December 14, 2018
Compromise isn't always a bad idea. (Ask any married couple!) But when it comes to the black and white of Scripture, nothing is more dangerous than a group of Christians willing to negotiate on truth. Their motivations may not be bad -- but the consequences almost always are.
In a culture like ours, where a single cake could ruin your business, no one can blame Christians for being worried. With every headline, the war over religious liberty is hitting closer and closer to home. It's landed on the doorsteps of florist shops, adoption agencies, French classes, pro sports -- even pizza joints. And the threat is always the same: affirm or be punished. While so many Christians stand their ground, others are willing to do anything to spare themselves the fight -- even if it means surrendering their core convictions to do it.
Earlier this week, World magazine broke the story that two organizations -- the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) -- have decided that the only way to stop LGBT activists is to submit to them. In a quiet motion this fall, their boards reportedly voted to subjugate biblical teachings on gender and sexuality in exchange for a flimsy fence of protection around their organizations. They believe -- quite naively -- that if they give in to the Left's demands, it will leave them alone. But the stories from the last decade paint a much different story.
On the far-Left, there's no such thing as live and let live. Liberals may want tolerance, but that doesn't mean they'll give it. If the cases against florists, bakers, and other wedding vendors make anything clear, it's that the LGBT agenda isn't about meeting people halfway. So while "Fairness for All" is a noble pursuit, it can't be achieved when special rights or extra-fairness are extended to some based on subjective, self-defined characteristics. That's special fairness for some, and the persecution of the many.
"They're trying to find a way to encourage the federal government to adopt sexual orientation and gender identity protections that would not come at the violation of religious liberty," Al Mohler writes in a lengthy response everyone should read. "Now that sounds like the perfect deal politically, if it were possible... [But] it is not possible. You can state, as many will, that it is well intended. But a well-intended mistake is still a mistake. A well-intended wound to religious liberty is still a wound. And that's what we're looking at here."
Unfortunately, what we're also looking at is the complete abandonment of the Christian commission. In this day and age, everyone struggles to convey an exclusive gospel in an inclusive world. But the solution isn't abandoning or changing the message -- it's conforming to it. If these organizations give up their core beliefs, what's the point of carving out religious liberty protections? They won't stand for anything worth protecting! "For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness," 2 Corinthians 6 asks, "or what fellowship has light with darkness?"
It's human nature to avoid discomfort, but capitulations like this cause deeper pain later on. Look at the Boy Scouts. Five years after they expanded their ranks for inclusion's sake, they're packing up their tents and going home. Teetering on bankruptcy, unfocused, and unpopular, they're miles away from the organization that used to be one of America's proudest.
Even so, some Christians are willing to take the same path -- all to save a tiny patch of ground that won't mean anything when they're done. "It's a way of religious leaders saying we're going to protect our churches, our denominations, and [our] most closely-held ministries... but..." Mohler warns, "[w]hen it comes to Christians in the marketplace, Christians in the workplace... and all the rest, we're going to say you'll simply have to defend yourself in court. We'll hope for the best." These groups would sell their identity for crumbs -- and offer up men and women who are willing to stand on truth as a sacrifice in the process. Circling the wagons around religious institutions implies that we have an anemic First Amendment that falls short of guarantying that religious freedom to each and every American. Surely, we did not come this far in the defense of religious liberty to leave bakers, photographers, and thousands of other Christians twisting in the wind.
A partial gospel is no gospel at all. "How long will you go limping between two different opinions?" I Kings 18:21 says. "If the Lord is God, follow him." There will be a lot of pressure, in the coming days, to wheel and deal on truth. But whoever gives up truth for the sake of peace will almost certainly lose both.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.