Why We must Stand Up!
Family Policy Institute was compelled to confront several issues over the past two years that concerned Christian citizens. The most recent incident involved Woolworths’ unilateral decision to remove all the Christian magazines from their stores - providing various contradictory reasons for their actions. In February 2009, UCT’s Sax Appeal magazine featured despicable cartoons that blasphemed Christ. Earlier this year DSTV conducted a survey to elicit support for their ill-conceived 24 hour porn channel. Markhams stores retailed t-shirts with slogans that degrade women. Then there was Naked News, a concept so ridiculous it defies description. In all these cases, Christian citizens exercised their civil rights and clearly articulated their opposition to these unjust, harmful and often discriminatory actions.
Confusion about our role
However, a few Christians wrote to me questioning the wisdom of Christian social action. Some are concerned that activism of this nature gives Christianity a bad reputation. Christian’s, they argue, must always respond with love, grace and forgiveness. I agree. Christians who respond to social injustice in an attitude of hate, judgement or unforgiveness, need to prayerfully re-evaluate their walk with God. But this is not the motivation for Christian social action.
Deciding how to respond
Before I decide to respond to injustice or public policy that undermines the family, I carefully consider the potential consequences of remaining silent. In the case of the blasphemous mockery of the Name of Christ, Christian outrage was justified because a Church that tolerates the blasphemous misuse of the Name and Person of Jesus Christ will ultimately become an object of derision and ridicule itself. This cannot be good for the nation because a weak, indecisive and irrelevant Church will only help expedite South Africa’s slide into moral ambiguity and social dysfunction.
It is critical that we speak up
Furthermore, if socially active Christians were more concerned about what people say about them rather than focused on their responsibility to actively oppose evil in society, they would not have swamped DSTV with emails urging them to abandon their proposal to launch a 24 hour porn channel. I have no doubt that if Christians ignored the call, the porn channel would be a reality. This proposal was motivated purely by greed, with no regard for the family.
The Woolworths fiasco had nothing to do with a business decision like many claimed, but rather blatant discrimination against Christian speech. Christian magazines have the right to occupy space on the shelves of major stores like any other magazine. I am not advocating special treatment for Christians – just equal treatment. What many Christians are unaware of is the hidden agenda of anti-Christian groups to remove Christian programming and literature from the public domain. The liberal media preaches tolerance and free speech but in reality, only tolerates free speech that supports their bankrupt ideology.
In addition, the Christian response to Markhams reprehensible decision to retail t-shirts with horribly sexists slogans, precipitated the removal of the offensive apparel and the immediate cancellation of all further orders. In a nation where the sexual abuse of women and children are at epidemic levels, Markhams decision to stock this lewd brand of menswear defied logic. However, if Christians ignored this injustice they would be equally complicit.
Living the Christian life in a culture hostile to our faith is challenging enough without turning it into a popularity contest. Christians will be mocked and condemned by the world regardless of what we say or do. Not as a result of our actions, or the substance of our arguments – but because of what we represent. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. ...You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you.” John 15:18-20.
Let us never tire of actively resisting evil and standing boldly for righteousness and truth. Our approval ratings are ultimately determined by the Judge of all mankind.