Posted by: stpowen | March 31, 2015

‘The Name of the Beast.’ The Conservative Party’s ‘British Values’

Revelation 13:16-17. ‘And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark upon their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.’

Readers may be aware of the speech made by the British Home Secretary, Teresa May, recently on the subject of countering ‘terrorism and upholding ‘British values.’ The Home Secretary revealed the new “extremism disruption orders” would ban those who “spread hate but do not break existing laws” from the airwaves and make it easier formally to proscribe groups deemed to be linked to terrorism. The orders will apply to those who “spread or incite hatred” of gender, race or religion as well as those who engage in “harmful activities” for the “purpose of overthrowing democracy”. That has prompted fears that the laws could be used on non-violent political groups and the political enemies of those in power. Am I the only one who feels very uneasy about the principle of banning those who are not proven to have broken the law? Apparently not. Human rights group Liberty said recently that the proposed powers were “worthy of a caliphate”.

Also, it seems very easy to break the law these days if one offends certain groups. Consider the following:

Mr Overd’s ‘crime’ seems to be that, on being questioned, he referred to homosexuality as an ‘abomination.’ We might have thought it wise not to use such language on the street, but let’s be quite clear: the Bible states that homosexuality is something God hates. ‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination’ (Leviticus 18:22). We need to be clear that it is by no means the only thing that is abominable to God. Pride, for example, is something God hates (Proverbs 6:16-17), so it might be inferred that people who go on ‘Gay Pride’ marches are doubly abominable to Him. But what has happened to the ‘Right to Offend’? It is only a few weeks ago that politicians from all over Europe were joining arms and declaring ‘Je suis Charlie.’ We were told that people have an absolute right to print whatever they want no matter how vicious and unfair. In the case of Charlie Hebdo, this included the most vile blasphemies upon the Lord Jesus Christ as well as cartoons of Mohammed. Now I am not for one second condoning the cowardly and murderous attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo. The God I worship forbids me to take revenge on His behalf or my own (Rom. 12:17-21). He also makes it clear that He is quite untroubled by such attacks upon Him (Psalm 2:1-6).

But why is there this strange double standard? Why must religious people put up with whatever insults anyone cares to throw at them whilst other groups seem to be beyond criticism? Mrs May speaks of ‘British Values’ and states that tolerance is one of them. So it is, but tolerance does not equal acquiescence, much less approval. To tolerate something does not mean that one must accept it as right, and it does not mean that one cannot criticize it.  It is not against the law of Britain to transgress the fifth commandment by failing to honour one’s father or mother, but that does not make it right to do so. Christians tolerate the transgression in the world inasmuch as we don’t go around assaulting people who are unkind to their parents or rude to them, but we should be preaching against the practice and disciplining members of our churches who are guilty of it.

It is becoming much harder to be a Christian these days. There is an increasing number of jobs which are no longer open to a Christian who believes and follows the Bible. To be a Registrar of marriage, to run a B & B establishment, to be a wedding planner, or, if the case in Northern Ireland goes as I expect it to, to be a baker or a florist will be impossible without a compromise of principle. School-teachers will soon be required to teach sex and ‘relationships’ to primary-school children and tell their charges that (despite the serious health risks) it’s perfectly alright and ‘normal’ to practise homosexuality. Christians are finding it impossible either to foster or to adopt unless they are prepared to teach the children that a homosexual lifestyle is acceptable. Sikhs may wear their turbans, Moslems their hijabs and Hindus their bangles at work, but the Government insists that a Christian has no right to wear a cross. If you are a shop-worker, you are unlikely to keep your job if you seek not to work on the Lord’s Day.

There is nothing new about this situation. Under the Roman Empire, many Christians were unable to work unless they sacrificed to the gods of the various trade guilds of the time; and today, Christians in Pakistan and other Moslem countries are excluded from all but the most menial jobs because of their allegiance to Christ. This takes us back to Revelation 13:16-17. To have the name or number of the beast tattooed figuratively upon one’s hand or forehead means to compromise with the world either by what one does or thinks. ‘Here is the patience and the faith of the saints’ (Rev. 13:10). It will become harder and harder to live and work as a Christian in the U.K. in the coming days. I shall be in the happy position of not needing to earn my living in a very short time. It behoves those of us who are so favourably situated to be ready to help our brothers and sisters in need when they  transgress Mrs. May’s ‘British Values.’


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