Christians and Civil Disobedience

Fortress of Faith Radio by Tom Wallace and Evangelists Dave Kistler discuss the upcoming decision from the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage.Fortress of Faith Tom Wallace and Shahram Hadian Listen to the program HERE and below are the “show notes” from this program. 

The Supreme Court and Upcoming Decision on Same-Sex Marriage

On Today’s broadcast we had a special guest, Evangelists Dave Kistler. Dave is the President of Pastors Network, North Carolina, the Founder of HOPE ministries Intl. and a host of the Freedom Focus Radio Show with Sam Rohrer and Gary Dull.

Today we want to look into some issues of great concern in America. We are awaiting the ruling of the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage. We should learn their decision sometime this month. I want to start by looking at how the Supreme Court works.

The way the oral arguments work is quite different from what we see on TV. Some people think it works something like what we see on Perry Mason. Typically, there is 20 minutes on each side of an argument. Because of the importance of this case, the oral arguments actually lasted more than 2 hours. This should tell us just how important the Court considers this case to be.

Once the oral arguments start, the Justices will start interrupting with questions. The reason they do this is they know the case inside and out before it ever comes before them. The questions are not necessarily to learn from the lawyers, but more often to make a point with the other Justices. As I said, the arguments went on for nearly 2 ½ hours. This took place in the latter part of April.

Typically, with in 5 to 7 days after the arguments, the Justices will meet in a locked room and vote upon the case. After the vote they will choose who will write the majority opinion and who will write the minority opinion. These opinions will be formally presented at the Court and then to the public.

We believe this case will be announced either the 29th or 30th of June. That is when this session of the Court ends and typically controversial decisions are announced on the very last day of the session. The reason for this is that the 9 justices are leaving town as the decision is being announced. This way they don’t have to deal with the fallout from a controversial decision.

Dave has some contacts that cause us to make some suppositions concerning the decision. There are two lines of thought at play right now. Neither of them are good.

The predominant one is that the biblical definition of marriage will go down by a decision of 5 to 4. This means that 5 justices will support same-sex marriage and 4 will support traditional marriage. The swing vote will be Justice Anthony Kennedy.

A friend of Dave’s has watched the Court and been in many, if not most, of these critical cases for almost 2 decades. He has a different take on this decision. His relationship with the Court allows him to pick up some things that outside observers may miss. He believes that it will be a loss by a 6 to 3 vote, with Chief Justice Roberts voting in support of same-sex marriage.

He believes the decision will be based upon sex discrimination. The decision will say that states cannot refuse a marriage license to same-sex couples because it is sex discrimination. The reason Roberts will vote with the majority side is that he gets to say who writes the majority opinion. Dave’s friend believes that Roberts wants to write the majority opinion so he can include in the opinion strong language to defend religious liberty. The opinion becomes law as soon as it is filed.

Basically it would say that if you are a pastor, if you are a religious institution, if you are a church, you do not have to violate your conscience based on your sincerely held beliefs to perform a same-sex marriage and you don’t have to hire same-sex couples. He believes that Roberts, through the back door, will end up being the friend of First Amendment religious liberty even though there will technically be a redefinition of marriage.

Remember, this is all supposition and we can’t say this is what is going to happen. It is possible that the Court may actually strike down same-sex marriage.

We also need to remember that every state where the people have voted, the people have said that marriage is between a man and a woman. The federal courts have stepped in and reversed the vote of the people. There is only one federal court that has said that the states should have the right to define marriage. This has come to the Supreme Court in order to render a decision in the midst of all the confusion.

The ramifications of this decision are potentially catastrophic. It will remake the landscape of our nation if marriage is redefined to include same-sex marriage.

The only bright spot, if you can call it that, is that Chief Justice Roberts, realizing that same-sex marriage is coming someday, is trying to protect religious freedom. This is like sticking your finger in the hole in the dike. It is only a temporary fix. We know that those on the left and the proponents of same-sex marriage will keep chipping away at this until the eventually get their way.

It is possible that this goes completely bad. If it does we will have to decide what we, as Christians, are going to do. This could mean that pastors will be put in prison for their sincerely held Christian beliefs. Will we stand for God’s righteousness, or will we capitulate to the world once again?

Fortress of Faith Radio by Tom Wallace and Evangelists Dave Kistler discuss the upcoming decision from the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage. Listen to the program HERE and below are the “show notes” from this program.

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The Basis Of The Case

A major question on this issue is, does the Supreme Court really have the right to decide on this matter? The 10th Amendment limits the powers of the federal government.

10 Amendment

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Any thinking person can understand this simple language. If the Constitution does not give a power to the US government, nor prohibit it to the states, that power is reserved for the states or the people. The constitution nowhere gives the federal government the power to define marriage. Marriage isn’t even mentioned in the Constitution. This should clearly be a 10th Amendment state’s rights issue.

