I wasn’t planning on writing on this topic because so many have done so. If you have lived in a vacuum, then you don’t know about Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Hobby Lobby is fighting for religious freedom that affects everyone, even the atheists. What is at the core of this case is the freedom to live, work and act in this country with the freedom of conscience. In other words, does the government have a right to bind our consciences for purposes of advancing their agendas?
We are seeing what many have predicted as this sinful idea of homosexual marriage progresses in our culture. The more it progresses, the more it forces true Christians into the closet. For to be openly biblical in our beliefs is becoming increasingly unacceptable in our culture.
Case and point: the Army has punished a master sergeant for serving Chick Fil-A at his promotion party and for supporting the law of the land, the Defense of Marriage Act.
According to Todd Starnes of Foxnews:
The unidentified soldier was investigated, reprimanded, threatened with judicial action and given a bad efficiency report, according to the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.
“They say he is no longer a team player and was not performing up to standards,” Chaplain Alliance Executive Director Ron Crews told Fox News. “This is just one little example of a case of a soldier just wanting to express his views and now he’s been jumped on by the military.”
The soldier’s story was included in a letter to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights documenting concerns about attacks on religious liberty within the Armed Services.
The Pentagon did not return calls seeking comment.
Last summer the soldier had received his promotion to master sergeant. The promotion coincided with a national controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A’s support of traditional marriage. Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told a newspaper that he was “guilty as charged” when it came to supporting the biblical definition of marriage. Gay rights advocates were infuriated and some Democratic leaders – most notably the mayor of Boston – attempted to stop the popular restaurant chain from opening restaurants in their cities.
Crews said the soldier decided to hold a party to celebrate his new position. The invitations read, “In honor of my promotion and in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act, I’m serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at my promotion party.”
After the party, the solider received a letter of reprimand. Crews said at issue was the combination of the sandwiches and the soldier’s support of DOMA (which happens to be the law of the land).
Remember that light and darkness cannot exist together. Those who continue to hold up the sin of homosexuality as normal will do everything they can to suppress the truth in their unrighteousness. This is not something that the church can remain neutral over. Either we stand with the Scripture on the truth, or we depart from Christ and join the world.
The powers that be want to silence us. We must not remain silent. We must stand strong against that which the Bible and Christ stand against.
Pastors have a right and a responsibility to stand up against the immoral nature of both our government and politicians. That is our responsibility. To sit and say nothing about the wicked who are elected to office is to join in that wickedness. Remember, they represent us, and they way that our leaders go, is the way we go as well. We will be held responsible for our elected leaders. That is how representation works, i.e., see Adam and his first sin. We all have a responsibility in it.
There have a few posts made on this subject over the past week or so. I realized later that my thoughts for my earlier post were influenced by Stan’s post over at Winging It. Stan is quite prolific with his blog and it is worth keeping up with. He has even contradicted some of my posts, and kindly not drawn attention to it, and done a good job of making his argument. I’m thinking of my 2 Chronicles 7:14 comments in an earlier post and his comments on the same passage.
But the point of this post is that both Stan’s post on 501 (3) (c) and mine have spurred on Dan at The Bumbling Genius to post on the topic as well. Dan wrote that he has been giving this subject some thought for quite some time and it was our posts that caused him to finish it up and post it. I have to say I’m glad that he did, for he has given the best arguments against using the 501 (3) (c) shelter I’ve read to date.
For several generations now the government, through the IRS, has been supplementing the tithes of the faithful by means of a refund check. But thanks to Johnson, those refunds now come with strings attached; strings that are now accepted as good and right…, even Biblical. As a result of generations living with this “law” there are many who now consider it a sin for a church to venture into the arena of politics, that is, unless that venture involves calling on government to act as an interceptor between sowing sin and reaping its consequences. Now while such activity has proved to be profitable for those seeking gain in the economy of power and guilt assuagement, in the economy of love such ventures are being shown to be bankrupt. For throwing other people’s money at symptoms brought about by the Church’s retreat from the public square is not an act of love at all, it is idolatry.
I like that he calls it what it is: idolatry. I’ve argued before that the church is to be involved in the public square, in politics, both condemning those who are involved in sinful behavior, and holding up those who do what is right. I know some who come here argue that the church is not to endorse one candidate over another. Again, I have to say, why not? It’s the church’s job to denounce that which is wicked in our culture and if that includes politicians, why are we so silent on the issue?
For example, look at Nancy Pelosi. She is pro-abortion and a Roman Catholic. I believe that the Catholics should denounce her and rebuke her both publicly and privately for her support of killing the unborn. If a candidate arises to run against her who is morally upright, then they have a right to encourage their followers to support that candidate. To say that they do not, denies those in the church from their freedom of speech and religion.
