In general, Christians agree that they should take the high road. It is the kind, civilized, and moral thing to do. We are to be peacemakers who should not look for opportunities to quarrel and just as our Lord went to the cross without complaint, so, too, should we suffer for doing what is right. This suffering is the path forward to personal holiness and, often, social change as well. Yes, when faced with the choices of getting into the muck and fighting dirty and rising above and being the bigger person, Christians almost always believe they should stay out of the mud. While they may lose the fight, they will have honored their Lord.
I have already hinted at several teachings that would lead Christians to take the high road, but there are plenty more. Jesus tells his followers to turn the other cheek if slapped and to walk an extra mile if forced to walk one. He tells Peter that if he is to live by the sword, he will die by the sword. And he tells his disciples to think little of themselves, seeking not the honored seats but assuming nothing so others can honor you. It is impossible to miss the culture-forming teaching that Jesus offers: his followers are not to draw attention to themselves, but to honor Christ with their lives.
In general, this can produce a wonderful, peaceful society, and, by and large, it has. It can also make Christians compliant. Maybe even too compliant. Because there is another side to the call to take the high road and that is the refusal to compromise our obedience to our God. For example, we are to “obey God rather than men” and post-New Testament era Christians remained faithful by not offering a pinch of incense of Ceasar, thus not admitting that “Caesar is Lord.”
So, yes, take the high road. Also, there are limits. You have to know when going along with what those in power say is the right path is actually one you just cannot go down. And that will be hard because you will be guilted, shamed, and cajoled if you do not follow the popular path. Your history of taking the high road will be used against you and if you have not taught yourself to think clearly and critically about the issues of the day, your good intentions regarding the high road will be used against you. You will find yourself a pawn for the other side, and here you were, thinking the whole time, you were just doing what you were supposed to do.
So let’s put some meat on these bones. Let’s take an issue like poverty. Everyone is against poverty, right? But in the name of fighting poverty, governments can do some really dumb things with your tax dollars. Like waste them. So long as poverty exists anywhere, then there will always be Christians who believe that virtually anything and everything should be done to end it. “Hey, you aren’t going to oppose this $5 trillion spending bill that will give money to poor people? What kind of Christian would that make you?”
But here is where Christians need to ignore this pretend high road. When a nation spends money it doesn’t have, that leads to social instability, inflation, and unease about the future. Christians should oppose debt-spending, even if it means saying something unpopular.
Or how about racism. Surely, no Christian would deny that racism exists in the way we are told it exists, and to what extent? Here again, the easy road to take, this perceived high road, would be above reproach because they would be agreeing with the conventional narrative. But what if agreeing with that actually leads to worse race relations in the long run and plays a role in accusing many of racism? I think that is closer to our reality.
As we, apparently, face a redefinition of gender, again it will be pushed as the high road. “Surely you don’t want to do damage to people by denying them to identify with any gender?” In the name of doing good, pressure will be brought to bear onto Christians to go along with these changes. And while taking the high road is the usual Christian position, here we must say, “No. The world does not get to determine which road is high or not, because it lacks the standards to do so in the first place.”
The pressure to conform is how the world will attempt to use Christian charity to get Christians to abandon their principles. It’s peer pressure among adults. It is how a decidedly non-Christian group of would-be rulers will try to get Christians to stand down. With a combination of perceived inevitability and “high road” rhetoric, the pressure will be heavy to get on board with new re-writing society along very different principles. Christians need to learn to say “No.” We won’t let the world determine the way forward, especially as they do so on such obviously un-Christian footing.