Tag Archives: traditional marriage

How Can Christians Avoid Rehabilitation by Government?

Just last week we all read with anxiety the report that in Oregon, the State Labor Commissioner is mulling a plan to “rehabilitate” business owners who refuse business in a way deemed discriminatory. The case that propelled this idea to the front pages is that of a Christian baker who refused the order of two lesbians planning a wedding. The Christian declared that his Christian principles forbade him to participate in sin. The Christian quoted the Bible as his basis for this decision. Every Christian knows that the Bible is a Christian’s guide for faith and life, because it is the revealed word of God. Every US Christian knows that the First Amendment protects Christians in the “free exercise” of their faith. Aaron Klein, the Christian baker, acted in full confidence that he was protected by the First Amendment when he exercised his faith, choosing to live by the teachings of his faith.

Apparently, in Oregon, the First Amendment to the US Constitution is unknown. If it were honored and upheld, the Kleins would not be facing fines and rehabilitation, actions commonly imposed on Christians in countries like China, Vietnam and Uzbekistan, but previously not imposed as penalties for the free exercise of religion in the USA. The notion of rehabilitating people who refuse to act against conscience is the direct consequence of the ongoing re-education of the citizens in the form of politically correct speech.

The Kleins should have known that they would be under a threat from the first time someone called the union of homosexuals a “gay marriage.” The word “marriage” has a definition, and the union of homosexuals is not it. For as long as there have been humans on earth, the definition of “marriage” is “the union of one man and one woman.” Because that is the definition, it isn’t possible to use the modifier “gay” with this word, because “gay” means “homosexual.” There can be no such thing as a homosexual marriage, and that means that there can be no such thing as a gay marriage. Homosexuals can engage in sexual activity, but that activity does not change the definition of marriage. Christians have made an effort to avoid using the term “gay marriage” simply because it is an oxymoron.

However, in the culture, shortly after homosexuals began telling Christians that they would be “on the wrong side of history” if they opposed “gay marriage,” LGBT activists introduced a new term in the glossary of political correctness: “marriage equality.” This term leaped right past the argument about whether there could even be such a thing as a “gay marriage,” and pretended that the argument about the definition of marriage was already over. Operating as if “marriage” could be anything somebody wanted it to be, LGBT activists proceeded to the argument that it wasn’t fair to deny legitimacy to gays who want to marry and be just like everybody else. It sounded a lot like my children begging to go to a movie I have forbidden because of its moral depravity. They cried, “But Mom, everybody else is going, and we won’t even know what they are talking about. It’s not fair!” The LGBT activists propounded exactly that argument: everybody else gets to be married and we want to be married, too.

For all their efforts to make the “everybody else” argument be about love and fairness, it should be noted that the masks came off when the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had to recognize the union of two lesbians as a marriage, because somebody somewhere said it was so, and it wasn’t about love or fairness or any of that; it was about money. The argument then boils down to this: no matter what the majority of the citizens of the USA think, if anyone is married by anyone to anyone, the federal government is obligated to recognize the marriage and administer benefits – read “money” – accordingly.

This travesty of justice is rooted in the re-writing of the definitions of words we all thought we knew very well: “marriage” and “equality.” It turns out that in the secular mind, which dominates the culture and dominates government, people are free to redefine words whenever the current definition doesn’t feel good, and when the definition changes, laws which were written on the basis of the definition at the time suddenly mean something different.

Which leads back to the Kleins. The Kleins define marriage in a way that is perfectly legitimate according to their faith, and more to the point, they use a definition which was in place when they established their business and made their decisions about the way they would operate their business.  They, like many other people in the US, thought they knew what a marriage is, and when they included wedding cakes in their suite of baked products, they thought they knew what a wedding is, too. The fact that a few very aggressive political activists have promoted and sold an idea that has no legitimacy in reality does not change the moral foundations on which the Kleins make moral choices. They don’t need to be re-educated; the culture needs to be re-educated.

