June 27, 2011 by Stacy McDonald

Persecution? Are you Serious?

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Here is my response to the following question, originally asked in my last post, Persecuted…by Christians?

“What does persecution by other Christians look like? In fact, what does persecution itself look like in America? This is a question I have often thought to myself and would be interested in hearing the answer, because I honestly don’t know.

I have had people tell me I was stupid for being a Christian, and even yell at me for being a Christian. I have been told that if the interviewer had known I was a Christian that I wouldn’t have been hired. I never took those things for being persecution – perhaps they were – I don’t know. I never felt it was THAT bad, especially considering what other Christians in other countries have to deal with.”

That’s a good question! I’m certainly not trying to imply that most Americans experience or (hopefully) will ever experience the level of horrifying persecution endured by Believers during “The Great Persecution, or even by those today in Muslim or other heathen countries.

Most of us don’t have to fear being beheaded, beaten, imprisoned, or deal with the dangers that many of our brothers and sisters described in Voice of the Martyrs must face.. We don’t want to minimize their sufferings, as there is surely no comparison.

However, as minor as our “little persecutions” may be, we can certainly gain comfort and encouragement from Scriptures that tell us that, when we attempt to live godly lives, we should expect persecution; or, at the very least, nasty opposition, maltreatment, harassment, bullying, or shunning. (By the way, these are all words that came up as synonyms for persecution.) These types of persecution are real; and it does hurt. More importantly, it often divides the Body of Christ.

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For “He who would love life and see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:8-12)

Notice how persecution is defined here:

Persecution:

“To oppress for the holding of a belief or opinion…”

“The act or practice of persecuting especially those who differ in origin, religion, or social outlook.”

“The condition of being persecuted, harassed, or annoyed.”

In my discussions with many, many Christians over the years there are varying levels of “persecution” that Christians suffer – even persecution from family or Christian brothers or sisters who believe differently. Here are a few examples of those who, to varying degrees, were persecuted by those close to them for their “desire to live godly in Christ Jesus”:

  • A family who homeschools is labeled “cultish” by their very pro-public school church family, simply because they homeschool. “It’s just “weird” and reclusive to do something so clearly anti-social.” (Obviously, this concept is changing, as homeschooling has become more widely accepted; however, there are many, many homeschooling families who experienced this attitude in their own churches over the years.)
  • A wife whose husband openly mocks her convictions, throws her Bible away, won’t allow “Christian” music to be played in the house (he will throw it away if it is left out), purposely plays pornographic films in her presence to upset her, and won’t allow her to have any Christian friends in their home. As long as she is not openly “displaying” the fact that she is a Christian (reading the Bible, using Christ’s name etc.), he is fairly nice to her. Yes, this was a real scenario.
  • A woman is labeled a “legalist” by friends at church because she wears skirts (not because she thinks pants are “sinful,” but because she loves the fact that it’s easy to be modest and distinctly feminine in a skirt). She could care less what other people wear.
  • A family is treated as “the problem family” because their large family wants to sit together during the church service. The church has an informal rule that children must either be in “children’s church” or the nursery. Even though they have shared their conviction that their children need to hear the Word preached, alongside them, it has been made clear that their children are not welcome in the service. And, because of that, other families treat them as an annoyance.
  • A family leaves their fairly conservative church to pursue the “emergent life.” They get tattoos, body piercings etc., and decide their old church was “oppressive” and legalistic (no specifics, they just felt “judged”). They proceed to post derogatory remarks about their old church and old friends on Facebook, blogs, Twitter etc.
  • Blogs are set up to “warn” other believers about certain ministries that are “legalistic” or are teaching false doctrines; however, they give no proof of any significant problem. Huge numbers of ministries, pastors, and fellow believers are slandered without any specifics or proof of “false” teaching. No quotes, no links, and no facts are used. Only emotional hyperbole and gossip.

[Note: It is very important to call out a genuine false teacher – someone who is clearly teaching heresy or spreading false doctrines. However, it is crucial that proof is given in the author’s own words, in context, along with the original source of the quote. Otherwise, it is nothing more than tabloid journalism—or  gossip.]

