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Hate Crimes (1st of 2)

I’ve been noticing the way some followers of Christ are resisting and speaking out against hate crime laws. One religious trade group reasons that, “‘Hate Crimes’ legislation would have a harmful ‘chilling effect’ on the religious freedoms of … Christian ministries to communicate the whole counsel of God on such subjects as false religious doctrines and cults and sexual behaviors which are contrary to biblical principles; and it would impose a political correctness standard over public discussions of such matters, and could result in the actual criminal prosecution of Christian communicators, as it has in other nations where similar laws have been passed…”

But here’s a question I have: What will happen to the name and reputation of Christ in our generation if his followers are seen as being against a law that defines a hate crime as that which “willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability of any person.”

As the quote above shows, one argument is that such laws could eventually be expanded to discourage not only violent behaviors against groups of people but also to erode our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech.

But until I hear and understand otherwise, I say, what’s wrong with being more concerned about the reputation of Christ, and those for whom he died, than we are about losing some of the wonderful legal protections and freedoms we have enjoyed.

Of course, I wouldn’t wish persecution on ourselves or anyone else. Nor would I question that our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms have, until now, provided a wonderful protection for the growth of the Church. But, and even though I tremble to say it, I’ve also never heard anyone disprove the observation of Tertullian who in the third century wrote, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

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12 Responses to “Hate Crimes (1st of 2)”

  1. bradym says:

    From a strictly constituional perspective, I disagree with hate crime law because it criminalizes thought in addition to action. All the actions described above are already illegal and reprehensible, regardless of the motivation of the perpetrator. What good does it serve anyone to criminalize the thoughts of the perpetrator? Unfortunately, that is a slippery slope that will eventually be used to criminalize the thoughts of people apart from their actions rather than merely in addition to their actions.

    As Christians we will be persecuted under such laws eventually, and of course that will only serve to draw people closer to God and His kingdom.

    So on the one hand, as an “American” I’m against hate crime legislation, but as a Christian I am sort of resigned to the inevitability of increasing persecution in an the increasingly eroding social/moral atmosphere of our culture.

  2. martdehaan says:

    You make a good point. Only God can be the ultimate judge of our thoughts. But doesn’t our criminal justice system currently consider evidence of motive when determining the appropriate penalty for a guilty verdict?

  3. bradym says:

    But that’s only a guilty verdict based upon the act that was committed. The motive itself does not become a crime–unless hate crime legislation is passed.

    Speaking of motive, this idea brings me in another direction: does God judge our motives? Certainly we have learned that good deeds done for selfish motives amount to nothing in God’s eyes, but what about sins committed with “good” motives? i.e. the man who steals to feed his starving children? Killing an intruder to protect one’s family? Do these motives make the act any less of a sin in God’s eyes?

  4. martdehaan says:

    I’d like to hear what others say about this before I comment again.

  5. TFasold says:

    As to the hate crimes legislation, I’m not informed enough to make a comment,but, on the last entry from bradym the 2 examples you lay out are a matter of pre-meditation versus acting on instinct.
    The man who steals to feed his family has other choices.
    The man who kills an intruder to save his family has no other choice.

  6. Niivam says:

    I do not buy the argument that this legislation will affect our relgious freedom as Christians if we will imitate our saviour Jesus when it comes to evangelism to do it in love with perseverance. We should remember that he loved the world that he gave himself for it.

  7. martdehaan says:

    The Bible recognizes motive in criminal acts. For example, Proverbs 6:30-32 acknowledges that people do not despise starving persons who steal to satisfy their hunger. Yet, it points out that even starving thieves are held accountable if they are caught (v31). And under the law of Moses mercy is to be shown to someone who unintentionally kills his neighbor (as long as he has not hated him in the past) Deut 19:4 In both cases motive is recognized, and in the second– whether there was evidence of hatred is to be recognized in the penalty.

  8. Dave says:

    The Word is true. As I find myself being distracted in life, by the world and all of its clamorings, I am reminded that Jesus was persecuted. He told me that would happen to me, in His Word. He also told me to not be concerned about that noise; but to love Him and to love the neighbors He gave me to. Paul was persecuted and yet as I read the Word, I see that he gave his testimony in the many places the Lord put him……..over and over………….the same wonderful story. Do I think that by worrying and fighting about what the world is calling out to control my life, I am going to have a better and calmer and safer life? The answer to me from the Lord is no. Be in the world but not of the world. Love me and love one another. What a great Jesus I serve.

  9. Ted M. Gossard says:

    I so much concur with what you’re saying, Mart. I admittedly come from more of an Anabaptist perspective, probably, and this perspective lends me more towards an emphasis on being the society in Jesus that impacts the world, rather than emphasizing so much, the political end of things. Though we need more Christian politicians everywhere, and we need to be responsible in this as normal citizens of our nation, as well.

    But I am much concerned by the message this sends to the world, when it seems that we’re against the gays. We need to befriend them and love them unconditionally, as we seek to win them along with all the rest of us sinners, to the Lord.

    Thanks again. Your posts and comments are so thoughtful. This is a wonderful blog!

  10. bondservant2 says:

    Must see silencing the Christian. I have e-mailed the site to my address list. It has also been shown on TV. Also, if you log into AFA action alert.com you will be able to see it. It has to do with hate crimes and what an eye openor. Things that are going on are what I have been telling others about who though I was insane. I am insane in CHRIST. Must be in prayer for Pastors that don’t sugar coat the message, as well as for all Christians.

  11. nitron01 says:

    A few things to consider:
    1. Christians must speak out against hate crimes legislation as it leads to judicial dualism which the Bible prohibits [Exodus 12:49].
    2. Regarding current Hate Crimes Law, who determines “hate” ? [consider the Jesse Dirkising case compared to the Matthew Shepard case – wikipedia] When we try to determine ‘hate’ it is indeed a slippery slope as, unlike murder or theft, ‘hate’ is subjective rather than objective [consider the “Murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom” – wikipedia].
    3. Why are existing laws against crime, applied to everyone equally, not enough?

  12. boogerd says:

    i’m new to this blog and i have a few comments maybe a question or 2.If Christians were actually practicing Christ-likeness then why would hungry men have to steal food?There are enough Christians that if we all joined together instead of arguing over doctrinal issues that we could probably alleviate a lot of the hunger, so that a man would not need to steal food.Ifa gay that we are witnessing to and praying for claims to accept Christ but refuses to give up his gay way of life, do we still allow them to join our church?From what i read in scripture that a person born-again is a new creature, old things are passed away ,all things have become anew.Since this is so, then i would have to question the authenticity of that persons conversion ,even though I know that only God judges, but the Bible does say that we know them by their fruits. just thinking here

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