Yesterday, my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds brimmed with outraged and frightened Status updates from Christians upset that Buzz Feed had “outed” HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines for attending a church that calls homosexuality a sin. While I have concerns about Joanna Gaines, I agree with my social media contacts that their church affiliation should not have any bearing on whether or not they should continue doing their show.
So yeah, they’re being persecuted for belonging to a church that takes a Biblical stand on homosexuality. And yeah, the persecution is entirely unfair. Our country’s Constitution guarantees Freedom of Religion, and their beliefs about homosexuality should not cost them their careers.
Obviously, I happen to agree with their pastor: homosexuality indeed is a sin.
But the social media posts I read yesterday trouble me just as much as Buzz Feed’s attempts to silence evangelicals. Have we forgotten that Jesus promised us that standing for Him and His teachings would necessarily invite persecution. I could cite multiple Scriptures substantiating my point, but today I’ll limit myself to just one.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 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. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ ~~John 15:18-25 (ESV)
As citizens of the United States of America, Christians have become accustomed to worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ openly and proclaiming His Word without fear of serious reprisal. Throughout history, however, few genuine believers have enjoyed such luxury. And in our own times, many Christians in Communist, Socialist and Islamic countries worship with the understanding that they could suffer censure, property loss, imprisonment or death for Christ’s sake.
Our Founding Fathers may have promised us free exercise of religion, and certainly Christians should take advantage of those dwindling freedoms as long as possible. But Jesus never said that the world would cheer as we stood for His truth. By all means, we must continue saying that God created sex to be enjoyed only within a monogamous, heterosexual marriage. We should say other things based on Scripture, that the world doesn’t like.
But we should never confuse Constitutional promises with Biblical promises. The persecution that Chip and Joanna Gaines currently face is normal Christian life. Rather than being surprised and outraged, we really ought to consider this as an expected consequence of following the Lord. It won’t be easy or pleasant, granted, but God’s grace will carry us through.