On the Marvel television show Loki, variants receive punishment for altering the “sacred timeline.” In the real world, variants of viruses concern us all. These and most other uses of the term variant carry a negative connotation, though the word’s meaning is not inherently negative.

Variant (adjective): manifesting variety, deviation, or disagreement; varying usually slightly from the standard.

A variant is anything that doesn’t conform to a certain standard. It’s something that deviates from a given standard, leading to variety. A variant also causes disagreement with a standard.

In other words, variants resist conformity. A virus variant does so for survival. Human variants do so often out of rebellion but sometimes – maybe not enough – out of resistance to cultural standards.

The origin of variant comes from a word that means to undergo or tend to change. A variant, in this sense, is something that is “changeable” in Old French and “to mark or adorn with different colors” in Latin.  These origins pair well with Romans 12:2 and its encouragement for believers, in a sense, to become variants.

“Do not conform to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

Being a variant in terms of rebellion associated with violence or disrespect is not what we want. However, being a variant that refuses to conform to culture for the sake of fitting in is a goal of every Christian.

In fact, Romans tells us that being a variant in this way allows us to know God’s will, which leads to loving him more, which leads to serving him in gratitude. In this way, we allow ourselves to progress toward perfection, thus showing our ability to be changed by God’s word.

Purpose to add variety and color to this world. Refuse to let culture set the standard and instead seek to know God’s will. God loves creativity – as is evidence in nature – and he wants us to find transformation and mind renewal as we become who he created us to be.