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January 31, 2012

“We have to create among these legislators a belief that they will lose their jobs if they vote to redefine this law,” said Joseph Backholm, of Washington Family Policy Institute, a member of the coalition. “We have to convince them to be more afraid of us than of the other side.”

This quote comes from The Seattle Times in an article about pending legislation before the Washington State Legislature. An emotionally loaded issue has both sides drawing hard battle lines. However, the legislative issue is less significant than a deeper issue this attitude raises.

St. John the Apostle wrote the words, “Perfect love drives out fear.” To make an individual or some group act out of fear is out of character for Christianity. If our beliefs and values are not able to stand on their own merits, then fear will not make them more valuable or more true. Our responsibility is to present the truth in love; not to coerce someone into believing it.

Someone once said that things are not true because they are in the Bible. They are in the Bible because they are true. The religious rulers were afraid of Jesus, not because of the influence of his power, but because of the power of his truth. Fear is not one of the tools given to followers of Jesus to make their case. Truth graciously told and service humbly offered are the kind of forces Jesus entrusted to his followers. Whichever side of an emotional issue we side with, fear is never the avenue of influence we should follow.

When we try to win cultural battles through political influence, we may make ‘them’ more afraid of us than the other side, but that won’t help them to see the merits of our argument. We might win a battle with fear, but we will likely lose the war.

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