Tag Archives: Church

Governor Mary Fallin signs bill protecting pastors from gay rights coercion

Oklahama Governor Mary Fallin
Oklahama Governor Mary Fallin

Lindsay posted this happy article from Tulsa World.

It says:

Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law a bill that allows ministers to refuse to perform same-sex marriages if such marriages conflict with their religious beliefs.

Fallin said Friday that the law will protect the constitutional and religious rights of Oklahomans.

The law says no licensed, ordained or authorized official of a religious organization can be required to solemnize or recognize a marriage that violates that official’s conscience or religious belief.

Fallin said the bill makes it clear that religious leaders and houses of worship can’t be forced by the government to violate their faith where marriage is concerned.

This persecution of pastors for refusing to celebrate same-sex marriage is already happening in some states.

Here’s an article from Alliance Defending Freedom, which is doing a case on this right now.

It says:

The Coeur d’Alene city attorney confirmed in a letter Monday that ordained ministers operating a for-profit wedding chapel are in violation of a city ordinance for declining to marry same-sex couples.

The letter states that “if they are providing services primarily or substantially for profit and they discriminate in providing those services based on sexual orientation then they would likely be in violation of the ordinance.” ADF attorneys representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp explain that the letter’s contention that the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is a non-profit entity that would be exempt from the ordinance is false.

“The city has said explicitly, repeatedly, and publicly that it would prosecute a for-profit business. That’s what the Hitching Post is, and it has never claimed to be anything other than that,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “While the Knapps do operate a ministry, they charge a fee for the ceremonies in order to be able to make a modest living. Therefore, the city, in its letter and elsewhere, is admitting that it would prosecute these pastors, who are clearly under a present threat of being sent to jail, fined, or both. The city has had months to figure out its own ordinance, and our clients have years of incarceration and devastating fines hanging over their heads. The city’s disingenuous waffling is indefensible.”

The religious corporation document filed by the Knapps on Oct. 6 did not change the chapel to a non-profit entity. It continues to operate as a for-profit LLC.

City officials told the Knapps that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city repeatedly claimed its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

There is no state-wide non-discrimination law in Idaho, but this local ordinance is there, and that’s what got them into trouble.

States with non-discrimination laws
States with non-discrimination (pro-fascism) laws

Another reason to live in a small town in a conservative state. It’s probably a good idea to go into a STEM field where this is less likely to be a problem. But you’re never really safe now.

Yesterday, I posted an article with advice for churches from the Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF is the premier defender of civil liberties in the country. The problem of big government attacking free speech and religious liberty in the name of gay “equality” is a real thing. Hope you are ready for the new rules.

What to do if your husband has lost interest in going to church

Theology that hits the spot
Theology that hits the spot

Lindsay, from Lindsay’s Logic, has written a fine post on how to get men interested in the church.

She writes:

Many Christian wives with Christian husbands are concerned because their husbands are withdrawing from church and refusing to attend or to be involved. The number one reason that men are becoming disillusioned with church is that the church has become highly feminized. Worship services often focus on emotional things like singing praise songs and sermons are often more of a pep talk or Christian psychology instead of deep doctrine. And, above all, faith is very commonly spoken of in terms of how you feel rather than reasons and evidence.

Most men instinctively withdraw from Christianity that is focused on feelings. They don’t want Jesus to be their boyfriend. They don’t want to sing mushy love songs to Jesus or talk about their feelings about God. So a worship service that seems like just feeling happy thoughts about Jesus is going to grate and, over time, push them away.

The answer to getting men involved and passionate about church is apologetics. Apologetics is the study of the reasons and evidence for the Christian faith. It’s based on facts, not feelings. And men will engage with a Christianity focused on believing something they have evidence for and then going on a mission to change the world (or at least their corner of it).

The rest of her post deals with specific recommendations, and I will only excerpt one below:

4) Stop talking about church and Christianity in terms of feelings. Talk about what God’s word says. Talk about what’s right and wrong. Talk about how we know the Bible is true and about the evidence for the resurrection. Talk about the history of the church and the persecution that people have withstood in order to hold on to what they knew to be true. But stop talking about how church makes you feel good or how much you “love” Jesus. No doubt church does make you feel good and no doubt you do love Jesus, but talking about Christianity in those terms will not help with your husband.

