Just a thought experiment here…
For those of you who care, the end times position I hold to is called “amillennialism”. If that term is unfamiliar to you, let me help … are you familiar with the Left Behind book series? If so, it is NOT that. Not really close. Except that both views hold to the future return of Jesus.
Given that, my view of the end times is really quite different than most of contemporary Christianity, as is my understanding of the “mark of the beast.” Almost every discussion of the end times involves the topic of “the mark of the beast” and what it could be. Many (most?) people think it is a physical mark, many (most?) people think it is something like a chip, etc.
I’m not one of those people.
Here are two of the five “mark of the beast” passages:
Revelation 13:15-17  And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.  Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,  so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. (ESV)
Revelation 14:9-11  And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,  he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (ESV)
All five passages directly connect the mark of the beast with the worship of the beast – it’s not merely physical, as if you could be forced to take the mark against your will and be doomed to hell forever. Imagine getting drunk one night and getting the mark tattooed on your arm. Sucks to be you!
In my reading of Scripture, the mark is not physical at all. The “right hand” typically equates to power or authority – if you receive this “mark” on your right hand, could it mean that you are submitting to the power of the beast (if you sit at someone’s right hand, you are submitting to the power of the one who’s hand you sit at).
Likewise, if you receive this “mark” on your forehead, could it mean that you are assenting with knowledge that the beast is a power worthy of worship.
In other words, as God commands us to love Him with all of our mind and all of our strength, so does the beast compel people to love him with all of their mind and all of their strength.
Now, look at the world. Look at what the world compels us to love, to assent to, to worship. Pretty much the same, eh?
So, here’s my thought experiment…what if? What if stories like this, a family who is banned from selling their goods at a market because they believe that how God defines marriage is actually correct, what if these stories are examples of the effects of requiring this “mark of the beast”?
If we do not assent to how the world redefines God’s word, if we do not submit to those who would call God wrong, if we do not bend the knee at this altar – the altar where the beliefs of those who love God are sacrificed to the god of this age, we will be prevented from buying, from selling, from public service, from employment, from admission to college, from adopting, etc. All of these things are currently happening in places I was told “that will never happen here.”
All behind the facade of “tolerance and inclusion.”
My guess? If that family had shucked it’s belief about marriage and embraced the anti-Christian view of marriage that is now plastered all over everywhere, they would have been accepted into the Vanity Fair, able to buy and sell to their heart’s content.
In my estimation, this simply reinforces my belief about the end times…that ever since Jesus rose from the dead, we have been living out “the last days.”