Though there are plenty of folks who are falsely accused of legalism today in our liberal, licentious culture, there are also those who are bound up in true legalism. Some of these folks persecute their brothers and sisters in the Lord with slanderous words, shunning, and gossip. For a more in-depth discussion of legalism click HERE.

So, my answer to the original question is that persecution can take many forms. The difference here is that persecution from strangers is different than persecution from brothers and sisters. It is a hurtful, shameful division that should not be (Psalm 133:1, Romans 15:5, Ephesians 4:1–6). However, if you find yourself in this position, it is important to respond biblically.

Be at peace; Jesus is your advocate. And, again, if we indeed want to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and His righteousness, we will emulate Him (Psalm 145:8-9). We will be attacked without being offended or defensive; we will be misunderstood without becoming sarcastic; we will be falsely accused without retaliating; we will love without being loved in return. Who can do this? No one. Only Jesus in us (1 John 4:4-8).

Even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 1 Peter 3:13–16



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31 Responses to “Persecution? Are you Serious?”

  1. Martha says:

    It is interesting. Yes, we do suffer persecution now, but I think it is good to remember while we are being persecuted, we do not become haughty in it, thinking better of ourselves than them. Remembering the scripture to “bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, Pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For He maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you only love them that love you, what reward have you, do not even the tax collectors and Pharisees do so?”

    I think sometimes I have found myself thinking ill of them, wanting to post things to “Get them back” in a godly manner so to speak. I have to remember that I need to remember that this is to be expected, not to think it strange.

  2. Stacy McDonald says:

    Yes, that was the point, Martha. Be sure to read the original post too, so that it all makes sense.

  3. orual says:

    Thank you for responding to my question. :)

  4. EmilyRuth says:

    And don’t forget that even minor persecution is extremely painful. I was told that my sister who claims to be a Christian literally hates me for my strong stand for righteousness. All I ever gave her was love and admiration for being such a wonderful big sister, and she dislikes me because I’m “righteous” (I’m not).

  5. Paula says:

    Some of the worst persecution going on right now is against Christians who support one man one woman marriage!

  6. Tammy says:

    Persecution/harassment etc…. never bothers me when it is done by non-believers. It bothers me much more when Christians “shun” their brothers and sisters if they don’t follow a certain method of child-training, have hair longer than a buzz cut as a boy/man, disagree over the use of titles or any other issue that the Bible doesn’t address specifically and there is room for disagreement amongst the brethren.

  7. Rebecca says:

    Hi Stacy! :) Our family can totally relate to this too. I wear skirts alot, (if I ever wear pants I wear a very long shirt) but I get alot of comments. I wear a headcovering in church and I actually had an incident in our church where we were all greeting one another and this couple would not shake my hand but turned away from me. I never even met them before. We have had alot of attacks on our family about our stand on holiness. We have spoken out about Harry Potter, Heavy metal secular rock music, Cursing, dating and we have even had times where church leadership who do these very same things have tried to tell our kids not to listen to us. The institutional church for me has been 100 times worse then the public school system . I seriously am at the point right now that I feel it is the modern day church system that we need to be even more concerned about atleast in our family right now. I am very thankful for fellowships like your own that are promoting holiness. I used to homeshool and Lord willing I will again soon but those were some of the worst attacks we have faced especially for me. We have had a neighbor threatening to turn us in like we were breaking the law or something. He threatened to call family services. Homeschooling is totally foriegn to some of the elderly. Not to mention I am sure we all have things that we could share that we are not able to because it would be considered gossip, those are some of the worst trials because we have to endure them alone. The Lord is using the public school system for our kids as an evangelistic opportunity and they pass out tracts ect..Most of the problems we have there are with the teachers. I pray a hedge of protection over them and ask the Lord to give them wisdom and discernment and He does. All things work for good to those who love God!!! God bless you!!! -Rebecca

  8. BrandyLynn says:

    Thank You for this post, and the preceding one Stacy. We have a gentleman my husband is working with who was once a part of the LDS “church”. <– Not that I consider it as such…

    Anyway, he began to follow Christ and turned away from the Mormon beliefs. For this, he lost his wife, two young children, home and more. (He did not want a divorce, and fought against it, but in the end, the wife and the Mormon Bishop won.) He has tried to fellowship with other "believers" but because he is still "learning", he's been turned away and hurt by several "Christians"- especially when they hear of his divorce. :( The saddest thing to see is that he *knows* the Lord is faithful, but he still fears (the very real fear) that his children are/will be raised up in the Mormon "cult"- and he only gets to counter act that two weekends a month.

