Some might believe that Cardinal Francis George was prophetic when he said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Although blessed my entire life with religious freedom, these words challenge me to ponder civil disobedience. The reason why is explained by C.P. Krauth who said, “Error first seeks tolerance, then it seeks equality, then it seeks dominance.”
This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue another ruling on same-sex marriage as it pertains to states’ rights. The Court could: 1) Leave the issue of same-sex marriage up to individual states; or 2) Rule that individual states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or that states must recognize the same-sex marriage of out-of-state couples.
Do we who profess Jesus Christ really understand the implications of re-defined marriage? Do we understand the impact on our children, employment, church, community, and daily life in general?
Gay columnist Frank Bruni wrote in the New York Times that it’s time Christians get with the program and “take homosexuality off the sin list.” Bruni suggests that we free “religious people from prejudices that they can indeed jettison . . . rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.” (Quoted by Eric Metaxas http://www.breakpoint.org 4-13-15). But I take my stand with Rev. Richard Eyer who writes, “It is not our human prerogative to redefine marriage for the sake of political correctness, social justice or as an accommodation to the changing times. As God does not change, but is ever faithful, so marriage does not change and ever proclaims the faithfulness of God to His people . . . Marriage cannot be whatever a society wants it to be. We as Christians bear witness to the truth, and the dark ages of sin will not change it.” (www.lcms.org/freetobefaithful)
I am free to take such a stand but, soon, will it require opposing Caesar? As laws on marriage, parenting, and hate speech are set in earthly stone, what will happen when I, as a follower of Jesus Christ, cannot obey them? What will happen when I’m told I can’t mentor a young woman at my local pregnancy center because, like the Navy Chaplain was told, it is “inappropriate counseling” to use God’s Word on sex outside of marriage or the practice of sodomy?
Black Americans once engaged in non-violent civil disobedience in the face of Jim Crow laws. If I would have been old enough, I think I would have joined them. I have joined the ranks of non-violent pro-lifers who rallied in public witness against legalized abortion. While we have opportunity, Christ-followers should speak with confidence and refuse to compromise biblical faith as a parent, student, employee, or business owner.
The Christian photographer, cake-baker, and florist did not compromise their faith. When asked to provide their services for the wedding receptions of gay couples, they refused to participate in something they believed contrary to God’s Word. Law suits quickly followed. We will see more of this as marriage deconstructionists and the media try to intimidate and silence Christians. But if the Supreme Court rules that individual states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize the “marriages” of same-sex couples from other states, will I urge my pastor to teach in the way of Christ and contrary to the Supreme Court even if it means his possible arrest? Will I continue to publicly mentor using God’s Word even if it means speaking against “Caesar”?
Silence is preferable to many Christians. “I believe in Jesus,” I’ve been told, “but my faith is a private thing.” Or, “I don’t want to know what’s going on out there. It’s too overwhelming. I just want to be left in peace.” A follower of Christ will find contentment on this earthly journey because of the Holy Spirit within him, but he will most surely never be at peace with a world that despises the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Why is it that homosexual activists who used to be somewhat libertarian (“all we ask is that you recognize our affection for the same-sex”) have become more boldly totalitarian (“participate in our wedding or we will shut down your business”)? Is it possible that in seeking friendship and peace with the world, Christian denominations that were already acceptant of child sacrifice through abortion and now ordain practicing homosexuals and bless same-sex marriages offer no resistance?
But when Christians refuse to submit, will the anger of those seeking dominance turn to persecution? Even genocide? It has in the past. It is today in Iraq, Egypt, and Kenya. It may be coming to America soon. And what then? My pastor reminds me that the Church grows stronger under persecution. Unlike with any other religion, hope abounds as people live for Jesus Christ.
Cardinal George said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Then he continued, “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization as the Church has done so often in human history . . . God sustains the world, in good times and in bad . . . only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, Savior of the world and head of his body, the church. Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb . . . are on the right side of history. Those who lie about Him and persecute or harass His followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up bringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression. There is nothing ‘progressive’ about sin, even when it is promoted as ‘enlightened.’” (www.ncregister.com/blog/tim-drake/the-myth-and-the-reality-of-ill-die-in-my-bed)
Will I be willing to disobey Caesar if it means obeying Christ? I pray for courage to do so. For now, there are things I can do that don’t oppose Caesar. I can pay attention to my own marriage and, as Rev. Eyer says, “make it an example of truth.” I can openly discuss the fact that children do best, not with two dads or two moms, but when mentored by a faithful mother and father. I can point out that man and woman are distinct and complementary, yet they are one: so also are Christ and His Church (John 17:22-23). I can be active in my church and encourage my church to be active in the world through its members. “If we can’t be bothered to attend church when there is absolutely nothing standing in the way of doing so,” writes Rev. Peter Speckhard, “can we credibly complain if it becomes slightly more difficult to attend the church we weren’t attending anyway?” (www.lcms.org/freetobefaithful)
The error of redefined marriage demands tolerance and equality. But if the Supreme Court allows this error to dominate, then civil disobedience may be required. Jesus said, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).
Marriage is of God. I must resist its counterfeit.