Jesus, Isaiah, the prophets, the apostles – in all of them there’s a STRONG Bible pattern of spiritual people speaking up about evil in society.
Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
(from Isaiah 58)
Complaining about sin and hypocrisy is not the same as enforcing one’s own priorities on other people.
In America, we call it “freedom of speech,” and sometimes “speaking truth to power.” It’s one of our most precious rights.
In the Bible, it’s speaking prophetic truth – saying out loud what’s actually going on – and it’s about the people’s moral danger because of what’s actually going on.
In effect those are very similar.
But about enforcement –
that is not a Christian approach, nor a spiritual approach.
It is not sanctioned by Christ or the apostles. It is not a Christian way. Christ, the Prophets, and the Apostles are clear and strong about what are God’s values, and what judgments will come upon us if we disregard those. We are obliged to speak out about those values and that danger.
And of course we think our values are good ones – maybe the best available. That’s why, after all, we hold them!
But every person (and group) is responsible for their own choices in these things – including the ones who disagree with us! We are NOT authorized to try to enforce our particular understandings of Bible teachings or Godly values on other people.
That is very important.
There is nevertheless a problem.
All of us who are here in more or less the same place need to be able to work together, or even to just live together – to survive without killing each other off (accidentally or purposefully – the result is the same). In order to be together safely or even happily “in the same boat” there will have to be some enforcement power now and then on some issues.
SO – there are surely SOME priorities that DO need to be enforced.
But it is a very wise plan that in a democracy – for example, under the ideals of the American Constitutional system – those decisions are not made by religious autocrats, but by all the people trying to work together.
Please. That is VERY important.
“The people” can sometimes move a community to honor such values voluntarily in community life; and / or they can select persons of integrity, wisdom and experience to be delegated to make those determinations on behalf of the community (e.g. a city council, a zoning board, or a legislature).
But those delegates cannot dictate their personal preferences – and they cannot hold such power because of their status within some religious group. Then we’d be back to “religious autocrats.” That is not a Biblical value or method. And it is a method certain to undermine democracy, and all sorts of mutual respect and cooperation.
We must “lift our voices” – but we must lay down our swords.
Release the Power of the Holy Spirit!
Those (individuals and nations) who live by the sword tend to die by the sword. The Biblical promises are that a lovingly nonviolent but outspoken approach actually releases the power of the Holy Spirit for good, in individuals and in a community. That may or may not lead quickly to safety and shalom.
But we know from thousands of years of experience that the alternatives do indeed lead to continuing bloodshed and destruction.
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