Passive Acceptance of Evil Is Not a Christian Family Value

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There is an epic war of the ages between darkness and light raging all around us, yet most Christians are content to have a picnic next to the battlefield.

When I first learned about the surreal scene of hundreds of citizens strolling into the countryside to observe a civil war battle near Washington, D.C., I thought “How odd, how strange! Why would anyone want to watch a battle in which they were not engaged?” Now, I understand that this bizarre visage is a rather apt yet tragic symbol of American Christianity today.

There is a very real war of good versus evil being fought in our midst, both spiritual and physical, but we are largely content to sit out the conflict on the sidelines. We should rather to be trained for warfare, arrayed in our armor, standing firm on the field of battle, engaged with our enemy, and advancing against the very gates of hell-but we are not (See Ephesians 6:10-20).

Why not? Well, for the most part, our Christian leaders have not effectively trained us for war. And far too many of us are distracted and ensnared by the worship of a multitude of our American idols-comfort, success, and popularity, to list a few, rather than Christ. We are trained to be passive sheep, lazily grazing on the sidelines, selfishly waiting for heaven to land on earth. Most of us do not know the Bible well enough or have a comprehensive biblical worldview that informs and motivates proactive engagement. And, even if we know what we ought to do, we are not motivated to obey-because it is hard. And “hard” requires sweat, blood, tears and we would rather not sacrifice, bleed, or cry. It is a lot easier to be distracted by the latest Walking Dead episode than fighting real spiritual zombies.

Then, there is the enormous obstacle of desperately wanting people to like us (fear of man) that causes us to stand frozen still when God-warfare opportunities arise.  If we loved and feared God more, we would not shrink back, but would be willing to fight the good fight.

As Charles Spurgeon asked, “Wouldst thou be a feather-bed warrior, instead of bearing the rough fight of love?” Too many of us Christians are content to be arm-chair prophets and feather-bed warriors. As such, we have little to no power or impact on the raging battle at hand. But authentic biblical love is not passive and disengaged when evil rears its ugly head; it is active and engaged with truth, love and all of the weapons of our warfare!

Passive acceptance of evil is actually more of a Buddhist or Hindu value, rather than a biblically Christian aspiration. These Eastern faiths were formed to try to answer the question of how to cope with the problem of human suffering. Their answer was to essentially ignore it and escape it, by putting on blinders to reality, checking out, and by going within for “truth”-a profoundly hollow exercise. The world can appear to be a much safer place when you close your eyes, cover your ears, and harden your heart.

As believers, we are not supposed to escape from evil and suffering but we are rather to escape to evil and suffering-we are to proactively engage and overcome evil with good. I submit that when American Christians are passive in the presence of evil, we are not behaving as authentic robust biblical Christians, but as passive and selfish spiritual weaklings. The sad result is that we end up compromising, capitulating, and even assimilating to the darkness, rather than exposing it, opposing it, fighting it, and destroying it. This weakness it not irrelevant, but has serious negative consequences for our culture and the future of our children and grandchildren.

Authentic biblical Christianity is not passive. The Lord said, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams”(I Samuel 15:22).  We should hate what our Father hates and love what our father loves-and do something about it. And James admonishes us “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).  Jesus still admonishes us today to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).

God will hold us morally accountable not only for what we have done (sins of omission), He will also hold us accountable for what we have failed to do (sins of omission).  One of my heroes, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who literally gave his life to stop evil in his generation said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” The famous Christian British parliamentarian Edmund Burke wrote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

As we are surrounded by evil, now is the time for good men and good women to do something. When we see evil we must boldly speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). When confronted by darkness we must act. We must never passively allow evil to triumph in our land, in our churches, or in our homes.

If you think you are not strong enough on your own to fight the good fight of faith, you are right! But you are not alone! God is with you! “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (II Chronicles 16:9). Step out in faith onto the battlefield and God will meet you there and He will empower you with strength, wisdom, and courage.

There’s a war raging! It is time for fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ to wake up and engage!  Now is the time to work and to fight for His Kingdom and His glory. We can rest in heaven. We fight not out of hate, but motivated by God’s holy-love, passion and power of our Father, who first loved us.

