by: John W. Whitehead
In order to bring about necessary change,
Christians must have a clear plan of biblical
action laid out before them for all to follow.
(FOR LOYAL FELLOW CHRISTIAN EYES ONLY )
Four top Priority projects:
One ---Sanctity of Human Life
Three–Church & Private School
Four—Freedom in Public Arena
I n Matthew 10:16 Christ sets forth the rule for Christians when they find themselves in a hostile climate. They are to be wise. Like the serpent, they must use a calm discretion in fighting for the faith.
This means Christians must he wise in their confrontations with the state. We cannot he caught fighting useless battles that get us nowhere. Time is short and resources are limited. We must use our resources in the way they count the most.
Wisdom dictates first, that resistance and civil disobedience he carried forth in a biblical manner. Second, wisdom dictates that priorities he established and duly followed.
Before resorting to civil disobedience, all reasonable alternatives should he exhausted. If there is an opportunity to alter the course of events through normal channels (for example, negotiation or legislation) they should he attempted. Civil disobedience should never be perpetrated for dramatics hut for its effectiveness. Throwing goat’s blood on the door of an abortion clinic is dramatic. However, it will do very little to hinder the performing of abortions.
Resistance and civil disobedience are legitimate reactions to tyrannous acts of the state. Overreaction to such acts, however, can spill over into violence. That we do not want. Unmitigated violence can never he justified. To prevent resistance or civil disobedience from degenerating into taking the law into one’s hands, it should be organized and under authority. Vigilantes are not justified under Scripture.
Christians have been drawn off into many minor battles because they lack priorities. If we are to survive the coming years, it will he because Christians and others have focused on the four key issues. The four key priority issues certainly include: the sanctity of human life; the protection of the traditional family, the church and the private school; and the freedom of the public arena (including public schools). This is not a checklist hut a list of priorities which must be conscientiously dealt with simultaneously.
The Sanctity of Human Life
T he sanctity of human life is the priority issue. It covers the entire spectrum of threats to human life including abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.
If not dealt with effectively, it spells the death of this country. The life issue is one issue on which all Christians should be able to unite. If Christians cannot unite on this issue, then I seriously doubt there is any issue on which they can unite to bring change. The Bible speaks strongly to our responsibility toward the spilling of innocent blood. Proverbs 24:11,12 paraphrased, states: “Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don’t stand back and let them die. Don’t try to disclaim responsibility by saying you didn’t know about it. For God, who knows all hearts, knows yours, and He knows you knew! And he will reward everyone according to his deeds.”
If those who say they believe abortion is murder really believe it, they will do some-thing about it. Surely if you witnessed your father, mother, brother or sister being carried into a euthanasia clinic on a stretcher you would act, and radically if necessary. The same principle applies to abortion except the child is being carried into the abortion clinic in his or her mother’s womb. Besides legislative efforts and political involvement, both of which are important, Christians can directly affect abortion in other ways. At the least, the number of babies killed can be reduced.
Churches can operate or contribute to pregnancy crisis centers. A telephone hotline can he installed and used to counsel and later to assist pregnant women. The church should be the first place a pregnant woman comes for help. The church should assist with open homes during and alter birth, until the girl is able to get on her feet.
Counselors in the church must he informed about and prepared to deal with the emotional and psychological problems faced by women who are being pressured to have abortions. These women need to know there are alternatives to abortion (such as adoption). They also need to know there is a large body of people standing by, ready to provide life-saving alternatives. Counseling women as they enter abortion clinics and also guiding them to a local church-operated pregnancy crisis center have proved to be effective alternative to abortion. Of course, it is vital to approach an abortion-minded woman in a compassionate and nonderogatory manner in order to be heard and to have any influence.
Picketing is another effective way to reduce the number of abortions. Some local churches use their Sunday school buses to pick up and drive their people to abortion clinics to picket. Picketing accomplishes something other alternatives do not. In a nonviolent, lawful way if brings the issue of abortion to public light. This, coupled with the loss of business, is why abortion clinics abhor and even fight picketing. Therefore, picketing should not be a symbolic excursion. Instead, it should he a serious attempt to close the clinic. Picketing will definitely he resisted by the abortionist. Therefore, it must he done within legal bounds. Acquire the necessary permit from local authorities and avoid labeling abortionists, by name, as murderers or the like. Such labeling has resulted in libel and slander suits and it’s not necessary. Simply put, the church must protect those caught within the razor- like clutches of the abortionists. If not, there will he judgment and little hope for evangelism or other freedoms
The Traditional Family.
