Travis Weber is Vice President for Policy at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Christian Post on January 21, 2019.
Vice President Pence’s wife Karen has come under withering attack in recent days from many in the media. From this “reporting,” one might think she has transgressed some obvious social boundary of a civilized society. In reality, the big “scoop” is that this Christian wife and mother, whose Christian beliefs are important to her, is teaching at a Christian school, which being Christian, holds to Christian beliefs about marriage.
Yet you wouldn’t know that from reading the headlines about her, which lead the reader to believe that the driving force of Karen’s actions is the targeting of those who identify as LGBT. As we’ve seen over and over again, those perpetrating such claims negligently (and often willfully) mischaracterize our faith.
The truth is that Karen, along with other biblically-based Christians faithful to teaching which goes back to our Jewish forebears over 6,000 years ago, believe that sexual conduct outside of God’s plan of marriage is sinful (as are a myriad of things). Indeed, all of us—including myself—have fallen short of God’s standards, a reality which allows us to be so thankful that Jesus took the punishment of God’s wrath for us.
Should we really be surprised at this public hostility toward Christian beliefs? Increasingly, social elites don’t merely disagree with religion, but see it as irrelevant or even harmful for society. This is reflected in recent questioning of nominees for public office — Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) questioning Russell Vought (nominated to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget) about his theological beliefs, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) telling U.S. Circuit Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you,” and most recently, Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) asking Brian Buescher about his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus (questioning which was even rebuked by fellow Democrat Tulsi Gabbard). Indeed, just a few days ago, the Senate approved without objection a resolution introduced by Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebr.) rebuking such questions as violations of the “No Religious Test” Clause of the Constitution. And now, Karen Pence is being targeted for her faith. Such hostility to religion in the public square has got to go.
The attack on Karen Pence should be a wake-up call for our fellow Christians. Though many hold to Christian teaching on marriage and family, they don’t engage in the cultural battle for hearts and minds. They believe they can stay on the sidelines while someone else fights the battle for them. They don’t like the idea of “fighting,” anyway.
A paradigm shift is in order. As Christians, we would say we believe in truth and love. Yet for some, our theological understanding and application of these terms has become warped. If we don’t accurately define love, then we compromise truth. Indeed, is it truly loving to willfully allow someone to accept a lie as truth? Why do so many of us sit on the sidelines while our friends and neighbors walk through life believing lies?
Many fellow Christians think they can escape the cultural conflict over LGBT-related issues. They really don’t think it will come to the door of their home or their church—or their school. Yet it’s coming to our doorsteps, whether we like it or not. If you are a parent who wants to teach and pass your faith on to your children, your ability to do just that will be taken away, unless you stand up for it now.
A Christian school having Christian beliefs should be uncontroversial. Yet look at how it is portrayed in the “news.” In the eyes of the opponents of Christians on this issue, it’s “morally unacceptable” for Christians to hold to their own morals—even when setting up Christian schools to teach Christians. This is a battle of worldviews, and it has a spiritual component. There is no escaping it. Our friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens will eventually bear the cost of our present apathy.
You and I should not have to check our beliefs at the door of the public square, and Karen Pence shouldn’t either. We must rally to her as she comes under public attack. If she is forced out of this teaching job, a new standard will be set: It will no longer be permissible for Christians to adhere to Christian beliefs at religious schools or nonprofits. It’s as simple as that. Additionally, this will serve as a serious blow to the ability of Christians to simply live out their beliefs.
We must engage, stand firm, and pray for and seek the well-being of those who oppose the teaching of our faith. The cultural conflict for Christian truth is for you—as much as any other believer—to engage in. If you don’t, who will?