In the name of tolerance, a growing number of Americans—including many professing Christians—have accepted gay “marriage” and abortion as we watch the nation move further from its biblically rooted morality. In a recent twist of intolerance (the irony and hypocrisy notwithstanding), many secular activists are not merely content with legalizing unions between same-sex couples but now want to force Bible-believing Christians to accept such unions and reject their consciences. Threatening punitive consequences, some anti-Christians are demanding that believers not only acknowledge gay "marriages" as legitimate, but even to embrace and celebrate them. In other words, these secularists want their views forced upon everyone else, to the exclusion of the US Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of religious exercise.
In recent decades, secular humanists have been on the rise as they proclaim their religious worldview, and many have engaged in anti-Christian persecution. More recently, they have put coercive pressures on churches and ministries, despite the US Constitution's guarantee of the free exercise of religion, and have done the following:
- attempted to force pastors to officiate at gay weddings;1
- coerced Christian colleges to accept homosexual behavior or lose government aid (here and here);
- told ministries to open their hiring to non-adherents to their faith, including practicing LGBT people;
- have effectively forced religious and pro-life groups based in Washington, DC, to hire people who are pro-abortion and provide them the insurance coverage that includes abortions; see the new DC law here.
These recent examples of anti-Christian persecution demonstrate that it is not at all alarmist when Christians point out the efforts of secularist groups and governmental authorities to wage an outright war against Christianity and Christians being allowed to live out their faith. Because the leading opposition to gay “marriage” comes from Christians (based on their belief regarding the biblical definition of marriage), the secularist attack includes undermining the religious liberty of believers to promote a religion of secular humanism.
Generations of students have been indoctrinated to believe that the Bible cannot be trusted in its history or the doctrines based in that history.
We could argue that the gay “marriage” legislation sweeping some Western nations is actually a vote against Christianity, the result of generations who have been brainwashed into evolutionary humanism in governmental education systems. These generations of students have been indoctrinated to believe that the Bible cannot be trusted in its history or the doctrines based in that history.
Secularists have brought us to a momentous time in America’s history, including this month as the US Supreme Court rules on gay “marriage,” with the very real possibility of the nation’s societal fabric being torn. It’s now realistic to think that the growing anti-Christian sentiment may lead the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the tax-exempt status of Christian colleges and religious institutions, including churches and parachurch groups if they don’t accept gay “marriage.” The Supreme Court’s decision may well prove to be the tipping point in the culture wars. Furthermore, if gay “marriage” is made legal across America, the secularists will be further emboldened to undermine Christian liberty with greater fervor in other areas. In essence, it really is a war on Christianity—and on God’s Word.
How often did we hear from secularists that gay "marriage" would not impact anyone other than the couples who sought such a union? They assured Christians not to be concerned about the conduct of consenting adults and essentially to mind their own business. Despite these assurances from gay activists and their sympathizers that they merely sought acceptance in society, many pro-gay advocates now want to force Christians to embrace homosexual behavior. Some groups have come after Answers in Genesis over its hiring practices (and other Bible-affirming ministries) with actions similar to those displayed by the intolerant secularists cited in the examples above. Such “compelled speech” would clearly violate the Christians’ right to free expression under the First Amendment. For example, forcing a baker to make a cake for a gay wedding with words supportive of the “marriage” on top of the cake is not honoring the free speech of the baker. Such coercion tramples it. The judiciary has already compelled cake makers to put down words that would violate the baker’s religious free speech—essentially being forced to proclaim something the baker does not accept.
Why is it that today only a Christian seems to be the American who is singled out to lose the right of free expression?
In a nation that guarantees freedom of religion in the very first amendment to the Constitution, why is it that today only a Christian seems to be the American who is singled out to lose the right of free expression?
A shot across the bow of AiG—as it boldly stands for biblical truths—has come from the state of Kentucky. Bowing to the pressure of anti-Christian secularist groups that have actively opposed AiG in the culture, the state was intimidated last year to withdraw a tax incentive for our Ark Encounter project that had already received pre-approval (see www.answersforfreedom.org). In order to receive the tax incentive, the state is now demanding that our future Christian facility open its hiring to everyone (which then would include applicants who agressively oppose the Christian message of the Ark project), and that the gospel message not be presented at the theme park. Christians increasingly are being treated as second-class citizens in this nation. Essentially it comes down to the fact that regardless of what the Constitution clearly states about freedom of religious expression, those who don’t have a Christian worldview will reinterpret the Constitution to make it fit with their own secular worldview. The Ark issue is a battle of worldviews.
