We come now to the conclusion of the Secular Creed, and after so many controversial issues permeating the five prior statements, Kindness Is Everything is fairly easy to overlook because of how pleasant and inarguable it sounds. In fact, in a Mashable article that describes the origin of this house-sign, they briefly describe the beginnings of each phrase, with the exception of this one. Yet this may be the most dangerous dogma of them all precisely because it sounds so affirmable. But as with our previous studies, Kindness Is Everything has only the appearance of godliness.
WHAT CAN WE AFFIRM?
Let us begin by describing what the Bible has to say about kindness. Perhaps the passage where kindness is most famously displayed is within the fruits of the Spirit. The text is Galatians 5:22-23, which reads: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” These evidences of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling activity in the heart of the Christian are set forth in direct opposition to what Paul calls the works of the flesh, which we find in verses 19-21:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
These two lists are purposely antithetical to one another. A loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, etc. person will not be one who is given to impurity, fits and anger, drunkenness, and the like. Indeed, it is worth noting that eight of the work of the flesh involve some sort of sinful conflict with one’s fellow man, while the Spirit-filled Christian should be marked by peace, kindness, and gentleness.
Ephesians 4:31-32 provides us with another contrasting example:
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Here we find being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving, first require the putting away of all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice. Therefore, biblical kindness cannot be properly displayed to someone while at the same time harboring bitterness or anger against them. Indeed, kindness in the Bible is almost always attached to other virtues like love and forgiveness for the very reason that kindness is the visible outflow of our loving disposition toward others. In other words, kindness is a surface virtue that outwardly expresses other more internal virtues, such as being tenderhearted or gentle. As with all good works, the Scriptures are not at all interested in the mere appearance of kindness but with a genuine kindness that stems from a deeply-rooted, loving desire for another person’s good.
Of course, Christ is our supreme example of kindness. Although our sins placed us at enmity with God, His kindness did not leave us in our eternal state of damnation before Him. Instead, the uncreated Son of God, through Whom the Father created the world, was “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary,” uniting Himself to humanity by becoming a man. Throughout His life, He rejected every temptation so that He alone did not earn God’s penalty of death. Nevertheless, He drank death’s cup in our place, absorbing the Father’s justified wrath against our sins. And because Christ is the Eternal One, two things happened: first, the grave could not contain Him, and He rose to life on the third day; and second, His single death paid the eternal cost of every sin for those who come to Him by faith for forgiveness.
This gospel, therefore, is the greatest pattern of kindness with none as its equal, and it is our constant example of kindness. As Jesus once told His disciples,
You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.Mark 10:42–45
WHAT MUST WE DENY?
Of course, if society’s present conception of kindness matched the biblical reality, I would not be creating this study. The low-hanging fruit of what we must deny is the literal meaning of the phrase. Kindness, after all, is not the most important thing, which is typically what is meant by this particular usage of everything. For example, kindness is not everything during the moment of witnessing an attempted child abduction. For the protection of the child, a physical, perhaps even lethal, confrontation overrides any momentary kindness that might be shown to the abductor. I will not linger here though because I believe that most people knowingly use this phrase as an overstatement. They do not truly mean that kindness is everything; instead, they are simply saying that kindness is really, really important.
Indeed, the call for kindness seems generally to be in response to our society’s polarization. This divide is often characterized as being primarily political (i.e., left vs right); however, as I said following last year’s election, the rift runs far deeper than we are willing to admit. The problem is not simply a couple hot-button issues that keep the two halves of the United States from seeing eye-to-eye. Instead, a clash of worldviews and theologies is occurring, and neither shows any sign of backing down. Indeed, as a believer that God made humanity male and female and in the worth and dignity of every human, even those in the womb, I see no ground for compromise on abortion or the erasing and multiplying of genders. More and more, we seem to be reaching the point of possessing irreconcilable differences.
In light of this vast ideological divide, the thought then becomes, “Well, we may not be able to agree, but at least we can be kind to one another.” In and of itself, that is a marvelous idea. We certainly should be able to disagree with one another, even very deep disagreements, while still remaining kind to each other. The idea, therefore, should be applauded and, more importantly, followed. However, that is not often what happens because our secular society’s idea of kindness has, in many ways, become the equivalent of an affirmation. Allow me to explain.
