Who Gets to Say?

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old. – Acts 4:13-22

Five Petals |St. Maarten| May 2019

The World and Everything in it podcast reported on Monday morning, July 8, that

Sheffield University expelled a devout Christian for a post he made on Facebook.

The student, Felix Ngole, responded to a question put to him on Facebook about sexual ethics. He expressed the Biblical view that homosexuality is a sin, quoting Leviticus. 

An anonymous complaint about that led the university to decide Ngole wasn’t fit to practice social work. That’s what he was studying to become. A social worker. The school said he couldn’t do social work and also hold Christian views.

Ngole sued for violations of his speech and religious rights. He lost. But last week, he won on appeal. (Click here for the full transcript)

Perhaps those who expelled Ngole had also expelled those Muslim students who quoted certain parts of the Koran. Maybe the expelled someone who engaged in misogyny. It could be that this was an even-handed action. It seems, however, not to have been the case. It seems this was directed at this Christian man because he was standing for his firmly-held religious beliefs. Those beliefs just didn’t coincide with popular mores or political correctness.

We take our religious freedoms for granted. We assume that we can express our faith without fear of retribution or government interference. When we are not allowed to do so, we howl and cry foul! That does not stop governments and authorities from trying to silence our witness. The message of Jesus does undercut the ways of the world. The truth of the Gospel hacks away at the false gods of greed, power-mongering, and self-centered pride. These will all conspire to silence our witness.

It is difficult not to be cowered into a corner of silence in the face of these intimidations. And while we don’t need to be belligerent, we do need to say, “I will obey God not man if the choice comes to that. I wonder where I have set aside that line of demarcation in favor of the praise of man. Search me, O God, and show me so that I can show myself faithful to the truth you have revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ my Lord!

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