I get it. Everyone is depressed after last week’s big ruling against traditional marriage. Everywhere you go, people are wondering about the ramifications for people of faith. Though many social media memes mock the idea that the Supreme Court’s embrace of same sex marriage will affect religious freedom, it’s undeniable. Things will change. They already have.
Check out this tweet from Father Jonathan Morris:
Walking down Broadway and 22nd St just now, I ran into gay marriage parade. Two men walked by and spat on me. Oh well… I deserve worse.
— Fr. Jonathan Morris (@fatherjonathan) June 28, 2015
My husband David French is a Constitutional attorney who has done much work in the area of religious freedom over the years. He writes in NRO:
Even before the Supreme Court concocted a constitutional right to gay marriage, American religious liberty was being systematically undermined. There were widespread efforts to exclude orthodox Christian organizations from American colleges and universities, occasional attempts to literally coerce Christians into voicing support for homosexual conduct, and well-known efforts to destroy businesses that aren’t willing to participate in gay weddings.
All of this is worrisome, and all of it should be resisted, but none of it represents an existential threat to the church. The only real threat is surrender — caving to the cultural, legal, and political forces demanding conformity. The church can and will survive persecution. It will not survive faithlessness. This is both a theological and historical truth.
In previous pieces, I’ve amply documented the decline and fall of the Protestant Mainline, those churches — like the United Churches of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (USA) — that abandoned biblical orthodoxy decades ago, in the name of cultural relevance and “inclusion.” Some are declining so precipitously that they may cease to exist within a generation. Already we’re seeing similar signs of decline in those Evangelical churches that are abandoning biblical truth on questions of sex, family, and marriage.
Because of his legal expertise, we’re getting many calls about this ever encroaching threat. David suggests defying the culture.
Defiance, however, means more than merely ensuring that your church or your Christian school doesn’t change its policies. It means more than still donating to your church even if the day comes when you can’t deduct the contribution. It means a willingness to lose your job, your prosperity, and the respect of your peers. It means saying no every time you are compelled to applaud or participate in the sexual revolution. It means standing beside fellow Christians who face persecution or job loss — not just shaking your head and thinking, “There, but for the grace of God . . . ” It means having the courage to proclaim an opposing message — even during mandatory diversity training, even when you fear you might lose your job, and even when you’re terrified about making your mortgage payment. And through it all, it means being kind to your enemies — blessing those who persecute you.
So what’s the bottom line? David has salient words (really, you should read them all here).
As the church stands, it must remember that our present troubles are meaningless compared to the deadly challenges facing the church in the Middle East. And, always, we must remember who controls our destiny.
In the book of First Kings, Elijah faced a wave of persecution and mortal danger beyond anything any American has faced on American soil. He felt alone — terrified that all was coming to an end. He declared to God, “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” God’s response echoes through the ages: No, Elijah was not alone. He had reserved 7,000 in Israel who’d never bowed to Baal.
God will always preserve his people. All we have to fear are our own buckling knees.
Stay strong, friends.