Thank God, Persecution Is Coming

Thank God, Persecution Is Coming April 4, 2013

It seems that almost no one thinks that “our side” has lost. It’s only a matter of time until same sex marriage has become the new normal.

But, many conservatives are making another argument in response to this impending change: “Christians” will be persecuted for their beliefs.

Is this true?

Well, one problem with this argument is that it assumes that all Christians are the same. Using a statement like “Christians think…” makes almost no sense. Christians have differing opinions about almost everything. So, it might be the case that some Christians will be persecuted for their opposition to homosexuality and same sex marriage. But, there are a growing number of Christians who actually support these changes.

Beyond that, though, what might it actually look like for those Christians who are on the losing side of this debate to be persecuted?

My problem with the framing of this argument is that persecution, here, seems to be defined as: having the wrong opinion, in opposition to the consensus, and being disallowed from acting upon that opinion.

If there is a case to be made that being a Christian or following Jesus will necessarily bring about persecution, is this really what Jesus and the early church were even talking about? I doubt it.

But, according to the conservative argument, what persecution will look like is, potentially: anti-gay speech being perceived as hate speech; “Christian” businesses not being allowed to discriminate against gay people; churches not being able to “speak out” about their opposition to homosexuality; and so on.

I’ve come to agree with many who see the gay rights movement as a continuation of the broader civil rights movement. So, let’s put this into that perspective:

Should racist speech be perceived as hate speech? Should businesses be allowed to discriminate racially? Should churches be able to “speak out” about their opposition to racial equality?

To an extent, I think that people and groups can and should be able to say and do whatever they want. But, in another sense, there are certain things people and groups cannot and should not be able to say and do: i.e. there are good reasons to think that yelling fire in a building should be illegal. Where to exactly draw these lines gets tricky.

Of course, I – nor anyone else I know who supports equality – want anyone to be physically harmed for their beliefs. But, that is not what is being proposed by the  hetero-normalizers as their possible future. I just don’t see those kinds of things happening in response to this.

But, if the extent of the effects of the widespread acceptance of same sex families as the new normal against those who oppose it are the kinds of things described above, then…

Let’s bring the persecution. Let’s use every (non-violent) tool at our disposal to call out the bigots, with our words and with our laws. Maybe some methods will be more effective than others, but I don’t see any of the methods currently being used as inherently “wrong.”

The minority who still oppose the arc that is bending toward justice is growing smaller every day. If we have the power to negatively cause the climate to change, we can and should actively participate in this cultural evolution.

This is a repost from my personal blog.

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  • Elvenfoot

    What do you think should happen to churches who for theological reasons can never capitulate to the demand for gay marriage to be performed in their churches? Consider every Catholic and Orthodox church, for starters, but there are Protestant churches who will never be able to accept “the new norm,” either. What kind of persecution should they receive?

    • BabyRaptor

      Strawman. Nobody is demanding that all churches perform gay weddings. Nobody cares what the church thinks. This is something that the “traditional” marriage advocates keep claiming; not what the pro-equality side actually wants.

      All we want is civil marriage extended to us. There are already churches who support that, so why would we need to go pounding on the door of a church that doesn’t and make them do it?

      These churches will be free to continue teaching their belief that homosexuality is wrong. They can continue lying about gay people, touting their pseudo-science, ETC, all they want. What they won’t be able to do is throw around their version of God to prevent people they disapprove of from having secular rights anymore. If that’s persecution, then…Well, I think that answers your question. You’ll be persecuted in the form of having to watch gays be allowed civil, secular marriages.

    • Anthony John Woo

      I would argue that they should receive exactly the same degree and type of persecution reserved for businesses that insist on supporting anti-LGBT legislation. Namely only people who agree with their views should attend, all others should refrain from attending. Oh wait, that’s already what people do. No one rational wants to shut down the churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriage (though many religious organizations make that exact argument). But let’s be realistic here, no one demands that a church perform a wedding that the church finds improper, they just go to a different church. I didn’t go to the Mormon Temple and demand that they join my wife and myself in holy matrimony because they would not have approved of our union, I went to the Episcopal Church because they did. If a church doesn’t want to approve of your marriage, then go somewhere else. But that’s not what the same-sex marriage question is about. It’s about allowing the churches who do approve of same-sex marriage (and there are a lot of them) to do so and give same-sex couples equal rights under the law.

    • Jacob Conley

      They can face the fact that their congregations won’t be alive with the mix of folks that constitute Jesus’ invitation to all to be in the Kingdom of God. I’d think it would be persecution enough to mill about and go through the motions of church life with people as narrow minded as they are. Unrighteous behavior and ideas come with their own persecution. These people never really had the keys to the Kingdom themselves and maybe they’ll even lose the delusion of thinking they had.

      Meanwhile, the Kingdom is being lived out elsewhere, inside and outside of churches. Just as in the gospels, some chose not to come to the parties, while others took the welcome readily.

      • Frank

        Funny since the emergent church is made up of mostly white privileged males talk about not representing the Kingdom of God. Should be telling to the wise.