The Kleins are actually victims of a bigger problem than a law that interprets their actions as discrimination. Their problem is bigger than activist redefinition of words. The Kleins are victims of voter apathy. Poll after poll after poll shows that considerably more than 50% of the voters define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Poll after poll after poll shows that the concept of “gay marriage” and of “marriage equality” are unpalatable to most voters. Yet every time there is an election in which the voters can speak, the voters who oppose the LGBT agenda stay home in droves. When the voters who oppose the LGBT agenda simply go to the polls and vote, the LGBT agenda always loses.

History shows that when the LGBT agenda does lose, the activists simply become more active. The battle against LGBT activism and its constant assaults on morality is exhausting. Voters who want the definition of marriage to be left alone get tired of fighting the pressure. No matter the agenda, all activists rely on this truth about human nature to get what they want. They always have the energy of pent-up anger, the pitiful, plaintive cry that “it’s not fair,” and the willingness of a certain percentage of the population to believe that the loudest noise is the most righteous cause. Voters who want to retain the present status are accused of being old and thinking old and dragging the society down by their old-fashioned silly ideas.

Unfortunately, this battle will never end. In a football game, when the home team digs in on the five-yard line to prevent the opposing team from scoring, there is a clock. No matter how difficult it is to “hold that line,” the battle will end eventually. The same is not true of the battle for marriage. Those who want to protect marriage and preserve it as God ordained it are now destined always to be digging in on the five-yard line. Opponents of marriage have the bit in their teeth. They will not accept any defeat as final. No matter how often they lose at the ballot box or in court or in the public forum, they will not stop. Defenders of marriage as the union of a man and a woman must sign up for the long haul. Voters who are tire of being asked to vote about this and related issues must never assume that anybody else will even go to the polls. Every voter who supports marriage must consider the civic duty to vote as a sacred responsibility.

Christians want to live by their Christian principles, and Christians believe those principles must govern every thought, word and deed, at home, at church, in business and in the voting booth. If Christians truly want to be free to continue living by their principles instead of being rehabilitated, they must recognize that the blessing of citizenship in a representative republic creates an obligation of participation as a voter. The only hope of avoiding the institution of government rehabilitation or re-education or whatever euphemism the activist choose is to vote while that right still exists. Reject rehabilitation. Vote in every election.

If you didn’t vote the last time you had the opportunity, why not?

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Defining Our Terms: “Marriage” and “Religious Liberty”

You may or may not have seen this headline somewhere recently:
Tenn Bill would permit student counselors to reject clients based on religious beliefs 

This article discusses a problem which previously made national news in Michigan when a student in a counseling program refused to accept homosexual couples as clients. The bill being proposed in Tennessee will protect the rights of students in counseling programs who reject clients because the goals, outcomes and behaviors of the prospective clients conflict with the religious views of the counselor. 

Or this headline:
Florist refuses gay couple’s wedding due to her ‘relationship with Jesus Christ’ 

This article includes a comment by the state Attorney General for the state where the florist shop is located. The AG says, “If they sell flowers to any other opposite sex couple, they must sell flowers to a same-sex couple.”  

Maybe you saw this headline:
New Mexico Supreme Court hears appeal by photographer in gay bias case 

A photography studio refused to photograph a commitment ceremony for a lesbian couple on the grounds that the union conflicted with the religious convictions of the owners and that to be compelled to produce such images would violate their right to express their convictions through their art. 

Perhaps you saw this one:
RI marriage equality bill may hinge on extent of religious exemptions

There is general agreement that the law may not compel clergy or religious leaders to officiate at a ceremony that conflicts with their religious convictions. However, opponents to same-sex marriage are proposing  a religious exemption that would permit private businesses as well as religiously connected organization to decide for themselves if they will recognize gay marriage or not. The inclusion of private employers makes this exemption unacceptable to most supporters of gay marriage. 

These four articles are selected from what is becoming a blizzard of cases and legislation arising because of political activism by the LGBT community. (I normally avoid initials and acronyms with a passion, but this is the way this community identifies itself. If that is their preference, then I will accede to it.) The four articles look at two terms that are at the center of the rising pressure from the LGBT community. The terms are marriage equality and religious liberty.

The LGBT community wants to use the term marriage to mean the union of homosexuals as if it were the normal definition of marriage. According to this community, they have a right to redefine marriage this way because marriage is a civil right, and that is at the root of their activism in the name of marriage equality.

