This is part two in a discussion about the introduction of a new bill in California. You can read part one by clicking here.
California is a unique state that can initiate a fascinating study between policy and practicality. Last week offered an intriguing look into the distress that California is able to create. While there are several notable events that give such a glimpse, there has been a piece of legislation that has caused alarm for Christians.
Assembly Bill 2943, under the auspices of consumer protection from fraud, threatens to cause large-scale disruption for Christianity by limiting both the expression of free speech and free religion (rather than regurgitate previous discussions and instead focus on additional aspects for consideration, I would urge you to read part one at the link above if you have not already). Legitimately, Christians are concerned about the potential repercussions that may occur as a result of the law. As the events have unfolded there are two lessons and two responses that must infiltrate Christian awareness and action.
2 Primary Lessons Previously, we answered two primary questions about the proposed legislation. In the discussion of those questions, it was revealed that even recognized fact-checking organizations distorted the truth of the legislation (primarily Snopes and the Annenberg Foundation) openly denying the potential impact that the legislation can have. This open denial also indicates an intentional disregard for the discussion that took place on the floor regarding that impact. Even in the midst of the bill’s proposal, heated discussions took place regarding how this bill will impact religious freedom.
While member Al Muratsuchi warned those of any faith to evolve with the times, those defending the bill claim that the Bible and Christians will not be affected. Their justification for this response is that the bill does not mention the Bible at all.
Such a response is a is a flagrant reminder that the secular world does not understand Christian truth. First, many are correct that the Bible is not explicitly mentioned in the bill. However, that type of logic either has to deny the scope of the legislation or the scope of Scripture. The call for people of faith to evolve is ignorant and also conveys a blatant disrespect towards both Christians and God. It indicates that they do not understand the connection between belief and behavior; even more, it indicates a lack of care about what that belief is grounded in calling upon Christians to change their belief with little regard that this stands behind a conviction of reason and logic.
Furthermore, the misrepresentation is a demonstration of why it is impossible to trust others to interpret ‘facts’ for us. With a clear bias, the ‘facts’ have been misrepresented, misinterpreted, and misapplied. Therefore, it is empirical proof of the need for individuals to have the capacity to seek out information, verify it, and interpret it for themselves. Without rational, logical thinking done by an individual the propensity to be misled is far greater.
2 Primary Reactions The first, and for some only, reaction that many have when realizing the significance of what is taking place is to live a life of deep fear. While understandable to certain levels, such a response is unsound because it indicates a lack of trust in God’s sovereignty. In place of a lack of confidence should be an overwhelming demonstration of confidence in God.
Peter writes, “but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Despite the formidable circumstances that have the propensity to create fear, Christians continue to be full of hope because of the future that has been promised (not merely to them, but the victory of God over evil). That hope is conveyed through Christian attitudes and actions in such a way that the world sees those differences, so much so that they begin to question those differences. The result is the ability to give a defense to the faith of hope that permeates our lives even in the midst of ongoing oppression. While the oppression is cause for alarm, it provides an opportunity for Christians to provide a strong defense and positive testimony on behalf of our Lord and Savior.
However, that defense is only as solid as our relationship with Christ. Peter writes to regard Christ as holy. Everything in life is dependent upon this concept. All systematic theology and all practical theology (thus doctrine and duty) depend upon viewing Christ as holy. Apart from a right exaltation of Christ, there will not be a right defense of Christ. This is because when Christ is not rightly exalted as holy then all other areas of theology are subject to breakdown because the foundation is able to shift.
With the current trend of oppression moving at such a high rate of speed, it is difficult to see this trend slow, let alone reverse. In fact, this comes as no surprise because not only was Christ on the receiving end of oppression and persecution, but he warned of it. The issue for Christians is not if oppression will continue in this sin-infiltrated world, the issue is how we respond. Only in that area can we maintain a semblance of control and in the process point to the glory of God.
Photo “California State Senate” courtesy of user Jon Connell and Flickr.