The most important thing to understand about getting men interested in the church is that men are men. We are not interested in most of the things that women go to church for. We don’t like singing much, we don’t like praying as much (we would rather fix everything ourselves, and so praying is like a last resort), and we mostly read the Bible to find out who God is, so that we can make practical plans in real life to achieve real-world results. We don’t read it to feel anything, we just want to find something useful to do from it. Sometimes, Christians want to make Christianity about happy feelings and getting along. Men aren’t like that. We actually like confronting people and debating with them. If you look at Jesus in the temple, or Paul going to synagogues and marketplaces to debate with people, that’s what men want to do. Don’t try to make us go to churches where debates about moral issues, politics and apologetics are not happening, we don’t want to go.

We don’t want to be preached at by fideists, we want everything presented to us as a set of alternatives to debate about. We don’t want to be told what to believe, we want to be told what reasons and evidence there is to think that certain beliefs are true. We don’t want you to wallow around crying about losers, we want to be presented with winners, people who made a difference by achieving something heroic through adversity. And we don’t want to think of God as our creepy stalker / lover, we want to think about God as our battle-hardened commanding officer. We want to know how we can sacrifice our self-interest in order to achieve practical results. We want to train for battle, and then win. So stop trying to make us into girls, and then maybe we’ll be interested in church. This isn’t hard to understand, muppets, you just have to think of things from a perspective other than your own.

By the way, if you are a man reading this, for goodness sake, start learning apologetics and listen to Wayne Grudem lectures on ethics and public policy. You have been greatly mistreated by the church, it turns out that Christianity is not boring or impractical at all, it is only like that in feminized churches, where emotional nonsense dominates.

ADF offers advice on SCOTUS marriage redefinition ruling

States with non-discrimination laws
States with non-discrimination laws

(Source: ACLU)

Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defending Freedom offers advice to churches on how to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision to redefine marriage to remove the gender requirement.

He says:

[…][T]he greatest threat for churches lies in the application of the Court’s decision to believers who live in jurisdictions covered by so-called “non-discrimination” laws and ordinances. Everywhere that marriage has been redefined in the last several years has seen an awakening of non-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, or places of public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. These laws are peppered throughout the states and local governments and are a linchpin of the sexual revolution’s broader legal and political strategy: to establish non-discrimination laws at all levels throughout the country and to to “ensure that religion is not used as an excuse to discriminate.”

In coming days, the threat from these non-discrimination laws will materialize in numerous ways as same-sex couples marry. But there are proactive steps your church can take to protect itself.

I put the map from the ACLU above. I think that’s what he is talking about when he says non-discrimination states. Keep in mind that the ACLU supported redefining marriage, and opposes religious liberty.

Erik’s article covers 3 areas:

  1. Church’s statement of faith
  2. Pastors officiating same-sex marriage ceremonies
  3. Church’s facility usage policy

Part 3) was the most interesting to me:

3. Churches should ensure their facilities usage policies are revised to allow only uses consistent with the church’s religious beliefs.

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, some churches may be approached by same-sex couples seeking to be married in the church facility. Churches should not feel as if they have to close their doors to the community just to prevent wedding ceremonies with which they disagree. Churches must continue to be a welcoming presence in the community and can do so through updating or revising their facility usage policy. The key point is to tie usage of the church’s facility to the statement of faith and religious beliefs of the church. And then to make clear that uses inconsistent with those religious beliefs will not be allowed. Alliance Defending Freedom has a sample facilities usage policy available in our Protecting Your Ministry manual.

So you update your statement of faith, and then tie usage of the the facility to that statement of faith. Simple.

I took a quick look at the booklet, and it also talked about tying employment within the church and church membership to the statement of faith.

Denny Burk summarizes those:

2. Religious Employment Criteria

Your church can best avail itself of the First Amendment’s protection in employee disputes if you create and faithfully enforce religious employment criteria for every employee. That requires churches to do at least two things: (1) require all employees and volunteers to sign a statement affirming the church’s statement of faith and standards of conduct, and (2) create written job descriptions for every employee and volunteer position.

 

4. Formal Membership Policy

If your church does not have a membership policy, you need to change that. Biblically, this should already be a priority for your church. You need to specify what the requirements for membership are, how one joins, how one resigns, and the procedures for church discipline. If all of this isn’t spelled out up front, your church could be exposed (see ADF guide pp. 17-18).

