Is a private faith a real faith?


 “It’s a personal thing, and I find it odd

You would question my believing in a personal God

I’m devout, I’m sincere, ask my mother if you doubt it

I’m religious, but I’d rather not get radical about it”

”I’m devout, I’m sincere, and I’m proud to say

That it’s had exactly no effect on who I am today

I believe, for the benefit of all mankind,

In the total separation of church and mind”

 Written by Steve Taylor © 1985 Birdwing Music/C.A. Music

“Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself.”

— George Carlin’s 11th Commandment

 “Does it make sense to entrust those who are immoral in private with the power to determine the nation’s moral issues and, indeed, its destiny? …. The duplicitous soul of a leader can only make a nation more sophisticated in evil.”

                        — Ravi Zacharias

  “But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

                  — Jesus, Matt 10.33


It’s a personal thing

Someone told me once faith was a “private matter” and that I should simply keep mine to myself.

We have been duly programmed by the modern mantra that the workplace and the public square should be inclusive. We have heard repeatedly that America’s “strength is its diversity.”  However, in the rush to purge racism and prejudice from our world, faith, opinion and discourse are unwittingly muzzled. Muzzled mouth

Who would have guessed that religious discussion would one day be labeled ” hate speech?”

Surely our forefathers would have objected. They firmly believed in the power of the public square of discussion. The founders of our nation let public discourse run wild with the belief that truth would ultimately triumph over any kind of personal offense.

They gathered in homes, in taverns, in the courtyards, and in the workplace to discuss the news of the day, delving into the deep and philosophical with a balanced dose of the trite and whimsical.  Nothing was off limits. Religion, sex and politics took up much time around the light of the lantern.

Today, since those subjects are off limits, we are left to banter about the weather and the latest reality TV show.

Christians are in a quandary. We know the divine imperative to live out our faith. We know that living out our faith involves talking about our faith. We know something is not right about hiding who we are.  

As a compromise, we display cozy spiritual things like rainbows and angels. We talk about helping the poor, or social justice, or giving blood and think that good works will suffice. But they fall short, because they don’t do a thing to help the human condition of those around us. In fact, I struggle with the sneaky approach.  It’s like wrapping a large dog pill in a piece of bacon just so he’ll gobble it down.

I don’t know how to properly defend my friend Jack (read my post, “How This Baker Ended up at the Front of the Culture Wars”), who didn’t feel comfortable baking a cake for a couple who were about to be wed in a same sex ceremony. Or the photographer in New Mexico who is being told she has to shoot a wedding for a lesbian couple or face jail.

I’m not just  gay marriage. It’s nearly every segment of our society when people of faith are being told to be quiet about economics, immigration, schooling, and public expression. We’re told our voice doesn’t count because it comes from religious expression.  And in many situations , we let the louder voices prevail.

But what some tolerance and acceptance for our about our faith, our religion, our beliefs? Should we not be able to stand publicly for them? They aren’t rooted in a prejudice or a silly game of you’re-not-like-us. It’s part of our long tradition, rooted in thousands of years of history.

Or is it our societal role just to sit down and shut up? In 100’s of countries, believers have to do this — to keep things quiet. But here, where we are granted expressed freedom to speak, don’t we have an imperative to do so?

What do you think? Can a private faith be a real faith?


What He said: ” but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you”


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  • Christians in the West should ABSOLUTELY speak out about our faith! But do so not condemning or judging others–that privilege is left to God. And Christians must learn to engage our society winsomely, with graciousness and strength.

    In my home town the general attitude toward Christians is either apathetic or antagonistic. I’ve had to win the right to be heard. Now, people come to me for perspective and insight, even though they know I am a genuine follower of Christ. But it has cost me. Many Christians are suspicious of my faith “because I have so many non-Christian friends.” No comment.

    As Francis of Assisi once admonished us “Proclaim the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”

    Dr Gary Davis

  • No.

    (shortest answer ever given by me)

  • Despite what mainstream media wants to portray, there is a lot that Believers need to do. In order to preserve the principles, liberties, and Christian values that America was founded upon, we must:

    * Stand in the gap & speak for those who cannot.

    * Live & proclaim godly values & morals as standards.

    * Be the David against the Goliath that is trying to silence conservative, Biblically-sound values.

    Perhaps some don’t get involved because they are unaware or maybe they actually don’t care; but, with so much information and resources literally at our fingertips, ignorance and apathy are not acceptable excuses.

    One day we’re gonna have to answer why we didn’t do the things we should’ve done when we had the opportunity.

    (there, lest you should think i’m not myself today… my longer answer)


    P.S. Perhaps one’s faith is a private thing — but when the face in the dirt acceptance of Christ’s love becomes the drive behind one’s faith, a child of God cannot deny His love and/or keep it buried within. The effects are measurable, both by man and by God.

    Love God. Love People. <– isn't that the summary of our faith?


  • Have said it before and will say it again I’m sure: why is it those who want tolerance are the first to scream against perceived intolerance? what ever happened to a photographer having her own business and deciding she doesn’t want to film a lesbian couple? Or a cake maker? There is sometimes a call for discernment and tact, but at times there is a call for a beacon to be raised. I applaud those (like the two mentioned) who will take a moral stand against sin and hold to their convictions. To answer your question: no.

  • Need to clarify: those who want tolerance become intolerant and are the ones who scream the loudest when someone does stand up for their standards and rights (just like they are doing).

  • rickd3352013

    I’m with Darlene’s first answer – No. It does not need be more complicated an answer than that here. How we walk it out? That is another question, one best answered in light of ones own circumstances. To prescribe a “one size fits all” response is like telling someone how to vote or who to vote for; while I know how a lot of folks think and feel on *that* subject – sorry, don’t go there with me. The emperor has no clothes, regardless of whether his virtual necktie is red or blue.

    There are, to quote Gandhi, unjust laws as there are unjust men. How you work to change either depends on a great many things. If the loudest bullies are winning a war of words in the public fora, perhaps we need a new David out there, because Saul’s army is pretty ineffective at putting forth what is right and true.

    Sadly, however, this should not come as a surprise. One only needs to look at how propaganda and jargon helped in a World War and in a Cold War – the West ultimately prevailed – but huge masses of people can be swayed by good speakers. Things *will* get worse, Christian – we are not really being persecuted yet, hard as that is to believe sometimes.

  • Judy

    This is also the result of believing there is no ultimate truth. You can’t debate and discuss in the public square if every opinion is just as valid as another.

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  • While private faith is real, it will speak and show the Light if it’s real to begin with. I’m just about fed up with the politically correct society that preaches toleration for all until we tell them we’re Christians… I don’t fear them… I revere my Father!!!

  • I’m not sure if refusing to bake a cake is living out faith in Jesus. In fact, I’m pretty sure Jesus said something about not just loving your friends. Don’t blame the media for a negative image of Christians–we’re doing just fine creating it ourselves, it seems.

    But if you do feel that “living out your faith” means refusing to do business for gay marriages, remember that it’s faith in the One that promised persecution.

    If Jesus is Lord, no government’s threat of imprisonment will change that. Since when did God promise governments and laws that would allow us to act on our conscience with no adverse effects?

  • I think that a private faith can be real, but just uninformed. I think as we develop and are increasingly sanctified, we’ll get to the point that we realize we can’t just cordon off our faith in our private lives.