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We just may be on “the wrong side of history” if …

The demand for justice in our society leaves out many of the oppressed


A woman protesting the Texas heartbeat law in Houston in early September Associated Press/Photo by Reginald Mathalone/NurPhoto

We just may be on “the wrong side of history” if …

The God of the Bible does not suggest, He commands that we seek justice and correct oppression (Isaiah 1:17). Today, the quest for justice is often marketed with phrases like being on “the right side of history” versus those on “the wrong side of history.” As calls for justice have broken mainstream, and as churches around the world grapple with what it means to do justice in the 21st century, we may ask, “How can we know whether we fall on the right or wrong side?” I offer a few litmus tests to measure our visions of justice.

The first is abortion. Of women who seek abortions, 64 percent said they felt pressured by others, and more than half thought abortion was “morally wrong.” Less than 1 percent said they felt better about themselves, 77.9 percent felt guilt, and 59.5 percent felt that “part of me died.” Women who have had abortions face an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems. If our pursuit of justice does not include these women or take their harrowing stories seriously, then we just may be on the wrong side of history.

Abortion was the leading cause of death worldwide in 2018, tallying 42 million victims. In places such as Iceland, “the abortion rate for children diagnosed with Down syndrome approaches 100 percent,” while in the United States, 90 percent of preborn humans diagnosed with Down syndrome are terminated. In Asia, widespread sex-selective abortions have led to as many as 160 million “missing” women—more than the entire female population of the United States. Recent evidence suggests that sex-selective abortions of girls are common among certain populations in the United States as well. In cities such as New York, more black babies are aborted than are born. If our pursuit of justice does not include these tiny humans exterminated because larger humans consider them inconvenient, genetically inferior, or too female, then we just may be on the wrong side of history.

Then consider pornography, a $97 billion industry. In 2018, more than 5.5 billion hours of pornography were consumed on a single porn site, with 33.5 billion visits. According to the Internet Watch Foundation, recorded child sexual exploitation (otherwise known as “child porn”) is one of the fastest-growing online businesses, with more than 624,000 child porn traders discovered in the United States. Analysis of the 50 most popular pornographic videos found that 88 percent of scenes contained physical violence. Then there are the established links between pornography and human trafficking, rape, domestic violence, impaired brain function, broken relationships, and depression. If our pursuit of justice does not include the victims of the exploitative pornography industry, then we just may be on the wrong side of history.

Women exploited and children terminated by the greedy abortion industry, those dehumanized by the pornography industry, the religiously persecuted, and socialism’s victims often find themselves excluded by today’s champions of inclusivity.

Third, consider the persecution of believers around the world. According to Newsweek, in 2018, “Christian persecution and genocide is worse now than ‘any time in history.’” This includes being targeted, imprisoned, beaten, raped, hanged, crucified, and bombed for claiming Jesus as Lord. Every month, an average of 345 Christians are killed for faith-related reasons, 105 churches or Christian buildings are burned or attacked, and 219 Christians are detained without trial. If our pursuit of justice does not include the millions of Christians imprisoned or executed around the globe, then we just may be on the wrong side of history.

What about economics? According to the international bestseller The Black Book of Communism, the quest to achieve economic equality between the rich and poor through communist and socialist policies has resulted in more than 100 million casualties in the 20th century alone. Support for socialism is trending high in the United States, particularly among younger generations. These are the same generations in which one-third believe that more people perished under George W. Bush than Joseph Stalin, and almost half are “unfamiliar” with Mao Zedong and the 50 million victims of his plan for economic equality. If our pursuit of justice does not include the desperately oppressed victims of far-left economic systems, then we just may be on the wrong side of history.

Sadly, many cultural elites who pride themselves as being on “the right side of history” are on the wrong side of the injustices cited above. Women exploited and children terminated by the greedy abortion industry, those dehumanized by the pornography industry, the religiously persecuted, and socialism’s victims often find themselves excluded by today’s champions of inclusivity. Meanwhile, many Christians striving to be perceived on “the right side of history” are growing increasingly apathetic about these forms of oppression.

Rather than redefining oppression in a way that leaves far too many people bleeding on the roadside, let us be Good Samaritans who stop to love our battered neighbors, whether they are black, white, male, female, rich, poor, capitalist, socialist, Christian, atheist, Republican, Democrat, tall, short, or smaller than a peanut. It’s what God requires.


Thaddeus Williams

Thaddeus Williams is the author of the best-selling book Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice (Zondervan/HarperCollins, 2020). He serves as associate professor of systematic theology for the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University and resides in Orange County, Calif., with his wife and four kids.


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