“Better stand up for yourself.” Dr. Jordan Peterson.
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21
The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that a Christian Law School can be denied accreditation for opposing homosexuality.
In the context of this, and a question posed by Canadian author Faytene Grassechi, Jordon Peterson has encouraged Canadian Christians to, “stand up for yourself”. And by way of practical advice as to how one might achieve this he added, “It’s probably time to take an active role in the political world.”
All of which is fine, and there are many good examples of ‘Christian’ government (please excuse the quotation marks) through the history of the Western nations. Except, I’m struggling to recall any kind of Biblical text which says, “Better stand up for yourself.”
I’m struggling to recall any kind of Biblical text which says, “Better stand up for yourself.”
Furthermore I don’t see any great rush in the West’s political system to be sympathetic to Christianity. Indeed, it seems much more likely that Peterson’s warning that, our “religious rights are very low on the rights totem pole at the moment”, is a deliberate action on the part of Western politics to remove Christianity from the public square.
It’s very difficult to argue for anything other than a deliberate throwing off of a Christian past in Western societies, even if it is couched in terms of diversity and tolerance.
I should say that I like Peterson, at least I like most of what I’ve been hearing from his many appearances in the media, and I have enjoyed his treatment of Genesis (available on YouTube)—at least as far as one can given that it is focused on Christ as an archetypal perfect man rather than historical-redemptive Saviour; but I’m not sure that, “Better stand up for yourself”, is a Christian approach to what appears to be an ever closer (choose and insert your own strength of adjective) persecution.
I’m not arguing that Christians should avoid politics, and I’m not arguing that Christians should not vote, I support both of those ideas, but what I will argue for (and have done so previously and previously) is an honest recognition that the Church is no longer influential. And being no longer respected or influential, the former tried and tested political and social modes of protection will no longer work. It is imperative, therefore, that we take the possibility of deliberate exclusion from politics and society more seriously, much more seriously. Anyway, it’s debatable if there ever was much security to be found in placing our hope in politics, or if we were ever supposed to. There are, and have been, no shortage of Christians in politics in Ireland/Northern Ireland, and nothing about recent political events suggest that they’re holding back a tide of secularism or being successful in standing up for themselves.
A central tenet of Peterson’s suggestion is that “the entire doctrine of individual sovereignty and individual rights as a logical extension of the Judeo-Christian notion…”, which, again, is fine, and perfectly accurate, but the political system isn’t calling for individual rights, it’s calling for conformity to social/State thought. Never mind the fact that the West is dismantling the “Judeo-Christian notion”, rather than building it. The context for the Christian Church in the West, then, is one we haven’t faced before, or at least within living memory. And in a new context we may need a new course.
And then we must remember the Biblical perspective: that there has always been a high degree of emphasis on the free relinquishing of individual rights for the sake of another—even one’s enemies.
Peterson continues, “If the traditional types are concerned about preserving what they have, and also having the right to continue to engage in their faith-based activities, then they better take a good, hard look at the people who are opposing that and decide what they’re going to do about it.”
And we can certainly agree on that:
Yes, we do have to decide what we are going to do about it.
But in making that decision we must also remember that however opposed to Christianity a society becomes, it cannot ever take away our, “right to continue to engage in (our) faith-based activities”; it cannot, ever, take away from us “what (we) have”; and it cannot ever stop us being Christians…
Because what we have is something we call the Gospel. And the Gospel is the news of forgiveness by a kind and merciful God; the Gospel is the news of mercy extended to society, and the more enemies there are, then the more people there will be to whom we can give something to eat and something to drink.
That is what we have, and that is a right which can never be removed.
…”perhaps it’s time to rejoice and be glad?”
And the Gospel is also the news of another world and another Kingdom which cannot fail and which will last forever. So perhaps it’s time to stop fighting for our (worldy) rights, and perhaps it’s time to rejoice and be glad? And lest we think that this is some kind of weak acquiescence with the powers of this world, someday we may realise just how much courage it takes to bless while being reviled.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
The whole Grasseschi/Peterson interview is available here.