From antiquity the family has served as the basic building block of free societies. Likewise, we find a strong emphasis on the high estate of parenthood in history. One of the few exceptions to this historical rule has been the contemporary era. Contempt of the family goes hand in hand with contempt for religion and morality. The breakdown of the faith is also the breakdown of the family.
Contempt for the family is readily illustrated by the proliferation and easy access to pornography in this country. Pornography is a very subtle attack on the family. It totally depersonalizes people. Women, especially, are portrayed more as things than as human beings. Instead of being an expression of love, sex becomes a source of immediate gratification and eventually a form of manipulation. The only way pornography can he curtailed is through a moral and spiritual revitalization of the people. And this will not happen until the family, the chief progenitor of morality and religion, regains its strength.
A family is built upon human relationships. It takes effort on the part of parents to develop relationships with their children. Jr means taking time with children, reading aloud to them, playing with them, working with them, shopping with them, and so forth. This is all relationship building. Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. They are the combined images of their parents. They must, therefore, be molded with love and compassion. Children must he guarded and protected but not shielded altogether from reality. Reality, like strong medicine though, must come in small doses. Too much too soon obliterates the distinctions between children and adults. This is particularly evident in the realm of television.
Television, besides consuming precious time, invades the privacy of the home. It almost always teaches an ethic that runs contrary to the foundation of the traditional family. It is, then, a very subtle (although sometimes overt attack on the family. The obvious answer is very, very selective and limited viewing. This will, of course not prevent bad material from seeping into your children’s heads. It will, however, provide you the opportunity to educate them on what to watch. This means parents, if at all possible, should watch programs with their children. If questions arise, they can then he answered. Working on the remedies above will improve a family. However, a family will not work if it does not follow the biblical design set forth in Ephesians 5:21-25:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: arid He is the Savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.” The principles set forth here are clear. The male is to act as the leader of the family. The wife submits to this leadership, not out of fear of her husband or because she is inferior to him, hut out of her respect for Christ. “Submission,” then, does not mean enslavement. It is the “yielded, intelligent, humble obedience to an ordained authority. Christ was the ultimate example of submission. Throughout His time on earth, He submitted Himself to the will of the Father.”
Modern men have been feminized, and modem women have been masculinized. Sexual roles have been reversed. Men must become men again and regain their leadership role in the family. The effective father is a leader, a role model. The family is much like a classroom. The parents, as teachers, must he effective role models. A culture will mirror what is taught by the parents in the family. The wife plays a very important part in supporting the leadership role of the husband. This is strategic because one of man’s greatest needs is for respect. The way a man can he hurt the most is by being rejected publicly or privately by his wife. This, too, is part of the loving submission process. If the wife refuses to submit to her husband, their children probably will also refuse.
In addition to the husband being the leader of the family, he is also to he a compassionate lover of his wife. Ephesiaris 5:25 is very clear: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.” How does Christ love the church? With a sacrificial, giving, compassionate love. A husband’s love for his wife should he similar. This places the wife in a high estate. Thus, we see the practice, for example, of men opening doors for women. Such ads have roots in Christianity and, more specifically, Ephesians 5. In addition to being the lover and the leader for his wife, the husband. needs to be a good father to his children. Fathers represent God. They should reflect, therefore, as closely as possible, the Creator. The family is not going to revive overnight. It will take work. It will be painful to accomplish because so many of the familial roots have been unplugged. However, it must he done. And it must be based upon Christian principles, because they are the only sure foundation for life.
The Church and the Private School.
The church and the private school are discussed together since they are often locked together and because they represent the last remnants of private action that operate relatively flee from state involvement.
There is no question that the church is facing the threat of increasing involvement and interference of the state in her ministries. However, a note of caution is appropriate. Although the church should fight state regulation of the church, the battles she fights must be chosen with care. In other words, the church must draw the battle lines at the most strategic places. Drawing the line on content control and the inherent right of the church to exist is biblical. Intrusive content control by the state, in the form of approving or disapproving the content of the teaching of God’s truth, is prohibited by the Bible. The apostles were forbidden to “teach in this (Christ’s) name.” Peter replied to the Sanhedrin “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:28,29).
State control that threatens the inherent right of the church to exist is also objection- able. This would include such things as government attempts to define what is a true church. If the state proclaims byway of government definition that a church cannot or should not legally exist, then such government actions should he resisted.
