Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Oppression by Christians or Christian Oppression?
Throughout history Christians have been persecuted by their fellow members of society. In fact, Jesus prepared his followers for this persecution in Mathews 5:10, saying “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This discrimination is clearly visible in our history, and yet today we often turn a blind eye when it occurs in our own nation. Recently, at the University of California at Davis, the conservative advocacy group petitioned a letter on behalf of more than 25 students to change the university’s Principles of Community, a document which all entering students agree to by signature. This document addressed the issue of religious/spiritual discrimination, defining it as “...institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.” This problem has been brought to the university’s attention in the past by former students who refused to sign the document, however, nothing was done to change the statement. Fortunately, upon receiving this letter the Vice Chancellor of UC Davis changed the definition on Wednesday.
By discriminating against Christians in its principles of nondiscrimination, the university has not only outlined Christians as oppressors but has implied that nonbelievers are the only oppressed individuals, thus leaving Christians vulnerable to greater acts of oppression. This is not only something that occurs within our educational system but within all areas of our society. As counselors we must address the issues that these acts of discrimination incur. Whether they help strengthen the faith of Christians as they stand up for their beliefs or whether they cause great suffering for those afflicted by the persecution. Regardless of the end result it is important to help the client to see that God is in control of every aspect of their life.
Luke 10:19 says “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Because we are alive in Christ we will not be harmed by the things of this world. Even when we experience persecution in our earthly lives we cannot be hurt for when we lose our life for God we save it (Luke 9:24). Christ has already forewarned about the persecution that His followers would experience. It is unavoidable. However, as Christians we can stand up and defend our Lord just as the students at UC Davis did. We can express the love and compassion of Christ to those who have experienced suffering on God’s behalf and assure them that their faith will be accredited to them as righteousness.