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Monday, October 15, 2007

Idolizing Freedom

Saturday night, I finally finished The Myth of a Christian Nation. There was a period of time where I didn't pick the book up for about a month or two, so I don't have a good enough feel for the book to put forth an unofficially official review. But it did spur my thinking a bit.

One particular section has the author addressing some questions that could hypothetically be posed to him. One question asks that if Christians do not take a stand against gay marriage, then the slippery slope will eventually have the government outlawing proclaiming homosexuality as a sin. And then the hypothetical slippery slope would eventually make it illegal to become a Christian. At this point, I started to wonder whether American Christians might place a bit too much importance on their freedom(s).

The typical conservative pundit will oftentimes gush about how America is the greatest nation God gave to man, and that freedom is one of the things which makes America great, and that America needs to sow freedom and democracy worldwide. In this sense, freedom generally refers to political or religious freedom. Yet is this sort of freedom ever guaranteed in the Bible? In my reading, the Bible seems to imply the opposite; many verses (or even whole books, like 1 Peter) talk about how we are blessed by God when we are persecuted. We find favor with God when we suffer for doing the right thing. I believe this sort of persecution is virtually non-existent in America today. And so I offer a quote from the book:

Instead of fearing the possibility of persecution someday, kingdom people should trust that if this happened, God would use it for the furthering of His kingdom, just as He used Jesus' death. In fact, as terrible as they often are, persecutions have usually had a positive kingdom effect.

Of course, let me clarify. I enjoy the freedom that we have here. I don't want to go to jail or be executed. But from here on out, I will work on changing my thinking to not assume(*) that God "entitles" me to such political and religious freedoms. For nowhere in the Bible does it state that He does/will.

I am always taken back a slight bit when people thank God that we can worship freely without fear of persecution. While it is nice from a human comforts point of view, this is not something that I would pray in my prayers. Christians are not supposed to place such importance on human comforts. The fact that I hear it somewhat frequently in prayers seems to indicate that American Christians place great importance on such freedoms, which are guaranteed nowhere in the Bible.

* - I initially thought this to be a split infinitive, but Harmony thought it might be appropriate use. Whether it is or not, could you have thought of a more concise way to state this? If so, please let me know.

Related Posts:

6 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Alan

    You might find Jay Guin's recent post on politics and Christianity interesting (as well as the links at the bottom of that post).

    BTW I think my middle school English teacher would have insisted on "not to assume" rather than "to not assume". But keep in mind it has been almost 40 years...

  • Alan

    oops... here is the link to Jay Guin's post.

  • Thehotrod5

    Humm Very interesting thought. I *do* agree that we are never gaurenteed freedom of religion (biblically speaking). God has never promised that and has in fact given said that we will endure persecution. On the other hand, we do live in a part of the world that is "more free" (religiously speaking) than others. When I say "more free" I simply mean that we will not be arrested or killed for assembling together to worship the Lord (as is the case with several missionaries we know). In my prayers I do thank God for this (on occassion) as I see this as a tremdous blessing, however temporary it may be. I do see times of persectution coming quite soon as Islam is slowly becoming a more recognized and "honored" religion in comparison to Christianity. IMO we need to take time to thank God for the blessings of freedom we currently have and ask God for strength and endurance (for us and our children) to fight that fight that may/may not come in our lifetime.

  • Ewokgirl

    Our youth minister was talking about persecution a few weeks ago. He said he's never been persecuted for his faith, so he was wondering if that means he's not really bold enough. I said that maybe it's not him, but the fact that we live in the bible belt. Christianity is the norm here, even if it's nothing more than cultural Christianity. No one thinks twice about people who love Jesus unless they're acting like total lunatics.

    Honestly, I think we American christians have come to see ANY opposition, even if it's nothing more than being laughed at, as persecution. We're very myopic and fail to see that we are blessed NOT to be persecuted, from a comfortable life standpoint, I mean. If we look around the world, people are facing real persecution for their faith.

    In some ways, I think we have an even greater responsibility to spread the gospel, seeing as we have an easy mission field compared to others. But perhaps because our faith is never really put to the test, we've become complacent about doing so.

    Oh, and that was a split infinitive, but here's the official verdict from this English teacher: Split infinitives are not the evils teachers of old made them out to be. While not technically proper, it's really nothing to worry about. :-)

  • Jon

    To me there is always a danger of a negative outcome in just about any situation. For example, if we are blessed with something, we run the risk of not being grateful because we grow to expect it-- or on the other hand if we don't have it, we could possibly become discontent because we don't have it. It's not the situation, but more the person's inner-self that really is the deciding factor when it comes to anything or any situation in life. Whatever our situation or position in life, the Bible says "learn to be content", so that verse in itself shows that it is in fact the person, not the situation.

    But a blessing is still a blessing, and a good thing is a good thing, and I think that praying to God for the opportunity to worship him in freedom and without persecution is certainly a good thing. But I agree with you that too much of a good thing can tend to make people take it for granted and can potentially lead to certain sins. But would you pray for God to bless the food you eat? Or would you pray to God for a better job? I believe that freedom from suffering and having everything we need to make our lives comfortable, while we are here on earth, is a good thing...but we have to remember to keep the right perspective and a thankful heart.

    Jon

  • JunkMale

    Thanks to everyone for thought-provoking comments.

    Although personally I don't know if I would thank God for the freedom to worship, I am glad that we have it. I don't know if that makes any sense at all.

    Anyways, who can know the thoughts of God? Most of the readers of this blog have been put here by God, and so we should do the best we can where we are.