For now, let’s get out of our feather-beds, put on our armor, grab our weapons, and get our butts out on the battlefield! Prepare yourself for war, and fight in faith with the confidence that God wins in the end and we triumph with Him. And someday, though perhaps wounded, scarred, exhausted, and spent from battling many dark foes, you will understand and experience with joy the pleasure of your Father because you have fought a good fight, you will have finished your course, and there is laid up for you a crown of righteousness that does not fade. And on that day, you will hear those truly awesome words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” followed by the biggest party the universe has ever known!

How Recent Events in Houston and Kentucky Offer Hope for Religious Freedom in America

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George Orwell in his dystopian novel 1984 coined the term “Newspeak” to describe the totalitarian regime’s government-sanctioned politically-correct language that powerfully and coercively shaped and controlled the thinking of the masses.  In a pervasive surveillance state (“Big Brother is watching you.”), those who dared oppose, even if only in their thinking, the ideological purity of Newspeak were rooted out by the Thought Police and convicted of thoughtcrimes.  Thus, it was not only a violation of the law to speak or act in opposition to the prevailing totalistic cultural narrative; it was a crime to even think it.  If convicted of ideological rebellion, you would be sentenced to beatings, torture, indoctrination and reprogramming by the comically and ironically named “Ministry of Love.” Eventually, thought criminals were executed.  Undivided fealty to the state and statist ideologies was absolutely mandated and viciously enforced in Orwell’s dark totalitarian vision.

Therefore, belief in God was a thoughtcrime in 1984.  Thankfully, we are not quite there yet.  But, we are not very far removed from a similar state of affairs today.  As our culture has drifted from its Judeo-Christian roots (and at a seemingly geometrically progressing rate of late), biblical Christians who believe in a God Who precedes and transcends the state find themselves increasingly at sharp odds with culturally elitist state-sanctioned beliefs and practices.  The areas of disagreement are many but include, among others, the existence of transcendent moral values including the definition of life, the meaning of gender and sexual identity, the definition of marriage, and the meaning of family.  Yet, perhaps no other issue has more poignantly highlighted this gaping ideological chasm more than 2015’s radical redefinition of marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today’s increasingly prevailing American Newspeak affirms that is “gay is good,” and that if you don’t absolutely agree and affirm this, you are committing the unforgivable thoughtcrime of being a homophobic bigot.  This sad state of affairs leaves little to no room for individuals with traditional biblical views on sexuality or marriage to believe, express, or live out their ideologically-incorrect and unpopular Christian beliefs in the public square—without paying an increasingly high price.

Tragically, in our era of unprecedented cultural propaganda, objective truth and logic matters less and less.  Libelous labels abound while the actual facts are increasingly irrelevant.  You see, the poor individual callously convicted of the false charge of “hate,” may actually know and love people who experience same-sex attraction and are “married.”  Yet, because we are just now supposedly morally enlightened, having only very recently culturally discovered our prior traditional beliefs are purportedly “perverted” or “wrong,” ideological outliers who reject the powerful “sexual liberty” narrative must now be aggressively marginalized, bullied, judged, shamed, shunned, and even hated by the new Though Police.  Why?  Naturally, the only palatable explanation must be that they “hate,” simply because they ideologically disagree with the tyranny of absolute “sexual liberty.” Recent examples include the menagerie of Christian bakers, florists, photographers, and others who have refused to participate in faux same-sex “marriages” and, as a result, have been coerced by the state to pay a high price for their ideological treason.  Yet, there are some glimmers of light in the midst of this dark and morally confused ethical mire.  For poignant positive examples of this, we need look no further than Houston or Kentucky.

In Houston, Major Annise Parker and the City Council adopted a very bad ordinance regarding sexual orientation and gender identity last year that allowed purported transgender individuals to use opposite-biological-sex restrooms and other public facilities.  When pastors and churches rose up to oppose the new ordinance, the City Attorney retaliated by unlawfully invalidating thousands of signatures in favor of a measure repealing the ordinance.  In the ensuing litigation, the City aggressively tried to obtain copies of five prominent pastors’ sermons in a desperate attempt to try to prove anti-homosexual bigotry.  And throughout the fight, the Thought Police media was no friend of the Christians, pillorying them for their backwards traditional un-Newspeak-like beliefs.  But all of this moral chaos suddenly changed earlier this month when, in a moment of increasingly rare moral clarity and courage, the people of Houston voted 68 to 32 to overturn the sexually confused “bathroom bill.”  And that’s not all.

