“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
“But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
— Jesus, Matt 10.33
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 prejudice from our world, things like faith and discourse about morality are unwittingly muzzled.
Christian Expression is 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.
We Hide Who We Are
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 birth to death human condition of those around us.
There is an inherent problem with the sneaky approach to talking around the core Christian message, hoping that the world will simply absorb our belief through osmosis. It’s like wrapping a large dog pill in a piece of bacon just so he’ll gobble it down. I don’t need to deceive others into the faith.
Or is it our societal role just to sit down and shut up? In countries across this planet, believers have little choice – they just keep quiet. But here, where we are granted expressed freedom to speak, don’t we have an imperative to do so?
And that leads me to my first question. Can a private faith be a real faith?