It was recently revealed that Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe vs. Wade, was paid by pro-life lobbyists to later speak out against abortion.
At the same time, multiple Christian publications have released articles implying that Christians who question leaders, government, and people in authority “hurts our witness” and is something that should be repented of. Another implies that instead of questioning things, we should “trust in the Lord, and lean not on our own understanding.”
One article says, “If you still insist on spreading such misinformation, would you please consider taking Christian off your bio so the rest of us don’t have to share in the embarrassment?” (reference).
This leads us to ask the questions: How do we know what is true and what is false, and what is misinformation? How do we know who to trust? Am I not trusting God when I question the news, government, or those in authority? Is it shameful to question those in authority, and does doing so make me “not a Christian?”
Biblical Judgment & Discernment
McCorvey was paid off by lobbyists? That reveals there is corruption, manipulation, and fraud happening in our country–on both sides of the fence. Let’s not forget Watergate, Bill Clinton, the legalization and profit off of slavery, or the Pentagon Papers. And the fact that many of our leaders deny Christ and would put in place systems that go against God’s kingdom without our questions and pushback. Our government, politicians, and leaders, have not proven themselves to be worthy of our unwavering trust. No government in history has proven itself completely trustworthy.
The scientific community, although they have done tremendous good for society, still sometimes disagree with each other, change their stances, and find evidence later that contradicts what they previously thought to be true.
The main point of the articles I reference here is to remind Christians to use discernment and not spread everything they see on social media as fact. I completely agree with that. We should use discernment in what we share online, and in determining what to believe.
These articles insinuate that if you don’t believe the main narrative, you are a conspiracy theorist. But maybe you think the number is being misinterpreted, or that people are skewing numbers for financial purposes. Does not trusting humans to be honest make you a conspiracy theorist? This is just one example of how one might disagree.
Those articles say that sharing “conspiracy theories” is the problem in question, but how do we always know what is a conspiracy theory? Trusting this voice, but not that one, requires using trust and discernment, but it may be misplaced trust and discernment if we simply accept whatever is claimed to be true.
Telling Christians to use discernment by shaming them into not using true discernment makes it void.
The truly unwise, unbiblical thing to do is accept without question whatever we’re told. The articles I point to here have the subtle implication that if you are skeptical about what the government is saying about reality and ever voice those concerns, then you are guilty of spreading conspiracy theories, misinformation, and should take “Christian” off of your bio.
Discerning truth inherently requires us to ask questions and to not believe everything proclaimed as truth. Discerning truth inherently requires us to separate good from evil, which forces us to ask questions.
Thessalonians 5:21 says, “but test everything; hold fast what is good.” Asking questions and not trusting whatever you’re told doesn’t “hurt your witness.” It’s what we’re supposed to do as Christians.
How do we know what’s unproven if we just accept whatever anyone says? We don’t know without a doubt that our news sources and scientists are completely trustworthy and uncorrupt. It would be unwise to not ever ask questions.
There are credible people saying vastly different things right now. People with high levels of education, in high fields of science and medicine. How do we know who to believe and who to disregard? Who is telling the truth and who is spreading “conspiracy theories,” when both voices have credible education? That requires asking questions and not believing everything you’re told.
Questioning something doesn’t make you a “conspiracy theorist.”
It’s okay to not entirely trust the government or our leaders.
The gospel doesn’t call us to compliance.
John 7:24 says, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” “Right judgment” means asking questions in order to determine who is trustworthy and what we should believe.
The Fear of Harm
These articles also instill subtle fear by telling readers, “…people who reject science and whose behaviors risk others’ well being.” Another article says, “you’re ultimately bringing harm to yourself and your community [by sharing conspiracy theories].”
While blatantly disregarding authority and doing things like sneezing or spitting on things or people in public might put people in direct harm, simply questioning what is happening does not harm people.
This type of thinking is more influenced by the permeating cultural thought that speech and ideas are violence. This is discussed frequently in the book The Coddling of the American Mind (Lukianoff & Haidt) and talks about how violence has been redefined, or as they call it, an example of “concept creep.” Where violence once was defined as physical harm, it’s being redefined to mean any idea with the potential to cause harm or violence.
They reference catastrophizing, which is a cognitive distortion that comes to the worst-case conclusion from simple, basic things like sharing ideas or disagreeing with someone. (84?)
Instilling fear in these ways only makes people afraid of saying the wrong thing, or asking the wrong question. It doesn’t welcome true dialogue and discussion, and only causes division between people.
Rejecting science does not inherently risk others’ wellbeing. You do not bring harm to yourself and your community by questioning or not trusting the government and those in authority. Those are perfect examples of concept creeping and catastrophizing and are not biblical ways to healthily disagree or dialogue with others.
Discerning What Is True
How do we discern true information, and help others do the same in the process? It’s a tricky thing when it seems like everything we hear could have the potential to be untrue. The answer will be different for everyone. But shaming people into never questioning what is true is not one of those answers.
I’m not going to give a direct answer for how we should discern correctly, because that will be different for everyone. We need to do our best to share things that are true. It is probably unwise to say the virus isn’t real or that it’s helpful to inject disinfectants as a cure for the virus. But the Holy Spirit will direct us to know how to act and respond biblically when needed.
No matter what we believe, we should do our best to care for those around us through our actions. That will be different for everyone based on where they live and their current health recommendations. It could include not seeing friends and relatives, keeping space around people in public, washing hands, not going in public when sick; most of which should be done regularly, anyway.
Christians, questioning something doesn’t make you a “conspiracy theorist.” It’s okay to not entirely trust the government or our leaders. The gospel doesn’t call us to compliance.
The Christianity Today article ends, “Let’s continue to provoke one another to good works, hold to what is true, and refuse that which is false.”
I completely agree. To do that, we need to find out what is true and what is false. To do that, we don’t accept everything proclaimed true as true. To do that, we ask questions.