Validated by Persecution: The Irrational Targeting of Evangelical Christians

christian-persecution

By now, much ink has been spelt on the veto of the “Religious Freedom” bill by the governor of Arizona.  Pundits have gone back and forth on the merits and legitimacy of the bill, and, not surprisingly, the pro-homosexual lobby has worked hard to present it as a new form of Jim Crow.

From a Christian perspective, of course, this is unfortunate news.  Regardless of the merits of the Religious Freedom bill–the contents of which have been grossly distorted by the media–the fact remains that Christians are being coerced by their own government to violate their religious freedoms. Consider just the one example of the Lexington Kentucky T-shirt company that refused to print shirts for the annual gay pride parade.  Incredibly, their actions were condemned by the Human Rights Commission as “human rights violation.”

The key fact in this case (and the many others like it) has been largely overlooked: the customer was not denied service by the T-shirt company because he was homosexual, but rather because the company deemed the nature of this particular job to be a tacit affirmation of homosexuality.  There is a big difference.  If the homosexual customer had asked the T-shirt company to print jerseys for the local baseball team then service would not have been denied.

The pure irrationality of the legal action against this T-shirt company is evident when counterexamples are produced which no sane person would condone. Should a Jewish owner of a T-shirt company be compelled to print shirts with swastikas for the Aryan brotherhood?  Should a Muslim owner of a T-shirt company be compelled to print shirts for Budweiser despite being opposed to alcohol?

These counter examples reveal the intellectual and logical bankruptcy of the aggressive homosexual lobby.  It shows that their agenda is not about just having the freedom to  live in peace. It is not just about the freedom to exist.  It is about forcing everyone else to approve.  It is about easing their conscience.

Unfortunately this type of governmental coercion is out of sync with a democratic society that at least purports to value freedom of religion.

These counter examples also reveal how unlikely it is that similar levels of persecution will be experienced by Jews and Muslims.  In fact, there is currently a case in Toronto were a lesbian woman is accusing a Muslim barbershop of discrimination because they refused to cut her hair.  Not sure how that case is going to turn out, but I’m putting my money on the Muslim.

In the end, it is mainly evangelical Christians who are the recipients of this sort of persecution. This selective targeting raises an important question that perhaps too few people are asking: Why?  Why are Christians being singled out?

It would be too easy for Christians to see this as bad news, but I think there are reasons to see it as good news. In a paradoxical fashion, the irrational and disproportionate targeting of Christians is actually validating for the Christian worldview.

Indeed, this sort of persecution is precisely what Paul said we should expect, “We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life” (2 Cor 2:15-16).

Thus, it is not coincidental that Christianity is receiving the brunt of the persecution. When people suppress the image of God that remains inside of them, they look for ways to suppress the image of that God any place they can find it.

And apparently they find it in Christianity.

Comments

Validated by Persecution: The Irrational Targeting of Evangelical Christians — 15 Comments

  1. Very good article.

    Although, I wouldn’t say that this is a problem limited to Evangelical Christians. At all.

  2. Jimmy, my guess is that Dr. Kruger used that designation so as to exclude the mainline Christian denominations that have capitulated to the “aggressive homosexual lobby.”

    Excellent article, Dr. Kruger!

  3. There is another reason why Christians “are receiving the brunt of the persecution” that has little or nothing to do with being a Christian. Evangelicalism is a sociopolitical, movement which extends beyond biblical Christianity. Just this morning I heard politicians campaigning on “God, country and Texas,” although maybe Texas was listed first, and on a “Christian” platform, whatever that means. I just saw a post yesterday in which a respondent was arguing that homosexuals should be imprisoned by the state. If you want to play in the kitchen don’t be surprised when you get burned. When Islam is viewed as a threat to the secular culture it will be “discriminated against.” When evangelicals conflate Christ and culture they will be discriminated against.

    I doubt that refusing to print t-shirts builds treasure in heaven.

    • Thanks for the comments, Mark, but I disagree 100%. There is no serious movement in this country amongst evangelicals to imprison homosexuals. That is ridiculous. And it is certainly not the reason Christians are persecuted. As for allowing Christian beliefs to play a role in politics, why is that a problem? Homosexuals allow their beliefs to play a role in politics (a huge role, in fact). Everyone should be allowed to have a voice in the political arena. The truth of the matter is that most evangelicals are caught up in this battle without intending to; they are just trying to remain faithful to the truth they believe in the midst of a world that is trying to coerce an approval of homosexuality.

