What are Christians to think and do about a government that coerces a conscience – one guided by the indwelling power of God’s Holy Spirit – to do what it knows is contrary to God’s Word? The very core of a biblical worldview has never been about arid philosophical knowledge, much less politics. It has always been about knowing God, following Christ and being attentive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. A biblical worldview is about living the truth in our daily lives, not just knowing it as a set of data in our brains. This means resisting those things which God has condemned at any cost.
The Bible teaches that unless we are doing the truth, then we really do not know the truth. The Apostle John made this clear in writing to fellow believer Gaius in III John 3-4: “I was very glad when some brothers came and testified to your faithfulness to the truth – how you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than this; to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” Yet it seems that government at all levels could not care less about God’s truth and His kingdom followers committed to that truth. Taxpayer-funded deaths of the unborn are forced upon us, attacks on marriage defined as being between a man and a woman is assaulted and special rights for people based solely with whom they desire to engage in sex are given special protection under the law. These are not marks of a nation facing judgment; but of a guilty nation facing punishment.
The Obamacare mandate forcing religious institutions to provide abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health care coverages – in violation of their faith – is but one reckless example of how the federal government is coercing Christians into violating their consciences or face punishment. But such coerciveness is not limited to the federal level. Take, for example, the shameful 4-3 vote by the St. Louis County Council Nov. 27 in which it added gender identity and sexual orientation to the county’s anti-discrimination regulations and hate crimes law. Approximately 80 of the 92 citizens who addressed the council before the vote opposed the measure because it would violate their conscience.
The bill’s supporters claim it includes exemptions for religious organizations, but the exemption is not as air tight as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the council would have you believe. Michael Whitehead, legal counsel for the Missouri Baptist Convention, says the only thing it guarantees is discrimination against churches and religious organizations. “On a closer look, the exemption is a charade. Churches are exempt only if the religion does not limit membership based on traditional sexual morality.
Religions that do have such a sexual standard are not protected by the exemption,” Whitehead said.
Ironically this means that a church that shares the government’s religious views gets an exemption. But, as Whitehead points out, that church won’t need an exemption, because it agrees with the government’s policy about homosexual sex. “Thus, the exemption is illusory, and so is freedom of conscience in St. Louis County as long as this law remains on the books.”
Whitehead said any church in the unincorporated portions of St. Louis County should contact legal counsel regarding the new law. “We will be working with groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom in examining the impact of this law on religious liberty and church autonomy. If we find that the law violates fundamental First Amendment rights of churches and citizens, we expect there will be legal challenges of this ordinance,” Whitehead said.
In the meantime, churches should review their governing documents, including their constitution, bylaws and articles of incorporation in order to be prepared for government encroachments on fundamental biblical convictions about church operations. “Be prepared for laws like this to come to a local government near you,” Whitehead warned. “Now is the time to challenge these laws.”
The other sad part about this law is that churches who rent their facilities for weddings are not exempt. Also, Christian business owners, who want to run their businesses according to their faith, are now in danger. This is not an isolated case. Clayton, Creve Coeur, Ferguson, Maplewood, Olivette, Richmond Heights, University City and the city of St. Louis, Kansas City, Jackson County, Kirksville and Columbia have passed similar laws. An attempt to pass a law in Springfield was recently thwarted. Meanwhile, homosexual activists are circulating petitions to get a statewide law on the 2014 ballot.