Rights are in conflict, even here in America, as Christians face a culture and a legal system that harbors fundamental assumptions that are incompatible with a Christian way of life. More and more Christians right here where we live are afraid to speak out on social issues, or to share the Gospel, or even to say such basic things as the Bible is God’s Word and Jesus is the ONLY way to salvation.
For instance, we now have human resources commissions at the local level whose sole purpose is to identify what they describe as cases of “discrimination” on the basis of “sexual orientation.” While discrimination is always wrong, and is not a Christian value, the problem is that the meaning of this term has been broadened in a manner that can be used to stifle your rights to follow your convictions or even share your faith in public.
While no local Christian baker where I live, in Central Pennsylvania, has been sued for not PARTICIPATING in a so-called “gay wedding” and no Gospel preacher has been accused of a hate crime for declaring something sinful, the legal framework of justification for doing these things is already in place.
For instance, where I live, Susquehanna Township and the City of Harrisburg have enacted ordinances against “discrimination” on the basis of “sexual orientation:, the exact kinds of ordinances used elsewhere in the country to persecute Christians who do nothing more than share their faith and refuse to PARTICIPATE in activities they believe are immoral.
One cannot expect civility or compromise– the spirit of the times in this land is decidedly anti-Christian and that is a fact we must deal with.
Political minded people want to fight this trend away from religious freedom and toward a forced socio0cultural conformity. But there are other more practical solutions that do not depend on gaining the acceptance of our way of life by those who refuse to tolerate any but their socio-cultural values.
The first thing to understand, and come face to face with, is that no argument in defense of your freedom of conscience is going to mean anything.
Scripture in Roman 1 describes reprobate people as being. “Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” (Romans 1:31)
What does this mean? In short, those who we might describe as “reprobates” (people without principles rooted in God’s Word) do not keep their agreements, they do not have the same kind of affection for things we do, they cannot ever be satisfied (they always want more), and they do not have any mercy (especially on those who do not accept their beliefs and embrace them).
Here is the thing– the reprobates run things now. They run things partly because Christians have become uninvolved and no longer step up to leadership nor support those leaders who are God-fearing Christians and partly because the number and devotion of Christians have both fallen over the past five decades.
We are not going to convince a secularist that compelling a Christian baker to participate in a gay wedding ceremony is wrong. We are not going to convince a universalist that our declaration that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to heaven is NOT in and of itself “intolerance.”
So we have two choices– try to fight this battle for religious freedom on the enemy’s terms and on his battlefield (his courts, his legislatures, his media) or fight this battle in the realm God provides, the spiritual.
In concrete terms we can see this as a spiritual battle we fight by prayer, by operating in the Gifts and power of the Holy Spirit as a Christian witness to our neighbors, and by our own spiritual kinship which is practiced in a way of life that is mutually supportive.
Yes, I added spiritual kinship. This is an aspect of “the weapons of our warfare” and “the whole armor of God” and the “fruits of the spirit.” All of these things empower us supernaturally. But consider the fruits of the spirit– without the context of a social relationship, beginning with fellow believers, how does one express these fruits? So, social relationships are an aspect of our “spiritual warfare”- they are a vehicle by which we walk in and express the fruits of the spirit.
Creating more vibrant and connected social, and economic, relationships in which the fruits of the Spirit are cultivated and expressed through the relationship, is supernatural warfare. What I mean here is that any relationships, associations, or even organizations based on these spiritual standards will enjoy supernatural provision and protection.
We do well to not ever discount the blessings, favor, power, and provision of God. As it shows us in Pslam 23, God can, and does, cause us to feast even in the presence of our enemies.
What cannot expect is that we will get a fair deal in an unfair system whose god is not the Lord. We therefore need to remove as much as our life as mi8ght be vulnerable to that wicked system from that system.
One thing we can do is to quite literally look at other ways to organize those businesses that are vulnerable in the public arena. So, if your business model is focused on Christian weddings and celebrations, or events, you might consider forming an association for Christians only and making your services only available through that private association. So, a potential wedding client wants to use your hall– you ask them to join the association you service exclusively, and, when they do, they can rent your hall.
Is this inconvenient and is it a pain? Yes, it is, but removing yourself from danger is a Biblical thing to do.
As Christians connect and cooperate, buying and selling goods and services in private networks outside of the public market, the question might arise- “how can we witness from people in isolation from them?”
This process of removing your socio-economic life from ungodly influences is not exclusive. In other words, there are plenty of opportunities to interact with and witness to people around us. Of course, you can always participate in direct evangelism to reach the gospel and, as God blesses Christians who cooperate together socially and economically, and as their relationships reflect the fruits of the Spirit, the world will see how God blesses you and this in and of itself is an effective and powerful witness.
This does not mean that political action should be avoided, being good stewards of our citizenship rights is a moral responsibility, but it does mean that we cannot rely on fighting the enemy on the enemy’s terms in the arena they control to preserve our religious freedoms.
By reading The Upadarian Voice you will learn of many practices and methods by which you can cooperate with Christians where you live, work, and worship to create private networks that shelter your social and economic life from a godless, freedom taking culture.