Recent OFSTED inspections of faith schools have angered and distressed Christian and Jewish families through their aggressive questioning of young children on sexual matters. A high performing school in Sunderland has been placed in special measures for its failure to teach on homosexuality, and a Christian school in Reading has been condemned for its exclusively Christian assemblies. What has happened to religious freedom in our nation?
A New Religion?
The answer is that a new religion has gained ascendancy – the religion of “equality and diversity” before which all else must give way. Its tenets include an aggressive promotion of homosexuality and a depiction of Creation teaching as something evil and dangerous. The liberal, secular prophets of this ideology seek to impose it on society through the force of the law, and are coming into conflict with orthodox faiths, foreshadowing a new era of religious persecution.
People who have unconsciously imbibed the religion of diversity and take its tenets as “givens” need to stop and think exactly what it is that these secularists hate so much.
Unlike the Islamists of ISIL, evangelical Christians do not have an agenda to establish a theocracy, imposing Biblical laws through coercion and violence. Christ taught that His kingdom is not of this world, and the Apostle Paul reminded us that we do not have a permanent home here, but are looking to an eternal kingdom. As evangelicals we have a long tradition of supporting democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of worship for all.
Secular Humanist Hostility
The hostility of the secular humanist establishment towards orthodox Christianity focuses primarily on a single issue: the Biblical teaching on sexual morality. The teaching of both Old and New Testaments is that marriage between a man and a woman is the only legitimate context for sexual relationships. Modesty should be encouraged, and innocence protected among the young. This teaching is not confined to Christianity, being shared by Islam and Judaism. Christians wishing to uphold this position and teach it to their children are clashing head on with the proponents of the “equality and diversity” creed who demand that other relationships should not merely by tolerated but affirmed and celebrated, and that the youngest of children should be subjected to detailed descriptions of sexual practices. Hence the vicious targeting of Jewish and Christian schools by OFSTED, and the persecution of Asher’s bakery by the Northern Ireland Equalities Commission.
But what harm is being done by Christians who uphold these traditional standards? The children educated in Christian schools are not being indoctrinated into an attitude of bullying and bigotry. It is not evangelical Christians who sneer at, taunt and ostracise gay people. Bullying is a problem with deep roots in our fallen human nature – it is the instinctive hostility of an insecure majority to the outsider. The perceived difference may be appearance, style of dress, accent – it matters not. Ironically, it is through embracing the teachings of Christ that the roots of such attitudes can be pulled up and destroyed. A child brought up to “judge not”, to love their neighbour as themselves, to regard all men and women as made in the image of God and to care for the outcast is not going to become a bully and will treat their neighbour with courtesy and respect, whatever minority they may belong to.
So why should the secularists object to Christian education? The “equality” agenda is now so widely accepted that most people are unaware of its roots in the cultural Marxism of the 1970s.This pervasive ideology has been embraced by many of those now in power, particularly on the Left, and disseminated through the education system. Cultural Marxism views the traditional family as a barrier to “progress” which needs to be dismantled. Responsibility for educating and shaping the views of the next generation should, in their view, be transferred from parents to the state. The traditional support for marriage as the cornerstone of the family is to be replaced by the promotion of a diverse array of partnerships. There is a deep hatred for the orthodox faiths which uphold the family and persist in passing on traditional views of marriage and of the fatherhood of God (seen as an excuse for oppressive “patriarchy”). And the irony of it all is that the secularists are not even sure what “progress” would look like if achieved, save that everyone would share the core values of “equality and diversity”.
Results of The Trojan Horse
It would appear that those with an agenda to mould society along these secularist lines have been given something of a gift in the recent “Trojan Horse” affair. Bible-believing Christians have been unfairly bracketed with violent Islamist extremists in an effort to discredit all traditional faiths as dangerous, bigoted or even anti British. This is a gross injustice, perhaps partially also fuelled by the Government’s desire not to appear partisan in placing restrictions on “extremists”.
Is Orthodox Christian Teaching Fair?
Critics may say that orthodox Christian teaching is unfair to gay Christians, denying them the right to self expression. But this betrays a woeful ignorance of what the Christian faith is really about. Christ called people to take up their cross and follow Him. The Christian way does not have self fulfilment as its end; rather, it is a life of sacrifice. Examples are all around us: the husband giving up his career to care for a wife with dementia, the wife who stays faithful to her schizophrenic husband, the promising young professional who forgoes money and status to serve Christ in a small rural community. Many Christian women have remained single because they would not marry an unbeliever. For a gay Bible-believing Christian the cross they are called to carry will include a life of celibacy – though not one of loneliness and rejection, thanks to the love and acceptance they will find in the caring community of the church.
In Christian thinking, sexual expression, though having its place, is not the chief end of man. We have higher things to aim for – serving Christ, loving one another, finding our identity primarily as children of our heavenly Father. We have no agenda to persecute or vilify minorities, restrict freedom of speech, send out violent holy warriors or seize areas of territory, but rather seek to uphold and defend our values through peaceful, legitimate, democratic means. Though we ourselves believe that the laws and standards of the Bible are good for society, we accept the right of others to disagree. In a free society, the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists’ right to mock religion without fear of reprisals is being defended by the liberal establishment – why not the right of Christian churches and schools to proclaim and teach our own moral values? Our words will hurt no-one.