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Thread: Should a Christian Picket for Social or Civil Reform?

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    Should a Christian Picket for Social or Civil Reform?

    There are various activities pressed within certain circles of the church that targets social reform that may include matters like abortion, pornography, and homosexuality as examples. There are two extremes represented by those who feel very strongly that their position is the “Christian” one. On one hand there are those who spend many hours writing to their country leaders, picketing abortion clinics, boycotting products supported by homosexual vendors, using all means available to influence and change the view of the world, to conform it to their Christian moral ideals. At the other extreme are those who take Jesus’ words in John 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world” as their motto, refusing to vote or get involved in any effort that might result in positive change in the culture in which we live. Neither are balanced in light of God's revealed Word.

    For sake of brevity, I will address only one arena, abortion mill picketing. For clarification, while I am not Pro-Choice, I am fiercely against abortion. I am not Catholic, but I am not anti-Catholic either. I do not belong to an obtuse splinter group as a spot in the Evangelical community. I simply follow the pattern of Jesus Christ, and wholly amend my life to the patterns set forth in Scripture.

    What about the matter of picketing abortion mills with overt propaganda methods? It grieves me when obsessive/compulsive parents under the context of religion, exploit their own children as religious harlots for a social cause, encouraging the impressionable young souls to tout visual propaganda to petition for social reform. While these methods may and do save lives and are not necessarily wrong in themselves, a Christian's commission is not to "save the children from all peril" although being a protective guardian is part of being a Godly parent. I am sure most Christians know the passage from Matthew 16:25, "If you save your life, you will lose it. But if you lose your life for my sake, you will find it?" If your assertion and goals are streamlined to save or protect the living bodies of all children, your energies and motivations are misguided regarding the prime directive of the Christian mission. Saving children is never a wrong action, but it is not a Christian’s main purpose. The commission is not to save skin, but to save souls. The body will perish, but the soul endures forever.

    I appreciate anyone’s desire to be a savior of children, but that is not the essential tenants of gospel of salvation, it is instead a works oriented component of the (humanist) social gospel. The social gospel of works righteousness demands that we as moral citizens intercept teenage prostitutes, sex trafficking rings, temple children in Thailand, and the thousands of children cast dead along the road in Somalia during long journeys for food. 5,000 children die a day living in the streets in third world countries. 80 percent of the street children in Malawi are orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Internet pornography is corrupting a whole generation of children. Where is the savior of all the children? Yeshua? No, his purpose was to save souls, not preserve bodies. While Jesus provided healing as a testament to his authority, it was never his end purpose to be a great healer and preserver of flesh, but rather a great savior of souls. We must do what we can along the way for all these causes, but the main purpose is always to always declare the gospel. This will always be my main point, but fanatical advocacy agendas will succeed in clouding the spiritual eyes.

    Christians were not called to rally against social evils or worldly causes, the Great Commission is a call to proclaim Christ and Him crucified to the utter most. We know that Christ taught that because sin will abound, the love of many will grow cold and then will come the end like a flood. The world is doomed to fail, it cannot be reformed. It is not a Christian’s call to lobby against the evils of this world that spiraling down to destruction. Pressing social changes comes from the movement called Reconstructionism, a philosophy that claims Christians are called to pursue reforms to remove the evil of this world, to make it choose Christian morals. It stresses that people must change on a personal level before any positive cultural changes can occur, a Theonomy that combines both covenants. This is a similar position that Judas Iscariot pursued, thinking he had the mind of God trying to manipulate Yeshua to take the Kingdom by force in the garden of Gethsemane. We learn instead he was serving another master according to the wisdom of this age.

    There are sects in the church, souls who are utterly confused, pursuing the tenants of the "Social Gospel" where therein resides a different spirit. Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary has warned against the seductiveness of this power-religion, the logic of its authoritarian and legalistic program, which will always drive Reconstructionism toward sub-Christian ideas about sin. J. Ligon Duncan of the Department of Systematic Theology of Reformed Theological Seminary warns that "Theonomy, in gross violation of biblical patterns and common sense.” I could go on, but it is true what Hosea 4:6 states, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

    I know picketing Christians genuinely mean well, and I am not surprised when my comments are ignored because some readers don’t realize they are under a misdirected sect of Christianity. This is how cults rise up, when a strayed sect and cells act contrary to biblical Christianity. It doesn’t happen suddenly, the straying happens over time, subject to isolated leaders who trust their own interpretation of what the Bible teaches. We should not glory in persecution when it is a fruit of religious arrogance and self-righteous judgment. As written in 1 Peter 2:20, if we are beat for wrongdoing, there is nothing to glory. These zealots are not suffering for Christ as is often boasted by confused adherents, but instead they bring shame to the cross. Paul in earnest admonished the Saints when they strayed.

