There have been numerous instances when I have told Christians that I want to be a journalist and they have responded with, “The news needs more Christians like you.” I have always felt torn by this statement. One part of me wants to defend the news and the reporters who have inspired me to go into the journalism industry, while the other part of me readily agrees that being a Christian would enable me to report with a different perspective, relying on my God-given morals and outlook. I know I am not the only Christian battling between balancing their identity as a believer and their consumption of the news industry.
There seems to be a fine line between Christians and the media. I do admit that almost everyone walks along a fine line of doubt when it comes to the news, Christian or not. However, while I understand the uncertainty due to the flood of biased news, it also saddens me. We are fortunate to have news to educate, inform, and inspire us. The First Amendment did not just give us freedom of religion, but also freedom of the press. We live in a country where we have a news industry that can print what it wants to print and inform the public how it sees fit. So, here’s the question: how do we, as Christians, read and respond to the press?
Just Because It Doesn’t Support Your Views, Doesn’t Mean It’s False
Christian culture, and the so-called views that come with it, either good or bad, seeps beyond church walls and into every aspect of our lives. It has divided Christian brothers and sisters into different political parties. It has dictated which news outlets are deemed reliable and which ones are condemned as fake news. It has led to reposting verified news articles to support a Christian belief, while on the other hand it has misconstrued truth as a weapon and used it to deceive others by posting news on social media that is false just to support a belief. Many people in the world are guilty of creating this division and mask of uncertainty when it comes to news because we all want so desperately for our views to be the views that are true. It’s easy to say “fake news” when an article does not align with our worldview or political party or to spread fake news when it supports our opinions. Still, as Christians, we need to hold ourselves accountable and take a moment before we scream “that’s fake news” or put out fake news because we serve a God who is True (1 Jn. 5:20).
We have a responsibility as Christians to base everything we do on the truth found in Scripture, not on lies suffocating our society today. I read at least four news sources a day. I follow more news outlets on Instagram. I listen to news podcasts and have watched 60 Minutes religiously since I was five. The more you take in, the more you can compare and contrast, weeding out what is incorrect and finding the boiled down, unbiased facts. There are numerous news outlets that are pretty much dead in the center as well such as AP News or Reuters. Go to these unbiased outlets to fact-check when something controversial is happening that shows a large divide between political parties. There are incredible nonprofit news platforms that investigate world or local concerns that are not covered by mainstream news outlets. Remember that when an article or social media post does not align with your personal views, it does not necessarily mean that it is untrue. Or even if it does align with your personal views, it may be false. Remember it’s also your responsibility to assess if something is true or not.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8
News Can Lead to Understanding, Not Division
If anything, read news that opposes your views and biases, not just supports them. Challenge yourself. Educate yourself. Read news from Christian outlets, like The Gospel Coalition, and read mainstream news outlets. If you are a Democrat, read a right-leaning newspaper. If you are a Republican, read a left-leaning newspaper. Find a newspaper that’s in the middle of the two political parties. Read about different church denominations. Read about Protestants and read about Catholics. Read about places far away from where you live and read about cultures vastly different from your own.
Remember that just because you believe something doesn’t mean that everybody does. Diversify what you read so you can understand these different perspectives and opinions. We cannot love others well if we do not understand them, especially if we do not take the time nor make an intentional effort to understand them. Remember that differences can be united by God’s love. We are all different, but we as Christians are all part of God’s family as brothers and sisters. Our different perspectives and choices display how God created each one of us as unique, but our identities as God’s children reminds us that we are all His, creating a common ground.
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. – Proverbs 18:2
For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility…for through him we both have access in one spirit to the Father. – Ephesians 2:14,18
God’s Word is the True Word
At the end of the day, when we are questioning what is true or false, what is biased or unbiased, or what supports Christianity or goes against it, we must remember this: God’s Word is the only True Word. When we are uncertain, we must use our foundation in God’s Word to answer these doubts and questions. Reading an article may answer our questions about what happened around the world today, but reading God’s Word gives us a foundation in Truth and in His Gospel.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32
When we consume articles everyday that focus on racism or war or inequality or poverty, we must go to the Bible to have a foundation of God’s perspective on these different topics to form an informed opinion. Human perspectives on right and wrong and good and evil are constantly changing as we search through the weeds for truth. Through God’s Word, we get to know His character, which will never change and is not swayed by the opinions of men. News gives us a worldly knowledge, but the Bible gives us a heavenly, eternal knowledge (2 Peter 1:19-21).