      And actually I think refusing to print a t-shirt can build treasure in heaven if it is done for the right reasons. It is a small act to be sure. But one that is done out of concern for truth, and out of a desire to maintain a clean conscience.

      • Hi Dr. Kruger, By the way I appreciated your wife’s book “The Envy of Eve” and many of your posts on canon and nature of Scripture.

        The example of a Christian thinking homosexuals should be imprisoned is obviously ridiculous to most people, including most evangelicals. That is why I used it to emphasize a point concerning belief having socio-political consequences. I used the absurd example for emphasis and I recognize there is no movement amongst evangelicals to imprison homosexuality and is not the reason for persecution. The reason for persecution is the singling out a specific category of people for treatment as sinners in the public sphere.

        I also did not say Christians cannot ban together to promote socio-political views. What I said was that doing so will reap consequences such as “discrimination,” i.e., losing the culture war.

        I wonder (a rhetorical wonder) if the t-shirt vender would have been willing to print a t-shirt that said Jesus Saves in rainbow colors. Maybe the venders concern should be on the product rather than singling out certain categories of clients based on their beliefs or lifestyle. Maybe if they had clear rules spelled out concerning what types of content without (e.g., race, sex, religion, belief, politics) discrimination they will not print they wouldn’t be in this mess.

  4. If one shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with them, told them you loved them and were concerned about their eternal state, they might just walk away and the t-shirts wouldn’t be an issue.

    • This statement shows real bias. It gives the homosexual the benefit of the doubt in spite of the clear evidence that this is the type of person who sues someone for not getting his (or her) way.

      It also shows a disturbing bias against the Christian by assuming he (or she) wasn’t loving or evangelistic.

      I wonder if this bias is an unknowing attempt to avoid the inevitable persecution that awaits all Bible-believing Christians or just shows the deception Christians are succumbing to in this Christ-hating world. Notice I did not assume Mark was an unbeliever or a liberal.

      I do tend to see this type of bias much more frequently among emerging church folks and those who self-identify as liberals and progressives. However many progressives who don’t even believe in fundamental tenants of Christianity call themselves conservatives. I guess you can call yourself whatever you like in a post-modern world.

      As for me I will give my brothers and sisters the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.
      It’s just a family thing.

      • Wow, just wow, Brett. You are so wrong and draw several unsubstantiated assumptions and claims. I’d just prefer to be persecuted for the gospel rather than “evangelical” culture wars.

        • Not trying to be difficult Mark but that is an unsubstantiated claim.

          The truth is a fundamental gospel issue. Standing for truth is the reason Christians are persecuted.

          I choose to be identified with those who are standing for truth rather than those who shrink back when persecution comes. I pray God gives me (and other Christians like me) the grace to stand and not throw my brothers and sisters under the bus to protect myself. “No one left behind.”

          Best to you.

          • The fallen nature of mankind, sin, and God’s redemption of the elect by union with the resurrected and glorified Christ is not what is in dispute. I recognize that the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior, along with a host of other things is sin, and apart from Christ the world is without hope. One thing I am trying to point out is that American Evangelicalism is in large part a cultural and sociopolitical movement attempting to shape America according to it’s view of what the world should be like, in ADDITION to spreading the gospel. Witness, for example, evangelical socio-political alliances with Mormon’s, who hold to a different gospel. I do not believe Christ died to transform America (the world) so that believers would feel more comfortable and accepted, or so that America would seem more superficially Christian. Instead, Christ died to transfer His people from “this present evil age” into the kingdom of the Son, the “age to come.” Christ’s bride is a heavenly kingdom people, strangers and aliens in a foreign land that is not worthy of them. They are means used by the Holy Spirit to witness to Christ so that the lost might be saved; not to shape the world into their own comfortable image of a Christian America, but to incorporate supernaturally transformed people into the body of Christ.

            Although that may be “biased” it is hardly “liberal,” or “progressive.”

            That being said, Christians in America do have a right to participate on the sociopolitical stage. However, getting burned for playing in the world’s kitchen is not necessarily being persecuted for the sake of Christ. Non-Christians get burned too.

            The question is, how should Christians relate to Egypt/Babylon if you will. Can or should believers transform Egypt into The Promised Land? Can the world be transformed into heaven?

          • Mark, I understand your issue with Christians who have been sold a line by politicians and get their religion and politics confused. I agree about the effect it has had on Christianity. However it seems you have some confusion too.