    It has been so sad to see him bear further persecution by those who should be reaching out to him, but instead turn him away because of a divorce he had no control over. He has such a heart for getting to KNOW and follow the Lord. He is hungry for the meat of the word (although he still needs much milk, too).

    He is an example of one who has chosen to follow Christ, and is persecuted by those very same people claiming to be His followers. Persecution DOES happen. We just tend to put our blinders on and think it "doesn't happen in America".

    I appreciate your calling this to the attention of others. Not only do I pray that it encourages those who may be persecuted because of their faith, but also that it will encourage those around to really think and look inside if they perhaps, even inadvertently, are persecuting others of the faith.

    Blessings,

  9. Stacy McDonald says:

    BrandyLynn,

    Thank you so much for telling this story! This is exactly the kind of thing that I’m talking about. It is so much more painful (and shameful) to be attacked (even if your flesh is never harmed) by “brothers and sisters.” And shunning is just a passive aggressive form of attacking someone.

    I am so glad your friend is standing firm. This is the type of thing that turns people away from the church. Praying he will continue to stand firm, even if he must stand alone. (Though I’m glad he has you and your husband for support).

    I pray God will protect his children in the midst of the false teaching they are immersed in.

  10. Stacy McDonald says:

    A commenter on my Facebook wall said this:

    “Just read the book ‘The Heavenly Man’. He was beaten horribly in prison for being a Christian. He later came to America and was slandered ~ He said this “American Persecution” of being slandered by Christian brothers was just as painful as the beatings in China and worse in some ways because it came from his brothers in Christ. How sad!”

    This is exactly what I’m talking about!

  11. Becky says:

    A few examples mentioned here of personal convictions or choices that are not commands from Scripture:

    1. homeschooling
    2. wearing skirts
    3. keeping your children with you in worship service
    4. avoiding tattoos or piercings on your body
    5. avoiding Harry Potter
    6. wearing a headcovering
    7. choosing not to date

    No one should be persecuted for making these choices.

    The conflict arises when Christians declare their personal convictions and choices to be the “godly” or “biblical” path. And if this is declared publicly in a book, blog, radio broadcast, etc. they should not be surprised when their statements are publicly challenged. This is not persecution.

    Having personal convictions from the Lord and quietly living them out is one thing; publicly declaring those convictions to be the godly, biblical path for *all* Christian families is quite another!

  12. Stacy McDonald says:

    No one should be persecuted for making these choices.

    But, Becky, they are! Often! I think one thing that happens is this:

    Sally used to be a legalist. After being enamored with a particular teacher/preacher (whatever!) she looked down on anyone who didn’t live exactly like her. She judged the actions, convictions, and motives of everyone she knew. If she saw someone in pants and short hair, she decided they were feminists. If someone didn’t homeschool, they weren’t as “godly” as she was. If she saw someone with one or two children, she assumed they use birth control and weren’t truly thankful for their children.

    She focused heavily on what “others” were or weren’t doing, and rarely considered her own sinful heart. She was going through the motions of someone else’s convictions, but had no idea why she was doing it – other than to be thought of by others (and herself) as “godly.”

    Finally, after wearing herself out trying to live a rigid, formulaic lifestyle that reflected “someone else’s” convictions (not actually her own) she gave up. Now she claims to be “set free” from her legalism and hunts for other “legalists,” so she can self-righteously point out their sin (under the guise of warning others).

    However, Sally has superimposed her own past sins onto strangers and now she legalistically judges and condemns (publicly) anyone who, in her opinion, appears to live the way she used to live. She has become legalistic in her anti-legalism and persecutes other Christians. The same sin she was guilty of before has simply changed shapes.

  13. Taunya says:

    Becky I agree. We are homeschoolers and our high schooler does not take part in our youth group (her choice). We quietly live these things out and we are not persecuted in our church despite the fact that the majority send their kids to school and put their high schoolers in the youth group.

