Thoughts on Christian Dissidence

My daughter and I went to a protest on Saturday. I think it’s the second protest I’ve ever been to in my life, at least as far as I can recall. We joined a whopping 10,000 other people to peacefully march against vaccine mandates.

To rally for freedom.

I heard a sermon once about how Christians should stick to fighting political battles on their knees (the spiritual realm) rather than stirring things up (the natural realm). In retrospect, I think I must have misunderstood the gist of the message, because we clearly have a duty to stand against injustice. Whatever the case, for a (very) brief time after that, I was completely terrified to share my thoughts, let alone do something crazy like exercising my right to peacefully protest. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I’m far too passionate and opinionated to stay quiet for long.

But how should a Christian dissent? Is there a right way and a wrong way?

Before I get any further into this, I want to clarify my personal stance: I’m not against vaccination. I’m pro-vaccine choice. The media, however, seem to have conflated anti-vax with anti-mandates. The two are very different.

I believe with all my heart in medical autonomy. I believe that people’s livelihood should not be dependent on whether or not they take a vaccine, particularly one that doesn’t prevent transmission. I believe that no one should be excluded from restaurants, fitness facilities, recreation centres, other businesses, or any aspect of life based on their vaccination status. I believe we should be free to choose based on our own personal risk-benefit analysis.

No one should be forced to inject something into their body against their will.

And so, on Saturday, we joined thousands of other Canadians and took to the streets surrounding Ontario’s legislature. It was cold. The wind was bitter. Our fingers, toes, and faces were numb.

But it was heartening. Encouraging. Hope-filled.

One of the speakers at the pre-march rally — a Christian doctor — said something that really stuck with me. I can’t remember her words exactly, but she encouraged everyone to think about what role they are called to play in standing up for our freedom of choice. We all have a unique part to play.

As Christians, taking to our knees is by far the most important thing we can do. The battle for the hearts and minds of this nation is spiritual (Ephesians 6:12). God Himself holds the hearts of our leaders in His hand (Proverbs 21:1). We need to pray for our nation and its leaders.

Oh, how we need to pray for them!

But some of us feel compelled to speak out as well. Tactfully expressing opinions, writing letters to elected officials, or sharing medical studies and evidence-backed articles on social media? These are important tools. As Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us, there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak.” For some of us, now is a time to speak.

Furthermore, section 2(c) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows for peaceful assembly. As described on the Department of Justice website, case law has established this to include the right to protest.

(September 2021 Freedom Rally, Toronto)

There are ways of dissenting badly and ways of dissenting well. We need to dissent well. This means being respectful. Remaining calm. Disagreeing with love.

As Christians, even while speaking out against sin and injustice, we need to honour our leaders in the way we speak to and about them. And we need to be kind to those who disagree with us. I’ve not always been great at this but I think I’m getting better. As James 1:19-20 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

Like everything, it starts with the heart.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

(Luke 6:45)

As my daughter and I climbed on the train to head home after the protest, sipping hot drinks, munching on sweets, and thawing out, we were energized.

Happy.

Hopeful.

We’re working on doing our part.

What is your role?

Whether it’s hitting your knees in prayer or hitting the streets to rally, we all have a part to play.

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