In Kentucky, after the U.S. Supreme Court in June “legalized” same-sex “marriage,” Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis sought an accommodation from Democratic Governor Steve Beshear for her religious conviction that marriage is the sacred bond between a man and a woman.  The governor flatly refused, informing Davis that she must comply with the law and issue same-sex marriage licenses or quit her job.  This led to Ms. Davis being incarcerated and the legal challenge to her predicament.  Enter Republican candidate for governor, Matt Bevin.  He not only visited Ms. Davis the day she was released from jail, but made religious liberty a key facet of his campaign.  Bevin, who focused on social issues like defunding Planned Parenthood and defending Kim Davis, encouraged the conservative base to turn out to vote.  Bevin won in a landslide, becoming only the second Republican governor in the state in the past 40 years!  Bevin committed to provide Kim Davis with a religious accommodation, and has now agreed to take Davis’ name off of the marriage licenses.

According to Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, the lesson to be learned from Houston and Kentucky is “conservatives can win when they refuse to be bullied by elites into silence. Making the public argument against bad policy and in support of good policy can win the day.”

We should thank our heavenly Father that we are not yet at the dark Orwellian point where belief in God is outlawed and we are tortured or murdered into submission and silence for thoughtcrime.  Yet, we must soberly recognize certain windows may be closing and we must now continue to fight for and make the most of the freedoms and opportunities we still enjoy.  In the meantime, we must refuse to be silent and must continue to stand, speak, and fight for the cause of religious freedom.  Faithful Christians must never bow to the growing cultural pressure to compromise, capitulate, and assimilate.  We must stand with God on principle and continue to make the public argument by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

 

The Kentucky Clerk & Principled Christian Civil Disobedience

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Under what conditions is it permissible for a Christian to disobey the government?  Romans 13 counsels believers, as a matter of witness and conscience, to obey the government as a servant of God.  When, if ever, are Christians permitted to say “no” and righteously disobey the state?

Here are the conditions and principles we can derive from the Bible and historical role models of peaceful civil disobedience like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • An Unjust Law (man-made) exists that arguably violates a superior non-negotiable principle or moral law.
  • A Just Law (higher law) exists that is not in alignment with or contradicts the Unjust Law and/or the duties flowing from the Unjust Law.
  • An actual conflict exists between the Unjust Law (1) and the Higher Law (2).
  • The Christian facing this dilemma understands the nature of the conflict and is willing to faithfully obey God, pay the price and bear the consequences for disobeying the Unjust Law in favor of the Higher Law (including verbal and physical abuse, jail, and even death).

When the Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to not teach in Jesus’ name, Peter responded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  When the king threatened to throw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace for refusing to bow to his idol, they responded, “we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:18).

As the Reverend Martin Luther King wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail in the midst of his public opposition to the injustice of segregation:

“How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”

Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis was jailed because, as an evangelical Christian, she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Based on the information available to us, I submit that Kim Davis is exercising principled Christian civil disobedience.

Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court’s God-defying “constitutional right” to same-sex marriage (SSM) is an unjust man-made/human law that violates other non-negotiable principles or moral laws (See 1 above).  The coercive imposition of SSM on the states and “we the people” violates the U.S. Constitution in that the Supreme Court acted legislatively regarding marriage which is not a matter of the authority (jurisdiction, i.e. one of its limited enumerated powers) delegated by the states and people to the federal judiciary.  Marriage is rather an issue that our system of government commits to the states and to “we the people.”  Yet SSM is also out of harmony with the moral law because, by arrogantly presuming to redefine marriage, it’s edict directly conflicts with eternal law and natural law, reflected in scripture’s and 5,000 years of recorded history’s model of man-woman only marriage (MWM) (See 2 above).

An actual conflict clearly exists here for Kim Davis between the Unjust Law (SSM) and Higher Law (MWM) because SSM does not square with the moral law or the law of God (See 3 above). Thus, there is a real tangible conflict of interests faced by Kim Davis here between her duty to issue marriage licenses as a county clerk in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s unjust law of SSM and her deeply held religious convictions regarding the biblical teachings of only MWM.  What is a Christian clerk to do?  Must she issue the SSM licenses or quit, as some have suggested? What is the answer?

