Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Do Christians impose their views?

How many times have we heard the complaint that Christians are guilty of imposing their views on non-believers. When Christians refuse to support same sex marriage we are accused of imposing our views, likewise when we oppose Sunday opening, and even when we seek to carry out public evangelism. Every time a Christian speaks out against unbiblical laws and practices they are met with the accusation that they are forcing their religious views on the rest of the population. Is this accusation true; are Christians really guilty of forcing their beliefs on other people? Is same sex marriage prohibited in Northern Ireland because Christians impose their views on others? Are people in the United Kingdom being forced to accept the views of a minority of Christians?

The truth is that in a democracy it is not possible for the minority to impose their views upon the majority. Our laws are set by politicians who are voted into power in free elections and where the people do not agree with the policies of the government they are free to vote them out of power at the next election. The church does not and cannot impose its views on the people over the head of our elected representatives. What it can do however is lobby those representatives in an effort to have the laws of God upheld, a privilege which is extended to all pressure groups in society, whether they be religious or not. This is not a case of Christians imposing views but rather one of them making their views known and seeking to have their voice heard. The democratic nature of our society means that political representatives are equally free to take on board or ignore those representations. 

In Northern Ireland in particular the religious and moral views of its politicians are generally well known. When the public vote for particular candidates they tend to be well aware of their position on issues such as homosexuality and abortion, and cannot justifiably complain when they vote for or against certain policies. The opposition of most unionist MLAs to same sex marriage is well publicised, and when the electorate vote for them again next year they cannot then complain when they continue to oppose that legislation. The common cry for politicians to set their religious views aside is a hypocritical one, for everyone makes decisions based on their personal beliefs and morals, the complaints only arise when those beliefs are based on the bible.

For an example of what it really looks like for religious beliefs to be imposed it is not western society and the Christian church where people need to look but rather to the Middle East and militant Islam. Where people are beheaded, stoned to death and their liberties taken from them for refusing to convert to a religion, there we have a true case of religious views being forced on people. The refusal of Christian politicians in a democratic society to sanction same sex marriage is not a case of imposing religious views. Neither is the refusal of a Christian baker to make a cake promoting the same issue a case of imposing religious views. The proclaiming of the gospel and warning of the consequences of sin is not a case of the church imposing its views, even if the message is offensive, but rather it is the exercise of civil and religious liberty.

The voice of the church in opposing immorality and the rejection of God's law is both a blessing and a curse to those who hear it. It is a blessing that our land is still privileged  with a gospel witness, yet it will be a curse to those who hear the word and reject it, for on the day of judgement theirs will be the greater condemnation.

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