Thursday, December 26, 2013

Some Thoughts On Saint Stephen's Day

Most Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch are probably aware that I write these pieces in the very early morning, typically between 4 AM and 5 AM. ("That accounts for how stupid they are," chorus my detractors.) For some reason beyond my ken, that's when the kind of subject that animates my essays here is uppermost in my thoughts. As my typing when still three-quarters asleep is no worse than at any other time of day, that's when I produce them.

This morning's topic is the persecution of Christians and the suppression of Christian convictions.

If you're a Christian, once you leave these shores, concealing your faith swiftly becomes a matter of physical survival. No, you're not safe in Europe. Africa? Who's safe in Africa? Asia and the Middle East, of course, are Persecution Central. Given the swelling (and steady radicalization) of its Islamic fraction, you're advised to be wary in Canada.

Here in America, you're still physically safe...mostly, anyway...but the Militant-Evangelistic Atheists are doing their best to make you cringe and suppress your convictions even so.

It's not senseless. Indeed, there are powerful reasons behind it. They can be summed up in a single sentence:

Christianity is the staunchest barrier to the ambitions of power-seekers everywhere.

Don't kid yourself. Militant atheists want power over you, quite as much as do the Muslims. At the very least, they want the power to shut you up, to compel you to practice your faith in secret if at all. Your convictions make them feel bad about themselves. Inasmuch as the right to feel good about oneself is enshrined in the Constitution -- it is, isn't it? Maybe in one of the invisible-ink clauses, like the one that guarantees the right to kill your unborn child or your Alzheimer's-stricken old Mom -- the militants must do away with all visible expressions of your beliefs.

So the amoral, the prodigal, the dissolute, the swindlers and the chiselers, the adulterers, the Takers and Fakers, and of course the homosexual activists are absolutely determined to expunge us from these United States.

They've made quite a bit of progress these past few decades. Our pusillanimity is the reason.

The unwillingness to offend is a terrible weakness. It renders its sufferer defenseless in ideological combat. More, he has only himself to blame for it.

There's nothing in Christ's teachings about an obligation not to offend others. Indeed, a graphic that's been making the rounds is quite explicit on the point:

Whoever produced that highly instructive gem deserves Christians' profuse thanks. When, shortly after His entry to Jerusalem, the Redeemer came upon the merchants in the vestibule of the Temple, He was properly incensed:

And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting; And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, "Take these things hence; make not of my Father's house a house of merchandise." [John 2:13-16]
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of them that sold doves. And said unto them, "It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves." And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. And when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the Temple and saying Hosanna to the son of David, they were displeased. [Matthew 21:12-15]

The concluding verse of the passage from Matthew is particularly significant. Why were "the chief priests and the scribes" -- i.e., the Sanhedrin and its hangers-on -- displeased? Was it possible that they approved of the commercialization of the Temple?

Of course they did! It was a source of power and profit. Profit, because a would-be worshipper had to acquire special coinage controlled by the Sanhedrin to purchase a sacrificial animal, without which he could not enter the Temple; power, because the Roman occupiers had left authority over Jews' religious practices to the Sanhedrin as a concession to "local rule!"

There's power and profit available from expunging Christianity and establishing a "secular religion" over Americans, too. I won't insult your intelligence by explicating the matter, Gentle Reader; just think about it for a few moments and you'll surely come up with a few ways on your own.

Of course, Christ could get away with a few things that we lesser creatures cannot. I wouldn't advise anyone to overturn the tables at a GLAAD or ACT-UP booth. Neither is it licit to physically attack organizations that promote adultery, abortion, euthanasia, or envy acted out through public policy. But conspicuous, utterly fearless disapproval, coupled to the appropriate consequences for such disapproval, is obligatory for anyone who considers himself a Christian in these latter days.

Remember that we are to "hate the sin but love the sinner." That is: we are to condemn the behavior, but invite the perpetrator to repentance. As for whether to boycott the commercial establishments of the unrepentant, that's up to the individual's conscience. No third party can authoritatively say whether it would do more good or more harm in any particular case.

There will be consequences. There will be persons who deride you. There will be places you're unwelcome or worse. But sincere adherence to the teachings of Christ has always carried consequences. If we are expected, like Saint Stephen, to hold fast to our faith even under the threat of death by torture, what shrift would God grant us for retreating from the Great Commission out of fear of being disapproved?

If you want this country to remain free and safe for our posterity, don't "just" be a Christian. Don't just teach your children as you were taught. Wear your convictions openly. Condemn what you ought to condemn, forthrightly and fearlessly. The power of openly expressed disapproval, of refusal to associate with those who don't meet your standards, is far greater than you might think. After all, look at what it's done to us!

Be not afraid.

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