I believe it is my right to endorse certain candidates both as a pastor and a private citizen. The reason I include both is that you cannot differentiate the two. I am both a private citizen and a pastor, all at the same time. To separate the two identities is exactly what the secularist wants me to do. Be a pastor only on Sundays, only in the pulpit and only say things which are pastoral in nature, never speaking out on issues of politics. Because pastors have given into this lie is partly the reason I believe the country is in the state of immorality that we are in. Has pastors stood together and denounced men like Barney Frank, he might not have had the chance to get elected in the first place. Yet, most of the churches that stood on Scripture were silent because of some arcane and unbiblical law passed by LBJ.
Read the consequences that Dan shares over at his site:
As a consequence of the Church’s withdrawal from the public square, a great light has gone out in the halls of government leaving it to operate at every level without fear that that light will be shined onto its activity. Many Christians are now at best woefully ignorant of a Biblical understanding of government in regards to its function and purpose, or worse, have bought entirely into the social justice lie that sees Government as a God like entity capable of ending the curse, or controlling sea levels and planetary temperatures. In this darkened state many true Christians also see the murder of millions upon millions of children in the womb as an acceptable price to pay in exchange for a total fixation on these material ends. The hunger and thirst of the spiritual man is now by judicial decree denied when it comes to all the much touted and savior like government help; a denial that all the money in the world cannot overcome in its attempts to alleviate the suffering that occurs as a result; and a denial which the Church currently seems more than happy to accept. Many look back to 1962 as the beginning of our nation’s fall. I see that era as merely the first harvest, the seeds of which were planted with the social compact of 1954. The dominoes have been falling ever since.
Now, generations later, as if God gave us the ultimate desires of our heart, we, even in the midst of an economic down-turn, are a wealthy nation oblivious to the fact that we are also spiritually poor, blind, and naked. Our Churches are now either completely apostate, or hospitals dedicated to the caring for the lives wrecked by a culture that has institutionalized sin and anti-Christianity content to deal with the symptoms rather than causes of suffering, or in many cases simply centers of feel-good-therapeutic-theistic entertainment that have passed the buck of the hard work of caring for the poor on to those who simply confiscate wealth from some sinful men and redistribute it to other sinful men asking only for power in return. And at the center of all this is what has become the Giant Pink Idol that no one wants to talk about standing in the of the middle sanctuary, the Democrat party.
You can read the conclusion by going there. I think he covers the issue in more detail than I do, and really nails it. The churches should have nothing to do with tax-exempt status. We need to be free to speak in the religious realm and political realm bringing the scripture to bear on both. After all, as the Psalmist writes The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.
One of the problems that arise from time to time with churches is the threat of losing 501 3c status when it comes to what they say from the pulpit. The threat goes that if a pastor becomes too political, that the church will lose it non-exempt status and have to start paying taxes. This really is a threat by the Left to silence those of us on the right, when it comes to issues morality and politics. This should never be allowed to happen because what is said in the pulpit is between the pastor and God, not the pastor and the state. The state has no right to interfere with the message being preached, even if that message enters into the realm of politics.
I do admit that the primary responsibility of the pastor is to preach the gospel, or the full counsel of God, as the Apostle Paul put it. But we have to admit that there are times when the pastor must speak on issues of morality and politics. The church has the right and responsibility to criticize the state. By placing itself under the state, to receive this non-exempt status, is to subject itself to the state instead of God. It places the state as the final authority, not God.
By submitting itself to the state, the church now is the subordinate in culture and the state has control. This should never be the case. Pastors should be able to speak freely from the pulpit in matters of religion, conscious and politics. Christianity comes to bear on every aspect of our lives, including politics and matters of conscious.
For instance, just imagine what our country would be like if the pastors during the founding days of our country, remained silent on the political issues at hand. We would still be sending our taxes overseas to England and bowing to the Queen. Or imagine what the world would be like if pastors remained silent concerning the issues of slavery. We would still have slave owners and worse, slaves in our country (granted, there were pastors who were arguing for maintaining the institution of slavery, but there are always opposing views on every issue).
The point is that pastors have a responsibility to apply the gospel to culture as well as to our individual lives and that means that at times we must criticize the state and actions of the state. Remember, the state is not without error. Slavery was wrong. Had the church remained silent, the institution might still be with us today.
The Left does not want us thinking in such ways. We must resist every aspect of the state’s encroachment upon the pulpit and the pastor in the pulpit. The church is not to submit itself to the state on any level, otherwise, we become subjects and servants of the state, not servants of the living God.
Some might ask: “But what about Romans 13 and the command to submit to the government?”
As individuals, we are to submit to the government and obey the laws of the land as long as these laws are just. In other words, there are times for civil disobedience when the laws of the land requires that which God forbids, or forbids what God requires. During such times, we must accept that God has ordained periods of persecution for believers as we stand for righteousness sake. But we must not grow silent when we should speak and we must not be cowed into what we should and should not say from the pulpit over this threat to lose some tax-exempt status.