I’m sorry if I’m the first to break it to you, but if you’re a Jesus follower, you might have some unpopular opinions and beliefs. Of course, if you’ve been paying attention, or have waded your digital footprint onto any online social media or mainstream news outlet, you already know this.
The world likes to tell us that our faith is outdated and our beliefs are harmful. We hear that the belief that marriage is a sacred covenant designed to form a lifelong union between one man and one woman is not only unwelcome in polite society—it is hateful, homophobic bigotry.
The world also says that the life of an unborn child is expendable when weighed against the life plans of the mother—and if you disagree, your voice doesn’t deserve to be heard. Why? Because your belief that all innocent human life is precious is somehow an attack on women.
The sight of Bible verse references isn’t permitted, football players praying causes an uproar (but kneeling for the national anthem is celebrated), and even Charlie Brown is censored. Good grief.
This isn’t just about popularity. We’re now wading into new territory where Christian beliefs are considered an offense. And in today’s world, anything that is considered offensive or might hurt someone’s feelings must be silenced.
But have Christians finally had enough of being shushed into submission?
The recent election marks the first time in 14 years that a conservative Republican has won a statewide office in liberal Oregon. Dennis Richardson unseated incumbent Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, who is perhaps most notorious for forcing Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay $135,000 in damages after the Kleins declined to design and create a cake for a couple’s same-sex wedding. During his campaign, Avakian promised to promote “progressive” politics and values, such as abortion, if reelected. As his order in the Kleins’ case shows, his political values include silencing and punishing all dissent.
But could it be that the whole concept of forced ideology simply isn’t flying with the American people anymore?
Barronelle Stutzman is another example.
On November 15, hundreds of people gathered at Bellevue College in Washington to hear oral the arguments in Barronelle’s case and show their support for the local florist and grandmother. Barronelle has gladly served and employed people from all walks of life, including people who identify as LGBT. In fact, for 10 years, she served Rob Ingersoll—the customer who asked her to create a custom floral arrangement for his same-sex wedding. And yet, when Barronelle told him that she could not participate because of her beliefs about marriage, she was sued by Rob and his partner as well as the Washington Attorney General.
But as ADF Senior Vice President of US Legal Advocacy, Kristen Waggoner, said after arguing Barronelle’s case, “Tolerance is a two-way street.”
Unfortunately, there are many who have yet to grasp that concept.
For example, liberals have come out en masse to cheer fashion designer Sophie Theallet, who has proclaimed that she will refuse to sell our next First Lady, Melania Trump, a dress (if asked) because of things that President-elect Trump said during his campaign.
“Ms. Theallet, in other words, wants to operate her business consistent with her conscience,” explained ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell in a recent article for CNS News. “If asked to use her work to promote a cause or a spokesperson whose message she cannot stomach, she plans to decline.”
Do you see the double-standard here?
Each and every one of us wants to peacefully live our lives according to what we believe to be true. But for too long now, our society has been willfully engaging in viewpoint discrimination. Whether your beliefs and opinions are tolerated is now based on your ability to toe the line of political correctness as determined by what the elite few (at any given time) determine is acceptable.
This is glaringly obvious on our nation’s college and university campuses. Too often, university administrators are seen cracking down on viewpoints that are deemed “controversial” for fear that their 19-year-old students might be offended when exposed to opinions and beliefs that challenge their own worldview.
But if there’s anything that higher education should be teaching the next generation, it’s that America didn’t become a great nation because we all agree about everything. In fact, we are the United States of America because the one thing we all do agree on and are willing to fight for is the freedom to disagree. To be able to think differently and to hold different beliefs than our family members, friends, neighbors, and national celebrities, while still respectfully coming together as one nation, is the foundation of what America stands for.
Freedom isn’t a popularity contest. And no great and lasting change has ever come through shutting down one side of a debate.
So if you’re tired of feeling silenced or if you think that your voice isn’t being heard, consider that the goal isn’t to turn around and silence the opposition. Instead, take advantage of those opportunities to share your opinions and beliefs “with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).
I, for one, will appreciate what you have to say.