The Right Side of History

The attorney general of Virginia recently announced that his state will no longer defend its constitutional ban on gay marriage.   Attorney General Mark Herring said that he wanted to ensure the state was “on the right side of history.”

I’ve heard several similar statements by politicians and media pundits lately.  What do people mean when they say they are deciding their stance on a given issue because they want to be on the “right side of history”?   Do they mean that they are taking a side because they think that it will eventually win or that  posterity will smile on it?  It seems to me that they are admitting to making moral decisions by sticking a finger in the air to see which way the current wind of public opinion is blowing.

One author wrote, “My chief problem with the ‘right side of history’ argument is that it is used as an appeal to the authority of an imagined future that hasn’t even happened yet. It is a way of saying to your opponents: you should give up not because your arguments are wrong but because you will eventually lose anyway. It is an attempt to demoralize your opponents not engage them.” (Jonah Golberg, National Review Online)

For the Bible believer, the right side of history is not determined by outcomes in human affairs.  Abortion, gay marriage and legalized marijuana are not right because they gain acceptance in a culture, anymore than Chairman Mao was on the right side of history when he led his nation into godless communist oppression.

The right side of history will be determined by the judgment of the God of heaven. “For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth” (Psalms 96:13).  “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments” (Revelation 16:7).

The right side of history is the Lord’s side!

All of the people depicted in the mural below believed themselves to be on the right side of history in their day.  Perhaps the only one who was totally on the right side was Jesus Christ.  Many others certainly accomplished great good.  If you click on the picture, your browser will open an interactive window enabling you to identify the people in the mural by placing your mouse on their images. Remember that they all probably thought they were on the right side of history — Hitler, Caligula, Ayatollah Kohmeini — all of them!


Tapestry of the Centuries, Vladimir Gorsky

— Steve Klein