    Indeed, we must speak firmly about and against sin when confronted, but to “picket for a cause” is part of the social gospel, an earthy wisdom which emphasizes “I will bring change to the world for Christ.” This method of clubbing the world with our philosophies of “the moral right” is not how the Kingdom of God operates, according the revelation of Scripture. Good counsel is to “Study to show yourself approved unto God” as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:15. We must constantly return to the sound teaching of Scripture and be purified by the words of Jesus Christ, the son of the Living God. Most abortion mill picketing efforts do not bring glory to God; it instead incites mockery and hatred for the things of God. There are better ways to intercept mothers considering abortion than obnoxious religious displays that reassure passersbys that Christian’s are nut cases. Again, judgment by a non-believer does not glorify God when a Christian brings shame on Christ by obnoxious methods. If we must suffer, it should be for the declaration of the gospel, given once unto the Saints.

    I am a pastor and Christian of nearly 30 years, and director of World Missions organization which supports the poorest of the poor and this display brings great sadness to my heart. I would urge those persuaded by a this tainted religious wisdom to lay down the social reform signs and religious hate signs and preach Jesus alone. Allow the gospel to transform hearts through the Spirit. Come back to the cross alone, repent and humble yourself under the blood, in Jesus' name.

    In defense of abortion activists, Tertullian (circa 155 - 225 CE) for example, wrote, “...we are not permitted, since murder has been prohibited to us once and for all, even to destroy ...the fetus in the womb. It makes no difference whether one destroys a life that has already been born or one that is in the process of birth.” St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, Hippolytus and others of the early church wrote fervently against the evil of abortion. It certainly is murder!

    Perhaps the best way to understand our responsibilities in the social/cultural arena is to look to Jesus for our example. Jesus lived in one of history’s most corrupt societies. But He perfectly maintained His Father’s perspective on social and political matters, even though He lived in a society that was every bit as pagan and corrupt as today’s culture. Cruel tyrants and dictators ruled throughout the region, and the institution of slavery was firmly entrenched. Legal and economic oppression of the Jews by Rome was rampant, dwarfing anything we experience today. But even in the face of such tyranny, Jesus never issued a call for political changes, even by peaceful means. He never attempted to “capture the culture” for biblical morality. He did not come to earth to be a political or social reformer. Rather, He came to establish a new spiritual order under a new covenant. He came not to make the old order moral through social and governmental reform, but to make his creatures holy through the saving power of the gospel and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

    Take, for example, the misguided efforts by a small fringe group from Kansas who show up at the funerals of homosexuals with signs declaring “God hates homosexuals” and “burn in hell.” How likely it is that such cruel and vicious behavior will convince unbelievers we serve a loving and merciful God who will forgive sin? The cause of Christ is not advanced by this type of activism, no matter what the motivation. Even the most gracious efforts to “clean up the culture” will not protect or expand the cause of Christ. Ours is a spiritual battle against worldly ideologies and dogmas that are arrayed against God, and we achieve victory over them only with the weapons of our warfare, Scripture (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

    The picture of the Christian in the world is well illustrated by the analogy of the train station. We (Christians) are waiting in the station to board the northbound (heavenly) train. We are surrounded by people who are preparing to board the southbound train, completely unaware of its tragic destination. Should we spend our time and energy pleading with them to switch trains? Or do we merely tidy up the train station instead? The answer is obvious, and those who would tidy up the culture for the culture’s sake are not only missing the point, they are misunderstanding the reason God leaves us in the world—to be His witness to the lost and condemned. Such a mission is far more “good and profitable to men” (Titus 3:8) than any amount of social or political activism. Please forgive me if my position offends anyone, but it is a conversation worthy of deep contemplation.

  2. #2
    Christ's Bride Johanna's Avatar
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    What I like most about the example of the Lord Jesus Christ is how He focused in the message He came to deliver and how the Holy Spirit guided Him to reach those in need of his message. He did not preach in the 'sinful areas of the city' or spent every weekend with the lepers, healing them. No, he was in constant motion. And his message was essentially the same for everyone: "Repent from your sins, reconciliate with the Father." He moved among the prostitutes and yet he didn't say "Woe to you fornicators, repent or go to hell" but with love he said, "repent and sin no more." There was such grace and mercy in his words and such a holy anointing!

    Coming from distant nation, steeped in the fundamental tenants as a biblical Christian, and them moving to the United States these past two years has made me realize how many Christians have lost the spiritual bearing and the simplicity of Christ's example. Instead, they expend a great deal of energy, resources and time in social work for sake of reform instead of dedicating themselves to carry his message with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Rally cries like "let's change the world for Jesus", "let's be Jesus' hands and feet" seem innocuous when done by someone in a spontaneous way, but they are profoundly harmful when they become 'a cause.'

    Why is this problem? Because our purpose is to declare the Good News about Christ; our cause is to 'voice' his message! That is the priority! I have seen how the priority today seems to be social work or willful civil change, and I wonder how many new believers are we making every day? Do we offer blood, toil, sweat and tears in prayer for grace to share the gospel to our neighbours, co-workers and family members? I wonder...
    Last edited by Johanna; 11-17-2012 at 07:48 PM.

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