One of the greatest misconceptions of Christianity, both within and without the faith, is that peace loving, God-fearing, and the true expression of God’s love is somehow equal to or synonymous with silence. The idea that in order to love one’s fellow man one must live beholden to silence in the face of persecution is simple not true. Christians of today are constantly reminded if they are not placid and pliable they will immediately be affixed with the moniker of hateful and unloving.
Christianity, from its inception during the Roman Empire, has been brutally persecuted down through the centuries and civilizations. It certainly hasn’t been because of their silence and muted beliefs. While scripture is saturated with teachings of love and peace, it also is equally laced with admonitions to maintain and preach a holy life. It is this preaching in the face of overwhelming opposition that cost many a Christian their life.
Once such Christian was Apostle Paul. A gifted teacher and prolific writer, the Apostle was once a zealous persecutor of Christians, most notably overseeing the execution of Stephen, a beloved deacon of the early church. After his conversion, Paul would exhort the Roman Church to “live at peace with all men” with this interesting caveat: “as much it lies within you”. The Apostle would later recount how he himself had been thrown to the lions yet had defeated the lions in the coliseum.
Perhaps Paul was concerned the Christians were meekly walking to the slaughter abdicating their rights as Roman citizens. It should be noted that Paul when imprisoned in Corinth demanded to know why he, a Roman citizen, should be beaten and jailed with out a proper trial. Paul, on several occasions, eloquently and effectively defended his faith in the high courts of the Roman Empire until his strong views on homosexuality proved too much for the government and he was beheaded.
Still, Christianity has also been guilty of persecutions as many of its detractors are quick to point out. While many will use this truth as reason for retaliation against any Christian form of faith, this natural desire for a comeuppance is really the catalyst for the Freedoms we once enjoyed in this Country. The Founders wanted to maintain expression without repression.
Christians began fleeing to the “New World” to escape persecution, ironically, from the Christian church. These believed that a salvation experience was a personal one that did not need to come from the church. The church, now infused with the power of government, dealt harshly with these miscreants with inquisitions and excommunications. Sadly, humanity has the propensity to, once free from persecution, repeat the very same atrocities it most recently was freed from.
Our Founding Fathers were well aware of this tendency in the frailty of human behavior. They crafted a Republic that would break the old world cycle of religious persecutions and strong man politics by protecting the right to express one’s faith or lack thereof and prohibiting the repression of such. While many of the “enlightened” move to disparage the wisdom of our founders, time has only proven them all the wiser.
The idea that the framers of our great Republic never envisioned the madness in which we are embroiled in today is one more fallacy. The liberties we enjoy in principle, though debatable in practicum, serve notice that they were established for such a time as this. They foresaw that should a time come that a corrupt, weak, and feckless government and minority of people emboldened by that government’s cowardice and complicity would work, through repression, to eliminate the citizen’s Freedom to express their faith, the people would have the power to stand and fight for their freedom. Yet in this time of unparalleled freedom in world history, Christians seem strangely quiet to do so.
Never in the history of mankind has a civilization offered to its people such freedom. The blood of the millions of Christians who have given their all under the oppression of regimes cry out in astonishment as Christians in the United States silently abdicate their Freedom spurning the sacrifice not only of the great patriots of this Nation but the souls of so many whose unjust deaths were the impetus for the Freedoms of this great Republic. Are Christians beholden to cower in silence or are they accountable to their God to preserve and protect these great liberties, not just for Christians, but so that all peoples of faith may freely express their faith without fear of reprisal? What do Christians believe?