I submit the answer is precisely what Mrs. Davis has done!  She has recognized the conflict between the U.S. Supreme Court’s issuance of an unjust edict and her superior obligations to a higher law and a higher authority.  She has been willing to live out her faith publicly and face and bear the consequences of her decision.  I applaud her principles and her courage.  And I pray that we are emboldened to display similar Christian “backbone” when we are faced with our personal moment of truth.  If you have not faced your moment already, you will soon have ample opportunities as Christianity is increasingly marginalized, demonized, and criminalized.  I pray that your steadfast response is, “as for me and my house, we serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Each American generation has its own “unjust” laws to face. Some of the serious challenges we face today are abortion, same-sex “marriage”, and the rapidly growing threat to religious freedom, among others.    And there are many who insist that the Church keep silent; who assert that we keep our biblical “morals” to ourselves.  I have observed the growing pressure on Christians to accept the “evolving” status quo—to be silent instead of speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) in Jesus’ name.  But what if William Wilberforce had been silent about the evil of slavery in the British Empire?  And was not Abraham Lincoln right to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s evil Dred Scott ruling, or should he have been thrown in jail too?  In the face of today’s pernicious challenges, I submit that our response must be the same as Peter’s:  “We must obey God, rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

What the Supreme Court marriage ruling means for you

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The long anticipated U.S. Supreme Court ruling, coercively imposing a judicially created same-sex “marriage” (SSM) regime on the good citizens of all 50 states, portends far-reaching and truly ominous implications for our democratic republic. Amidst the morally hollow fanfare of rainbow illuminations and banners, most of these cold-hard realities were either ignored or under-reported. Tragically, the primary victim of the high court’s divisive decision is the Constitution itself (shredded) and with it the rule of law (undermined). In this era of growing moral and legal anarchy, some are asking, “Is the American experiment over?”

Justice Kennedy, joined by Breyer, Ginsberg, Kagan, and Sotomayor, threw the legal equivalent of jet fuel on the already red-hot glowing embers of intolerant anti-Christian sentiments. In doing so, they cemented the specious cultural narrative that, according to the “thinking” of secular-progressive elites, individuals opposing marriage’s radical redefinition, especially Christians, are no better morally speaking than purveyors of Jim Crow or rabid Clansmen—enemies of humanity and enemies of the state.  Whether or not this devilish propaganda is actually true is irrelevant to our enlightened neo-high priests and priestesses. As such, now that our statist black-robed “gods” have spoken, our fellow citizens have “official” permission to tar Bible believers as unenlightened, homophobic bigots.

Righteously angry and powerful dissenting opinions were authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito. As the four dissenting justices point out, theObergefell v. Hodges decision will likely prove to be at least as nationally divisive as Roe v. Wade, and signal a clear and present danger to our democratic republic and the bedrock American principle of religious freedom.  The following points raised by the dissenters are important to understand going forward:

