so much? Because you will hear this when you try to teach Christian doctrine, and you need to know how to answer it. Not just to answer the person throwing it at you (because let’s face it, you’re probably not changing their opinion by arguing but by loving them), but for yourself when you process the arguments on your own.
When you are feeling down and doubting, and everyone seems to hate you because you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, or because you think people shouldn’t have gay sexual relationships, you are going to be wrestling with what you really believe.
And that’s healthy! I encourage you to wrestle with what you truly believe. Through engaging our beliefs, we come to own them. If you’ve never questioned your beliefs, I don’t think you really believe them.
At the same time, these are our shared beliefs, and I want to encourage you in them. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
Remember, when people hate you because you proclaim the Way of Christ, it is not you they hate, but Christ.
Be on the right side of Christ. History is not your concern.