    I think the perceived “persecution” happens when those who hold certain convictions begin to label them as “essential” to the faith and begin to label those who don’t hold them as “not as far along in their walk” or “so called Christians.” It is fine to have personal convictions but your personal convictions are not the “biblical” or “godly” way. Your convictions do not make you a stronger or more mature Christian than your brethren who don’t hold them. They are extras that you choose at random.

    I think for every story of someone feeling “persecuted” for not wearing skirts there is probably a story of a woman feeling “persecuted” for using birth control or not breast feeding or wearing pants or putting her child in school. The fact is none of this rises to the level of persecution. They are simply sad disagreements among the brethren.

    It would be wonderful if we could all just quietly live out our personal convictions offering our lives up to the Lord without claiming that we and those who think and live like us have found the “true godly” way to live as a Christian family. Perhaps if we did more quietly living and less talking about how we live and what we don’t do we would experience less of this “persecution” and develop true and close fellowship with our brethren whose lives look totally different from our own.

  14. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Taunya,

    All that you say would be true, except that there are those who are treated as if they do the things you describe, even though they don’t.

    And again, if you read the article, persecution is accurately described here. There are certainly varying levels of persecution; but, it’s persecution nonetheless. It’s treating someone in a particular way for the way they live out their obedience to God. It’s not up to me to evaluate their faith and ascribe to them false motives. If I do that, I’m sinning.

    The way believers treat other believers is sometimes just plain shameful. I liked this quote from a friend on Facebook today:

    “Just read the book “The Heavenly Man”. He was beaten horribly in prison for being a Christian. He later came to America and was slandered ~ He said this “American Persecution” of being slandered by Christian brothers was just as painful as the beatings in China and worse in some ways because it came from his brothers in Christ. How sad!”

    May God forgive us!

  15. Martha says:

    I think it comes too when we decide for others what is a command or not a command from scripture, as well as for ourselves.
    Our lives do though sometimes, without words, make people think we are a certain way. I have been told by people that before they knew me, they assumed I was legalist and judgmental. Afterwards, they have gotten to know me and respected me for being quietly different than mainstream. The worst ones are the ones like “Sally” who have something to prove and have been hurt by Christians, who well meaning or not, have hurt them.

    My BIL believes though he suffers persecution. He believes that he is on a higher level than most Christians, and God called him to have multiple wives, in order to crush the spirit of Jezebel. When godly Christian men have rebuked him for his lust for women, he said it was persecution. He was not always this way, he taught the truth and followed it. But by pride, he began to not listen to other believers and it brought him to a sad, sad road.
    So, I think humbleness in the persecution is a great thing to have….“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” 2 Peter 3:16, 17, KJV.

  16. Stacy McDonald says:

    Martha – Your brother in law is simply angry because he doesn’t want his behavior to be called sinful. It’s like a rebellious daughter who feels “persecuted” by her parents when they ground her for sneaking out with her boyfriend. It’s not the same thing as brothers and sisters in the Lord mistreating or shunning one another for simply trying to honestly live out their convictions.

    I have friends who hold to the Old Testament dietary laws. I think it is unnecessary; however, when it comes time to deliver a meal to them after a baby is born, I don’t bring them Pork Chops and tell them to get over their “legalism.” I respect that this is the conclusion they came to after studying the Bible. I don’t get insulted because they “obviously must think I’m sinning.” And we have had conversations on why they believe what they believe – but we come to different conclusions – and that’s ok. We are forbearing with one another and are able to be good friends, knowing we both love the Lord and are trying our best to honor Him.

    We have other friends who are against celebrating Christmas. I am careful to honor their convictions by not sending them a Christmas card or including them in activities that have a clear focus on Christmas, which would make them feel uncomfortable.

    If we all tried to think the very best of one another, and didn’t interpret each others words and motives in the worst possible light, we would be much better off. And I am not saying I don’t do this perfectly! In fact, the reason I’m saying it is because every once in a while I do it and my husband points it out. It’s a learning opportunity. We must stop treating each other like enemies. We are brothers and sisters!

    Times are getting bad in this country; we need to be united!

