by Matt Slick
Persecution begins after a certain people group is identified because it is perceived as a “problem” to society in some way. After being identified, the group is vilified with words and concepts that make the group look bad, yet favor the persecutors. What follows is a marginalization, where the group’s rights are increasingly disregarded and the complaints of their ill-treatment are ignored. Once the group is marginalized, it is attacked with the introduction of laws which favor the oppressors and restrict the oppressed. Finally, persecution is expressed against the group with various penalties such as being fired from jobs, fines, lawsuits, imprisonment, and confiscation of property.
Though the preceding paragraph is very simplified, it represents exactly what has happened to Christians. We have been identified (i.e., Christians, fundamentalists, etc.) by society as a problem because we don’t support unbiblical views such as homosexuality, abortion, and moral relativism. We have been vilified with accusations of intolerance, committing hate speech, hatemongering, being against basic civil rights, that we are bigoted, fanatical, narrow-minded, etc. Christians are made to look like the unfair aggressors – with the help of the media. This leads to marginalization, where our rights are effectively ignored and a double standard is introduced so that socially acceptable groups like homosexuals, pro-abortionists, and the general non-Christian population are seen as being more worthy of the protection of the law than Christians. We are being attacked in the media and the educational system and portrayed as irrational, religious zealots, who want to oppress people, which conditions society to further marginalize us, disregard our rights, and ignore our objections. Finally, persecution is happening where Christians are penalized for not assisting in and supporting the liberal social agenda. Examples of this are when Christians are fired for expressing their disapproval of homosexuality (i.e., away from work on Facebook), or not accepting evolution (losing teaching jobs), their businesses sued for not providing services to homosexual weddings (i.e., baking a cake), physically assaulted for preaching the gospel (at pro-homosexual rallies), arrested for protesting against abortion mills, etc. And, it isn’t stopping there.
Once the persecution has begun it will increase because the previous steps that support the persecution (labeling, marginalization, and attacks) have not been neutralized, thereby leaving the momentum of persecution to increase. The Christian’s response is two-fold: first pray, second become active.
Our prayers are to the Sovereign King who works all things after the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11). We are told that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Timothy 3:12). So, don’t be surprised when you are persecuted. When it happens, give God the glory for being counted worthy of suffering for him (Acts 5:31). After that, it does not mean that we then go hide and lick our wounds and do nothing.
Not many people know this, but when Jesus was sending the disciples out into the world he told them to buy a sword.
“And He said to them, ’When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?’ They said, ‘No, nothing.’ 36 And He said to them, ‘But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. 37 ‘For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, “And he was numbered with the transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.’” 38 They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, ‘It is enough,’” (Luke 22:35-38).
Jesus wasn’t advocating bloodshed. He was telling his disciples that they have the right to defend themselves, and that they should be proactive in doing so. Likewise, we Christians need to be aggressively seeking to defend our rights to preach and teach. We need to voice our complaints about the media, the laws passed in favor of sinful behavior, the injustices, etc. We need to stand in cross-denominational unity against the homosexual agenda, the pro-abortion advocates, the liberal moral decay of society, and apparent systematic attack upon our rights. We should not sit passively by and do nothing. Christianity has answers to the world’s problems, good ones. Instead of being breastfed the mamby pamby make-me-feel-good preaching from so many pulpits, we need to hear the call to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20) and believe we will prevail against the gates of hades when we assail them (Matt. 16:18). Gates don’t do anything. They just sit there. We Christians are supposed to go knock them down.
If we don’t unify and stand up and defend ourselves, then our rights and privileges will continue to be removed and we will, like Pavlov’s dog, become conditioned to fearful inaction and increased persecution.
The Christians in America need to repent, confess their personal sins before God, seek the will of God, ask for his teaching from godly preachers, read the word with intensity, and expect to be used of God. After all, we are commanded to be doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves (James 1:22-25).