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Q: Hi Jerry, I really appreciate your teachings on the topic of Christian non-violence and I am in total agreement that Christians shouldn’t participate and/or kill in unjust wars over natural resources. But don’t all Christians have a basic duty to protect our religious liberties, even if it requires going to war? – Peter M., St. Paul, MN
A: Thanks for the interesting question Peter. The concept of “religious liberty” is quite interesting when considered not from an American basis, but from a Biblical basis.
In the Old Testament, we learn that the Creator is a “jealous” God who will not share His rightful worship with any other so-called god. So too, one of the Ten Commandments is “thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” (Ex. 20:2; Deut. 5:6)
In His covenant with Israel, God demands unwavering devotion from His people. Like a jealous husband over his beautiful wife, God warns His people to be loyal:
“Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for Yahweh your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and His anger will burn against you, and He will destroy you from the face of the land.” (Deut. 6:14,15)
The exclusivity of the Christian’s worship is little changed according to Christ who explains that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mark 12:30)
In contrast, “religious liberty” is a concept that permits the worship of any god, at any time, for any reason, by anyone.
Not only does religious liberty allow men to worship any and all gods of their choosing, but they may also opt to reverence no god whatsoever.
While men certainly enjoy having the choice to worship any god, should we automatically believe that this is what God also prefers?
Clearly not, based upon the words of God as recorded in both the Old and New Testaments.
In my research, I have personally found that most of the laws that men like and support are contrary to the laws that God prescribes for men in His Word. Therein lies the problem.
God does not support “religious liberty” because He does not offer a religion. Religions are man-made. God is a King and offers a Kingdom.
Freedom to choose a man-made religion is not something that Christ came and died to deliver to men.
Besides this, should Christians shed blood, even of other Christians as in the American Revolution, to allow Muslims to freely worship Allah or for the atheist to worship himself?
Should Christians kill other Christians so that Hindus may worship their pantheon of gods?
There is an old saying that “I may not share your beliefs but I’ll die to protect your right to believe it.” This may be a fine motto for Americans, but not for Christians.
Christians don’t fight and kill for the right to worship their own God, let alone the false gods of others. We would rather be martyred than to slay other human beings for the sake of protecting false gods.
So too, we should also wonder how realistic religious liberty really is in the long-run. Considering man’s propensity towards evil and his history of using man-made religions to oppress others, spans of religious liberty are few and far between throughout history.
As such, if we kill others for religious liberty today, there is no guarantee that our children won’t have to kill for it again in the next generation.
What New Testament command suggests that we should perpetuate this cycle of violence?
I would suggest there is none.
Let nation-states do as they may. Christians hold to a higher law of love. Instead of being conformed to this world let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12:2)
I hope this answers your question Peter.
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