Should Christians Protest Or Demonstrate?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Should Christians protest or demonstrate in public, especially when they see injustice?

Speak Up

So, what do you think? Should Christians protest or demonstrate in public, especially when they see injustice? What about protesting at abortion clinics? The Bible admonishes us to “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute” (Prov 31:8), and to “Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov 31:9). Surely the unborn are those who are “mute” and we need to “defend the rights” of those who cannot defend themselves, but should Christians protest or demonstrate? In itself, there’s nothing wrong with protesting or demonstrating because we are to “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Rom 12:9). We can demonstrate for the right to life, but as for protesting abortion clinics, I think it’s better to offer signs of hope or talk about their baby being adopted. We can offer free counseling and offer them other opportunities before they take the life of their unborn child, however, angry protests against women having abortions is not the way to win their hearts. They need our prayers, support, love, and to know that there are alternatives for them, but any violence or words said in anger in any protest or demonstration are not what God would have us do.

Should Christians Protest Abortion Clinics

If a Christian protests at an abortion clinic, they should follow the local laws governing such protests.

Peaceful Protests

The Apostle Paul was accused of inciting a riot on more than one occasion, but if we read the biblical record, we find out that this is not true. For example, Paul said he suffered from “beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger” (2 Cor 6:5), and riots and beatings that he didn’t cause. What actually happened is “the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd” (Acts 17:5), but the town clerk pointed out the source of the riot, and it wasn’t Paul. He told the riotous crowd that “if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion” (Acts 19:39-40). Even a pagan town clerk knew that a riot was no solution to the problem…or any problem for that matter, so If anyone had a reputation for stirring up riots, it was the Jewish leaders (Matt 27:20; Mark 15:11). The same people who once shouted out praise to the Lord Jesus Christ with “Hosanna! Hosanna!” (Mark 11:9–10), would in less than a week, cry out, “Crucify Him!” Obviously, rioting is the same thing as lawlessness, and the Jews knew this, just as the Romans did, so every Christian should know that the Bible forbids rioting, and obviously looting, and destruction of public or private property. Breaking mankind’s laws is sin, even if you’re protesting the laws of man (Rom 13:1-5; 1 John 3:4).

Lawlessness

As we read earlier, even the non-believing town clerk said, “If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly” (Acts 19:38–39), so undoubtedly, the man’s conscience knew that this riot was not good for the citizens or the businesses. This proves that even unsaved people know right from wrong (Rom 2:16), since their own conscience informs them of it (Rom 2:17), so everyone should know that human anger almost always leads to nothing good (James 1:20). The only exception would be what we call righteous indignation. Like Jesus over turning the money changers table in the Temple. Jesus saw that they were making the Temple of God a den of thieves (Matt 21:13). Another example would be in preventing a murder. Most people would try to stop it if they could. James writes that “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17), but doing something about it should never cross the line into breaking human laws (Rom 13:1-5). That’s when it becomes lawlessness (1 John 3:4), and is part of the problem instead of being part of the solution.

Man’s Law

Only when God’s laws conflict with man’s laws do we keep God’s law above all (Act 5:29), so we are to obey God first and not man, but when these laws do not conflict, and most don’t, we are to “be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom 13:1). That means that “whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Rom 13:2), and that’s not good! One example is that of law enforcement. They are “God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom 13:4), so we “must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience” (Rom 13:5). God or His Word never condones violence, looting, destruction of public or private property or riots of any kind. God is a God of order and not chaos (1 Cor 14:33).

Conclusion

Rioting is no solution to any problem. It only creates more problems, and so it’s hypocritical to riot about a social problem, and then become a social problem itself. This only makes it worse and may incite those with opposing views to violence. Violence only begets violence. The Word tells us that “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov 15:1). Harsh words are like adding fuel to a fire, so “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention” (Prov 15:18). Riots will not persuade great governments, but rather, “With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone” (Prov 25:15).

Here is some related reading for you: Should Christains Protest Abortion Clinics

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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