It was on this day in 1826 that Maryland’s so-called “Jew Bill” went into effect. This was a law that stipulated Jews who wished to hold public office were required to profess belief in a reward and punishment for mankind in the hereafter. For the previous 50 years, Jews were not allowed to hold public office or perform any kind of official duty if they were a practicing Jew. Prior to that, Maryland – which was established as a Catholic Colony – imposed the death penalty on anyone denying the validity of Christianity. Before 1776, being Jewish in Maryland was hazardous, at least in theory.
Throughout history man has, in his zeal to promote what he believes to be the truth, often resorted to strong-arm tactics. In an effort to “defend the truth,” organized religion has in fact enforced their dogma upon others. We see this throughout history in many religions including Christianity, Islam, and, yes, even Judaism. Even in the modern era, believers of different stripes will sometimes use strong-armed tactics to get their point across.
The fundamental flaw in this approach is that Truth doesn’t need to be defended; it can take care of itself. Truth transcends culture, opinion, trends and physical might. It transcends anything the human mind can imagine, because Truth is. It doesn’t have to be enforced through coercion or manipulation because Truth is eternal. Furthermore, Truth will always reside in the heart of those who desire it. In Psalm 119:10-11 the Bible says:
“With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.”
Based on this and several other verses, we could conclude that if His Word is not in a person’s heart, it is likely that person will sin against God. In other words, its not enough for the Word to be hidden in our head; it must be in our heart in order that heart not mislead us. This fact has been proven true over and again. The Crusades and the Inquisition are two examples of times when people felt they had to enforce the truth that was in their head.
Religions have argued that God promises punishment and death to those who disobey Him and have used that as the basis of their aggression. True, the end result of disobedience is death because, “The wages of sin is death.” But is God saying, “If you disobey, I’m going to kill you”? Or is He saying, “If you walk away from Me and take the wrong path, it will lead you to death.” In essence, people who walk away from God are killing themselves. Moreover, God never uses manipulation and coercion to enforce His truth upon us. He wants us to want His truth. He wants people to follow Him because they desire to follow Him.
Let us forever strive to embrace truth – painful as it may be sometimes – and that we faithfully represent His Word to the world that they may see His truth is hidden in our hearts.