Would you deny or die?

Religious Liberty
by La Shawn Barber

Posted on Wednesday, October 7, 2015, at 2:01 pm

While attending a faith-based conference last month, I was talking to two pastors about the redefinition of marriage. I said I’d be willing to go to jail to defend my religious freedom and hoped God would give me the strength. At the time of this proclamation, we were entering the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, a relatively safe and symbolic place to be bold. In the shadow of the U.S. Congress, I could speak with confidence about something that probably won’t ever happen to me, but could.

Despite the symbols of freedom, we now live in a country where serving certain types of people isn’t enough. Christian business owners are expected to provide services for events or face government penalties. That’s freedom? I’m not only alarmed by this, I’m angry. By now you’ve probably heard the analogies. What if a neo-Nazi asked a Jewish photographer to take photos at a rally? Or, would the government really fine a black baker who declined to make a cake for a KKK-themed wedding?

I thought about my “jail” comment at the Capitol after I found out the Oregon shooter asked his victims about their religion. Sources reported that he was anti-religion in general. I pictured myself in the moment, with somebody pointing a gun at my head, demanding that I reveal what I believe. Would I freeze in panic and say nothing? Would I answer, “I’m a Christian,” even before my murderer finished the question?

Denying Christ to live or professing Christ to die is an extreme situation the average American Christian in America won’t encounter. But what if? Would your survival instinct override your boldness in Christ? Most of us would answer no. We’d like to think we’d courageously confront death, knowing we’ll see the face of Christ. The Apostle Peter thought the same. And the Apostle John wrote this about Peter:

“Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.’”

Christ later restored Peter, and asked him to feed His sheep.

For now, American Christians have to deal with government fines for Christ. Our religious freedom is slowly eroding. What is this First Amendment protection for if Christian business owners can’t refuse to provide services that would violate the tenets of their faith? Our constitutional right is about more than going to church and believing what we want to believe. It also protects our right to live out our faith in public and in private.

Whether we brace for government fines, jail, or death, we should strengthen this faith day-by-day to prepare for challenges that lie ahead like snares.

La Shawn Barber

La Shawn is a former WORLD columnist.

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