The LGBT community includes Christians as well as atheists and other religious persuasions, but the community, including its Christian members, uses a completely secular definition of religion in its attitude toward religious liberty. The HHS definition of “religious employer” in the regulations enacting the Affordable Care Act best states where the LGBT activists draw the line for the religious liberty to reject and refuse to participate in the homosexual agenda. In that narrow view, religion is what happens in houses of worship where the acts of worship and the teaching of how to do it take place. This very secular view of religion disallows any notion that a Christian commits to a way of life by virtue of simply being a Christian. The idea that a Christian who runs a store or a doctor’s office is obligated by his faith to act according to Christian values is rejected by secular thinkers.

If someone believes that marriage means whatever we choose to say it means, and if someone believes that marriage is a civil right, then it follows as night follows day that it is okay to say that an agreement by two homosexuals is a marriage and that in the name of marriage equality they should be granted all the same rights, the same benefits, and the same privileges any other married couple has. If someone believes that religion only happens within a church building where one might engage in worshiping a deity or in learning how to worship the deity, then it just makes sense that one would say that a for-profit business such as a flower shop, a photography studio or a corporate board of directors does not engage in religion and does not express religion.

Not one of the men who served in the Continental Congress or who helped to write the Constitution would agree with anything in the paragraph above. When they wrote the First Amendment, they believed that religious principles permeated the lives and work of believers. It certainly permeated the lives of those men. They would be completely dumbfounded to hear that the federal government says that nothing religious happens in a for-profit enterprise. They would be shocked to discover that not only are homosexuals allowed to marry in the chapel at West Point, but that the academy requires that the chapel host homosexual weddings if asked.

On March 26 and 27, the Supreme Court will host oral arguments on two cases that will have immense impact on all these stories. The Supreme Court may or may not take ownership of the definition of marriage. The two cases cover the issue of the constitutionality of a state’s attempt to prevent gay marriage and the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act which attempted to prevent any redefinition of marriage in the federal realm. This case is very important for the definition of marriage, but it will not likely speak to the issue of religious liberty. There are a number of lawsuits in the works relating to the exercise of religious principle relative to the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act and relative to the rights of business owners who reject being any part of a homosexual ceremony or union. The cultural and legal battles will likely continue for years.

Today the Denison Forum reported on the issue of the negative portrayal of Christians in the media, and Jim Denison asked what Christians should do about this. His question applies just as appropriately to the questions about marriage and religious liberty. What are Christians to do? He proposed prayer and even kicked off a prayer campaign among his commenters. This is exactly the right way to think about this problem. First we pray.

Too often Christians wait until they have tried everything else before they pray. They engage in social and political activism, they tell their neighbors, they tweet, they phone, they email, and when the problem continues to escalate and they cannot think of anything to do, then they pray in desperation, “Oh, God, Help us!”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a great little book about Psalms in which he reminded his readers that Psalms was Jesus’ prayerbook. What’s good enough for Jesus is good enough for us. One way to change your perspective on a psalm is to look at a problem in the culture, for example, the assault on marriage and family, and pray the psalm the way Jesus might pray it if faced with the same problem. You can enter into the psalm, pray the psalm and learn from Christ as you pray.

 

Try praying Psalm 53 below as your prayer for guidance in the culture war to save marriage and family from destruction. Substitute your state name and “USA” for the words “Jacob” and “Israel.” Remember that if Jesus prayed this psalm, he was perfect, but we are not. We are made righteous by Christ’s righteousness which we receive because of his death on the cross. Humbly acknowledge where your righteousness in this conflict comes from, and think of all parties to the conflict as Jesus would. Jesus is the one, you remember, who prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” as he was being nailed to the cross. If you are not comfortable with this psalm, find a different one.  

 

1     Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they commit abominable acts;
there is no one who does good.
2     God looks down from heaven on humankind
to see if there are any who are wise,
who seek after God.
3     They have all fallen away, they are all alike perverse;
there is no one who does good,
no, not one.
4     Have they no knowledge, those evildoers,
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon God?
5     There they shall be in great terror,
in terror such as has not been.
For God will scatter the bones of the ungodly;
they will be put to shame, for God has rejected them.
6     O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When God restores the fortunes of his people,
Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad. 

