A worrying wave of political reform, cloaked in the robes of ‘social justice’ is gathering pace. Those that hold to the teachings of the Bible are under threat.
Hello and welcome to another Bible In The News.
The Scottish Hate Crime BillThis week the Scottish Government gave their initial backing to the general principles of a controversial new piece of legislation known as ’The Scottish Hate Crime Bill’.
A ‘hate crime’ is, according to the BBC: "a criminal offence that is based on prejudice against a specific group of people… Scotland already has various laws in place that offer additional protection to people from crimes based on their disability, race, religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity. It means that crimes can be treated more seriously by the courts if the offender has shown "malice and ill-will" towards the victim based on their membership - or association with - one of the protected groups."
This, on the surface, may all seem reasonable - however the “devil” is in the detail and definitions and it's causing a bit of a row.
Apparently, the bill, in its original form, had suggested that hate speech could be claimed even if someone had not intended to threaten or abuse someone. In other words, anything considered “offensive" would lead to a crime being committed. This however has thankfully been agreed to be revised.
Another dangerous legal president the bill was proposed to have set is the idea of people not being able to say certain things in the privacy of their own homes - possibly paving the way for children to inform on their own parents for saying things against protected groups. On October 28th The Times ran a headline: "Hate crime bill: Hate talk in homes ‘must be prosecuted”. The article goes on to say “Conversations over the dinner table that incite hatred must be prosecuted under Scotland's hate crime law, the justice secretary has said. Journalists and theatre directors should also face the courts if their work is deemed to deliberately stoke up prejudice, Humza Yousaf [the Secretary for Justice for Scotland] said."
The concept of “freedom of speech" then is very much under scrutiny. The age old phrase of “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” is not something the woke modern world can cope with.
Where would all this leave those who hold to the teachings of the Bible which sets out God’s view of morals, ethics, gender, sexuality and right and wrong?
Back in July, in relation to this new bill, The Scotsman ran an article entitled "Bishops fear owning a Bible could be hate crime offence under new Scots law”. The article explains that "the proposed new laws could render material such as the Bible ... as being inflammatory under the new provision”.
The BBC reported: "there were even concerns that proposed laws on possessing "inflammatory material" could potentially lead to libraries and bookshops being prosecuted for stocking books that are deemed to be offensive. This section of the bill would have covered people who "have in their possession threatening, abusive or insulting material with a view to communicating the material to another person”.
Thankfully it seems from recent reports this part of the bill is going to be removed else the Christian idea of sharing their beliefs from the Bible would be, in effect, illegal.
This type of legal reform is not unusual with other countries around the world seeking to improve their “social justice” and protect minority groups from prejudice. Holding Biblcial beliefs is becoming more and more unpopular - just last week The Christian Institute reported that "A video calling on the Church of England to uphold the Bible’s teaching on biological sex, marriage and sexual ethics is being investigated by the police for a ‘hate crime’."
What we are seeing here is another example of ‘cultural’ or ’neo’ Marxism.
Carl Marx was an economist who famously set out the ideology of communism. The main idea was the concept of a society structured upon the ideas of common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes. Most interestingly, Marx saw society and human history as the conflict between groups. The oppressors and the oppressed. The “Bourgeoisie” who own the means of production and the “Proletariat” - labourers having no means of production of their own. He saw this mainly in economic terms but as time has gone on humanist and post-modern intellectual thinkers have evolved these ideas to include cultural groups - such as those of gender, race and sexual identity. These groups divide up society not simply on the terms of wealth but on the terms of perceived privilege. The outcome of this thinking can be seen in the global ’Social Justice’ movements of our time and in the new Scottish bill.
The key idea of Marxism is that those ‘oppressors' who have amassed wealth and power should have this dismantled and it should be redistributed to those who have been unfairly oppressed. The big enemy of communism is the idea of capitalism which promoted individuality and the ability to accumulate wealth.
Classical Marxism in the past did not end well for those who did not conform to it's ideological concepts. Rather than dealing with people as individuals, it deals with groups. In the Marxist fuelled Russian Revolution (1917 - 1923) , like in the French Revolution before that (1789 – 1799), what often determined one's fate before the firing squad was not one's personal view or intention - but the class of person you were perceived to belong to. The emotive ideas of the feeling of unfairness and fighting for freedom, light a fire in human nature which cannot be easily tamed or governed. Reason and logic are not encouraged when such a flame is lit. Freedom to think and say things against the ideology is not permitted. It's something one modern author calls “The Madness of Crowds”.
The Western Nations, and particularly the Protestant countries on the whole rejected Marxist ideology. They embraced the concepts of dealing with people as individuals. This was grounded in their religious world views which taught personal (and not collective) responsibilities before God.
Today, with the concepts and principles of religion rapidly in decline we see the ideas of Marxism on the rise again. The humanist and post-modernist intelligentsia of the West sees ‘oppressors' as being in cultural classes - in groups - with the privileged white heterosexual male at the top. The concepts of the patriarchal family (as taught in the Bible) which, they say, keep the privileged oppressor on high, need to be pulled down. People belonging to religions that preach they have truth and have a view on morality which may offend ‘oppressed groups’ are themselves, part of the problem of systemic or structured oppression. The literature of these religions is, to this ideology, offensive and inflammatory. The legal systems are being weaponised against these perceived “oppressors”.
To be a ‘good person’ in this atheistic and humanist world you have to help champion these oppressed groups. Silence is considered as being part of the problem.
The battle for the mind
All of this presents a challenge for believers in the Bible. Especially because Neo-Marxist, humanist and post-modern thinking is bombarding us. It's in our education systems, media and in our places of work. It pervades all parts of society.
The Bible is at odds with humanism as it claims there is a God who is higher than human authority. It is against post-modernism as it teaches there is objective and not relative truth. The inspired scriptures of truth contain the framework of the divinely designed family. It speaks of gender and gender roles which the believer is to embrace in order to live out and learn Godly principles in their lives. The Bible has a view on sexuality, morality and it sets out what God considers as right and wrong. These Biblical ethics are very much at odds with the atheistic and humanistic thinking of our day.
The vast majority of society are not under the commands of the scriptures - nor do we expect them to be for we believe this is a free choice - as Jesus teaches us "he that beleiveth and is baptised shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).
Of course, a believer in Jesus Christ in no way advocates abuse, violence or oppression in this present dispensation. As Jesus taught "Do violence to no man” Luke 3:14. But the believer does value personal choice and individuality in following God in their lives. The believer in the scriptures does have a view on matters of morality which conflict with the Bible’s teaching.
Make no mistake, the humanist frog-like spirit of Neo-Marxism is a challenge. It's an ideology which is against the scriptures. Its a world view which does not include any respect for God’s righteousness - championing instead human thinking and pride.
What we are facing here is a battle for the mind. The question to all of us is - will we conform to the spirit of the age or will we choose God’s ways? What do the scriptures tell believers:
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them…” Ephesians 4:17-18
"And be not conformed to this world [or age]: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2
"…we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."
So we, as Bible believers, watch and observe these things with concern. Thankfully the Scottish bill will be revised but it may not be long before the believer in the Bible finds themselves in conflict with the laws of the land they live in.
We seek to follow peace with all men but we will not be conformed and we will maintain our Biblical views on these matters and seek to live them out, as best we can, in our personal lives.
"As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried [or proven]: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.” Psalm 18:30
As one gentile year begins to draw to a close, may the Lord Jesus Christ soon return to the earth to establish God’s Kingdom and righteousness on the earth.