Some, however, have not been so wise to fight the battle over intrusive content control issues. They have, for example, contested in court the state’s authority to require health and safety regulations in churches and Christian schools. This is a losing battle. It also expends much time and money fighting something that churches should be doing anyway (that is, having safe buildings). Thus, as a matter of tactics it is wise for churches and Christian schools not to struggle against reasonable state health and safety regulations. It is really a side issue. lawsuits should be fought over basics and not incidentals.In light of the issues, churches should have two immediate priorities. First, they must educate their people on the issues and the proper response to the issues. Second, the church and Christian schools must prepare for the continuing legal and legislative battles. Watchdog committees should be formed in local churches, composed of individual members, to monitor legislation affecting the exercise of the faith.
Local church associations arid national church fellowship should also establish legal defense funds Christians must he cognizant of the fact that law suits have high costs in time and money. A major constitutional case today will, if it is handled properly, cost many thousands of dollars. You get what you pay fur, and competent legal counsel and representation will cost money. ll this translates into organized, strategic jousting while being wary of the pitfalls laid before the church. This is essential if the church is to remain free to operate without state control.
Freedom in the Public Arena.
Our secular society quite logically and consistently is trying to close the door to the freedom of religious expression in public places. This censorship is most visible in the public schools where, as of this writing, many Christian teachers and students are severely restricted in terms of free speech. The right to exercise one’s religion was once an assumed freedom in the public schools. However, because of the great exodus of Christians from the educational professions, the reins of education were grasped and have for years been controlled by secularists.
If religious people do not regain their right to free speech in the public schools and other public places, then religion will he totally privatized, much as it is in countries like the Soviet Union. There “freedom” of religion is allowed only in a controlled church. The United States Supreme Court has upheld the right of Christians to meet and worship on university campuses. In schizophrenic fashion, however, this same right currently is denied to high school students. Thus, Christian students and teachers are not free to meet on school property on an equal basis with others. A priority here is to establish the legal precedent to allow such a freedom.
There must also he legal precedent strengthening the Christian teacher’s right, at the least, to express his or her honest opinion on the Creator or Christ. This right, too, is presently in jeopardy. If these precedents and freedoms are not forthcoming, those Christians in public education are faced with two possibilities. Either they leave the system or resist. Again, resistance and civic disobedience will result in penalties and perpetrators of such must prepare to suffer the consequences. Consequences could range from the firing of a teacher to suspension of students.
These penalties should be met with lawsuits in carefully selected test cases. Millions of children sit entombed in an educational system that, in most instances, omits any serious reference to God. These children need to hear the truth. Thus, even those Christians who disagree with public education must seek to evangelize the public schools.
We should also fight for the right of students to have voluntary prayer in public schools. It must he truly voluntary and free of coercion. For example if students want to meet for prayer over the lunch hour or before school begins, or to read the Bible or discuss religion, this should be their right.
Make no mistake about it: enrollment may be declining in the public schools, but they will be around for some time. If the church fails to have a significant witness in public education, where most of the next generation will be trained, then the next generation will inevitably he more hostile to Christianity than this generation. That could spell disaster.
The story of King Hezekiab illustrates very well the spirit of our age. After Isaiah had pronounced a series of devastating curses upon Hezekiah (including a foreign state’s carrying away his Sons and making them eunuchs, 2 Kings 20) Hezekiah responded by saying: “Good is the word of the Lord which thou has spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth he in my days?” (verse 19). In other words, as long as Hezekiah could live his own life in peace and security, he didn’t really concern himself about the tenor that was coming upon future generations (including his own children).
Francis A. Schaeffer has shown that ours is an age characterized by two basic values: personal peace and affluence. These result in a willingness compromise most everything in order to keep these values intact.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn speaks of how the Russian people would kneel inside the door of their apartments, pressing their ears to listen when the KGB came at midnight to arrest a neighbor. He says that if all the people would have come out and driven off the officers, sheer public opinion would be have demoralized the effort to subdue a free people. But their own personal peace was more important.
There is hope if Christians once again become involved in our culture and society in a meaningful way. Christians have too long been absent from involvement in the significant issues of our times. In the context of the slide towards authoritarianism, we must, without fear, proclaim the principles of Christ. Specifically, they are: If one serves God absolutely he cannot so serve the state; and if one, being created in the image of God, loves his neighbor he will seek to serve his fellow man (Matthew 22:37-39). Human life, the family, the church, and our freedoms are sacred. They are endowed by God. Even the state must he made to realize this.
If the state refuses, then Christians must put their faith to the test and stand and protest invasions of our sacred freedoms. A real faith results in works. And we who perceive the very real threat in the present situation must work diligently and quickly if we are to he the witnesses Christ has commanded us to he.
“THE REBIRTH OF AMERICA”
ARTHUR S. DEMOSS FOUNDATION
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© Church of the Science of GOD, 1993