Leave a comment please and let me know what this experience meant for you. Or let me know any other thoughts God gives you about what we can do to participate in God’s work of preserving his plan for marriage and family and for preserving the right he gave every person to live by faith.

Marriage — God’s Truth Has Not Changed

Every day more and more people are lured to believe that secular ideas “make sense” in public life. Every day more and more Christians are lured to believe that they should not “impose” their worldview on other people. One of the ways that goal of secular political activists is achieved is the use of the word equality.

For example, the latest distortion of that word is its use in the campaign to redefine the word marriage. There is a fierce campaign nationwide to change the definition of marriage by using the allure of the word equality to legitimize the change. Activists for the change no longer use the word homosexual or even the word gay in their campaigns. They talk about marriage equality. The basis for this equality is the claim that marriage is a universal human right, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The change in verbiage allows activists for the redefinition of marriage to use an appealing argument. They simply ask, “Don’t you think everyone is equal?” or “Don’t you believe in equal rights for everyone?” or “Do you think people who love each other should be denied equal rights if they want to be married?” Nobody explains when or how marriage ever became a universal human right.

If marriage is a universal human right, then the next step is to examine the meaning of the word marriage. The commonly accepted definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is assaulted on two fronts – legal and religious. Until recently, it was not necessary to have a legal definition of marriage, because people assumed that the word marriage meant the union of a man and a woman. In the past ten years, LGBT political activists have tried to assert that marriage means any union of people who claim to love each other, regardless of the gender of the parties to the union. Further, until recently, Christians assumed that the biblical definition of marriage was the union of a man and a woman. This Biblical teaching is also under assault in more than one Christian denomination. Over the past few years, activists for the LGBT political agenda have actually worked on both the political and the spiritual fronts to achieve their goals. They have had some successes on both fronts.

For example, even though the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has yet to redefine the word marriage, the ELCA does roster homosexuals if they are living in an active homosexual union (there are terms and conditions surrounding this decision, but the bottom line is that active, public homosexuals will be placed in the pulpit in the office of word and sacrament in ELCA churches). This decision required the adoption of a statement on human sexuality that redefined biblical teachings that have stood firm for 2000 years. It is logical to assume that once the roster for clergy is salted with enough active homosexuals, the ELCA will be compelled to redefine marriage as well. The ELCA is not the only denomination to dip a toe into these waters.

On the political front, LGBT political activists have been able to win some legislative battles and pass laws legitimizing gay marriage. Interestingly, when such laws are tested at the polls, voters assert the traditional definition of marriage. Voters consistently reject the notion that the traditional definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is a denial of equality. Voters consistently reject a redefinition of equality as a justification to redefine marriage. Voters say that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. Christians do not consider voters to be authoritative for their theological positions; however, the evidence shows that the preponderance of voters choose the socially traditional definition of marriage just as the preponderance of Christians choose the theologically traditional definition of marriage.

Sadly, anyone who opposes the redefinition of marriage to include homosexual unions is subject to be called a bigot and a homophobe. It may be a shock to Christians when they hear pastors use such words from the pulpit, but it is happening. Many Christians, stunned and dismayed by this state of affairs, have asked when God changed his revelation of truth in the Bible and started saying such things.

The Bible has not changed. Secular thinking has changed. The Bible’s truth does not evolve or change with the times. Secular thinking evolves and changes with the times.

Christians experience both alarm and sadness when their spiritual leaders begin to speak like the political activists in the nightly news. Such things have happened before. In ancient Israel prophets lied to people while claiming to speak for God. In Nazi Germany, Lutheran pastors lied to people while claiming to speak for God. Today in the USA some religious leaders are lying to their congregations while claiming to speak for God.

The secular culture says that the idea that marriage as the union of a man and a woman is old-fashioned. To refuse to define unions of people of the same gender who love each other as marriage is, says the LGBT, an example of unequal treatment. In fact, they assert that heterosexual oppression of minority views is equivalent to racial persecution. The latest thrust in the battle to destroy the traditional definition of marriage is to call the campaign for marriage equality the sexual equivalent of Martin Luther King’s civil rights campaign.

