We have another example of a story that may not actually be factually true, but that doesn’t matter because it advances the narrative that the author wants advanced- in this case, that there is a problem with sexual assault on our campuses. Now there may or may not be such a problem- I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there was. It is completely consistent with the liberal mind to think that you can teach kids there are no moral absolutes, train them to think of themselves as the center of the universe, tell them that sexual self-control is just not realistic, and then give them free access to lots of alcohol and other young people with the same mindset, and not get these kinds of problems. The modern progressive mindset is basically the rejection of reality, the belief that we can legislate away all problems created by the conflict between reality and our imagination. That’s why we now have a 55 feet high stack of federal regulations– because when the state is trying to be the Messiah, there’s a whole lot of reality that’s going to get in the way.
But this UVA rape allegation is a great example of what postmodernist thinking does to us. What is important about it, according to its author, is not factually whether it happened or not, but if it advances the story we want to advance. This was the same reaction we got with Trayvon Martin, with Michael Brown, with the Duke Lacrosse case, with Tawana Brawley, and so on and so on. What matters is not the facts, but the story you want to tell to have the results you want to have. This is the postmodern mind- that truth is not something we can really arrive at, that any attempts to assert what “the truth” is is just a power play intended to assert your will over others, and that therefore what we should do is to tell the stories that advance the cause that we want to advance.
But then we have Christians who tell us that what is important about the first eleven chapters of Genesis is not whether the factual historical accounts we read there actually happened, but about the story they tell and the principles that they teach. Jesus said that the church would be the light of the world, and if the salt loses its savor, how will you season the salt? So we should not be surprised that the very kinds of approaches taken to truth by the church to advance its own cause is in turn used by the world.
We have to be very careful about the stories we listen to, and the way we think about them. God gave Adam and Eve a truth to be believed about who they were and what the creation was. And the devil came along and told them a story- a story that played to their vanity, appealed to their pride, and explained things in a way that let them indulge their lusts. It impacted them, they acted in terms of that story, and the sad history of the world is the result.
We need stories- the Bible is full of them. But we need the principles and doctrines of the Scriptures as well to make sure we’re hearing the right stories and rejecting the wrong ones, and understanding them right. Just because a story seems really exciting and motivating, even in what seems to us to be the right direction, doesn’t make it true. Saying that all the founding fathers of America were Christians, for example, might feel like it motivates the right kinds of behavior, but the question we ought to ask ourselves is simply, “Is it true?” Christians of all people, since we believe in a sovereign God in control of everything that happens, should never be afraid of the truth.
Postmodernism isn’t all that new, really. It’s a new wrapper for an old, old lie. The truth does matter, and you can never advance a good cause on the foundation of a lie.