In the past, I have always been mystified by the near panic exhibited by the left when the so called, "Christian Right" gained a little influence within government or within a political party. I would laugh at their claims that if the Christians gain control of the country, all will be lost. There will be no liberty. Everyone will be forced to be a Christian.
My experience within Christendom has always led me to believe that not only can you not force any one to be a Christian, but that all Christians share this belief with me. My mistake was in believing that other Christians shared my understanding that pagans behave like pagans and that forcing them to behave as if they were Christians would be futile at best and counterproductive at worst. How could I have been so silly to have been convinced that those set at liberty, by the Author of liberty, would love and embrace liberty, including freedom of conscience, for all? But silly I was. And terribly mistaken.
Very recently, on a website containing discussion forums, I encountered a disturbing dose of reality about the agenda of many who call themselves Christians. The website was created by Christians and is maintained by Christians. While they don't exclude non-believers from joining the discussion forums, for the most part the participants are born again and claim to be conservative, affirming the Bible to be God's Word and authoritative. The administrators of the forums have an odd way of policing. They have some sort of secret committee that arbitrarily bans participants for alleged infractions of the posting rules. This is done without communication to the "offender" and with no opportunity for the "offender" to challenge the decision. No announcement is made to the other participants about the ban and if the other participants attempt to discuss the banning, those posts are deleted and the participants themselves fall into the danger zone of being banned.
Someone close to me was banned from these forums. One day he attempted to log into his account and found that it was locked. After an email to the admins and a wait of nearly 10 days, he got an apology along the lines of "sorry for the inconvenience", with no explanation of the locked account. Services were restored, but then a few days later he received a notice that his account had been terminated and deleted for the nebulous cause of "trolling".
For those who don't know, trolling usually refers to the act of browsing or reading threads and occasionally posting for the main purpose of stirring up trouble and offense. My friend had never engaged in any such activity. In the threads in which he participated, he attempted to make salient points, on topic, based upon principles gleaned from the Scriptures. He regularly challenged other posters to back up their opinions with Scripture as well. For this, he was hated, particularly by certain of the women who disliked his references to verses dealing with husband/wife relationships as defined and explained in the Word.
After he was banned, an on-line acquaintance created a blog post on the same website, lamenting the ban and some rule changes which were announced at the same time as the ban. Rules which seem to have been created particularly for the purpose of banning individuals who didn't share the common brain cell and opinions of the masses on the forums.
My awakening occurred while reading the responses to this blog post. Several people commented that they were glad that my friend had been banned. Here is an example, "I have been embarrassed, upset and sometimes even a bit shocked at some of (insert name here)'s posts. He had good thoughts and he was a good debater... but if you can't show respect towards others in your language, you shouldn't be posting on this kind of forum."
I see. He should be silenced because he said something that caused her to be "embarrassed", "upset" and, God forbid! "shocked"! He didn't "respect" others.? What does that mean? No one got less "respect" on that forum than my friend. We was accused of being a child molester, a wife beater, and a slew of other nasty things.
Here was another comment, "but anybody willing to defend the position that molested children should stay with their molestor (sic) needs to be dispensed with. " This was a complete mischaracterization of an entire discussion focused on whether Child Protective Services do more harm than good, whether the existence of such agencies violate the Constitution, and whether government social workers violate Biblical spheres of authority along with legal principles of long standing in our culture.
Basically, these "Christians" don't want to be bothered with people of differing opinions. These "Christians" don't feel that they should have their senses bombarded with ideas they don't like. (mind you - no one was forced to read his posts or respond, it was strictly voluntary). The new rules state that there can be no posts which advocate "immoral or illegal activity". Huh? If Christians can't even discuss WHAT constitutes moral behavior (which was the substance of many of my friend's posts) then what is left? The weather? No advocating illegal activity? Regardless of whether it conflicts with Biblical commands? It is illegal to homeschool in Germany, so anyone advocating that would be banned. It is illegal in Canada to speak against sodomy or to characterize it as immoral. Anyone doing that should be banned, even if they only posted Scripture verses?
Silencing those with whom we disagree can never be acceptable to genuine lovers of the truth. We are told in Scripture to testify of the Truth. We are never told to waste our time suppressing lies. It is impossible to suppress every lie and isn't even necessary. It's like trying to suppress darkness instead of just lighting a lamp. Light automatically dispels darkness. It's the same with lies and truth. All that needs to happen for truth to prevail is for the truth to NOT be suppressed. One of the dangers with those attempting to suppress lies is that they make themselves the arbiters of truth and end up suppressing truth about which they weren't yet aware.
As believers, if we ever do get in positions of government control, we must remember that we don't need to waste our time censoring books, magazines and the internet. We don't need to add even one more law to the volumes and volumes already existing. We do not need to create a system whereby everyone spies and tattles on his neighbors and family in order to expose and punish their evil.
The only thing we need to do is good. Do good. Do right. Proclaim the truth. When speech is truly free, then both truth and lies will be spoken. But truth, by its very nature, prevails. There is only one authority on truth. Those of us who would promote ourselves to the "under keepers" of the truth do a disservice to the Truth. Truth is self existent. As individuals we are to seek after it. Not to sit on the pile of it that we have, pointing fingers at others who aren't sitting on the same pile.
If you believe you have truth, then be prepared to give an answer for it. Don't count on being able to always silence those who challenge you.
Oh, and you who would silence others... please don' t be surprised when you are the one silenced. If you embrace, in principle, that those in leadership or even the majority have the right to silence the rest, you have just made a bed that isn't going to be comfortable for you when you are the target.
Am I upset about this attitude? YES! Because ideas have consequences. And the consequences of the censors will be the death (literally) of my children and grandchildren. When proclaiming that "Jesus is LORD!" becomes illegal...
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