  17. Martha says:

    Absolutely! I know many good friends who have different beliefs that I am respectful of, even though I do not hold to those same beliefs. I have felt sometimes though, there is more judgement for those who live differently than the “norm” than those who follow the pattern.

    My brother in law’s “persecution, I pray that God can reach him somehow, but he is so staunch against others who disagree with him, persecuting them, where the mere thought of talking to him sends fear into my fleshly heart because his words are powerful now in a wrong way, in a way like “Sally” as well.

  18. Alethea says:

    Young ladies who choose to live at home and not go off to college are persecuted. Call it whatever you want, they are persecuted, from within the church and without. No, they are not beaten, whipped, or killed, but they are persecuted. And it’s O.K. we choose to be different.

  19. Jennifer says:

    Some Christian women who have not stayed home have been persecuted as well.

  20. cate says:

    Let me understand this – you’re defining “Persecution” this broadly (someone ostracizing a family for not practicing birth control, etc.), but complaining about the way another writer defines “abuse” too broadly?
    I understand that you’re probably stung after the review of the book that cast your response blog in an unfavorable way, but framing criticism of your public writings as “persecution” is really going too far. Disagreement isn’t persecution. Criticism isn’t persecution. Fellow Christians can disagree with one another on matters of faith, practice, and even what constitutes abuse without anyone claiming they’re being persecuted, I think.

  21. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Cate,

    I assure you, I am not “framing criticism of my public writings as persecution.” :-) In fact, I guess I don’t really even consider myself “persecuted” because things like online attacks from perfect strangers don’t really bother me anymore – although they certainly did at one time. And, for the record, as long as someone is criticizing something I wrote WITHOUT misrepresenting it, I’m good! ;-) I’ll happily defend my beliefs.

    You are right; disagreeing is not persecution. It’s all in the way we disagree. Muslims disagree with Christians; but they don’t stop there, do they? :-) It’s not the disagreeing that’s the problem – it’s the hatred.

    Again, as minor as our “little persecutions” may be, people can certainly gain comfort and encouragement from Scriptures that tell us that, when we attempt to live godly lives, we should expect persecution; or, at the very least, nasty opposition, maltreatment, harassment, bullying, or shunning. (By the way, these are all words that came up as synonyms for persecution.) These types of persecution are real; and it does hurt (mostly when the persecution comes from those we’ve been close to). More importantly, it often divides the Body of Christ. That’s the bigger issue. And that goes both ways.

    “Fellow Christians can disagree with one another on matters of faith, practice, and even what constitutes abuse without anyone claiming they’re being persecuted, I think.”

    I agree. It’s not the “disagreeing” or “criticism” that is the “persecution.” It’s the mocking, the shunning, the gossip, the backbiting, the belittling, the reviling – the general lack of love – that’s the problem. And it’s sin.

  22. Molly says:

    I agree with Tanya: “I think for every story of someone feeling “persecuted” for not wearing skirts there is probably a story of a woman feeling “persecuted” for using birth control or not breast feeding or wearing pants or putting her child in school. The fact is none of this rises to the level of persecution. They are simply sad disagreements among the brethren. ”

    Christians may choose to do any those things before God. But if they are being persecuted for them, they are being persecuted for those decisions, which to me are unrelated to the decision to be a Christian (God-follower). I firmly believe that God gives different of his followers different convictions (or some of them they may have chosen themselves under the belief that they are honoring God).

    Not only was your list a sad, narrow representation of Christianity, but it gets dangerously close to holding that culturally-specific lifestyle up as the way that Christians live (or should live).

    What is important to me is that someone knows that I love God and sees Jesus in me. If others, Christians or non-Christians, look at me and see me as someone who homeschools & wears skirts, and persecutes me for it, then I feel that I have distracted them from my true Sacred Calling rather than fulfilling it.

  23. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Molly,

    If I decide to smoke a pipe (which seems to be the new “hip” thing to do in some Christian circles), I understand that I have the Christian Liberty” to do so. The only biblical argument that can be made against it is that it harms my body. (Of course over-eating also harms my body. And, so does eating junk food, soda, MSG, spraying my home for bugs etc).

