Religious Freedom Is Our Most Dangerous Idol

May 20, 2015

The world today sure seems like a frightening place…

The very act of painting a sign and protesting would get these people killed in much of the world. My guess is these people are protesting on their own behalf, not for the tormented minorities of Iraq, persecuted by ISIS.

The very act of painting a sign and protesting would get these people killed in much of the world. My guess is these people are protesting on their own behalf, not for the tormented minorities of Iraq, persecuted by ISIS.

…especially if you consider yourself a Christian.

Everywhere I look, as I click through my news feed, it becomes apparent that Christians’ freedom of religion is under attack. If there is one subject that I can find constant anecdotal evidence, it is that Christians’ freedom of expression, conscience and speech is being halted left and right. There are protests and demonstrations everywhere, as a cultural majority feels itself becoming a minority. It makes the future a frightening prospect, as even Franklin Graham predicts that persecution against Christians will increase in America.

No doubt, American culture is more hostile toward Christianity than it used to be.

I have come to another conclusion, however.

Our love and passion for our freedom of religion will be our undoing.

It has become our sacred cow…

…our freedom is our idol.

How Much Freedom Do You Need?

Let me ask you something:

Exactly how much freedom did Jesus have to practice his religion?

How much freedom do you need to give a thirsty man a drink of water?

How much freedom is required to give a tyrant your coat when he demands your shirt?

How much freedom does a man need to love his wife more than he loves himself?

Does a wife need permission from the state to love her husband?

How many lawyers do we need to protect our freedom to love our neighbors as ourselves?

How much freedom do we need for our hearts to be broken by stories of little girls being raped, tortured and sold into sex slavery by ISIS? How much freedom do we need to be moved with compassion for girls who live in hell on Earth? How much freedom do we need to be moved to actually do something about it?

The Effects of Too Much Freedom

The fact is that we love our freedom.

But we have mostly misunderstood and abused it.

When we talk about freedom of religion, we mostly mean our freedom to pray in public, even though our own Savior told us to pray privately.

We talk about freedom meaning protecting the non-profit status of our organizations so that we can write off our donations. Either we don’t trust our own generosity to keep our churches running, or we know that they are bureaucracies, too bloated to survive without “charity” status, though most of them hardly operate like charities at all.

We talk about freedom, meaning we think we don’t have to serve people at our public businesses, though our Savior told us we ought to give double what people demand of us.

We have in this country, like many other things, an overabundance of freedom. We have so much freedom, that like food, it goes to waste.  We don’t know what to do with it, so we abuse it. We gorge ourselves on it and become unhealthy. We don’t know how to make godly choices, like we don’t know how to eat. We act like our religion is this delicate little thing that would topple over if we lost our freedom, when really it’s a sweaty, bloated hog that needs to go on a diet.

When I read scary stories about how certain people want to wipe out Christianity, it occurs to me that such Christians must have a very secular view of their own religion. Christianity was a fledgling little “cult” in the first century, persecuted with death. But it could not be killed. If our religion really is a work of the Holy Spirit, then we do not have to worry about losing our freedom. The fact that we are worried reveals the very brokenness of our faith.

The effect that too much freedom has had on modern Christianity is that it has all but killed Christianity in its true, gospel sense.

We Don’t Lose Our Religion When We Lose Our Freedom

The thing about the religion that Jesus preached is that it does not need freedom to work. Jesus practiced his religion with far less freedom than we enjoy.

Really, the point of religion is not freedom at all. If your religion clashes with what you are compelled to do, then you are supposed to bear those consequences. It’s called being a martyr…a real martyr. (Not a mental condition, prevalent in American society.)

Our freedom is our idol, simply because, defending it has become more important to us than actually practicing our religion.

We are more interested in protecting our right to pray, than actually communing with God.

We are more interested in protecting our vision of family, than actually building loving families.

And we are more interested in protecting our non-profit status, than we are in defending people with no freedom whatsoever.

Take your freedom and do something with it.

3 responses to Religious Freedom Is Our Most Dangerous Idol

  1. I love this. That’s all.

  2. This is so true, and such a refreshing read.

  3. I’m only seeking “freedom from” religion…