Monday, February 10, 2020 -
“…I have heard so many ministers say, ‘Those are social issues which the gospel has nothing to do with,’ and I have watched so many churches commit themselves to a completely otherworldly religion which made a strange distinction between bodies and souls, the sacred and the secular.
“There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But they went on with the conviction that they were a ‘colony of heaven’ and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.
“Things are different now. The contemporary church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the average community is consoled by the church’s often vocal sanction of things as they are.
“But the judgment of God is on the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. I meet young people every day whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust.
“I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour…”
These are the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., in his letter from Birmingham jail, defending his peaceful protests against the evils of segregation and the silence of the white church in regards to standing up for justice. Yet these words could have just as easily been said of the church today in its neglect to stand up for the rights of the unborn, traditional marriage, against the legalization of drugs, pornography, homosexuality, and the acceptance of sin as normal.
Many have said in my case before it was discovered that the law was on my side (and my prosecution was specifically religious persecution and a political vendetta), that we must obey the law even if that conflicts with God’s law, or for that matter, nature’s law.
Martin Luther King, Jr. also addresses this very argument very well: “You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is neither strange nor paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask, ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘An unjust law is no law at all.’
“Now, what is the difference between the two? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal code and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. To use the words of Martin Buber, the great Jewish philosopher, segregation substitutes, and ‘I-it’ relationship for the ‘I-thou’ relationship and ends up regulating persons to the status of things. So segregation is not only politically, economically, and socially unsound, but is morally wrong as sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Isn’t segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, an expression of his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? So I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court because it is morally right, and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances because they are morally wrong…
“Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was seen sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar because a higher moral law was involved. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks before submitting to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience.”
Dr. King also lamented about being labeled an extremist, even though he preached non-violence. I can relate, being called an extremist by many newspapers and websites: “But as I continued to think about the matter, I gradually gained a bit of satisfaction from being considered an extremist. Was not Jesus an extremist in love? – ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice? – ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ? – ‘Here I stand; I can do no other so help me God.’ Was not John Bunyan an extremist? – ‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a mockery of my conscience.’ Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? – ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.’ Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist? – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?”
I thank God for leading a man I have never met to send me this famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which I have never before read. It is an encouragement to me, that this man gave his life for standing on righteous principles, and refused to waiver. It makes me wonder how many lies have been told about him, as I know lies have been told about me.
The words which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from his jail cell back in August 1963, when I was a mere eight years old, are just as relevant to believers, or to the church, today as it was back then. His stand and his sacrifice indeed led to the removal of unjust laws. The issues and the battles are different today, but they are also major civil rights issues. Innocent, defenseless, human beings are being slaughtered within the protection of their mother’s wombs. There is no way for them to defend themselves against the scalpel that cuts their helpless bodies to pieces without regard to their pain. How is that any different than feeding defenseless people to hungry lions?
And what about the young children who are coaxed into the false and permanently psychologically damaging belief that they should have been born the opposite gender, and are able to switch genders? How much different is that really than what happened in the Lisa Miller case, and is happening probably more often than you realize, where you have the court-ordered sexual abuse of young children taking place in the name of “diversity?” God help us! May the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. echo widely today, and the church wakes up, not just here in America, but throughout the West and the world!