So what to make of this? Well, the ADF is an organization that I admire and trust. I cannot abide Christians who do not want to understand the details of what is happening with religious liberty in their country. The ADF has first class lawyers from the top law schools, and they defend religious liberty at every level of our justice system, up to and including the Supreme Court. If you want to help your church protect itself from prosecution, then you must point them to the ADF booklet linked above.

And this is especially true if you are in one of those states in the map above. In looking over the map, I noticed that much of the trouble we have been having with Christian businesses getting sued are in states that have these laws… Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, New York, and so on. Pay attention to that map and make decisions about where to live accordingly.

How will gay marriage affect my marriage?

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

In this post, I will get 500 words to summarize why pro-marriage men will be less likely to marry because of the successes of the gay rights movement. Then super-wife Lindsay from Lindsay’s Logic gets 500 words to respond to me.

First, I’ll quote from Robert Gagnon to set up the problem:

Unless this decision can be reversed soon through the next two presidential elections and the retirement/replacement of renegade SCOTUS judges (Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer are the first up), this will turn out to be the greatest American tragedy for the civil liberties of persons of faith, for the cause of sexual purity in the United States, and for the lives of persons struggling with same-sex attraction. Prepare for a reign of persecution and abuse of people of faith as hateful, ignorant, and discriminatory “bigots” and the moral equivalent of racists in every area of life in which people of faith intersect with the secular realm, individually and in their religious institutions, with a profound negative impact as well within most mainline denominations.

As individuals, people of faith will be aggressively indoctrinated, fined, denied advancement, fired, intimidated, and subjected to ceaseless verbal abuse in public and private schools, at institutions of higher learning, at places of employment in public and private sectors, and throughout the main communication organs of the media and entertainment industry. Their institutions and businesses will be set on a collision course with the state: denied government funding, contracts, and loans; denied accreditation and tax-exempt status; and subjected to government harassment.

Here’s why Christian men should be cautious about marrying after the SCOTUS ruling:

  1. Qualified professionals are losing their jobs, and are unable to find work, after being “outed” to their employers for making pro-marriage donations or by writing pro-marriage books, or by just expressing disagreement with homosexuality, even with NO evidence of any actual discrimination in the workplace.
  2. Donation records are being used to punish pro-marriage people. Remember how a gay activist within the IRS leaked all the names of pro-marriage donors to the Huffington Post? The IRS admitted fault, but pro-marriage donors could be exposed to severe consequences, including boycotts, coercion, business closures, death threatsvandalism, beatings and even domestic terrorism. Mark Steyn is not accepting donations for his own legal defense because of the IRS leak of pro-marriage donors. Maine is also seeking the names of pro-marriage donors. There’s a definite effort to punish people who donate to pro-marriage causes.
  3. Christian-owned businesses who decline to participate in same-sex weddings are being punished by state attorney generals with lengthy trials and six-figure fines.
  4. Powerful gay rights organizations continue to attack people who support marriage, e.g. – Human Rights Campaign, ACLU, etc. The arrest of the co-founder of the HRC shows where these groups might be headed next.
  5. According to exit polls, unmarried women voted for Obama by a margin of 70%-29% in 2008. Young, unmarried women were 77% in favor of Obama, according to exit polls. This indicates support for Democrat positions like no-fault divorce and gay marriage. It indicates opposition to free speech, conscience protections and religious liberty. Men see traditional marriage as an exclusive commitment with obligations, and favor moral boundaries to protect children, so they vote Republican.
  6. Most young, unmarried Christian women I talk to are not studying to learn how to defend marriage on their own, or speaking out about it. They are not able to help you defend marriage, it’s not important to them.
  7. Young, unmarried women do not want the responsibility of having to produce children who will grow up to be ADF lawyers or Supreme Court Justices, who could do something about gay marriage. They want the marriage to be fun and to make them feel happy.
  8. I am actually seeing young, unmarried Christian women dating non-Christians, having premarital sex with non-Christians, co-habitating with non-Christians, marrying non-Christians, having abortions from non-Christians, and even having out-of-wedlock children with non-Christians. If a woman cannot control her own feelings, she will not be able to help you defend marriage as a permanent commitment that overrides ever-changing feelings.
  9. The national debt has more than doubled since the Democrats took over the House and Senate in 2007 – from 8 to 18.5 trillion. Debt means higher taxes, inflation, or both. Either way, marriage and children are going to be much harder to support financially in the future. You can do more to defend marriage by concentrating your money on defending marriage, rather than splitting  your money between marriage expenses and defending marriage.
  10. Bigger government undermines men as leaders of the home. For example, a judge overruled a father for grounding his daughter for posting sexy photos online. And again, another judge ruled a man as an unfit parent for denying his son fast food. Bigger government means more intrusion into the home, which undermines the transmission of Christian values and disciplining of children.  You won’t have the freedom to lead your family to do pro-marriage things. It’s better to just defend marriage on your own, instead of getting married and having kids to model marriage to others.

