How Should We React to Persecution?

[Update: Matt Slick recently wrote on the CARM website that basically everything shown on The Daily Show segment was taken out of context and intentionally edited to make Slick look bad, even after being reassured that he would be fairly represented.]

Monday night on television, a segment was run where Boise, Idaho pastor and radio host Matt Slick made the case that Christians are victims of “bullying” by gays. Unfortunately for Slick, the segment was for the fake news program, “The Daily Show” (TDS) which runs on Comedy Central, and the comedian news anchor interviewing him was Samantha Bee. The interview was setup to mock Slick for his viewpoint and make him look unreasonable and paranoid (including a cut of him making crazy eyes).

Pastor Slick told Bee, “The Christians that I talked to are intimidated. They’ll often get intimidated, they’ll often get persecuted…for just saying that they believe that homosexuality is wrong, or that homosexuals are sinful—just like adulterers, just like pedophiles, just like liars, just like thieves.” Slick even told Bee that some Christians are getting targeted and “beat up” by gays.

For most of the interview, Bee conspicuously made sarcastic faces at Slick, who was seemingly unaware about being mocked.

The second half of the segment focused on outspoken gay, Todd Clayton (who is clearly in on the joke since he helped write the segment with the “TDS” writers). Clayton claims to be a Christian and so Bee wanted to hear his view on the issue. Clayton told Bee, “Evangelical Christians are not experiencing bullying. It’s essentially a giant temper tantrum that they don’t get to be in charge anymore and that they have to share their toys.”

The intent of the segment clearly was to show Slick as a paranoid man making wild claims. Bee asked slick, “At what point has your right to express yourself been infringed upon?” Slick replied after a long pause, “I don’t know if it’s going to happen…but I’m concerned about it.”

My first reaction to the interview was to actually feel bad for Slick. The poor guy seemed to mean well and he didn’t say anything that was antithetical to traditional Christian doctrine—Slick just seemed so naive. To his defense, the editing was dubious. Slick’s statements and even facial expressions were obviously edited to be taken out of context to gain the biggest laughs (they’re a comedy show after all, so there’s no reason for them not to). “TDS” exists to make people they disagree with look stupid, but that’s exactly why Slick is so naive. He should have known that before even getting on the show. Feeling gracious, I want to try and give him the benefit of the doubt and say he worked really hard to make a compelling case and that the show’s targeted editing was too much to overcome—although with some statements he didn’t really help himself.

My second reaction to the interview was actually some agreement with Slick. Do I believe there are Christians being persecuted for their beliefs about homosexuality? Yes I do but not necessarily with bodily harm, as it seems Slick states. Look at what happened to Louie GiglioBen Carson, or Greg Laurie and the public vitriol against them for voicing their beliefs. It doesn’t have to be bodily harm for it to be persecution. Verbal and written insults work just fine. Jesus stated, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11).

But my final reaction was actually some agreement with Clayton. While I do think some Christians are being persecuted for their beliefs, I also believe that some Christians are throwing a “giant temper tantrum” about it. I’m not negating the fact that we may be persecuted now or in the future. But that shouldn’t surprise us. Persecution is guaranteed all throughout the Bible (John 15:18-20, 1 Peter 4:12-19). If it’s not going to be over the issue of homosexuality then it is going to be over something else.

The question should not be, will Christians be persecuted but how are Christians to react in the face of persecution? You’d be hard pressed to find a verse where Christians are complaining that they’re being persecuted. Jesus didn’t utter a word in His defense. Paul sang while in prison. The apostles rejoiced after being beaten.

We are not called to complain or state our rights. It’s actually more American to complain when we’re offended than Christian.

Instead, you see verses encouraging perseverance. You see actual joy over being counted worthy to be persecuted. I understand that it could mean actual harm for people to stand for the truth. I understand that your business or reputation could be at stake. But we are called to something greater. “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed…if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1 Peter 4:14, 16).

If the church can learn to do this in the face of any persecution, I believe that will make a far stronger statement about the Gospel than any outcry over rights ever could.

For further reading, check out Matthew Lee Anderson’s guest post for CNN on a similar issue.

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3 thoughts on “How Should We React to Persecution?

  1. I really appreciate the balanced thoughts on the segment. I haven’t yet seen it, but I’ve heard of cases about it and I’d have to agree with you; Christians complaining about persecution is ignoring what Scripture has to say. And, in another way, it’s sort of attempting to put the homosexual community under public criticism by trying to cast them as the bully when, in reality, we Christians have had a bad history in being the bully toward the homosexual community.

    It’s frustrating because we have a very unique opportunity nowadays to engage the homosexual community with (hopefully) less tension between the two communities. And instead of slapping them around with Bible verses, which mean nothing to the average non-Christian – maybe even the average homosexual, we can meet them on their level. We can go to them and minister to them instead of requiring them to get to our level.

    So again, good thoughts and well-articulated!

    • Thanks Jeremy!

      I agree. It’s about displaying to homosexuals (and everyone) that the Gospel actually works—that it transforms sinful humans to be able to love their enemies, pray for those who persecute them, and find true satisfaction in God. Often they think we’re blowing smoke about our beliefs because we don’t live like they’re true. Appreciate your response!

      • I agree that Christians often don’t live their professed beliefs. For example, my brother says that women must submit to men and that homosexuality is a sin because “it’s in the Bible.” However, he frequently brags about cheating people and has been caught with pornography on numerous occasions. He also called our mother a “whore” when she asked him to make our younger brother stop verbally abusing her. He has also threatened to beat up my sister’s gay friend if she brought him around our family’s home. When he behave’s like this, it makes it seem to me like he only cares about the Bible when it confers power on him or gives him license to bash someone else, and then disregards the Bible when it burdens or constrains him. Unfortunately, there are too many “Christians” like my brother out there.

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