In most western ‘Christian’ nations, believers have experienced great freedoms and been recognized as influential and important members of society, as those who uphold the accepted moral standard. But the times are a-changing and fast.
A pastor jailed
Recently, in Canada a pastor was jailed for holding to his biblical convictions about the importance of church and the necessity of meeting together, albeit during the Covid restrictions. Whether or not you believe in his convictions or not, the point is that a Christian has been imprisoned for living out their biblical convictions and exercising their ‘religious freedoms’.
However, this case becomes relevant to every believer because the outcome of this situation will become a precedent for how other Christians are treated in the future when they attempt to exercise their ‘religious freedoms.’
Prayer and counselling become illegal
Also, in Victoria, a bill was recently made law that prohibits Christians counselling and praying for individuals regarding gender identity and sexual orientation. If a court decides such a practice has caused ‘injury’ the believer could be fined or even face jail time!
Possibly even more disturbing, is that even if someone is seeking such counsel and prayer it is illegal for them to receive it! Just so you know I didn’t make this up, the wording of the Act is, “In this Act, a change or suppression practice means a practice or conduct directed towards a person, whether with or without the person's consent.”
Again, this law becomes relevant for every Christian because it is now the precedent that other states and countries may follow. So, while most people in the world don’t live in Victoria, this single law could very quickly become the catalyst for laws all over the world that would also prohibit such practice. Simply, such a law makes it illegal for Christians to exercise their freedoms to pray for and counsel others in an area the Bible speaks about.
What Christians can do
While this article is short and cannot discuss these two recent events or other related topics that threaten religious freedom (e.g. abortion, euthanasia, mandatory vaccines) in more detail, hopefully you realize all of this is concerning and you’re asking, “what can I do?”
A few suggestions I would offer in how each believer can respond includes: prayer, preparation, petitions, study, and a biblical focus.
Firstly, private and personal prayer is a religious freedom that can never be taken away and the Bible teaches the importance of prayer. This includes prayer for governing authorities (1 Timothy, chapter two, verses 1-4) and certainly should also be made for brothers and sisters in Christ who are facing challenges in their faith.
I also believe it is important to begin preparing ourselves for the future in which our Christian ‘freedoms’ will continue to be threatened and taken away. While this is disturbing, it is also a reality the Bible speaks about because society will grow worse and more hostile before Christ returns. An example of preparation is becoming careful of what we say or don’t say, because anything we say may in the future be used against us. It would also be beneficial to prepare ourselves (mentally and physically) for growing forms of persecution.
Another response is to keep a finger on the pulse of politics. This will help you think through and respond appropriately to some bills being presented to parliament that may have underlying implications upon religious freedoms. Petitions or letters to the government authorities may be one appropriate way you could respond to the increasing number of bills being introduced to remove Christian freedoms.
Next, studying the Word of God is necessary for our daily life of faith, but in these times, it is also important to understand what God’s Word says, so we can identify what is true and know when to stand against what is false. Knowing the Bible will also equip us with the truth we can share with other people and strengthen our faith when we face future challenges.
Finally, while I urge you to consider all of this carefully, I would encourage you not to lose heart, but to take heart. None of these events are outside of God’s control, rather He has already spoken about them in the Bible. But, rather than looking at the near future, let us focus on our eternal future.
None of us are deserving of freedoms or even life, and yet, because of Christ’s death on the cross as the sacrifice for sin, all those who genuinely believe in Him are promised an eternity without pain, suffering and death. We will enjoy an eternity of truth, an eternity of what is perfectly in our best interests, an eternity of absolute freedoms without sin, and an eternity with our Lord and Savior.
So, while we may lose our freedoms to be Christian, we don’t lose our hope or our purpose. Therefore, even as we focus on the future, may we live the here and now to do what we can to know the truth, stand for the truth, and tell others the truth.
Genevieve Wilson is Canadian. a happily married home-schooling mum of 3, whose passion is to see people come to know Jesus. She is a seminary wife to her amazing husband.