THE SPIRIT THAT SEEKS TO SILENCE CHRISTIANS
In Oklahoma, a so-called “conversion therapy” ban is in danger of passing into law. Karen Hardin has written an excellent article for HeadlinePrayer.org entitled “When Republicans Are Wolves It Is Time to Act” which deals with the particulars of the Oklahoma law and the strange news that it is being championed in part by apparently conservative Republicans.
Conversion therapy bans are notable because they attempt to control speech and opinion. Basically, they say that counselors, school officials, parents cannot try to help a person feel differently, if that person’s feelings are LGBT, that is homosexual or transgender. Here at IFA we see articles and news almost daily about the growing efforts to silence opposition to LGBT. This silencing casts Christians in the role of neanderthal bullies and pro-LGBT advocates as the courageous heroes creating a brave new world. We think and pray about these issues, and puzzle over them. We are constantly seeking God, asking Him to reveal what is going on spiritually behind the news.
So when I read on Saturday morning about Herodias in Mark 6, the spirit behind what is going on leapt off the page. You may remember the story. Herod, the corrupt ruler, was a huge fan of John the Baptist. Herodias, his wife, had been his brother’s wife, but Herod divorced his first wife and took her for his own. John was not afraid to point out that this was against God’s law (Mk 6:18). Herodias resented this and wanted to kill John, but she needed to get around Herod and his admiration of John for this to happen. I love how the Bible Gateway commentary explains what happened:
Herodias knew Herod only too well. He easily succumbed to sensual excitement, and as his birthday drew near her foul design was hatched. On the day when drink freely flowed, Herodias used her own daughter to inflame Herod’s passions. She was willing to sacrifice her child’s modesty in order to bend Herod to her will. Herod was overcome by Salome’s form seen through the flowing flimsy garment she wore, and influenced by the act of the dancing girl took a rash and foolish oath to give [Salome] whatever she asked, even to half of his kingdom. Approaching her mother, Salome said, “What shall I ask?” Without hesitation Herodias, the female hyena, replied, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist.” Returning to Herod she presented her demand, and Herod was extremely sorry at such a request. Yet, because of his oath’s sake, he sacrificed the preacher whom he regarded as just and holy, and all because of his guilty love for a vile woman. No wonder he was smitten with fear when he heard of the fame of Jesus, thinking it was John the Baptist risen from the dead to torment his conscience further. One wonders how Salome felt when the gory dish of the preacher’s head was handed to her?
Several things jumped out at me reading this familiar story again. First, Herodias was married to Herod. She had what she wanted. They were living as man and wife in contradiction to God’s law. No one was keeping her from this. What enraged her is that John said it was wrong! We see the same thing today. Anyone who wants to be gay or transgender can be. There are countless resources available even for children who want to fight their parents to do so. And mainstream and social media will celebrate their efforts. But that’s not enough. They want biblical voices silenced. They don’t want to hear that these things are against God’s law.
Second, Herodias used her daughter to justify her ungodly relationships. Isn’t it interesting that the battles over transgenderism and sexuality have happened mostly with children and in schools? You can read more about this in our prayer resource on the topic: Transgendering Our Kids. Human trafficking, the growing effects of porn and its ready availability to people of all ages, the change in curricula to include LGBT instruction in all areas–these things pull children into cultural mores that have veered steeply away from God and His law. Children have been pushed to the front lines and are merely pawns in the battle to accept this ungodly behavior and silence those who call it out.
Third, Herodias used sexual wiles to control, like an earlier royal wife, Jezebel. Jezebel wanted to silence the prophets of God who spoke out against her and her husband, Ahab. Again, Bible Gateway describes the similarities between Jezebel and Herodias: “Herodias’ Old Testament counterpart was Jezebel. What Herodias was to Herod, Jezebel was to Ahab. Both Ahab and Herod were wicked, and in both cases, the woman was more wicked. Both Jezebel and Herodias fostered hate that became deadly against a prophet of God. Jezebel hated Elijah and sought to kill him—Herodias hated John the Baptist, the New Testament Elijah, and succeeded in his murder.” This spirit is at work today and it is why we see legislatures debating bans on certain kinds of therapy that are rooted in the truth of the Bible and in the message of hope, redemption, and change that is freely available to all of us in Jesus Christ. These bans are an attempt to silence the people of God.
We know the end of the story. Jezebel dies and is eaten by dogs. Herodias overreached and angered Caligula and she and Herod were banished. And for us, we know the end as well.
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. (Rev 22: 12-17)
So what do we do? We pray for the conversion ban in Oklahoma and other states to fail. We pray for revival. And we pray that we as Christians would be faithful and courageous in speaking the truth in love and keeping our eyes on Jesus as we do so. And pray that our laws would not attempt to silence our voices as we offer truth and hope to a desperate world.
(Judy McDonough is the IFA Communications Director.)
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