The Silence of the Lambs: Stop Being Silent!

As we are reminded in Ecclesiastes 3:7, there is “a time to be silent, and a time to speak”. Silence can be golden at times, and often we need to learn when to zip the lip. But of course at other times it is utterly imperative that we speak up and speak out.

Here I want to discuss the importance of refusing to stay silent when our voices need to be heard. And let me do it by beginning with a little quiz. What would you think about the people in the following scenarios? Just what would you say to them?

-A doctor does some tests on a patient and discovers that he has a life-threatening illness that requires instant medical treatment, but he refuses to tell the patient this.

-A worker at an emergency dispatch centre gets a call from someone claiming that a powerful bomb has been planted at a busy shopping mall, and it is due to go off within a few hours. However the person receiving the call refuses to pass the message on to the relevant authorities.

-A worker at a day care centre is told that the snacks recently brought in for the kiddies have been contaminated and will be lethal if consumed. Yet the worker does not share this information with anyone.

-A pastor discovers that one of his youth workers is sexually molesting children in his care, yet he does not tell the parents or the rest of the staff anything about this.

Now if you are at all a normal, caring and decent human being, I think I know exactly what you would think of such individuals, and what you would say to them. You would be outraged and you would roundly rebuke these miscreants for staying silent when it was their moral obligation to speak, to warn, and to alert others.

Yet I can think of many similar such situations in Christian circles that also require that we speak out, yet so often we do not. Let me offer a few of these scenarios, and let me know what you think of them:

-A Christian knows that the gospel message is what all lost sinners desperately need to get right with God and avoid a lost eternity, yet he refuses to share this good news with anyone else.

-A church pastor knows that God takes the institutions of marriage and family very seriously indeed, yet he refuses to say a word from the pulpit on the attack on both divine institutions for fear of offending people or rocking the boat.

-A Christian leader knows what the Bible says about the shedding of innocent blood, and the need to stand up for those who can’t protect themselves, yet he refuses to ever publicly speak about the abortion holocaust.

-A Christian Bible study teacher has a cultist in his group spewing patently false doctrine, denying the deity of Christ and so on, yet he refuses to speak up and correct him, being fearful of what others might think, and wanting to appear loving and tolerant.

Now if you are a devout biblical Christian, your reaction to these four cases should be exactly the same as your reaction to the first four cases. You would be outraged at such craven and compromising silence. You would rebuke these individuals for shirking their biblical responsibilities and simply catering to their fears or to the masses.

And you would have full biblical warrant for doing so. Plenty of biblical passages speak to the importance of God’s people speaking out and not letting fear or the crowds intimidate them. Plenty of texts urge us to be bold as we proclaim biblical truth regardless of the hostile reactions we might get.

Let me offer just two such passages, one from each Testament, that so nicely illustrate all this. My first one comes from 2 Kings 6-7 and the times of Elisha the prophet. The context is this: Samaria has been besieged by Ben-Hadad king of Aram resulting in famine. Verses 3-4 say this:

Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”

Yet when they go out and investigate things, to their amazement they discover that the enemy’s camp is completely empty: it is deserted! So they ate and drank and took gold and silver. The passage I wish to highlight here is what we find in 7:9:

“Then they said to each other, ‘What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace’.” Yes indeed, “This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves.”

My NT text is just as forthright. While it is of course directed at one individual – the Apostle Paul – and certainly would be primarily about sharing the gospel, it seems we can also take this as a generic admonition, one that could be used in all eight cases above.

In Acts 18:9-11 we read these words: “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’ So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.”

That word from the Lord is worth repeating: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.” And that command – not mere advice – would apply to all followers of Jesus Christ. With God on our side and the Holy Ghost residing within, we have no reason to fear and no reason to remain silent.

And let me return to the passage from Ecclesiastes that I first ran with. There is of course a place for tact, for wisdom, for prudence, and for discernment. Sometimes we do need to wait for the right timing before we share biblical truth. So I am not saying we should blurt out everything, everywhere and every time.

