The Islamic terror attacks on the offices of French satire magazine Charlie Hedbo sent shock waves around the world. Live news feeds captured the violent standoffs between police forces and 4 Muslim terrorists who ended up killing 17 people in a day of carnage. In the aftermath, there have been various reactions as world leaders, celebrities and millions of people have rallied to support the satire magazine which repeatedly printed blasphemous images of Muhammad reprinting the images for the world to see, despite the offense they caused. Others have pointed the finger squarely at the religion of Islam and made impassioned calls to limit the immigration into European nations. This article will examine the crisis from the Biblical perspective and highlight much of the double standard that once again has worked against the Christian faith.
Pray For Paris
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: – Romans 5:12.
It is a very natural reaction to a tragedy such as the Charlie Hedbo attack to ask “Why did this happen?” or “Why is God allowing bad things to happen to good people?” The Bible of course explains that the death, disease, suffering and pain in this world is all a result of sin. It was the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden that introduced death to human civilization. It was sin that brought the calamities that come along with the curse – hatred, war, fighting, murder and all the other hosts of sins that flourish in the world today. But in the midst of this, God is on the throne. Psalm 34 reads:
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.- Psalm 34:6-10.
The answer to sin and evil is faith in The Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that can change the heart of a murderer into a willing servant to the Lord. It is the Word of God that can bring healing where there was only pain and suffering. It is Jesus Christ who will truly bring peace to a person’s life. This world is cursed by sin and condemned. But all people still be forgiven and receive a new-born spirit that seeks to please God and not satisfy the lusts of the flesh. Pray for the victims, the families of the victims and all those affected by this tragedy. Pray for their healing and peace in their lives. And pray for them to look to The Lord in this time of trouble. To trust and put their faith in Christ, not their own solutions or sense of justice.
Additionally pray for the forces of Islamic terror to fail. Cherif and Said Kouachi, the brothers who led the attacks, were orphans who did not find their way into radical Islam until their early 20s’. Once exposed, they were seduced into the false belief that murder in the name of Allah was a worthy cause. While in jail, Cherif Kouachi met Amedy Coulibaly, the third attacker who, along with his alleged girlfriend, took a Jewish grocery store hostage, killing four innocents before Coulibaly was killed by police (Hayat Boumeddiene, the lone female attacker is still allegedly on the run).
2014 saw an explosion of Islamic attacks all over the world, inspired by the unprecedented success of the Islamic terror group Isis, who took over large swaths of land and military resources in Syria and Iraq. Many young people have identified with the radical Islamic movement, professing their allegiance in social media and traveling to the Middle East to join up with the murderous factions that are killing hundreds of thousands of innocents. Beginning and End detailed in our article: “ISIS And The War On Christianity”, the barbaric attacks that ravaged the Christian and non-Muslim communities in ISIS-controlled territories.
The Bible says:
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. – 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.
These four attackers and the many young people who have signed up for jihad have been blinded from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And in the place of God’s Word is the deception that inspired such a murderous ideology. Pray for those who are carrying out Islamic terror to fail and repent. Even now, those who are members of terror groups or independent “lone wolf” jihadists can be forgiven freely through repentance and faith in The Lord Jesus Christ.
Worldwide Support For Blasphemy
In the midst of the emotionally charged aftermath of the Paris attacks, the writers and artists at the Charlie Hedbo magazine have been hailed as heroes, martyrs and symbols of freedom and liberty for the world. But what “good” were they accomplishing by publishing blasphemous images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad? Was this something to be praised? This publication went out of its way to intentionally offend Muslims. Jesus Christ said:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.- Matthew 5:43-48.
Even if Islamic extremists preach hate, the Biblical response is not to mock them in return and intentionally offend. It is to show the same grace God has shown all born-again believers, forgiving us despite our numerous sins. There is nothing Biblical or just in what Charlie Hedbo was doing. And while publishing offensive images of Muhammad was within their right to free speech and freedom of the press, Christians are not to use their freedom in Christ to harm others. Galatians 5 says:
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. – Galatians 5:13-14.
Charlie Hedbo also repeatedly blasphemed Jesus Christ in its publications. Although it is not getting the same amount of press, there were numerous issues that depicted blasphemous images such as the Holy Trinity in fornication, The Lord Jesus Christ requesting to come down from the cross and a host of other blatantly offensive and blasphemous cartoons. Why would any born-again believer support this sinful use of “freedom”? Jesus Christ said:
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. – Matthew 10:32-33.
The Bible is clear: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7). To support a magazine that mocks the True and Living God of the Bible is to choose the world’s desire over God. So while Christians should have compassion on the magazine in the midst of this tragedy, there should be no solidarity with those who attack the Christian faith.
The Hypocrisy Of “Free Expression”
It is also interesting to note that while the world and the media rally around the right to free expression of Charlie Hedbo, no support is being shown for Christians who have suffered for expressing their First Amendment rights in America:
In Washington state, a Christian florist who objected to making an arrangement for a gay wedding, can not only be sued, but the owners personal assets can also be seized in the lawsuit. Baronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, as she is being accused of violating the Consumer Protection Act when she declined to provide floral arrangements to a regular customer’s same-sex wedding because it went against her Christian beliefs.
Stutzman was approached in 2012 by one of her frequent customers, Robert Ingersoll, and he asked her to supply the flowers for his wedding ceremony, where he would marry his partner, Curt Freed. She politely told him that she could not provide the arrangements to that event without conflicting with her deeply-held religious belief that homosexuality is sin.
“I just took his hands and said, ‘I’m sorry. I cannot do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,” Stutzman told reporters. (source).
After the news of Stutzman declining to provide flowers for the gay wedding hit social media, she was bombarded with hateful responses. “It blew way out of proportion,” Stutzman said. “I’ve had hate mail, I’ve had people that want to burn my building. I’ve had people that will never shop here again and [vow to] tell their friends.” (source). Why was there no support for her free expression under the First Amendment?Where are the rallies supporting Stutzman’s freedom of religion? Strangely, the media has been silent in any support.
In Colorado, a Christian cake company was not only sued for refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage, the Civil Rights Commissioner ruling on the issue compared the stand for his faith to slavery and the holocaust:
Phillips was asked in 2012 by Charlie Craig and David Mullions to bake a cake for their wedding reception. Although the cake artist agreed to make them other baked items, he said that because of his Christian beliefs, he could not fulfill the request to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
Craig and Mullions then filed a complaint with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union against Phillips, which led to the Colorado Civil Rights Division determining that Masterpiece Cakeshop had discriminated against the couple. (source).
In making her decision, Civil Rights Commissioner Diann Rice stated:
“I would also like to reiterate what we said in … the last meeting [concerning Jack Phillips]. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust. … I mean, we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination.” (source).
In both the cases, the Christian business owner was not seeking to intentionally offend the gay couples. Instead they were objecting to make something that went against their religious beliefs. And for this, they both may lose their incomes and in Stutzman’s case, her personal belongings as well. And these two cases are just a small sample of similar lawsuits taking place in the United States and Europe.
The Christians are repeatedly branded as bigots who have no right to express their religious convictions. Yet Charlie Hedbo, which has gone out of their way to attack and mock the beliefs of millions of people all over the world, are hailed as heroic and symbols of freedoms for all.
Isaiah 5 says: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” Such is the case when the world promotes “freedom” to sin but shuns freedom to stand for God’s Word.
The Paris terror attacks were tragic on numerous levels. The reaction from a Biblical perspective is to understand the reason for sin, have compassion on those involved and sharing the true solution: the Gospel. Pray for the light of the Gospel to shine in France.