Disagreement, Dissent and Discernment
It is a mark of a healthy society when freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of conscience are respected and protected. One does not have to agree with someone, but one should respect the rights of others to have alternative convictions, without any fear of condemnation. Dissent can be healthy. Discernment is always necessary. Christian love does not demand conformity. It is a fruit of the Protestant Reformation to respect freedom of conscience. When Professor Martin Luther made his bold stand before the Emperor, declaring: "my conscience is captive to the Word of God…”, he championed the principles of freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of worship and all the other freedoms which have become the foundation of Christian civilisation. Yet, today, there is a disturbing tendency to demonise dissent. Political correctness and charges of "hate speech" are threatening freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. Historically, Magna Carta and bills of rights have protected the rights of the individual to disagree with the majority. Today, however, it is becoming increasingly difficult and even dangerous to go against the tyranny of the majority. How should we, as Christians, respond? What can we practically do to restore discernment and respect for dissent and disagreement?
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage… For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."