  • The article says, “persecution, here, seems to be defined as: having the wrong opinion, in opposition to the consensus, and being disallowed from acting upon that opinion.” Actually, persecution for many is defined even milder than that. A better definition in the minds of some would be “…being disallowed from ENFORCING that opinion.” Sadly, persecution language has been seen as defining the lack of ability to make everyone else conform to our definition (marriage, right to life, war, gun control, etc.) and if we lose then we are being persecuted. Christianity is a big tent, but whiners and bigots reflect on all of us who are under it. Added graciousness and tolerance, regardless of stances, would help all of us do a better job of showing Christ to the world. I see no significant persecution coming on for any North American Christians – but whining about not getting our way certainly doesn’t help the Christian faith (whichever tribe you are from) look at all helpful for the real situations and changes happening in our world.

  • Habitus Rex

    It’s not the same as civil rights. It’s a question of morality, i.e., about behavior. Was the civil rights struggle framed as a moral issue because opponents objected to the morality of blacks specifically engaging in specific behaviors, and thus their equal protection, not as blacks, but as people engaged in specific activities, had to be resisted? No. It wasn’t, so the analogy fails. If you can’t prove that homosexual activity is not immoral, in the same way that one can in fact scientifically demonstrate that no race has any inherent advantages over any other (and questions of ethics and morality never allow for proof of this kind), then you have no business calling someone a bigot. They might be right, for all you know. Just as you might be right and they might be wrong. The point is that a moral issue about behavior is completely different than a civil rights issue that hinges on the who (the person), not the what (the behavior).

    • James

      Are you so young that you are actually ignorant of the “moral” issues raised by many so-called Christians against civil rights, racial integration and mixed-race marriages? Or are you being willfully ignorant?

      Many of us who are old enough are aware that the same arguments are being recycled in the “debate” over gay rights and same sex marriage. Just replace “colored” or “negro” with “gay” and the argument is nearly identical.

    • Anthony John Woo

      I would have more respect for your “behavior versus inherent advantages” argument if it weren’t for the fact that “Loving v. Virginia (1967)” made clear that marriage (which is a behavior not an identity) is a Civil Rights issue. If interracial marriage is a Civil Right (and it is) then same-sex marriage is also a Civil Right. To be honest, there’s no “moral” argument against same-sex marriage as long as interracial marriage is legal since there are more biblical passages arguing against interracial marriage than same-sex marriage.

      • Frank

        Loving v Virginia claimed marriage was a right because it was necessary to humanity’s survival, hence procreation. Gay marriage does not fit.

        • vorjack

          That’s part of it, but it was also established that, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

  • John Hedtke

    Habitus Rex: Yes, it is the same as civil rights. Given that homosexual behavior is something you’re overwhelmingly born with, given that we can document well over 1000 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish that actively engage in it (which makes it ‘natural’), and given that the argument of morality is itself a straw man, then yes, people whose religion is All About Not Judging Other People should, in fact, just STFU.

    I don’t feel any need to justify homosexuality as being “moral” to meet someone else’s religious satisfaction. It’s your belief system, not mine. My feeling is more along the lines of “You’re the bigtime Christian? Show me the love, the acceptance, and the refraining from judging.” If you’ve got a problem with that, then it’s your problem. Trying to make it my problem has the potential for bringing you into touch with other aspects of Christianity.

    • Brian

      Sorry John, homosexuality is not something a person is “overwhelmingly born with”. It is a behavior as you called it, and its one of choice. Life is full of moral behavioral choices everyday. Like, should I sleep with that woman even though I know she is married. Just because I want to, doesn’t make it right. At some point in time, homosexuals made a decision to act on their desires, it was a choice. You also ask for love, acceptance, and refraining from judging, but you misunderstand. Christians did not make the moral laws, God did. Your argument is with God, not Christians. Christians try to keep the laws of God in civil law because history teaches us that when a society turns immoral, against the law of God, destruction follows. We see the beginnings of it now, here in America as moral decay continues to spread. Homosexuals may gain the right to marry, but they will never gain the acceptance or approval of God and His followers, that they seek. God is Love and acceptance, but on His terms – not ours. Who are we to tell God that He is a bigot? He is the potter, we are the clay; not the other way around.

  • Frank

    Of course race and behavioral choices are nothing near the same thing.

    There is no justice in supporting sinful behavior. So while the arc may bend towards justice it doesn’t bend towards sinful behavior.

    • Frank

      Actually I am wrong. The arc is seeming to bend towards allowing more and more sinful behavior. So sad.

      • Frank, I started watching a documentary last night about a weird town in NC and it occurred to me that I had forgotten that people like that actually exist. Every time you comment, I feel the same way.

        • Frank

          Thanks! Since I have no desire to come down to your level and deny the word of God I’ll take this as the compliment it is.

          • 2 Timothy 4:2

            Well said Frank. Keep on standing up for truth because we either believe what God says in His Word or just believe what we want. I know what I would choose. Because the Bible is God’s Word and we cannot compromise on this issue.
            Jesus loved the woman caught in Adultery, but He still saw it as a sin when He said go and sin no more. So this is what we as believers need to be like with gay people or anyone else committing other sins. We need to love them, but also call them to repentance. Because even Jesus said to her “Go and sin no more”. That is love. There is a difference between judging the sin and judging the sinner. God bless you Frank