    And, of course, the reasonable response would be that it isn’t harmful as long as I practice smoking in moderation. There. So we’ve concluded that smoking a pipe in moderation is neither physically harmful in any sort of significant way, nor is it forbidden in Scripture. However, there will be Christians who are hung up on the “smoking is just wrong” thing. I have to admit; I would probably be in that group – though I admit it’s not a sin - I just think it’s stupid. :-) So, if Uncle Harold likes to smoke his pipe after dinner on Sunday evening, and other Christians who may see him take issue with it, and make it clear they don’t approve, is he being “persecuted” for smoking his pipe? No.There is no sacrificial virtue in smoking a pipe. He just likes it.

    I believe that drinking wine in moderation is allowable. In fact, at times, it is even encouraged in Scripture. However, if I invite friends over from church who believe that it’s sinful to drink alcohol, I’m not going to feel persecuted if they tell me they believe it’s wrong. In addition, I’m not going to offer it to them, or drink it in front of them. I am going to put it away for their sake. I am called to love my brother.

    9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:9–13)

    I don’t think you can call it persecution when you use your “Christian Liberty” to do things that are questionable. But, I do think you can be persecuted for living out a conviction that, though it would be easier to “follow your fleshly desires,” compels you to do what you feel God has called you to do, even in the face of great opposition.

    Here is a thought we can all ponder. If we ever feel the urge to make fun of someone else’s convictions (and I don’t think you were doing this at all, Molly!) – convictions we might think are unnecessary or “legalistic,” let us consider Cor. 8:9-13 and James 4:1–6. We must be careful – we need to all guard against saying or acting in a way that unnecessarily divides the brethren. Rather than join those who arrogantly make fun of their brothers and sisters, let’s try to sit down with those who believe differently and discuss the Scriptures in love. Let us respect one another. We may all learn something new!

    Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:1–6)

  24. Stacy McDonald says:

    The following quote is taken from my post, ONE WAY!. You may want to take the time to read the whole things, but here is a portion that I thought might be helpful here;

    “We’re called to study the Word, pray, and honestly and faithfully live out, and share what God has taught us. We can’t hide behind the fear of man. Obviously, there are many teachers teaching very, very different things on various issues, and we can’t all be right. We are weak, fallible creatures living out each day by faith as He enables us. Like one reader commented, this is where forbearance comes in. We need to remember that we’re on a journey together.

    I appreciate very much someone who has studied a subject and comes to a different conclusion than I do, but who is willing to discuss it with me in love and humility – and I try to do the same, knowing that I could be wrong. But, if everyone is afraid to share what they believe because they’re afraid of being called a legalist, or because they’re afraid people will think they’re “shoving their beliefs down someone’s throat,” then we all lose.

    Likewise, if we “share” what we believe by insulting and misrepresenting one another, or by ignoring the “royal law,” (James 2:8) then we are behaving as Razor Mouthed Christians and we need to repent!

    By the grace of God, we should all be able to humbly share what we believe to be true, ever willing to be corrected by the Word of God.

    I came to many of my current convictions because I was challenged by bold believers who weren’t afraid to confront me with Scripture. I was sent to the Word to pray and to see if those things were so. I learned to study like a Berean (Acts 17:11).

    And know that Satan’s purpose is to tear down, and not to build up, as the Word of God will do. Don’t be afraid of false accusations of legalism; God judges the heart of man. Fear Him alone. Live your life in love, walking in faith, confidence, and humility. But be careful with your words; always aware that some are yet unable to discern between the newness of the Spirit and the letter of the law.

    “We should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:6)

    Example: If you say that modesty is important, and that tight, revealing clothes draw the eye to things we shouldn’t, as Christians, bring attention to, there will be someone who will want you to describe exactly what you think is too short; exactly how tight is too tight; and exactly how much skin they can show before “you” call it a sin.

    In some cases, it’s a trap; they don’t really care what you think. Their questions are meant to corner you. If they can push you up against a wall by coercing you to be overly specific with your version of how to live out a random truth – then they can cry, “Aha, legalism!” (Psalm 35:19-21) Don’t fall for it.

