Is a private faith a real faith?
“It’s a personal thing, and I find it odd
You would question my believing in a personal God
I’m devout, I’m sincere, ask my mother if you doubt it
I’m religious, but I’d rather not get radical about it”
”I’m devout, I’m sincere, and I’m proud to say
That it’s had exactly no effect on who I am today
I believe, for the benefit of all mankind,
In the total separation of church and mind”
-- Written by Steve Taylor © 1985 Birdwing Music/C.A. Music
“Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself.”
– George Carlin’s 11th Commandment
“Does it make sense to entrust those who are immoral in private with the power to determine the nation’s moral issues and, indeed, its destiny? …. The duplicitous soul of a leader can only make a nation more sophisticated in evil.”
“But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
— Jesus, Matt 10.33
It’s a personal thing
Someone told me once faith was a “private matter” and that I should simply keep mine to myself.
We have been duly programmed by the modern mantra that the workplace and the public square should be inclusive. We have heard repeatedly that America’s “strength is its diversity.” However, in the rush to purge racism and prejudice from our world, faith, opinion and discourse are unwittingly muzzled.
Who would have guessed that religious discussion would one day be labeled ” hate speech?”
Surely our forefathers would have objected. They firmly believed in the power of the public square of discussion. The founders of our nation let public discourse run wild with the belief that truth would ultimately triumph over any kind of personal offense.
They gathered in homes, in taverns, in the courtyards, and in the workplace to discuss the news of the day, delving into the deep and philosophical with a balanced dose of the trite and whimsical. Nothing was off limits. Religion, sex and politics took up much time around the light of the lantern.
Today, since those subjects are off limits, we are left to banter about the weather and the latest reality TV show.
Christians are in a quandary. We know the divine imperative to live out our faith. We know that living out our faith involves talking about our faith. We know something is not right about hiding who we are.
As a compromise, we display cozy spiritual things like rainbows and angels. We talk about helping the poor, or social justice, or giving blood and think that good works will suffice. But they fall short, because they don’t do a thing to help the human condition of those around us. In fact, I struggle with the sneaky approach. It’s like wrapping a large dog pill in a piece of bacon just so he’ll gobble it down.
I don’t know how to properly defend my friend Jack (read my post, “How This Baker Ended up at the Front of the Culture Wars”), who didn’t feel comfortable baking a cake for a couple who were about to be wed in a same sex ceremony. Or the photographer in New Mexico who is being told she has to shoot a wedding for a lesbian couple or face jail.
I’m not just gay marriage. It’s nearly every segment of our society when people of faith are being told to be quiet about economics, immigration, schooling, and public expression. We’re told our voice doesn’t count because it comes from religious expression. And in many situations , we let the louder voices prevail.
But what some tolerance and acceptance for our about our faith, our religion, our beliefs? Should we not be able to stand publicly for them? They aren’t rooted in a prejudice or a silly game of you’re-not-like-us. It’s part of our long tradition, rooted in thousands of years of history.
Or is it our societal role just to sit down and shut up? In 100′s of countries, believers have to do this — to keep things quiet. But here, where we are granted expressed freedom to speak, don’t we have an imperative to do so?
What do you think? Can a private faith be a real faith?
What He said: “ but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you”