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Holding Christian Ground

Children’s fiction writer Janie B. Cheaney recently wrote an article for WORLD in which she decried the overuse of the word “harm” to describe things like exposure to so-called “offensive” Halloween costumes or censoring any scientific research on gender dysphoria (transgenderism) that does not validate the “woke” narrative. [2]

Ms. Cheaney’s concerns are absolutely correct, because, as she says, “from offensive Halloween costumes to deliberate self-­censoring of scientific research is an amazingly short ride. Have American minds become so coddled that doubting a child’s gender confusion is considered more “harmful” than blocking her hormones? That words are seen as more violent than literal sticks and stones?”

While there is some truth to the notion that cruel words can be damaging—Proverbs 12:18 does teach that “The words of the reckless pierce like swords”—our culture should not equivocate between the harm caused by “mean words” and actual violence.

That being said, this is not strictly a leftist problem. Conservative Christians often decry the leftist coddling of the American mind. However, this same group of people has joined in the leftist tendency to tacitly censor “controversial” ideas by fleeing them as fast as they can.

This tendency leads us to laugh unironically at the truth behind such biting parodies as the Babylon Bee’s recent “Man Becomes Missionary To Remote African Village So He Doesn’t Have To Share Gospel With Coworker Brad” headline. [3] While this is not the same as outright censorship of free speech (which is the left’s preferred tactic), they say that art imitates life and this satire is indicative of the right’s own unwillingness to engage with the ideas of its opponents.

The fact that this trope exists flies in the face of the very purpose of free speech!

The First Amendment’s protection of free speech had a very specific intended purpose as outlined by James Madison who wrote in a 1791 article that “whatever facilitates a general intercourse of sentiments…is favorable to liberty.[1]

This is not an argument for tolerating uncensored obscenity (the Bible teaches in Ephesians 4:29 that we should avoid “unwholesome talk”) but rather an argument that Christians must remain engaged with American secular culture, including its absurd attempts to redefine words as “violence.”

Christians are often admonished to be “in the world, but not of the world” but this mentality risks creating a dangerous habit of avoiding the secular world. Christians do not need to be afraid of the pagan and the profane. We simply must avoid being entrapped by their charms.

As the Bible teaches, Paul famously used the pagan idols of the Greco-Roman world to give a staggering speech preaching the Word of God:

Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything that is in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made by hands (Acts 17:22-24).

Continuing to engage with even the most absurd versions of cancel culture is crucial because ignoring twisted ideologies will not stop them. It is not enough to simply write articles describing the overblown leftist notion of “harm” as absurd.

Christians must seriously engage with these opinions, both intellectually and emotionally, when they hear them shared by their acquaintances. They must not simply cloister themselves in their church communities and leave whenever leftism gains traction in an institution.

Christians must use their First Amendment rights to engage with these concerning ideologies before it is too late. As Isaiah 41:10 promises: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.”

Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.


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