    Other times, genuine Christians who really want to honor God, but may be weak in their faith, ask for a list of rules. They forget that sin is a heart issue, ultimately displayed outwardly in the flesh. Immodesty, like so many other sins, reveals itself in various ways. It cannot be cured with a specific list of “do nots.” It’s far too extensive of a problem for that.

    Teach the things you know to be true – truths backed up by Scripture. Know that there may be various ways to obey and live out a certain command, but there is only one truth. And please remember the royal law must reign supreme in the midst of teaching or debating anything (James 2:8). Keep in mind that patience and forbearance is the key. If some are still learning, we must remember that so are we! Let’s all seek to glorify God as brothers and sisters, loving one another, and continuing on in all we’ve been called to do.”

    “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:23-26)

  25. Molly says:

    I wasn’t making fun at all. I’m saddened to see that my sincere comments were taken as such.

  26. Stacy McDonald says:

    Oh Molly! When I read your comment, I honestly didn’t understand how you could have thought I was accusing you of “making fun” of anyone. Then, I went back and read my own words and was horrified! I am so sorry! I realized I began my comment in response to you, but then as I wrote, the whole thing kind of turned into a general rant and I forgot I was answering anyone in particular. That’s what I get for trying to communicate when I’m exhausted.! LOL I went back and modified my comment in a way that hopefully better communicates what I was trying to say.

    This was totally negligent on my part. Again, please forgive me! …walks away from the computer, still horrified…and hoping Molly will forgive me.

  27. Molly says:

    Thanks, Stacy, all’s well.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Hi Stacy,

    First of all, I hope after reading my comment that you will understand my need to remain anonymous.

    Our family has been living overseas as missionaries in a moderate Muslim country that shares a border with a fundamentalist Islamic country. I so appreciate your concern to not belittle the suffering of these people.

    The issues you raise here are significant. We have learned firsthand that brothers and sisters in Christ who engage in the attitudes and behaviors you describe will, in times of intense persecution, turn on each other. If we cannot bear with one another in easy circumstances; if we bite and devour each other now; if we break fellowship over personal–not doctrinal–convictions while we enjoy a certain amount of religious freedom; then we will not suddenly show loving concern for each other in the face of persecution from the world. The believers who gossip about and shun each other today will probably not follow the Hebrews’ example of sharing with those are suffering tribulation, reproach and imprisonment for the sake of Christ.

    I do hope that believers here will be able to live quiet and godly lives free from life-threatening persecution, but my greater desire by far is that the western church would be a pure bride clothed in garments of righteousness, reflecting the glory of her Savior.

  29. Gabriel says:

    1. homeschooling
    2. wearing skirts
    3. keeping your children with you in worship service
    4. avoiding tattoos or piercings on your body
    5. avoiding Harry Potter
    6. wearing a headcovering
    7. choosing not to date

    But some of us do believe that these issues fall under Scripture and that is why we follow them. Our family does not attack others for what they believe. If the opportunity to discuss these issues arises then we would but with humbleness and kindness (I was not always kind about it, or humble, but by God’s grace I have learned to be). The funny thing is that we home churched for many years. When we found a church we thought we would be the “liberal” family in our ultra conservative church. We love our church but we have faced many issues such as the examples given above. The preacher has stated that we shelter our children too much – and he homeschooled his own child! Women of the church wonder why our oldest child is not going to college – and then don’t believe her when she says it is her choice! I reached the point that I will listen to why someone believes the way they do but they need to have scriptures to back everything up and if they can’t then we can agree to disagree. I think it all boils down to the church not be understanding of each other, of not wanting to question whether they are sinning themselves or not, and of wanting to be selfish in their walk in Christ. Selfishness does not have any place in walking with Christ. Many of us Christians would do well to learn that.

  30. Jennifer says:

    Gabriel, I’ve found that some use the Mosaic laws to back up similar beliefs to the ones you mentioned. That is not sufficient Scripture back-up to me.

  31. Jennifer says:

    “Again, please forgive me! …walks away from the computer, still horrified…and hoping Molly will forgive me”

    Happens to everyone :) I’ve even had my mom tell me, after I’ve unloaded some burden to her, “Well, don’t yell at ME.” And I’d have to say, “I’m not, I’m just yelling!”

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