In some cases we need to prayerfully seek to know when the best time is to speak out. Of course at other times we do NOT need to pray, wait to hear from God, or get some divine guidance before we speak and act. As an example, if we see a toddler rushing on to the street and a truck is hurtling her way, we speak – indeed we shout – instantly, and do what we can to rescue her.

So I am not saying we should just keep our mouths open 24/7 and let fly anything and everything that comes into our head. Discernment and wisdom is needed. But in other matters we do not need a word of caution but a kick in the pants. Indeed, I suspect most believers need the latter.

They are cowardly and they are men-pleasers, and they simply will not speak out even when they know they should be speaking out. They will one day stand before their Lord to give an account of their silence, their compromise, and their denial of their Lord.

Let me finish by offering some notable quotes from some notable saints, both older and newer:

“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” John Calvin

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Speak out for those who cannot speak. Who in the church today realises that this is the very least that the Bible requires of us?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.” Martin Niemoller, German pastor and Holocaust survivor

“What the world needs most is a voice that courageously speaks the truth, not when the world is right, but a voice that speaks the truth when the world is wrong.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King Jr.

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” Martin Luther King Jr.

[1544 words]

14 Replies to “The Silence of the Lambs: Stop Being Silent!”

  1. You won’t need me to tell you that all this is currently hot stuff in Britain right now. Freedom of speech finally died last week with the arrest of two, nay three people entering the country on peaceful quests. All while horrific reports of mass child rape have been exposed; people having spoken up in the past about it but had their reports conveniently buried. We plebs are now seething and the pot is ready to explode.

  2. Two years ago, I memorized the quote from Martin Niemoller for my Speech and Drama examination.
    I had almost forgotten about it.
    Thank you for speaking out for the truth day by day, and never stopping even when persecuted by others.

  3. We need to be conscious of the eternity that faces us all, in heaven or in hell. We need regularly reminding of lost souls and their destination without Christ. Ours are just short years, the time will soon come when we have left this earth and witness for Christ will be no longer available. Much better that in a genuine and authentic way we mention to others the hope we have in Christ for the future. And to ask them what are their thoughts and interests to look into what Christ has to offer.

  4. Bill,
    I am currently communicating with both education and health department ministers about the harm of LGBTIAQ identities as all powerless people who don’t have a voice are directly discriminated against because these identities are protected in Australian laws whilst people’s most basic human right to be identified by their biological sex isn’t protected by any Australian law, and government authorities aren’t using their voices to defend these powerless people/patients who are unconscious, incoherent, new-born, demented, non-verbal, dead etc.

    The legal abortion law has dehumanised the unwanted neonate to become bodily waste products. The legal euthanasia law has dehumanised the terminally ill patient as they’re treated “better off as dead.” The LGBTIAQ identities laws has dehumanised the powerless people to blobs in preparation for the death-care practice. However, Genuine Christians have their right to religious freedom of “independence” or “ind” as the amended Marriage Act and no fault divorce aren’t part of the Christian faith in the sacrament of marriage. Genuine Christians have their right to freedom of conscience to “independence” in order to not participate in a legal abortion and or a legal euthanasia practice.

    Governments all around the world and over the centuries have regulated harmful behavioural practices in order to protect the public and society from harm such as the criminalisation, decriminalisation and legalisation of adultery, sodomy, prostitution, abortion, euthanasia, gambling, alcohol, cigarettes etc. However, the Australian Federal Parliament doesn’t define a “one flesh” union as this has been defined by the Bible and regulated by the Christian/Catholic churches as they have participated in the records of births, deaths, marriages, baptisms, and confirmations.