The Christian Worldview in the Culture Wars
As the battle over real marriage (based on the teaching of the One who invented marriage in the first place—the Creator God to whom we are all accountable) ratchets up this month when the US Supreme Court makes its ruling on the legality of same-sex “marriage,” what is the best approach for Christians to take about this growing controversy? And how should believers view the US Constitution’s guarantee of the “free exercise of religion”? (Conversely, for the secularists who often loudly proclaim tolerance in the culture, will they in the future tolerate pastors who refuse to perform gay “marriages”?) Here are a few thoughts:
If one has God’s Word as the starting point in life, marriage is one man for one woman. Of course, non-Christians, without the absolute standard that Christians have with their Bible, may decide not to accept man-woman marriage alone. We understand that. In fact, if Genesis is myth and its institution of marriage is not true, people will have no standard by which to judge homosexual “marriage” and behavior. Why not do whatever you want then? Why shouldn’t two men be married to one woman?
Christians can take the emotionalism out of the gay “marriage” debate as they share the worldview battle behind such issues as they discuss the nature of marriage.
Our challenge to people with such thinking is this: why do you believe what you do, and where do you believe you came from? Furthermore, what do you think is wrong with biblical marriage? Such a discussion will reveal that Bible-believing Christians and secularists have different starting points in their thinking. You see, ultimately gay “marriage” is a worldview matter because it’s a foundational issue. Recognizing that it’s a starting-points matter, Christians can take the emotionalism out of the gay “marriage” debate as they share the worldview battle behind such issues as they discuss the nature of marriage.
Christians who believe marriage is only between a man and woman need to understand that if people don’t have the starting point of the true history in Genesis, then it’s possible they will have a different view of “marriage.” Now, those who don’t start with the Bible and the book of Genesis as true are often the ones who become intolerant of Christians who disagree. Sadly, the government is fostering this intolerance.
Government infringement on religious freedom continues as well in the pro-life, anti-abortion movement. In Washington, DC, the District of Columbia Council recently passed legislation called the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA). Congress has authority to disapprove legislation passed by the DC Council (since it is a federal district), but only the House of Representatives has passed a resolution disapproving the legislation, and the Senate did not, so it is now law in the District. Reportedly, this law could now effectively force religious—even pro-life—organizations in Washington to 1. hire someone who agrees with abortion and 2. provide mandatory insurance coverage for their employees to get an abortion. This legislation is a direct attack on the freedom of religion and conscience of pro-life people.2
A nation that was based largely on biblical values has turned anti-biblical, with the trend accelerating in recent years. Ironically, sympathy for gay “marriage” and abortion has even infected the church. One Christian observer has noted that, “the last six years has been a disaster for the evangelicals in this country. Religious freedom has never been under more scrutiny, nor has it ever been more acceptable to personally attack Christians and their livelihoods for their beliefs. There is no longer any institutional refuge for the religious.”
She added, “It is not at all surprising, then, that significant numbers of Christians have learned to adapt as a result. Nowhere is this more apparent than the same-sex marriage debate. Christians cannot ignore the stable numbers in polls showing support for gay marriage among young evangelicals. According to Time magazine, young evangelicals’ support for gay marriage has gone from 20 percent in 2003 to 43 percent in 2014.”3 In fact, Answers in Genesis found in a study conducted by America’s Research Group of the 20s generation in the church (with an error margin of 3.8%) that 41% approved of gay “marriage” and 12% said they didn’t know.
Many Christians have been changing their views on abortion and homosexual behavior regardless of what the Bible teaches. In wanting either to avoid the label of being intolerant or in some cases desiring to steer clear of governmental persecution, Christians are acquiescing. We believe that much of the giving in is because so many in the church have compromised God’s Word beginning in Genesis, and so now generations in our churches really don’t look to the Bible as the absolute authority of the Word of God.
An increasing segment of the church continues to reject God’s clear teaching in Genesis about the sanctity of marriage.
As an increasing segment of the church continues to reject God’s clear teaching in Genesis about the sanctity of marriage, it will reject other inconvenient parts of the Bible, like abortion. Christians will reinterpret what God’s Word says in Genesis and reexamine when life begins and what murder is. But the value of life is grounded in our being created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27), not in cultural consensus.
Unless the church repents and renews its commitment to God’s Word and its authority in all areas of life, we will only continue to see Christians accept sinful man’s ideas and accommodate God’s Word to fit those beliefs. For the sake of wanting to be perceived as loving and accepting, Christians have become increasingly reluctant to take a stand for biblical truths and to declare that anti-biblical actions are wrong, and will just float along with the cultural tide. We need a new reformation in our churches: A return to the Bible as the infallible, inerrant Word of God from the first verse.