How do Christians even talk with people who are confused by the LGBT political agenda? There are three lines of reasoning that establish marriage as the union of a man and a woman and refute any argument that the union of two homosexuals is a marriage.

The first path ought to be quite acceptable to the secular culture. It doesn’t involve God or the Bible. The history of humankind shows a consistent practice of defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. From the most primitive cultures still in existence today to the most technologically advanced, the union of a man and a woman in marriage is the foundation of the society. Around the world, the union of a man and a woman is surrounded with a universe of religious and legal structures. Vastly more people define marriage as the union of a man and a woman than choose any other definition. Archeologists find artifacts that validate the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman far back to the dawn of human society. Marriage is a human institution that human beings have valued and protected as long as there have been human beings. The union of a man and a woman is the definition of marriage that has been the foundation of society and the nurturing environment for children. Many variations on that theme have been attempted, but no other variant has been consistently recognized by humans around the world. Marriage is naturally defined by human history and culture as the union of a man and a woman.

Second, the tradition of human societies is based on the biological truth that there is no accommodation in human biology for same-gender sexual expression or for the transmission of genetic predisposition to same-gender sexuality. If the weight of time means anything in this regard, humans have had plenty of time to study and observe if there is any reason to believe that same-gender sex is part of nature’s plan or to find a way to transmit congenital conditions without progeny. Genes that are not transmitted from one generation to the next by reproduction die out. Until now, cultures accepted the guidance of biology along with the natural social appreciation for the outcome of a union of a man and a woman in marriage.

The third path is important for Christians. The teaching of the Bible, God’s revealed truth for the guidance of humankind, demonstrates that God blesses the union of a man and a woman as marriage and rejects any other variant. Students of the Bible can easily find proscriptions of homosexual conduct inside or outside of a committed relationship. There is a whole arsenal of LGBT re-interpretations of these proscriptions that purports to defuse any effort to use old laws and customs to throw stones at the idea of homosexuality. It is not necessary, however, to rely on the negative to demonstrate God’s design for human sexuality. The Bible is filled with positive evidence of God’s blessing of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The images of God’s blessing of this union are not duplicated by imagery of non-heterosexual unions.

In the beginning of the Bible, at the beginning of time, God created humankind male and female. When he created the first man, Adam, Adam was alone. To alleviate that loneliness, God created the first woman, Eve. God blessed that union and it was the union of man and woman throughout the Bible that God blessed with his promises and with children. This union is so powerful and so good for people that God uses it as the model of his relationship with people throughout the Bible. Every time God speaks of his relationship with the people of Israel or with the church, he speaks of himself as the husband or the bridegroom. God speaks of the nation or the church as the bride.In the book of Revelation the marriage feast of male bridegroom and female bride is the celebration of God’s eternal victory over evil and the beginning of a new heaven and a new earth. Male and female. Man and woman. This revelation is positive and power-packed. Bible students who recognize the sexual power embodied in the relationship between a man and a woman will also recognize what God is saying about the power of a human relationship with him.

What should Christians conclude from Bible study? God blesses marriage, the union of a man and a woman. No other union is equal to that union. Political activism notwithstanding, inventing the idea that every sort of union is the same as marriage is not truth, and defining marriage as only one kind of union, the union of a man and a woman, is not inequality.

Christians who fervently believe the Bible feel bombarded when the LGBT agenda is adopted by political leaders, but they feel deeply betrayed when their spiritual leaders join in. They need to remember that the Bible does not evolve or change with the times. This sort of thing has happened before. The Bible itself records the fact that some people will garb themselves as spiritual leaders while actually speaking and acting in collaboration with evil agendas. Christians must not believe lies, even when pastors speak them. During the years of Nazi power in Germany, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others spoke out against the state church of Germany because its leaders had thrown in their lot with the Nazis. Christians in the USA who believe the Bible rather than politics may find themselves as thoroughly maligned by their church leaders as Bonhoeffer was. Worry not. The God “who is and who was and who is to come” has not changed his eternal truth, and he will bless and strengthen those who hold his truth fast.