    Australian farmers don’t pretend that the public roads authorities are regulating their roads on private property. Therefore, genuine Christians shouldn’t pretend that the amended Marriage Act and no fault divorce laws are regulating their “one flesh: union. The Australian Federal Parliament decided to create a deregulated civil registered marriage in order to include “any 2 people,” so this meant adulterous marriage, sexually immoral marriage and “Harlot marriage” are now a civil registered marriage. However, genuine Christians shouldn’t celebrate their “one flesh” union like people who are in an adulterous marriage, sexually immoral marriage and a “Harlot marriage.” Public registrations of sex workers, healthcare professionals, teachers, animals, and foreign interference are all regulated in order to protect the public and society from harm. The amended Marriage Act allows for the public registry of all adulterous marriages, sexually immoral marriages and “Harlot marriages.” However, the Australian Federal Parliament no longer forces genuine Christians to purchase a legal state marriage certificate for a public wedding ceremony, so they have their religious freedom to practice “one flesh” union like my German forefathers had over 161 years ago which is like Adam and Eve. Genuine Christians can’t pretend that the same behavioural practice exists for a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) and a legal abortion, so they can’t pretend that the same behavioural practice exists for “one flesh” union and a civil registered marriage as adulterous marriages, sexually immoral marriages and “Harlot marriages” aren’t a faithful, lifelong “one flesh” union between a husband and wife who can naturally procreate, nurture and raise new-life with both a male and female role model.

  5. In Victoria
    Justice has been turned back and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has fallen in the public squares and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey (Isa 59:14,15).

    In defense of those ‘Lambs’ Christians and People of God and of good will who dare(d) to speak out against the atrocity of abortion, the violence against pregnant women and girls in Victoria I would like to draw your reader’s attention to The PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELLBEING AMENDMENT (SAFE ACCESS ZONES) ACT, 2015.
    This unethical ‘law’ in Victoria, Australia created/fabricated to annihilate ANY remaining physical OBSTACLES to ABORTION –killing of the unborn children and often associated with the witnessed violence against pregnant women by those accompanying them to the abortion clinic and in particular at an East Melbourne ABORTUARY (this clinic, as was explicated during the parliamentary debate for the Bill, was the main focus for this law).
    This ‘law’ was mainly supported by Ms Patten (Sex/Reason Party), all Labor,and some Liberal Party members which ensured that in Victoria any SEMBLANCE of Freedom of Religion Freedom of Speech AND Freedom of Assembly has been destroyed /terminated/annihilated.Therefore this ‘law’ was fabricated to silence ‘The ‘Lambs’.
    This ‘law’ is most worthy of praise from the serpent himself (Gen 3:15) and methods used to slash n’ burn and bulldoze away credibility, professionalism, competency and any fingerprint of morality in ‘law making’ in Victoria : a META LEVEL OF EVIL punishing and criminalising ‘The Good Samaritans’ and those who dare speak out with the penalty for non-compliance being $18000 and 12 months prison e.g., handing out a pamphlet to a person within 150m of any ABORTUARY (eg the Good Samaritans include Kathy and Michelle who have under this unethical law have been punished with impunity).…/www.legislation.vic…,…/Council_Aug-Dec_2015…,…/Assembly_Daily…

    This Totalitarian ‘Law’ from those inhabiting the Parliament of Victoria resonates with the dominant Death Culture/Marxist Ideology being promulgated by those whose actions and voting preferences and all their supporters, mimic diabolus but ‘with the skin on’. .

  6. Hope you speak about this at our Church this coming Sunday. Looking forward to hearing you speak.

  7. Sincere thanks, Bill, for this clear and vital challenge to us all.

  8. Thank God for CultureWatch for Bill Muehlenberg – a God-fearing man for his wisdom, courage, scholarly knowledge, apologetics brilliance, stamina… for all these years that God has been using you as The Voice in the wilderness – The Voice of Truth, Justice, Righteousness, Holiness, Spiritual formation, political wisdom, Gospel Proclamation in written forms with Christian Worldview. CultureWatch fears no one but God. It is very true that “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act,” said Dietrich Bonhoeffer. May the Lord God of heaven – Yahweh continue to empower you and use you mightily to proclaim the Gospel of Christ in word and written forms speaking out the truth in love to inspire God’s people around the world and those who have no knowledge of God walking in darkness!

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