So for these reasons, it’s best for a man to not marry, and remain free to defend marriage on his own instead. Being responsible for a wife and children puts pressure on a man to keep silent, because he is always thinking that he could lose his job, his business, or worse. Better to stay single, and be free to speak out without fear of failing to provide for his family.

Here is Lindsay’s response:

If all a man can find are the kind of women that Wintery Knight describes – self-focused, voting for liberals, thinking marriage places no obligations upon them, wishing to pursue fun and thrills, etc. – then men should not marry them. However, not all women are like that. With churches becoming ever more feelings-based and feminized, it is difficult to find a good woman (or man) to marry. I do not contest that. But difficult and impossible are not the same thing.

Marriage, even in our evil times, remains a wonderful gift from God and one of the best ways to influence our culture through the ability to work as a team for the kingdom of God and through having and raising children who will make a difference. One of the main ways we are called to grow the church is through biological growth. Christians should be having and raising children in the faith. We cannot let the evils in our culture make us retreat from the work of raising godly children to further the kingdom of God and to move Christianity forward into the next generation. If we stop marrying and having children, we will seriously hinder God’s work here on earth and Christianity will die out apart from the converts we can make. But making converts, though important, is often far more difficult than raising one’s own children to know what is right from the start.

I think a lot of people underestimate the difference that can be made by having children and raising them in one’s faith. Take a look at the Muslims to see how effective this can be. Muslims do make converts, but the bulk of Islam’s political and religious influence is made by Muslims outbreeding their opponents and raising children who firmly adhere to Islamic faith. Europeans are suffering a dearth of babies, with fertility well below replacement value. Meanwhile, Muslims are rapidly multiplying. The Muslims in Europe are quickly taking over the culture – primarily by having at least double the number of children that native Europeans do.

What if Christians would stop falling for the lies of the world that children are a burden and a liability and see children as the blessings and assets that the Bible teaches they are? What if Christians would have twice as many children as the godless liberals and raise them with a rigorous and comprehensive Biblical worldview that they could defend with reason and evidence? If we did that, we would change our culture and the world.

The church has gotten too soft. We’ve let a little opposition shut us up. We’ve allowed the values of the world for money and power and convenience and fitting in to strip us of our influence and voice. We’ve tried to be like the world, just with Jesus added in. And that’s precisely why we are failing to make a difference. We need a renewal of our thinking to value what God values and to live counter-culturally. Seeking a good marriage and raising godly children is an important part of making a difference for Christ, and one we cannot neglect if we hope to spread Christianity and influence our culture.

Of course, it is vitally important that, if we marry, we marry well. If a Christian marries someone who cares more for the world and its values than pleasing God and advancing the Christian faith, that is a bad choice. If there are no good spousal candidates available, the best choice is serving God through celibacy and making a difference in other ways. But we should not give up on God’s institution of marriage simply because it is difficult and because the world is now against us. It has been far harder on Christians in the past and they still managed to marry and raise children, even in the face of dire persecution and sometimes death. If we give up at the mere threat of losing a job or being mocked, we let the opposition win without even a fight.

Let us know who is more convincing in the comments.

How should Christians respond to the Supreme Court’s decision to redefine marriage?

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

In case you haven’t heard, the Supreme Court voted to redefine marriage to remove the focus on creating and raising children in stable relationships. Now marriage is just for any two or more people who have feelings for each other, and when the feelings go, so does the marriage. The commitment is gone, the child-centered focus is gone. It’s just about the needs of selfish adults.