  • Democracy Denied: The votes of millions of Americans desiring to retain the one-man, one-woman definition of marriage, which has successfully served humanity for millennia, were judicially nullified in a shameless illegal power grab by the purportedly superior, enlightened, statist, and decidedly elitist whims of five lawyers. This gang-of-five acted alone, apparently knowing better than the rest of us what is collectively good for all of us—whether we like it or not! Liberal passions and libertinism aside, it is common sense, and supported by the best research, that kids do best with a mom and a dad; neither is fungible. And yet, as Justice Scalia pointed out, the inherent authority we have possessed since 1776, the right of “we the people” to govern ourselves has been subverted and destroyed by a black-robed oligarchy, irresponsibly acting as super-legislators, imposing their hyper-progressive version of reality on all. To observe that this action is profoundly repugnant to American ideals is an awesome understatement. Tyranny, even in the form of lofty sounding legalese, remains tyranny and must always be opposed by a free people.
  • Liberty Libeled: As Justice Thomas pointed out, throughout our history liberty has meant freedom from government interference, not entitlement to a government benefit nor a lawless libertinism. As such, the Kennedy clan further misinterpreted and perverted the 14th Amendment’s conception of liberty to serve the result they were seeking. Apparently when you are making constitutional “sausage,” (a.k.a garbage) the ends justify the means. And, it is important to point out here, that the 14th Amendment appropriately extended procedural legal rights (equal protection and due process) to African Americans; it did not create and coerce new substantive rights as the court has done here by radically redefining marriage, concocting a new genderless or androgynous version. This new radical “right” was fabricated by Kennedy, who did not even bother to follow the court’s precedents regarding equal protection (suspect classification/strict scrutiny) or fundamental rights (“deeply rooted in our history and traditions”).
  • Federalism on Fire:   And, not willing to remain constitutionally bounded by its federal “limited enumerated powers,” the Supremes have swallowed up yet another important area actually left by our founders to the states and to “we the people”—the power to define marriage. This action further subverts the checks and balances between the federal government and sovereign states. States and the people ought rather to retain plenary authority over everything, including marriage, not specifically delegated to the federal government. Unlimited federal power has led and will continue to lead to increasing tyranny over the states and the people.
  • Religion Ransacked: The gang-of-five seems to have forgotten or ignored actual constitutional rights, specifically the religious liberties embodied in the First Amendment which have, until recently, successfully protected religious freedom and rights of conscience for more than 220 years. As Chief Justice Roberts pointed out, this new judicially manufactured illegitimate “right” to SSM (crudely fabricated by the five from the 14th Amendment) has crushed and will continue to crush religious freedom, a clearly legitimate constitutional right. Because SSM has been compared with African-American civil rights and the civil rights of women, those poor souls who maintain the Judeo-Christian view of marriage will be vilified and persecuted as backwards bigots. If the statist radicals have their way, non-profit ministries and churches that refuse to comply may soon see their tax exempt statuses revoked.

It is indisputable that we have now, as a nation, foolishly drifted far from the safe harbors of our constitutional moorings out into violently churning uncharted waters of moral and legal anarchy. Rejecting the warning of John Adams, we have become a nation of “men,” carelessly casting aside our beloved Constitution and the rule of “law.” This soft-tyranny of the black-robed oligarchy, undermining the Constitution and with it the legitimate rights of the states and “we the people,” must not go unchallenged.

How far can this go? Are there any meaningful limiting principles, other than progressive elitist appetites, proclivities, and biases? Perhaps not! If the United States Supreme Court can get away with this, what can’t they do? If nearly all issues can be federally misappropriated by merely relabeling them “constitutional,” than we the people may have truly lost our ability to govern ourselves as we are increasingly ruled by an oligarchical elite who couch their tyranny in reasonable sounding words.

Indeed, it was tyrannical governmental usurpations that fomented our break from England; perhaps history will be repeated here. Regardless, unless something is significantly changed, it appears that the idea and ideals that were America, including self-government and freedom, may become largely lost to history.

This unwelcome diagnosis may be painful to hear and the prescription for what ails us is a bitter pill to swallow. John Adams was right: Unless we have an educated, moral, and engaged citizenry to elect wise leaders who respect and follow the law, there is little hope for a return to national greatness from this dark abyss of legal and moral anarchy. There is no easy path back to the lamp light of freedom left for us by our wise founders, but there is a path!

For the past eight years, the National Center for Law & Policy has been actively fighting for marriage, the sanctity of life, and religious liberty in an increasingly hostile culture and the courts.  Although the legal landscape and American values have changed and are changing, our mission, vision, values, and goals have not varied, nor will they vary one iota.  We will continue to stand firm in truth and fight the good fight.

Certainly, in this radicalized cultural environment, we must have hearts of compassion and backbones of steel.  Now is not a time for Christian wimps.  If you missed it, please read Dean’s powerful editorial appearing in the Christian News Journal, A Call for Christian Courage!  The board of directors, attorneys, and staff of the National Center for Law & Policy make this solemn pledge to you regarding our core areas of religious liberty, the sanctity of marriage, and the sanctity of life: We will not change!  Therefore, we commit to continue to:

  • Advocate for and defend individual believers, religious colleges, ministries, and churches from any and all threats to our freedom to believe, practice, express and actively live out our faithin all areas of our lives, both privately and publicly.
  • Engage the culture and the church by winsomely speaking the truth in love(Eph. 4:15) in hard-hitting opinion editorials, interviews, debates, and speaking opportunities.
  • Support policy efforts to pass legislation and secure constitutional amendments to protect religious liberty and the freedom of conscience, such as state and federal religious freedom restoration acts (RFRA’s).
  • Oppose and stop attempts to undermine the sanctity of life.For example, the NCLP is working with other pro-life advocacy organizations to fight California’s AB 775.
  • Advise and guide churches and Christian ministries regarding amending their bylaws and policiesto proactively prepare for future sexual orientation and gender identity lawsuits.
  • Encourage pastors to courageously shepherd and lead their flocks by clearly and compassionately preaching the gospel and the full counsel of God, including what the Bible teaches about the key moral issues confronting the church today.
  • And much, much, more…

The Obergefell v. Hodges decision has thrown proverbial gasoline on the already burning fires of anti-Christian sentiment. We expect to see and are in the process of preparing ourselves to handle a rapidly growing number of requests for our specialized legal assistance with a wide variety of cases involving religious discrimination and persecution. The battle lies before us and we need to make sure we have supply lines in place so that we do not run out of food or ammunition as we fight to keep the doors open for the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A call for Christian courage!

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Things appeared bleak. The righteous cause was at a critical crossroads. Opposition was fierce. Many in the culture, including some fellow Christian leaders, were not applauding his just and noble struggle. Would hate win? Languishing in a Birmingham jail, the future was uncertain. At that moment, the lonely, imprisoned hero started to write, penning a passionate plea. The man was pastor Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now is such a time. We are at a critical cultural crossroads. You could almost cut the tension with a knife as we nervously awaited the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage edict. Would marriage be redefined? Would the radical LGBT agenda have the last word? Will religious freedom continue to evaporate, becoming a burnt offering on the pagan idol of radical sexual liberty? And what is the Christian response?

These questions remain profoundly vexing to faithful Christian culture warriors in light of the 5-4 decision, coercively imposing a same-sex “marriage” regime on the citizens of all fifty states. Five justices could not locate this “right” anywhere in the constitutional text or judicial precedents, so the elite “enlightened” jurists opted to act as super-legislators and simply make it up! Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, announced the newly discovered “right” to genderless “marriage,” describing it in such glowing and confusing terms as “spiritual” and “transcendent,” almost sounding as if he were a neo-pagan Moses figure delivering revised commandments to modern America. But this is certainly no laughing matter. Gays and their allies, waiving rainbow flags in celebration, ought rather to mourn. God has not changed. And He will not be mimicked or mocked! This overreaching edict has significant negative implications not only for marriage, the family, and religious freedom, but it profoundly undermines federalism, the separation of powers, and the right of “we the people” to govern ourselves.

Yet, perhaps nothing has been more disappointing in the days leading up to the radical ruling, than capitulating Christian leaders congratulating each other for their cultural compromise and apostasy. We must not confuse cultural cowardice and capitulation with true courage. These anti-heroes must not be emulated.

The pathetic pattern these “leaders” represent is neither novel nor new—nor, in spite of the claims of cheering fellow-apostates, is it evolved or enlightened. What is the pattern? Growing pagan cultural pressure leads to personal compromise on biblical truth, usually resulting from an inordinate fear of man. Over time, compromise of biblical truth leads to capitulation due to cultural coercion. These patterns often result in near-total assimilation to the increasingly pagan culture. Yet this so-called “Christianity” is no longer unique or distinct, nor is it actually Christian. Salt, having lost is saltiness, is destined to be thrown out and trampled (Matthew 5:13). As my pastor recently said, “Sin makes you stupid.” Repentance is desperately needed and it starts with God’s people (II Chronicles 7:14).

So, who are models of Christian leadership we should follow? There is William Wilberforce, who eventually succeeded in his decades-long efforts to end the slave trade and improve cultural virtues in England. Consider Dietrich Bonhoeffer who heroically, overtly and covertly, stood up to the Nazification of the German Lutheran church and the German people. And there’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who employed biblically principled non-violent protests to end segregation and procure legitimate civil rights. Note that two of these men had the honor of paying the ultimate price for their courage—King via a hate-filled bullet and Bonhoeffer “tried” and summarily asphyxiated by piano wire at a Gestapo prison within weeks of Germany’s liberation.