The website Kindness Is Everything defines kindness as love in action, which as we discussed above is not too far from what the Scriptures describe. The problem, however, feeds back into our previous study: love. Our culture’s view of love is warped, so kindness, as love in action, must also be warped. To be specific, love today is warped by affirming that all desires, feelings, and inclinations are truly loves, and because love is virtually deified as the supreme good, this affirmation of all these “loves” as love serves to endorse those same desires, feelings, and inclinations as being good and right. All of this creates the conditions where all desires are affirmed because they are love, and love is love. It is a feedback loop that justifies the morality sinful desires.
This view of love then shifts how kindness is viewed as well. Kindness now essentially becomes another name for affirmation, since love is now best shown by affirming another person’s love. Consider what this means. Kindness is now generally expressed by approving another person’s worldview. For the postmodern, secular mind, this is no problem at all because all truth is relative or, at least, the truth cannot be truly known. Therefore, the best we can hope for is to live our own truths. And if this is the case, would it not be a simple act of kindness to approve of someone else’s truth? After all, they are not asking anyone else to believe it; only to acknowledge that it is valid. What’s so hard about that? We can all just agree to disagree as long as we give one another the kindness of such affirmation.
We must, however, deny such a definition of kindness. No matter how much anyone may wish, truth is objective, not relative, and two opposing truths cannot both be valid. Consider an example. When I say that I believe in the divinity of Christ and one of my Muslim friends denies it, both beliefs cannot be true. If Christ is God, then Muslims are wrong; if He is not, then Christians are wrong. It is not kindness to pretend that both beliefs can be true at the same time, only a fallacy. Instead, true kindness endeavors to seek the other person’s good and to understand their position, even when agreement cannot be reached. In other words, Christians and Muslims can and should be genuinely kind to one another without sacrificing the reality that one of them must be wrong.
This returns us to what we briefly mentioned last week. Because the world binds together the individual’s worth and identity, we must show kindness all the more in the midst of disagreement to prove that worth is not bound to identity. Indeed, it is the “kindness” that arises from the unifying of worth and identity that produces what we presently call cancel culture. After all, if someone refuses to affirm another person’s beliefs or desires as being morally upright, then that person has committed the unpardonable sin of refusing to love, of hating. Therefore, this act of unkindness (or hatred) warrants the censoring of the offender, for society is better preserved by removing those who threaten its moral fabric. Right?
Furthermore, this also creates an individual cancel culture, which is less insidious but, I believe, far more dangerous in the long run. This attitude is seen whenever one person deems the opposing views of another person to be “hate.” They then justify purging their lives (or perhaps more often, their social media feeds) of that person both because they will not tolerate hate and because they must primarily be kind to themselves. The great danger here is that people are self-righteously segregating themselves away from any views that conflict with their own. These are conditions under which no society can thrive for long.
Of course, this is nothing new to humanity. It is only a return to the banishment of heretics that once used to be rather commonplace, and since secularism is increasingly diving into a kind of religious fanaticism (what some have called the New Puritanism, but I prefer Impuritanism), we should expect nothing less. We must pray now that the enforcement of “kindness” by these Impuritans does not one day lead to them burning at the stake all who are deemed to be unkind. And most importantly, we must show them a better way. We must show them what kindness truly is.
We love others because Jesus loved them. We show kindness because Jesus shows kindness. We forgive, rather than cancel, because Jesus forgave us. In these things, we imitate our Lord, who is even now restoring the sin’s marring of the imago Dei. Therefore, we must show with our lives a deeper kindness than the world is capable of knowing. A kindness that soberly informs a practicing homosexual that their desires only end in destruction, while nevertheless continuing to love them. Indeed, a doctor is not thought kind or loving if he purposely avoids telling his patient that their tumor is cancerous; rather, the sorrowful diagnosis is the necessary wound of a physician in order either to begin treatment or to face death. As Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
Sadly, the world’s proclamation that kindness is everything only means that we must affirm all those who continue to drive their metaphorical cars off the broken bridge of their sin. As Christians, we must reject such a mockery of kindness and of love, for it is not kind or loving to pretend that unrepentant sin does not lead to death! Instead, we must imitate our Lord, who never flinched from exposing sin’s hideousness, while also never failing to love and serve those around Him. Such kindness is too deep for secular hearts to grasp; therefore, let us show them in word and deed the boundless kindness of our Savior.