            You are misrepresenting my disagreement with you. My issue is your casual dismissal of Christians and their plight in America. You may think you make a good point but, be careful not to “destroy the one for whom Christ died” in your sociopolitical cause.

            You are confused about my statement and underlying argument. I didn’t say your social, political or religious views are “liberal” or “progressive”. I said your statement above shows a bias to stand with the wicked and against Christians and I commonly see this type of attitude displayed in (Christian) liberal and progressive circles. By the way I also see it in neo-evangelical and/or charismatic circles although not as consistent or as pronounced.

            Your term (to Matthew) “Christian victim complex” shows this bias again and is offensive. Is there any room in your world for compassion on believers who are being persecuted right here in America? I think your vision (along with your definition) has been obscured by your cause. Being sued by homosexuals or the government on their behalf is real; it is not a complex. Being fined and threatened with imprisonment is real; it is not a complex. Enduring daily death threats is real; it is not a complex. Being forced to move from your home or even your city to protect your family is real; it is not a complex. Losing your peace, your income, your friends and even your business is hardly a complex. Persecution is real in America and increasing. And you are placing yourself squarely on the wrong side of the issue my friend. Please rethink this.

            “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” –2 Timothy 3:12

            This verse makes me wonder about folks who only discuss persecution as distant or theoretical.

          • That’s pretty interesting how you can accuse others of being biased, liberal, progressive (even giving back with the left hand what you give away with the right), unbeliever, and now “offensive,” and “distant and theoretical.” You have succeeded in putting an end the conversation and it is fine with me even if you want to feel victorious since you are obviously an objective, compassionate, and singularly practical believer.

            So much for “It’s just a family thing.”

      • We are being persecuted as Bible believing Christians because we are in conflict with the world (secularism), the flesh (in this case homosexuality, but obviously all sin) and the devil (the accuser of the brethren). Christianity is based on Christ. Christ is living Truth. His word (the Bible) is living Truth. That is counter-cultural. That is exclusionary. That is unpopular. That should not be unexpected given the long history of persecution the church has endured and continues to endure when the Truth is lived out and defended. According to God’s word sin has left us in a broken world. Sexuality is broken. According to God’s word it is clear that homosexuality is part of that brokeness. By God’s standard, not man’s it is sin. This is not disputable from a biblical perspective. But God sent His son to die for all sins, including homosexuality. We are called to repent (change our minds about sin and see it as a holy God sees it) Without true repentance, we cannot have true salvation because we will never submit to our need for a savior if the sin which separates us from Him is not sin in our own minds. This not only forbids our salvation in beyond the grave but cheats us out of God’s forgiveness in the here and now.

        • In church recently we prayed for Christians who were being “persecuted” by Muslims in East African Republic. Since the French came in and changed the balance of power. Now the “Christians” are “persecuting” the Muslims. I suppose we should pray for the Muslims, or at least that the “Christians” would stop murdering people. It seems to me there is something clearly wrong with this picture.

          Additionally, there is biblical warrant for enduring persecution in the name of Christ, however, this is not the same thing as a Christian victim complex. There also seems to be a tendency in America to play the victim card. I am not saying Christians aren’t persecuted, just pointing out an American cultural bias that can be confounded with suffering for Christ.

  5. You are exaggerating my position (strawman) and taking every statement as a personal accusation. And you have not addressed the substance of my argument. I wonder if you are doing this because you cannot address the substance or you really see yourself as a victim, or both.

    All I accused you of is showing a serious bias in the statement above (and subsequent defenses) against Christians and for the wicked. And I stated that in my experience that same bias is shared by many of the folks in some theologically unsound groups. I never accused you of being in any of those groups, I even clarified that.

    Just to clarify something, even though I didn’t state this I do think that theological soundness brings soundness to other areas of thinking. I have my reasons for putting theological soundness first in this equation but I am not positing that here. It is just interesting to me.

    I said that in context your term “Christian victim complex” was offensive. I stand by that but it is not the same thing as saying you are offensive.

    As for the family thing, I said I am choosing to stand with the persecuted. Thus far you have chosen to dismiss or minimize their persecution and/or insinuate that they brought it on themselves. I don’t know whether you are family or not, but I do see you standing against family in these statements and the beliefs that cause them. You are free to reevaluate your position and get on the side of my brothers and sisters and I will gladly fight for you too.