Which Religions Voted for Obama in 2008?
Which Religions Voted for Obama in 2008?

And more:

2008 voting broken by religious groups
2008 voting broken down by religious groups

So, remember that when you are processing today’s decision on gay marriage – not every person who calls herself a Christian actually is what she claims to be. For many of them, religion is just a custom, like the clothes they wear, or the food they eat. They don’t really believe a word of the Bible, and just want to dance and sing in church for the sake of their own happiness. There is nothing cognitive going on in some churches. No understanding, no authenticity.

You can read Justice Scalia’s dissent to the decision here.

How should Christians respond?

This post by Lenny Esposito at Come Reason made me laugh. He writes about how Christians should respond to same-sex marriage, since the Supreme Court is about to rule on it, and is guaranteed to rule against natural marriage.

Lenny has arguments against same-sex marriage that are made on the basis of logic and evidence. But not everyone is happy with his approach.

He writes:

I did receive a few responses from people who wrote something to the effect of “All we need is the Gospel. Share the Word with them.” I’ve run into such thinking before, with those who question the necessity of rigorous training in logic and apologetics. They think such things are “of men.” They admonish me and other believers to simply let loose the “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17) to fight our battles.

I think such talk is sincere but misguided. First of all, we live in a post-Christian culture. The Bible is not taken to be the final answer on issues such as same-sex marriage. That’s why if I quote the Bible to a person who supports homosexual unions, it really doesn’t sway them at all. In fact, many times it solidifies their stance since they see themselves as more modern and progressive than some 2,000 year-old book.

Anyone who has been paying attention to the changes of belief about this issue can quickly see my point. We’ve been offering Biblical admonition against homosexuality and same-sex marriage for over 30 years. Which way did the culture shift? Which way did the Church shift? According to a newly released Pew study, over 60% of Catholic and mainline Protestants support same-sex marriage.1 Even among Evangelicals, the support for same-sex marriage has DOUBLED in the last ten years.2 All this even though the scriptural admonitions against homosexuality are clear and have been discussed repeatedly, especially in churches.

In the words of Dr. Phil, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” I can answer that: it isn’t.

I’m actually not sure that any churches have talked about the Bible says about any issue in the real world. Mine certainly never does, and the pastors are all quite proud of preaching the gospel every week and never talking about current events, law or policy. It’s just Bible, Bible, Bible all the time, and never a word about how it is supported by evidence, or how it applies to real world issues. No wonder churched Christians get the idea that Christianity is just about their emotional state, and not about reality.

More from Lenny:

While I do believe that the Christians who think quoting scripture is the proper way to face these questions are sincere, they are trying to make scripture into something that it is not. They think scriptures are some kind of secret weapon that cannot be resisted. They see it as a sort of mystical summons of the Holy Spirit who will magically change those with whom they’re engaging; a few phrases that one only needs to voice in order to change people’s hearts and minds.

But “the Word” is not a magical incantation and it’s wrong to think of it that way. Such is an unbiblical view of scripture itself. Yes, the Holy Spirit is the one who transforms lives. It is he would is responsible for our understanding our sinfulness and our need for Christ. But that doesn’t mean the Spirit will reshape every unregenerate idea, even among believers. That’s why Paul didn’t quote scripture to the Athenians in Acts 17 when he witnessed to them. Instead, he used popular poets and thinkers they were familiar with to make his point. When Paul was held prisoner in Jerusalem, he didn’t quote scripture to his captors, but appealed to Roman law (Acts 22:25) in order to escape flogging.

I thought it was worth quoting what Lenny said. I think he is more familiar with the normal church  background where people rely on feelings and nudges and intuitions, and are hyper-spiritual about everything.

So what do you think? Is he right about this?

He didn’t provide a case against same-sex marriage in his post, so I’ll just link to my case against same-sex marriage, and summarize the main points below:

  1. Celebrating same-sex unions is bad for children
  2. Celebrating same-sex unions is bad for public health
  3. Celebrating same-sex unions is bad for business and religious liberty

And of course there have been more recent studies since I wrote that which are relevant, like this one that I blogged about previously. There’s much more to the case for natural marriage than my 3 points, but it’s a start.