Having few authentic Christian champions today as role models in this present darkness, we need to ask ourselves, “What does Christian courage look like?” Here are a few thoughts based on the lives of the three bold men mentioned above:

  • Biblical: Maintains a high view of the absolute authority of God’s word and God’s authority in our lives. Believes in transcendent objective truth and that truth sets people free from the bondage and desolation of sin. Refuses to compromise clear biblical teaching and convictions. Realizes God defines marriage, not the U.S. Supreme Court. Understands that civil rights are “endowed by our Creator” and must not be diminished by the state. Celebrates gender distinctions as part of God’s beautiful plan for mankind. Believes that where there is a moral conflict “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Comprehends that God had the first word on marriage and that He will have the last.
  • Compassionate: Shares a deep and passionate love for God and love for all people, even our enemies, who are image bearers of the Imago Dei. Does not shrink back from opportunities to share the Gospel. As MLK wrote, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” As Dr. Michael Brown said, “[When it comes to standing for truth], we must have hearts of compassion and backbones of steel.”
  • Actively Engaged: Genuinely loves people enough to engage in biblically principled acts of love, mercy, and justice, helping to make communities and the culture a better place for all. Prays and works so that God’s kingdom comes and His will is done. Understands, as King stated, that “[i]njustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Is deeply concerned about future generations (i.e. children and grandchildren) and is willing to take direct action when necessary to oppose unjust laws that contradict higher moral law.
  • Vocal: Refuses to be silent. Opposes cultural propaganda and lies, winsomely speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). As Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Understands that truth eventually dispels lies.
  • Expects Opposition: Understands spiritual warfare, that we have an enemy who has come to lie, steal, and destroy (Eph. 6:10-20). Is not surprised by criticism, persecution, or fiery trials (1 Peter 4:12). Fears God more than he or she fears man or desires man’s praise (Matthew10:28)! Understands that biblical truth-telling is increasingly radical today. As George Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
  • Sacrificially Faithful and Uncompromising: Comprehends that freedom is not free and is willing to persistently pay the price to stand for truth, justice, and righteousness, no matter what opposition is faced. Is determined to stand firm and not compromise. Prioritizes God’s kingdom over personal comfort, success, conformity, and pleasure. Is strong in the Lord and remains immovable. Is not easily distracted or intimidated.
  • Holy Spirit fueled: Is not dependent on his or her own meager resources, but relies on the power of God’s word and promises and the leading and dynamic power of the Holy Spirit. Understands that a powerful move of God can radically transform people and cultures overnight.
  • Victorious: Has confidence in the heavenly Father’s plan for marriage and the wisdom and strength only God can provide. Understands that moral and sexual anarchy contain the seeds of their own destruction. Has faith and hope in the fact that, no matter how dark it gets, Jesus wins in the end and we win with Him! God will have the final say on marriage as He will on all things!

True Christian courage is not the absence of fear; it is allowing the Spirit to harness the power of your fears and cooperating with God to overcome your feelings and do the right thing anyway. The Reverend Billy Graham said, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.” You have the opportunity to be a bold hero every day. You will strengthen and encourage others as you faithfully obey Christ without wavering.

Authentic biblical Christianity has always been counter-cultural. And so it is today. The darkness descending upon us in the wake of the redefinition of marriage brings unprecedented challenges but also unprecedented opportunities to continue to model and demonstrate God’s love and God’s truth. Especially now that we have lost the marriage battle at the Supreme Court, one thing is certain—we will need a lot of Christian courage going forward.

Light shines the brightest in the darkness. Now is the time for Christian boldness, bravery, determination, fortitude, endurance, tenacity, valor, backbone, guts, power, heroism and lion-heartedness. Vast opportunities to be a powerful Christian witness in our communities and culture are multiplying before our very eyes. The chances to be bright lights and savory salt are legion. We must not lose heart or shrink back! We must remember that we are not called to always be “successful,” but we are always called to be faithful. Let us determine to always be faithful and to leave the success to our sovereign God.

Got courage? You will need it! Boldly and joyfully run to the battle, knowing that our victory is sure!