Culture

What Price Will American Christians Pay for Their Faith?

Samuel Lamb, a Chinese Christian pastor, spent over 20 years in prison for his faith.

Samuel Lamb, a Chinese Christian pastor, spent over 20 years in prison for his faith.

Samuel Lamb defied the Communist Chinese. A leader in the underground Christian community, Lamb passed away earlier this month in Guangzhou, where he ran a house church for decades. Voice of the Martyrs reports:

When the Communist Party took control of China in 1949 under Mao Zedong, Christians were forced underground or forced to submit to Party control. Those that refused were interrogated, arrested, tortured, imprisoned or even killed. Samuel Lamb became one of the best known of these persecuted church leaders.

Lamb first tasted prison in 1955, when he was sentenced to serve 18 months. He was imprisoned again in 1958, this time receiving a 20-year sentence. Part of his sentence was spent serving forced labor in coal mines, where working conditions were deplorable and many prisoners died. Lamb would later talk about how God preserved his life even in the midst of such dangerous work.

For most American Christians, Lamb’s experience lays so far outside our own that it can be hard to perceive as modern. Living as we do in a land of relative religious liberty, we understand persecution only as an intellectual concept. It lurks in the depths of church history, or haunts the horizon of a distant future glimpsed through biblical prophecy. The idea of facing persecution today, in present America, seems unthinkable at first consideration. After all, we’ve spent our whole lives driving past a church on every corner, swearing oaths on copies of the Bible, and covering our hearts while swooning over the Land of the Free.

Be that as it may, as the culture makes radical shifts in the 21st century, the price of Christian confession begins to rise. If certain coalitions have their way, adherence to the Christian faith will be regulated out of public existence. Oh, the church buildings may stand, and 501(c)3s operating in the name of Christ may remain. But biblical Christianity taught without compromise will be relegated to underground enclaves like those formed under the Communist Chinese.

Offensive and bigoted today. Illegal and punished tomorrow.

Offensive and bigoted today. Illegal and punished tomorrow.

My wife and I recently stood before our congregation to dedicate our two sons to God. We publicly declared our intention to raise them in the faith, to teach them the Word, and do everything in our power to encourage their belief in and reliance upon Jesus Christ.

Such dedications happen at churches across the country on a regular basis, likely without much consideration of any legal consequence. However, we happen to live in the latest state to recognize same-sex unions as “marriage.” The bill which passed in Minnesota makes no exemption for religious conscience expressed outside the regulated confines of church. So Christians engaged in for-profit business or secular activity may not abide by their faith when accommodating the public. For this reason alone, the choice to dedicate our children to God and commit to raising them in accordance with his Word makes us vulnerable to legal persecution when we inevitably take a stand on the marriage issue.

As local news outlets covered a flood of same-sex ceremonies on August 1st, the day when the new law took effect, a worn-out associate of mine consoled himself with the notion that the debate was over. “At least now that they have what they want, we don’t have to hear about it anymore.” Alas, that notion proves naïve.

Emboldened by their victory, radical activists supported by a national coalition which sees Minnesota and its Democrat-dominated state government as a perfect laboratory for floating trial balloons have introduced an “anti-bullying” bill which will profoundly criminalize Christianity. The deceptively named Safe and Supportive Schools Act would be more accurately titled the 1984 Wrong Think Act, as it implements Orwellian prosecution of thought crime on a level unprecedented in American history. The details will shock you, the subject of a future exposé here at PJ Media. Suffice it to say, this “anti-bullying” measure actually institutionalizes the bullying of anyone who dissents from state-approved opinions.

SocialClassChoice

When dedicating our sons to Jesus Christ, we chose Joshua 24:15 as the verse we will refer them back to when remembering the moment. There, the leader of Israel challenges his countrymen to take a stand:

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

We selected this verse because of its focus upon choice. We have made a choice to raise our sons in the faith. We will be faced with new and increasingly challenging choices to stay on that course. Eventually, our sons will each face their own choices regarding whom they will serve. If there is a bright side to the potential increase in persecution of Christians in America, it will be a separation of wheat from chaff, of those who call themselves Christian as a matter of cultural convenience from those who are not ashamed of the Gospel and contend for the faith. If such a trial falls upon us, we thank God for the opportunity to exhibit a faithfulness like Samuel Lamb’s.