More than 560 people came to Focus on the Family’s campus Tuesday to hear best-selling author, apologist and musician Alisa Childers speak on confronting a confused and relativist culture.
A former member of the Dove-award winning Christian girl-group ZOEGirl, God guided Childers to study subjects like history, philosophy, apologetics and biblical scholarship when she was experiencing her own crisis of faith. Now, she helps believers work through the questions and doubts she experienced herself, “equipping Christians to identify the core beliefs of historic Christianity, discern its counterfeits, and proclaim the gospel with clarity, kindness and truth.”
The Daily Citizen sat down with Childers ahead of her Lighthouse Voices appearance to ask some of your burning questions about truth and culture, which she addresses in her newest book, Live Your Truth and Other Lies. The following is an edited version of our conversation.
Daily Citizen: Do you have any advice for young people and other believers struggling to find truth in our culture and among different interpretations of Christianity?
Childers: My biggest piece of advice for young people would be to think about the nature of truth. Most people in our culture today don’t think truth can be known when it comes to religion. It’s [seen as] more of a personal thing — what works for you, what gives you peace, what makes you nicer, etc. I would ask yourself whether [culture’s understanding of religion] is true, or if there’s something [objectively] true about God that we can know.
Here’s the second thing I would say — come to scripture to get to know who God is. If it’s true that scripture is His self-revelation, then there are going to be things that rub against what [you believe] because you’re not God. Hold your beliefs with a loose hand, because you’re going to read things in Leviticus that you’re not going to understand until you get to Hebrews. But you’ll save yourself a lot of pain if you’ll make the Bible your authority. That’s how you’ll know if the guy on the stage is teaching you truth or not.
Daily Citizen: How can parents teach their kids right from wrong in a culture where truth is relative?
Childers: I think we can help our kids to think through morality. For instance, let’s say that morality is not rooted in truth — it’s just a matter of opinion. That can work practically in very few places.
If I say this is my phone, but some 6’5’’ linebacker comes up and says it’s his phone, whose phone is it? If morality is just a matter of opinion, it’s going to be his phone because he’s bigger and stronger.
If what’s right and wrong is just a matter of opinion, then the people with the most power and influence that get to decide what it is.
I think talking to our kids about these things is important, [and showing that while] there are some gray areas where how we should behave in a particular situation, there are some really clear [Biblical directives]. We have the 10 commandments, all but one of which are repeated in the New Testament. They’re rooted in the nature and character of God.
Daily Citizen: What are the most important issues for Christians to be outspoken about today?
Childers: I think justice and sexuality issues, because the world is eroding under those two things right now. Sexuality issues have to do with identifying sexuality as identity and the spread of LGBT ideology — things like that.
For justice issues, we have seen the influence of a philosophy called critical theory that’s redefined what justice means. It basically says however much oppression a person has — whether from their gender, whatever they are on the LGBT spectrum, their ethnicity — the more moral authority they have to speak about what’s right and wrong. That’s relativism, and that can land in some very dangerous places.
Now, we certainly should listen to each other’s stories, have compassion for what people have gone through, and stand for justice. But we have to know what’s objectively right or wrong before we can really do that.
Daily Citizen: What would you say to parents who want to teach their children about true justice and healthy sexuality when it’s not being taught in schools?
Childers: Nobody has more influence over their children than you do. A lot of parents, I think, in my generation sort of farmed our kids out to youth groups and other things. But you’ve got to realize you’re the first theologian your kid is going to encounter.
If you can homeschool, I think that’s great, but that’s not an option available to everyone. If you have a kid in public school, be really engaged with what they’re learning and disciple them with tools of discernment.
Teach them to think biblically about everything from the media they consume, to what they’re learning in school, to even what you tell them. Teach them to ask, “Is what is being said true? Does it line up with reality? Does it line up with Scripture?”
I’ve also found parents need to be introducing these topics at a very young age — younger than they probably want to — because, if your kids even walk into a store, they’re going to face these ideas.
Daily Citizen: Do you have any advice for parents who are wondering when or if to allow their kids on social media?
Childers: The thing about social media is it’s curated based on algorithms and can really distort someone’s perception of reality. It’s not that we’re afraid of our kids having information, it’s that [social media] can act like propaganda, where you’re not getting truthful information. I strongly advise parents not to allow their children to have social media.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t disciple them and teach them how to search the internet for things. But there’s ways to do that where they don’t have endless access to social media. I would advise parents to wait as long as possible for that type of thing and to do very heavy discipleship when they do. It’s ok to be the bad guy. But it’s also okay to take an Instagram video that makes a skeptical claim against Christianity, show that to your kids and talk it through with them.
Watch Childers’ Lighthouse Voices address here for free.
Image from Lighthouse Voices and Alisa Childers.