The timeless truths of Christianity are not a threat to society, but a threat to injustice, division and hatred.
Many of the laws of our nation are built upon Christian truth.
Christianity has helped shape our culture in Northern Ireland.
But Christians truths are now coming under increasing pressure.
From challenges to our abortion laws, to the case of the MacArthur’s bakery and the recent prosecution of evangelical pastor Jack McConnell, all are clear reminders that the truths of evangelical Christianity especially are under attack and believers across Northern Ireland can sense the growing pressure.
The persistent challenge to Christianity from many different places is deeply saddening.
It is neither logical nor progressive to suppress the truth we seek to proclaim.
Christianity, with its emphasis on loving your neighbour, selflessly supporting the vulnerable, respecting the value of the unborn and every life as well as proclaiming the good news that there is a better way in the gospel, is enriching to a nation, and when done correctly can be more beneficial than anything we could seek for our society through other means.
The recent case of Pastor Jack McConnell, acquitted for making offensive remarks against Islam, provides an insight into the pointedly negative attitude some have toward the evangelical Christian belief.
Why was this case even brought to trial?
Whatever your view on his remarks, whether you disliked the tone, completely disagreed or agreed, the fact that he has been brought to court, and public money spent on prosecution is extremely troubling.
Whatever happened to free speech?
It used to be a given that I may passionately disagree with you but in Northern Ireland I defend your right to say it.
Perhaps this has happened because true Christianity is counter-cultural.
It stands for a different set of standards, is sustained by someone other than ourselves and is governed by the unconditional love and truth of God.
It seeks to be a compassionate voice speaking truth into the public square.
From our views on gender, marriage, sex and relationships evangelicals especially are often seen to be out of step with modern thought. But is this a bad thing?
Has our ‘progressive’, ‘tolerant’ and ‘pluralistic’ society really reached a better place? We are no further forward in eradicating deep rooted divides and problems of crime and wrong-doing.
Our society is hardly a more moral place and in many ways is morally worse off.
It requires increasing courage to be a public Christian these days.
The McConnell case is just another example of an alarming anti-Christian agenda. In a wider context, aggressive secularists are trying to silence the Christian voice. Many Christians are afraid to speak out in their work places for fear of unwanted discrimination.
The cultural zeitgeist is simply this: self is king.
In this climate of rampant individualism, society is all the poorer for the undermining of evangelical truth.
Far from being a blockage to ‘progress’ evangelical truths provide inspiration and guidance for a better, stronger and more responsible society.
• Tim Houston works with the Christian organisation CARE in Northern Ireland