Bari Weiss resigned from the New York Times this week. Why is this news so relevant to you that you should read this Daily Article about her?
Let’s begin with her unusual story. She is not your stereotypical conservative: She has dated an actress and a female reporter and was married to a man for four years. She attended a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while growing up in that city, then spent a year in Israel after high school.
Vanity Fair described her as a “Trump-loathing theater nerd” and a “liberal humanist whose guiding principle is free expression in art, love, and discourse.” Following President Trump’s election in 2016, she was hired by the Times for the purpose, she says, of “bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages: first-time writers, centrists, conservatives, and others who would not naturally think of the Times as their home.”
However, over the last three years, she says she has been “the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist . . . [and] publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.”
Her experience could be discussed as an example of “cancel culture,” a topic we discussed yesterday. For today, however, I want to focus on another statement in her resignation letter. At the Times, she discovered that a “new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.”
This “new consensus” explains much of what is happening to evangelical Christians in American culture today. Even more, it threatens the very future of that culture.
Objecting to “bothsidesism”
A writer for the Columbia Journalism Review made an impassioned argument last December against “bothsidesism,” the journalist philosophy that “both sides” of a story should be covered objectively and fairly.
He was addressing coverage of President Trump’s impending impeachment, claiming that “Democrats, for the most part, are engaging with the factual record; Republicans, for the most part, are not. These positions are manifestly not equivalent.” As a result, he says, treating them as equivalent advantages the Republicans “for whom nonsense being taken seriously is a victory in itself.”
He alleges that the job of journalists is not to tell “both sides”; rather, “our top duty should be to fight for the truth.” Of course, this is “the truth” as they define it.
The “orthodoxy” to which Bari Weiss refers endorses a host of causes that evangelical Christians oppose on biblical grounds: abortion on demand, premarital and extramarital sex, same-sex and polyamorous marriage, gender fluidity, transgender locker rooms and sports participation, acceptance of pornography, euthanasia, and the list goes on. To speak biblical truth to these behaviors is to be branded as “intolerant,” which is the cardinal sin of our culture.
In recent years, the journalistic “new consensus” has determined that such intolerance must not be treated objectively by the media, any more than we would want a newspaper to treat objectively “both sides” of sex trafficking or the Holocaust.
Instead, their “top duty” is to “fight for the truth” however they define it.
A five-fold strategy for changing culture
Evangelical Christians are not the only losers here.
If we delegate cultural authority to an “enlightened few” who reject biblical morality, the culture is the loser. People deserve to know what God says about the issues we face. In fact, the more they ignore or reject biblical truth, the more they need to hear it.
As a result, rather than accepting the “new consensus,” we need to redouble our efforts to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). To this end, let’s adopt the five-fold strategy employed by the Apostle Paul, the most effective cultural missionary in history:
- He wrote letters that were read across much of the Roman Empire (cf. 2 Peter 3:15–16). How can you use email, social media, media platforms, and websites to write biblical truth?
- He spoke in synagogues (cf. Acts 13:5) and the lecture hall of Tyrannus in Ephesus (Acts 19:9). He addressed the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17:19–34), kings in Caesarea (Acts 26), and Christian elders in Miletus (Acts 20:17–35). How can you use YouTube and other means to speak biblical truth?
- He engaged personally with Athenians (Acts 17:16–18) and Pharisees (Acts 23:6), Gentiles (Acts 28:28–31) and Jews (Acts 18:1–5). How can you use your personal relationships to share biblical truth?
- He prayed fervently for those to whom he ministered (cf. Acts 20:36; Colossians 1:9–12). How can you intercede for people to follow biblical truth?
- He modeled his message by living out his faith in ways others could emulate (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31–11:1). How can you live for Jesus so fully that others will see the relevance of biblical truth for their lives?
A paragraph we must heed today
In Paul’s last letter, he included a paragraph he could have written to our topic. I believe you and I need to read these words slowly and embrace them passionately: “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:23–25).
Where will you start today?
NOTE: Do you struggle to pray? You’re not alone.
Pew Research Center reports that 68 percent of Christians pray every day. Often, the central question that prevents us from having a vibrant prayer life is, “Why should I pray?”
After all, if God knows what we’re going to ask, why pray? If he already knows what he’s going to do, why pray? If he seems silent, why pray?
I answer these questions and many more in my newest book, The Greater Work: How Prayer Positions You to Receive All that Grace Intends to Give. Please request your book today.