The Supreme Court This Month and Gay “Marriage”
We pray the US Supreme Court upholds the Constitution this month and rules that gay “marriage” should not be forced on society, including upon the Christian church and to the undermining of its free exercise of religion. We trust the Supreme Court upholds not only freedom of religion, but also its free exercise.
Of course, it’s not the Supreme Court that has ultimate jurisdiction over what is true marriage. As we write in our next printed newsletter, the real Supreme Court is accountable to the Supreme Authority to whom each of us is accountable and who is the final authority on what constitutes a marriage. He has already ruled:
Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? (Matthew 19:4–6)
Yes, we recognize that many in society, including in the church, will not be obedient to God’s Word concerning marriage and will reject the natural order of things as God created (Romans 1:26). Nevertheless, we trust the courts will cease their discrimination against Christians who base their worldview on the words of the ultimate Supreme Judge and will allow the free exercise of religion.
Sadly, with the increasing emphasis on entertainment in church life today, there has been a corresponding dearth of solid Bible teaching and thus a lack of spiritual maturity seen among Christians. Such congregations essentially function as a group of biblical illiterates and are more susceptible to being swept up in anti-biblical thinking of the day, such as supporting gay “marriage.” An ignorance of what the Bible teaches about homosexual behavior combined with a mindset that Christians must be “loving” has led to many churches accepting gay “marriage.” It is but one more example of how Bible-ignoring churches are conforming to the world rather than being transformed by the truths of the Bible (Romans 12:1–2).
As more churches turn their backs on God’s Word, should we be shocked when a Christian and famous country singer—known for thanking the Lord when she wins music awards—declares she is in support of gay “marriage”? This Christian singer has also stated, “I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love.”4 But true love involves bowing humbly before our Creator and submitting to His Holy Word and calling those who rebel against His will to repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness!
An increasing number of Christians are reluctant to call a sin, sin and will not proclaim the full counsel of God when it comes to the behavior of Christ followers and unbelievers alike.5 In the face of future governmental pressure to accept gay “marriage” or face the judicial consequences, the seeker-sensitive types in our churches will probably be willing to surrender biblical truth. If such persecution is to come, faithful Christians should begin praying now for the boldness, courage, and privilege to stand in the face of punishment for obeying God rather than men (Acts 4:1–31, 5:17–42; Philippians 1:27–29; 2 Timothy 3:12). We must proclaim the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ regardless of the consequences we might face or the freedoms we might lose.
What about the objection from some sincere Christians who argue that churches and ministries are already too entangled with the government? For example, they might declare that ministries like AiG should not have a non-profit status granted by the government and that they also should not be seeking incentives from the government that might come with strings attached. But if a church or religious organization is lawfully entitled to a benefit from the government, then why should they not avail themselves of that lawful benefit? Yes, the government might come back later and attempt to add restrictions if the benefit is to continue, but that does not mean that Christians should shrink away when that benefit, granted by the law (including a non-profit status), is challenged by the government.
As citizens, we can challenge the government in the courts when officials attempt to block those lawful benefits. With our battle against the state of Kentucky over a tourism incentive offered to all who qualify, should we just keel over because the state now wants to add employment and messaging restrictions on our Christian ministry? Or should we demand that the state follow its own laws? Furthermore, if we don't stand up, then the state will become even more emboldened to restrict the freedoms of other Christians. We need to take a stand now for religious freedom before things get worse in our increasingly secularized culture.
We encourage you to be bold in standing for God’s Word in a culture that is moving further and further away from biblical truth. God’s Word—not man’s ideas—needs to be our authority in all areas, regardless of the persecution that might come our way.
As words of that great hymn proclaim,
Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King?
Who will be His helpers, other lives to bring?
Who will leave the world’s side? Who will face the foe?
Who is on the Lord’s side? Who for Him will go?
By Thy call of mercy, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!
Fierce may be the conflict, strong may be the foe,
But the King’s own army none can overthrow;
’Round His standard ranging, vict’ry is secure,
For His truth unchanging makes the triumph sure.
Joyfully enlisting, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!
Chosen to be soldiers, in an alien land,
Chosen, called, and faithful, for our Captain’s band;
In the service royal, let us not grow cold,
Let us be right loyal, noble, true and bold.
Master, wilt Thou keep us, by Thy grace divine,
Always on the Lord’s side—Savior, always Thine!6