By Greg Scott
My first two posts on the increasing state encroachment on Christian conscience provided, first, background on the Elane Photography case, and then outlined possible Christian responses to the burgeoning threat illustrated by that case.
I presented two unacceptable responses – abandon faith and abandon the public square – and recommended a third as the only defensible option – abandon fear.
We are blessed to live in a constitutional republic where every citizen has a right to bring his or her convictions to the public debate. By God’s grace, for most of the last 200 years Christians enjoyed an open field to publicly proclaim the life-giving Word. But Christians can no longer take for granted the freedom to share the Good News of Jesus’ saving work on behalf of His people.
How has this happened? Many factors have contributed to the tragic state. So, we’ll just take it from a 30,000 foot level: the Christian foundation of Western thought and the moral consensus it produced has been forcibly toppled. Who and what has replaced it wants the public square stripped down, “No Christians Allowed” signage painting its perimeter. Oh, we may “have our beliefs” (so says the New Mexico Supreme Court), but we have to leave them at the door like dirty shoes.
Told that our ideas should be “laughed off the stage,” we’ve fled the theater. Not only are Christians afraid of losing their financial security and their social status, now even the idea that someone somewhere on the internet might say something bad about us sends us scurrying for the storm drain.
But like Elaine Huguenin, we must abandon this unfounded fear. Our future freedom to preach the Gospel in America depends on it.
You might say, “But the photographer wasn’t preaching the Gospel. She was punished for refusing to take pictures of a lesbian ceremony.”
Well, OK, Elaine didn’t lead the lesbians who demanded her servitude down “Romans Road.” But what did she do?
This quiet, humble sister stood boldly, knowing there may be a “price to pay” for telling the state she would not use her art to exalt what God despises. She is before the tribunal for the sake of her Gospel witness. She believes in the beauty of marriage, the earthly portrait of Christ and His covenant union with His people. And she would not – could not – betray her Savior by mocking marriage for financial gain or to escape Caesar’s wrath. She chose real gain, and feared the right wrath.
So, she didn’t jam a tract into someone’s hand, but lives her life for Christ, no matter the cost. And she has allowed her story to be told, persevering through years of death threats and unrestrained hatred by enemies of our Lord. She has not surrendered, and more tellingly, has never once paid her opponents back in kind no matter how viciously unjust their attacks.
I would go into battle with one faithful witness like Elaine, before I would with a thousand numbers-lusting celebrity pastors who’ve compromised their offices by failing to prepare their flocks to face the direst threats of our age.
If it is not obvious by the example of Elaine Huguenin, let me be clear. By “go to battle,” I don’t mean galloping on Washington to thrust a cross and a Gadsden flag into the Capitol lawn. We don’t want to repeat what were admittedly excesses of a passing generation.
But Christians dare not despise God’s gift of allowing us to live in such a country. If we have the freedom to affect righteousness in our laws, we cannot allow unrighteousness to prevail with shrug and yawn. Are we loving God and loving our neighbor by such negligence?
One may ask, “Isn’t this imposing religion on a secular government? Are you proposing a theocracy?” No and no. Christians have a Constitutionally-protected, and indeed God-given, place at the table. Should we just allow secularist rule in order to avoid the appearance that we are actually citizens? Should we allow all manner of unrighteousness to be imposed upon us when we have a voice in the process? I’ll agree with Dr. Grudem here and say that “Christians should seek to influence government for good.”
If one gentle but fearless young mother understands that Christians aren’t criminal interlopers in the national conversation about freedom, and is willing to risk so much for the Gospel, should we leave her to fight alone?
Greg Scott is Senior Director of Media Relations at Alliance Defending Freedom in Scottsdale, Ariz. He previously served 10 years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps, most recently as a Public Affairs Officer at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.
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