You know the word. And you know what always comes soon after.
When the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in 1788 it did not do so without controversy — either before, during, or after. As they were concluding their meeting Benjamin Franklin is famous for his response to a lady who questioned him about what the result of the Convention was. He said, “A republic. If we can keep it.”
Indeed, many leaders in the several states lamented the results of that Convention and fought hard against their respective state’s ratification thereof. Only with the guarantee there would be a Bill of Rights added to the Constitution, enumerating certain things the federal government absolutely could not do, was ratification achieved.
The freedom for people to belief as they feel compelled to, and to live in accordance with their beliefs, was considered so absolutely necessary that the very first of those rights enumerated in what came to be known as the First Amendment was that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion; or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” So inalienable a right was it, and so vital to both state and national interests, that the very next clause in the First Amendment made clear the freedom of speech (inherent in which is the freedom to express oneself).
For over two hundred years then constitutionally protected rights were considered a given, at least as it relates to matters of faith and practice. However, in the twenty-first century, and especially in the last few years, we are living in a new age (at least for us comfortable Americans). Our freedom to believe what we want and live in accordance with those beliefs is no longer a given, and I write this, in particular, for those who share my faith in the one and only God, Father of our one and only Savior, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I write this with respect to those who, like me, believe that God has revealed Himself through the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. I write this to those who, like me, believe God has made Himself plain as it relates to matters of marriage and human sexuality.
If you believe like me you know that God is holy, holy, holy, and that He cannot, does not, and will not tolerate any sin, at any time, for any reason whatsoever. True, God is patient toward sinners, but every sin that has ever been committed will have been judged in time.
So then, you also believe, like me (because the Bible is God’s word and it’s not too difficult to understand), that God created man in His image, male and female He created them, and the two of them joined together as one flesh. Thus, homosexuality is sinful state of mind, homosexual acts are sinful acts, and homosexual marriage is a figment of the imagination, a byproduct of a mind hostile toward God, because God, the Creator of marriage, has already defined it (one man and one woman until death do they part, and what God has joined together let no man separate).
Well, at least you used to be able to believe that, because on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling in the favor of Hobby Lobby in a recent case in which the government was trying to force the owners of that business to violate their religious convictions with regards to insurance coverage for certain contraceptives considered abortifacients, now the President of the United States is signing an executive order prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The constitutionally of such an order can be debated at another time. Nevertheless, the order means if you are a business owner and have a government contract, you can’t decide not to hire that man, whose mother named him Chris, because he wears a dress and identifies himself as a woman named Christine. His right to be “transgender” is more important than your right to submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ and conduct your business and even hire employees who best represent the worldview you want your business (which you own) to convey.
President Barack Obama’s decision to sign this order is hardly shocking given some of his statements in the past, but the ramifications of such an order, once enforced, are chilling to the mind of us Americans who are used to being comfortable in the land of the free. And should the trajectory of our culture remain unchanged, and I see no reason to believe it will, this order is an ominous portent of things to come.
This is just my opinion, but I believe it to be one grounded in an understanding of the culture, and more importantly the Bible, but things will probably not get better. They will most likely get worse… much worse.
As American Christians we must remember first that we are Christians who happen to be Americans, not the other way around. We are citizens of two kingdoms, but our heavenly citizenship (Phil 3:20), guaranteed to all believers by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, must trump our American citizenship every time.
Once that is understood, we must also remember that freedom, while codified in a human constitution, isn’t guaranteed in Scripture. Many of the believers who received Paul’s letters and Peter’s letters lived under the constant threat of persecution. The Christians in Judea were ostracized by their Jewish kinsmen to the point Paul was collecting an offering for them half a continent away. Herod had the apostle James put to death in Acts 12, to say nothing of church history which teaches us that Peter and Paul were both murdered for their faith around A.D. 67. Even today in this enlightened age to be a Christian in more parts of the world than not means to be under constant threat of some sort of persecution (even death) from a government or other religious group.
Therefore, while we might rightly say religious liberty in America has been taken to hospice, with all signs pointing to its impending death in coming years, the question for you and I becomes: To whom will you bow when it finally dies? Is our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ such that we will readily endure suffering the likes of which none reading this most likely have ever truly pondered? Will your knee remained bowed before Jesus the King? Or will you bow to the state and to the culture, thus proving your knee isn’t bowed to Jesus in reality now?
We must, by the grace of God, waste no time in setting our minds (NOW!) on things above, and not on the things of the earth (Col 3:2). Beloved, Satan has attacked us in our comfort here in free America, but the days are coming when I believe he will attack us otherwise. I pray you, I, and we all might remember that “Greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).