Monday, August 31, 2015

Should Beliefs Be Kept Private?

Recently a celebrity of Jewish background made a statement about her beliefs that the online community decided to stick their uninvited noses into. A few stated that religion and faith are a personal, private matter that shouldn't be made public. The celebrity quite rightly observed that as a public figure, her whole life was public and under constant, sometimes unwelcome, scrutiny.

For those who believe in the Bible, is it really so that we should keep our faith to ourselves? Is it really true that public declaration of belief is wrong? No, indeed! Actually both of those questions can and are answered by the Bible itself. But before considering that, there is a principle that Jesus mentioned at Matthew 6:21. It reads: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In my short lifetime (60+ years), I have observed that to be true about the things we choose to talk about. Someone who loves sports will readily use that as a conversation piece in public. Someone skilled in music or some artform will readily talk about those things in public. Since we all talk about the things that are important and meaningful in our lives, why in the world would talking about something as vitally important as our relationship with our Creator be considered taboo?

Then, when we consider that even homosexuality is openly discussed and even legalized in not only the USA but other countries, an intelligent person has legitimate cause for pause when they are told that talking about morals and matters of faith are wrong. “Immorality is okay, but morality is not” is essentially what is being said by those that try to squelch expressions of faith. For all the twisted excuses that people have in invoking “freedom of speech,” our faith is one specific area that is actually intended in the constitution of the USA. No, that doesn’t give radical believers the right to shove their morals in other people’s faces, but calmly sharing faith cannot and should not be compared to those extremists.

Merely silently believing in God is as worthless as knowing that natural disasters happen but never making any preparation for them. In both cases, our beliefs don’t do us or anyone else any good. The writer James makes a sobering point when he says that demons believe in God, but that belief will not save them -- in fact, they know it means their destruction. Still, some want to put God in a box (aka, “church”) and keep him there out of their lives.

Anyone claiming expressions of faith and belief in God should be kept private, has not read Jesus’ words at Matthew 28:19,20. Just as anyone is granted freedom of speech for any number of topics in public, I require others to respect my right of freedom of speech to talk about God and Bible. If you choose not to listen, you don’t have to. But don’t tell others they can’t or shouldn’t share what has meaning in their lives.

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