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Monday, April 12, 2021

Opinion or Persecution?

In my late teens, I remember reading a joke about a man who was on his deathbed. A chaplain came to the hospital room to pray with the man. Seeking to ensure safe passage to heaven for this gent he asked him, “Do you renounce the devil and all his works?” To which the dying man replied, “At this time, I prefer not to make any enemies.”

It seemed funny at the time and I’ve repeated the joke on several occasions. But I’m finding it less humorous in the age in which we now live. Especially when I consider what Christ followers may be asked to renounce in life and work in America.

This was crystalized even more clearly for me in a recent editorial that was published in the USA Today. The opinion piece was titled, “Oral Roberts University ORU) isn't the feel good March Madness story we need.” The author is a woman named Hemal Jhaveri.

Ms. Jhaveri’s beef with the Oklahoma based school should clearly and properly be defined as anti-biblical bias. She argued that ORU didn’t belong in the NCAA Basketball Tournament because of their spiritual perspective on human behavior, specifically human sexuality.

In her words, “That Oral Roberts wants to keep its students tied to toxic notions of fundamentalism that fetishize chastity, abstinence and absurd hemlines is a larger cultural issue that can be debated. What is not up for debate however is their anti-LGBTQ+ stance, which is nothing short of discriminatory and should expressly be condemned by the NCAA.”

Rather than simply recognizing that we do not all agree on many moral issues of our day, she lobbied to have voices she didn’t like banned from the tournament! Again, in her words, “The fact is, any and all anti-LGBTQ+ language in any school’s policies should ban them from NCAA competition.” And she added that ORU is a “hotbed of institutional transphobia, homophobia with regressive, sexist policies.”

Talk about bitter. One sided. Control driven. Spiteful. (I could keep going.)

As one person who responded to her editorial property noted, “And are you so naive to think that there are not other young men and young women playing on the other teams in these tournaments that believe the very same way because they too identify with Christ and were raised in a Godly home?”

Of course there are. And on top of that, plenty of parents, who sent their kids to schools also competing, hold the same views. And very likely a handsome number of professors, administrators, and other employees within secular schools hold those views.

But now here’s the rub. Are all those voices allowed the freedom to express those views without being sentenced to exclusion? Or as we prefer to say in this age, being “cancelled?”

The devil’s gameplan in this is sinister, as is his style. Most dedicated Christ followers if asked to deny their Lord would absolutely refuse. Likely the devil knows that. BUT…will these same followers be willing to stand up in defense of biblical truth on morality if it costs them worldly gain? Or rejection? Even being mocked for their faith?

If people like Jhaveri have their way, exactly what will churches face as a result? No zoning permits to worship? No right to raise children and disciple them as we choose? No private or home school curriculum that teaches biblical values unapproved by the state?

Shall anti-biblical bias be given the privilege to destroy the dreams of our young?

Jesus gave His followers advice on this. It applies to all who claim His name. He said, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)

Persecution has a truly ugly face. And we’re staring at it in commentaries like Ms. Jhaveri’s, which the USA Today should have readily rejected. Opinions to deny freedom of thought are simply not worth hearing.

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