In today’s Cultural Clarity Report, I want to explore a strikingly modern attitude which is widespread in our society.

83% of Americans say their highest moral motivation is avoiding harm to others.

This sounds commendable. In a world of murky morality, here is a seemingly hard and fast rule that even non-religious people can adhere to: don’t cause harm to others.

In pursuit of this goal of making every space safe, we’ve allowed cancel culture to flourish (so those who harm others can be sidelined). But at this point, aren’t we harming those we cancel?

And there are other results of trying to enforce a policy of no-harm on others: backbiting and sharp division.

Perhaps members of your congregation or people in your mission field have even experienced this: a friend or family member deems their opinion harmful to one segment of the population or another and cuts off contact or refuses to be in the same church, home, or room with the other.

The idea of harming no one is high-minded, but in practice, it can add to the harm and create a culture of toxicity.

Further, the idea that a certain belief or behavior is fine because “it isn’t hurting anyone” is impossible to defend because we don’t always know what the repercussions of the behavior or belief may be; we don’t see the harm that it causes.

    A marriage dissolves with a handshake because the spouses decide they’re better off without each other … but they don’t always see the harm this causes their children.

    A teenager decides to switch genders, and it’s none of our business because “it’s not hurting anyone” … but it’s not always immediately apparent the ways in which their new lifestyle may harm them in the future. (If you read the research, it is most concerning.)

    A Christian decides to drop out of church because she can worship at home and her choice doesn’t hurt anyone … but she’s not there to see how her absence may harm the entire body in the days ahead — in addition to her loss!

It would be nice if we could always see every possible consequence of each choice; then we would know for sure whether our decisions were not hurting anyone. But as we can’t, we must expound a better motivation for morality than “first, do no harm.”

How do we, as pastors, teachers, and spiritual leaders, do this? One important way is to help those in your mission field understand not only what Orthodox Christianity is, but also what it means to them.

  • 83% of Americans say “don’t hurt others” is their highest moral ethic, at the same time that 66% of Americans believe that Jesus was bodily resurrected from the dead. They are culturally Christian; they have heard the story and probably seen the movie, too. They believe there was a Cross and an empty tomb, but they don’t know why it matters.

It’s our calling to show them not only what the Bible says, but how the Bible Truth should shape their lives. And it offers them so much more than just an idea of “first do no harm.” It offers the boundless love of God expressed in self-giving action.

When we rightly divide the Word to show our congregations and the folks in our mission field what God’s love pours out on them and demands of them, we offer true hope to today and tomorrow.

I hope this encourages you on your mission!

It’s my prayer this Cultural Clarity Report is valuable to you in your work for the Lord. Thank you for being a friend!

Yours for the Harvest,

Dr. Rod Parsley

Founder & General Overseer