The fact that this has even reached the Supreme Court is a travesty because it is clearly a state’s rights issue. However, the argument for same-sex marriage is based upon the 14th Amendment.

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

The purpose of this amendment was to ensure that African Americans not be discriminated against in voting rights. It guarantees that no one shall be denied the right to life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The word “liberty” was pulled out and expanded to mean far more that was intended when the amendment was passed.

The argument is that no one should be denied the liberty to marry whoever they want to marry. This case is set up as a 10th Amendment vs. 14th Amendment issue. It should be a state’s rights case.

The Consequences

What are the consequences if the decision comes down against the churches and our Christian beliefs? Here is an exchange between Alito and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., arguing for the same-sex couples on behalf of the Obama administration.

Justice Alito: Well, in the Bob Jones case, he Court held that a college was not entitled to tax-exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating.  So would the same apply to a 10 university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?

General Verrilli:  You know, I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito.  It is –it is going to be an issue.

We have some 30,000 faith based universities and colleges in America. It could be that students will lose their right to student loans in these institutions if they stand against same-sex marriage. Dave’s friend believes that this is the reason that Chief Justice Roberts will want to write the majority opinion. His purpose is to put language in the opinion that will keep this from happening. If this is what happens it is possible that these institutions could be protected from losing any of their benefits. If, on the other hand, it is a 5/4 decision, and there is no strong language in the majority opinion protecting First Amendment religious liberty, all the privileges of these institutions could be lost, and more.

This would mean that if a pastor says, sorry, I ought to obey God rather than men and I will not preform a same-sex marriage, I will not hire someone involved in homosexuality, we will not allow same-sex couples to be members of our church because we believe it violates the scriptural teaching on the topic,” which we would agree with, then potentially those pastors could face not only the loss of tax exempt status, but could face jail time for being in violation of the law.

I have been saying for some time that the judgment of God is falling on this country for our sin. This will result in persecution of Christians, but this is not always bad. Churches flourish under persecution. I want us to prepare ourselves for the possibility of persecution. Are believers ready for this? What will Christians do if same-sex marriage becomes law, and if there is no language in the majority opinion protecting our religious rights?

If the worst happens I believe that churches will be fair game. I believe we will see homosexual couples demanding that churches marry them. A pastor who will stand on God’s Word will have to refuse to do so. The consequences of refusal could be pastors going to jail. I think it may take this kind of thing to awaken the believers of our nation. It may take something like this to get Christians to see that we are losing our freedoms and our rights to believe and practice our religion as we see fit. It may take this to get Christians to stand up and take our country back.

If you look at countries like China and the Soviet Union, you will see that the churches were driven underground and they thrived. Persecution separates the genuine from the false and the churches have risen to their highest levels in the midst of this kind of persecution.

A term for what is happening, the right to marry whomever or whatever one chooses, is “erotic liberty.” Erotic liberty is being set up against religious liberty. If this case is decided the way we think it will be, it will be the first step in elevating erotic liberty above religious liberty. Even if the strong language seeming to protect religious liberty is included, it is only a short term fix. The other side will continue to hammer away until our religious liberties are taken away from us.

It is possible that the decision could come down on the right side, however unlikely that may be. We are discussing the worst case scenario, which is the most likely outcome.

I have been saying for some time, we have a lot of cowards in the pulpits today. Surveys have asked if the Bible speaks about the controversial political issues of the day, and 9 out of 10 pastors have said that it does. When they were asked if they preached about them and only 1 out of 10 said they do because the 9 are afraid of man, they are afraid of losing members, people being upset with them, etc. If this is where we are before real persecution, where will we be when it comes? I doubt that many pastors will stand up.

We already see many denominations and churches capitulating to the gay rights movement even without real persecution.

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The Wrong Basis of the Argument

This whole issue is being argued from a false premise. It is being argued from the idea of equality, that is everything should be equal. The idea is that when a normal couple and a gay couple want to get married we must have equal rights for both. If this is the measuring stick, then they are right. The measuring stick that should be used, and has been used for many years, is God’s righteousness. We threw that out in the 60’s and now every man does that which is right in his own eyes. We are now left with stupid decisions like, can a man marry a man?

This wrong basis puts churches and preachers outside of the law. This brings us to an important question.

How Should Christians Respond?

What are the biblical principles for Christians when the law says we can’t do what God commands us to do?

Any time man asks us to disobey God’s law in order to obey man’s law, then the conflict is resolved just like Peter and John resolved it in Acts Chapter 5.

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29

Let me issue a word of caution on this. This only applies when God’s law is specific and clear. When God says specifically that He wants us to do something and man’s law want us to do something that is contrary to that, then you have a conflict, that is when you say I am going to obey God rather than man.

