Of course, we said nothing during the general election campaign and now we will say nothing about what should be the priorities for the new government. We never do say anything, unless it is about sexuality, we say a lot about sexuality.
There is nothing stopping us saying anything, except fear of our own people. It is not as though we are going to face violence or arrest, it is not as though we are going to be treated like people in the Bible. Time and again throughout the Bible the people who speak up for God and who speak for what is right end up being arrested.
In the Old Testament, speaking the truth landed poor Jeremiah in constant trouble, “They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison.” In the New Testament, John the Baptist had similar treatment “Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison”. While in prison, John was summarily executed, the price of speaking out.
In the Gospels, Jesus warned his followers, “they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name”. It was a warning that came true very quickly in the early days of the church, in the Acts of the Apostles, “King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also”. Saint Paul’s experience was of repeated arrest and imprisonment, along with suffering brutality at the hands of the authorities.
“Ah, that’s different,”our leaders would now argue, “that was about freedom of faith. We have freedom.” But isn’t being a Christian about more than freedom of conscience? Isn’t the reason Christians accepted appalling things like slavery and the exploitation of children because they thought freedom to believe was enough? Isn’t seeking God’s kingdom about more than individual conscience? Isn’t it about integrity and righteousness in all things?
Were there a controversy about the icing of a cake, we would be quick to speak. A statement would be forthcoming regarding our Christian principles, but when it comes to the governance of our country? Silence. Not a word about inclusivity and fairness and the protection of the vulnerable; it’s as though words like justice were not in the Bible.