The Importance of Moral Fortitude

By: Steve Huston

The true believer in Christ has always been asked to stand strongly on Biblical truth, convictions, and, if need be, to suffer in doing so. Today, instead of standing firmly on Biblical truth, many would change or lessen what the Bible clearly states in order to support a loved one or for numerous reasons which keeps them from attack or suffering. This is most clearly seen where “gay Christianity” is concerned, but it also happens in so many other areas where Biblical truth is clear and ought to compel us to moral fortitude. The church must regain its Biblical view of the nature and malignity of sin, point to Christ’s atoning work upon the cross as its only cure, and promote the transformed life by grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to holiness. Such moral courage includes speaking these truths in love, with an urgency for the soul of the sinner, and always with the authority of Scripture.

The lack of moral fortitude in our day brings suffering and loss to the conservative movement and, more importantly, to the church. Christians are called to suffer for Christ’s sake – to stand in truth and grace. But the purpose and mission of the church suffers when we care more about self than about Christ, Biblical truth, and Holy Spirit-led conviction. Regardless of potential harm to oneself or the likelihood of “losing,” we must do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. It’s our prayer that this historical account will remind you that God is in control and for the Holy Spirit to awaken within you a desire to stand having done all to stand in this evil day.

Here is the Civil War era, true story of Micajah McPherson, a Wesleyan Methodist who was hung for his convictions. If Christians in the South refused to accept slavery as right and objected to taking up arms to fight for it, they were greatly persecuted both verbally and brutally. Micajah McPherson was one such outspoken Christian who was opposed to war, to slavery, and to the methods used to intimidate those who believed as he did. Therefore, he refused to support such “an enormous sin” as slavery. Be encouraged by his story.

Many Wesleyans stood by Micajah, refusing to bear arms against their brethren in the North. They were severely tortured for their stand, being called “cowards, traitors, fools.” But they were none of these things; they were real men who possessed moral courage, refusing to submit to anything which would compromise their convictions. They would rather suffer than yield a point where moral conviction was involved.

Micajah was said to have been the first man in his county to vote the Free-soil ticket, and continued to support the anti-slavery party until the monster of slavery was abolished forever from the United States. He was notified by the Confederate leaders in his community that he would certainly suffer if he did not renounce his abolition sentiments. These convictions were dearer to his heart than the approval of the slavery element, so he notified them that he would suffer what they inflicted rather than renounce those things that he considered moral principles. Every effort to convince this Christian man to yield to their demands was unfruitful. Finally, the friends of slavery were so irritated to see that he would not give up his moral fortitude that they determined to kill him.

One morning as Micajah was working near the barn, a number of men rode up and surrounded him. Escape was impossible. They said that he was to be hung, but that did not cause him to recant. He was rushed toward the woods across the creek, while his helpless wife and grandson watched him being led to his doom. They were alone and had no way to defend themselves. The only resort they had was to appeal to God in prayer. As his captors led him away, one of them, to intimidate the wife and small grandson, fired a rifle ball into the house near where they stood. This frightened them but didn’t touch them. As he was led into the wood his captors began to demonstrate the sincerity of their threats. Way off from the road, near a small creek, stood a leaning dogwood tree, with a fork about seven or eight feet from the ground and slightly above a large rock. This mob of men lifted Micajah to the top of this rock, observing that “a knotty dogwood is good enough to hang a Wesleyan on,” fixed the noose which they had improvised from a bridle-rein and shoved his body off into space. He soon lost consciousness, remaining so for some time. After a while he came to hear steps and listened. Faintly he seemed to hear horses wading in the creek; someone rode up, cut him down, and said that he did not believe “the old rascal” was quite dead, but that they needed the noose to hang another.

Micajah was dropped to the ground too near dead to move or speak. For hours he lay there helpless. Just before nightfall he revived sufficiently to begin dragging himself toward home on his hands and knees. Upon reaching home he was nursed back to health and devoted the rest of his days to the work of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in North Carolina. He manifested the true martyr’s spirit, and his heroism in enduring this torture rather than compromise his convictions inspired many others to deepen their consecration and devote themselves to the principles of the Church.

Micajah faithfully stood against the sin of slavery. In like manner, we must stand with moral fortitude against the slavery of sin. Its evils are rampant and far-reaching, bringing hurt to our lives directly or indirectly. Might we, like the disciples of Acts chapter four, pray for the boldness that only comes from the moving of the Holy Spirit. Might we by God’s grace and power proclaim the truth, pointing to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Such moral courage is desperately needed today. If you stand, you encourage others to stand as well. If you cower, you encourage cowardice in others. It’s not only ours to believe on Jesus; the privilege is also ours to suffer for His sake.


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