For example, in Acts Jesus had given a clear command that said:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8

The government came in and said stop preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus. In this situation we have a clear command of God being contradicted by the government. When you have this kind of conflict, you have a choice to make. Peter and John made the clear choice to obey God rather than man because they were being asked to disobey a clear command of God in order to comply with a governmental mandate.

When it comes to marriage, it is the same thing. If this comes down the way we fear it will and pastors and religious bodies will be told to accept this lifestyle. When they sat you must hire these people, you must allow them into your membership, you must marry them, at that point we graciously but directly say, I’m sorry, I cannot, and I will not do that, I will obey God rather than man.

There seems to be a contradiction in the Bible on this subject. Here are some verses that this principle seems to contradict:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.1 Romans 13:1

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 1 Peter 2:13

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, Titus 3:1

How do we resolve this conflict? When the government tells a Christian to do something that is contrary to the commands of God, he is to disobey man and obey God. He is then subject himself to the consequences of breaking man’s law.

We are talking about areas of authority. Government has its realm of authority given to it by God. God has the ultimate authority over all things. When a lower authority usurps the authority of a higher authority, in this case the government usurping God’s authority, we are under obligation to obey the higher authority. We are talking about jurisdictions of authority and the government entering into an area in which it has no right and no jurisdictional authority. This is exactly what Peter and John knew to be true.

There is another component. In every one of the passage mentioning submission and subjection to governmental powers the Greek word is ὑποτάσσω (hupotasso), which means to rank yourself in authority under. This word deals more with an attitude than an action. For example when 1 Peter 2:13 says “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man” it means have an attitude of submission to the ordinances of man. When Romans 13:1 say “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers” it is saying that every soul should have an attitude of subjection to the higher powers.

This means we are to have an attitude of submission to police authority. We are seeing a violent disregard for this in America today.

The question is, can a Christian have an attitude of submission to authority, and not submit in action? The answer is yes. Peter and John submitted in attitude by accepting the consequences. The entire time they were disobeying in action, they were submitted in attitude.

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Persecution Of Christian Businesses

We are already seeing persecution of businesses where the owners have strong religious beliefs. There have been a number of cases in the news lately where Christian businesses have been ordered to violate their religious beliefs by the government.

One of the most notable ones is a bakery in Oregon called Sweet Cakes. They made all kinds of pastries, including wedding cakes. A gay couple asked them to make a cake for their wedding and the owners politely declined citing their religious beliefs. Oregon is a very liberal state. The threats of law suits and other pressure forced the company out of business.

The question is, Can a business owner who has strongly held religious beliefs live those beliefs and run his business in accordance with those beliefs? Can they be forced to check their religious beliefs at the door and serve people that are engaged in activities that are contrary to that person’s religious beliefs?Of course we believe they should have the right to run their business according to their religious beliefs.

A case was won at the Supreme Court level concerning Hobby Lobby. This was a great victory for religious rights. Although there are some similarities between this and the Sweet Cakes case, there is not a direct overlap. Christian businesses are facing some of the same things as Christian ministries.

In another case concerning a florist in Washington State the owner was sued by the state, not the gay couple. The couple did not have to put forth their funds to sue, the state did it. The story behind this is interesting. This business served them knowing their sexual preferences. The owner was a friend of one of the men and had sold him flowers many times. She even recommended another florist when she declined to provide flowers for the wedding. The problem was not serving him as a customer, it was providing flowers for an event that was in violation of her religious beliefs.

This case shows that there was no discrimination against the people, they declined to participate in an event that violated their conscience. We need to start presenting these cases using this language.

What can churches do to protect themselves?

The first thing churches need to do is include language in their constitution and bylaws concerning hiring and other policies that relate to this issue. If you believe that homosexuals or others living in open violation of God’s precepts should not work in your church, that they should not be married by your church, that they should not be members of your church, etc. this language must be included.

Liberty Institutes’s lead counsel has said:

I have argued numbers of cases in where a church or a religious body has clearly stated that we have this hiring policy, we don’t hire homosexuals, we do not allow into membership those who openly practice that lifestyle, etc. etc. Where there is language in the bylaws and constitution, it is an easy case to defend.

The Third Option

There is a third option concerning the outcome of this case. God could intervene and turn the hearts of some of these Justices and we could have a 5/4 victory for our side, or even a 6/3 victory for our side, if they would merely rule in accordance with God’s law and the Constitution.

Don’t give up on this. The vote may have already been taken, but the Justices can change their decision right up to the day before they announce the decision. This is highly unusual, but it can happen. We need to pray that God will turn the hearts of some Justices toward righteousness and a correct interpretation of the Constitution. Grant us a victory where none of this has to become an ongoing issue.

We need Christians to stand behind their pastors if they will stand up for God’s righteous precepts. If they won’t, Christians need to find a new pastor. We need courage in the pulpits and the pews of America. This nation was formed in the pulpits of America. It can only be restored from the pulpits.