It is quickly becoming more and more obvious that religious freedom is declining (quite rapidly) in America. And with the June SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) decision to legalize gay “marriage,”* this decline is happening faster than ever. Christians are increasingly being punished by the government for acting on their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage that are based on the standard of Scripture. And we are hearing of more and more people being disciplined or fired from their jobs because they profess their Christian faith.
Well, a recent ominous opinion from the Supreme Court of Ohio hints that further Christian intolerance is coming, and right in our “backyard.”
Although this is an advisory opinion only and is presently nonbinding (made in response to prospective or hypothetical questions), the ideas contained within it are disturbing, perhaps even foreboding. It states, “A judge who exercises the authority to perform civil marriages may not refuse to perform same-sex marriages while continuing to perform opposite-sex marriages. A judge may not decline to perform all marriages in order to avoid marrying same-sex couples based on his or her personal, moral, or religious beliefs.”
The opinion went on to state that judges who refuse to marry anyone are creating the appearance of “bias and prejudice” and that “a judge who publicly states or implies a personal objection to performing same-sex marriages and reacts by ceasing to perform all marriages acts contrary to the mandate to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.”
What this opinion seems to be implying is that those who hold that marriage is for one man and one woman because of their “personal, moral, or religious beliefs” are unfit to be judges. If something like this opinion becomes law—which it could in our current cultural climate—it would basically set up an anti-Christian litmus test for any judicial officer in the state. This is just one of many examples that shows the growing intolerance for Christian morals and beliefs in our society. As I’ve pointed out before, the current trend in regard to religious liberty is that you have freedom to believe whatever you want, you just can’t act on those beliefs in the public (or sometimes even personal!) sphere—or you can be punished.
Some people may say that judges should be neutral so gay “marriage” shouldn’t be an issue, but Scripture makes it clear that there is no neutrality: “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30). You are either for Christ or you are against Him—there is no middle ground. Now, whether you are for Christ or against Him becomes the starting point for your thinking—including for judges. So those who stand with Christ and on the authority of His Word and believe that marriage is for one man and one woman as Scripture states (Genesis 2; Matthew 19:4–5); they use this as their starting point for making decisions. Those who are against Christ and who do not stand on the authority of His Word start with man’s opinions about morality and marriage, and they use this starting point to make their decisions. And those Christians who support gay “marriage” are not starting with God’s Word—they are compromising God’s Word with man’s word.
So, judge or otherwise, you are using your religious worldview—God’s Word or man’s ideas—to make your decisions. There is no neutrality! It all depends on your worldview, and Christians shouldn’t be excluded from using their worldview to make decisions any more than a secular judge should be. Sadly, Christians are being increasingly marginalized and punished in this culture—yes, it’s real persecution. In reality, the USA is imposing the state religion of secularism (which is in essence atheism) on people. The state is not neutral!
This advisory opinion from the Ohio Supreme Court is not the only such advisory or ruling used to put pressure on the state bar associations and their respective members—this is going on in other states and surely in more states to come. But there are people who are still fighting for religious freedom such as Mike Johnson from Freedom Guard (who is also representing Ark Encounter in our lawsuit against the unlawful actions of the state of Kentucky regarding our religious freedom). Mike says that they are currently planning a legal challenge on behalf of several judges in the state of Louisiana, whose Supreme Court has also issued a similar advisory. Please pray that their efforts will be successful in guaranteeing our religious freedom here in America.
Religious freedom is under attack in America and this can be very discouraging. But we must remember that this is a spiritual battle that we are fighting: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Ultimately, regardless of what happens to this nation, Christ has the victory and we can rejoice in that even while we fight to preserve our precious freedoms. And, of course, the most important thing that we can do, and the only thing that will change hearts and lives, not just for this life, but for eternity, is preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is this gospel and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that changes hearts and lives and, ultimately, will change the culture.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.
*It is noteworthy that justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elana Kagan had reportedly engaged in prejudicial public conduct (by presiding over gay “marriages”) prior to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision of the Supreme Court. This may have disqualified them from participating in the case, and should have required them to recuse themselves under 28 U.S. Code Sec. 455, which provides that a justice of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned. If so, the legitimate vote of the court was actually 4 to 3 against same-sex “marriage.”