Monday, October 13, 2014

Same Sex Marriage: Protecting The Church In A Morally Depraved Culture

Recently I was engaged in a conversation about the impending legal threats that are certain to come upon churches from the increasingly intolerant government of a morally depraved culture.  The man I was speaking with made an astounding assertion; he said that his church would never come under any attacks over social issues including same-sex fake marriages.

Sadly, he’s right.  His church is notably liberal.  His church does not recognize the final and immutable authority of Scripture.  They do and will continue to tolerate homosexuality among their members and they will perform same-sex marriages.  Those kinds of tolerant churches are the churches the government is pleased to tolerate.

But, for the conservative, Bible-believing, God-honoring, churches, legal trouble seems imminent.  Churches, their pastors, and their officers are at risk of fines, penalties, closure, and possibly even incarceration.  Wise pastors should take a good, close look at their ministries and identify where the rocks are so they don’t shipwreck.

I am not an attorney and I certainly have no credentials that would convince any pastor or church to take my advice but I have given this subject some serious consideration.   Perhaps there are some constitutional attorneys who specialize in the defense of religious freedoms and who might formalize these suggestions in a way that would be helpful to the churches.  

 Listed below are several thoughts, about how I think a pastor can keep himself out of jail and protect his church from catastrophic lawsuits:

1.         STOP DOING WEDDING PRODUCTIONS.  It’s time for us to get back to the biblical understanding of “Holy matrimony.”  Your church’s policy ought to be iron clad in this sense; your purpose in accommodating a wedding ceremony is to be a solemn recognition of God’s work in His “putting together” one man with one woman so that the two become one flesh.  This is not the time for entertainment.

2         KEEP YOUR CEREMONIES IN HOUSE.  Your ministerial responsibilities are to your flock; those whom God has entrusted to your care.  They are the regenerate members of your church. 

And parenthetically, this might be a good time to start rethinking the importance of local church membership; something that too many program driven churches have neglected in recent years.  In the context of regeneration, membership, and accountability, homosexuality, as well as all open sin, will be named and called out as matters of church discipline for the purpose of repentance and restoration or expulsion.

Purity and holiness is God’s design for His Church and in that kind of church, sinners will scatter like cockroaches when the lights are turned on.

3.         DO NOT ALLOW YOUR MEMBERS TO WRITE OR PRODUCE THEIR OWN SILLY, CUTE, HUMOROUS, CLEVER, INANE, OR OTHERWISE IRREVERENT CEREMONIES.  There is plenty of time for frivolity at the reception.  The responsibility to address the congregation as to the reason and solemn meaning for the service rests upon the pastor.   So for any Christian candidates who present themselves to engage in this thing called holy matrimony, these following words, or something similar, are instructive and God-honoring and they serve as a public testimony of the couple’s holy relationship to each other and to God.


       Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony; which is an honorable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocence, signifying unto us   the mystical union that is between Christ and His church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with His presence, and first miracle that He wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of the apostle Paul to be honorable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

       First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of His holy name.

       Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.


       Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.  Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined.  Therefore if any man can show any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter forever hold his peace.

We recently learned of a Christian couple who owned a print shop.  They sold custom printed T shirts.  When a queer couple asked for something affirming their lifestyle, the owners declined.  They were subsequently sued for discrimination.  If the business only sold pre-printed shirts, the customer’s options would have been limited to the available products. 

Similarly then, if you only have one standard, biblical ceremony patterned and purposed after the Word of God, the chances of a same-sex fake marriage issue arising will be greatly minimized.  You don’t do custom services.

3.         QUIT SELLING YOUR SERVICES.  My heathen, atheistic brother-in-law told me years ago, that he was going to get a minister’s license from the state so that he could perform weddings for a fee.  When you indiscriminately performing weddings, you expose yourself to a plethora of potential problems when you encounter unholy unions that violate your conscience (if you have one).   There are lots of liberal clergy persons, witch doctors, Satanists, judges, and other goofy practitioners out there that can perform unholy rituals; you don’t have to be one of them. 

Your calling, as a pastor, is to shepherd the flock of God. Teach, preach, and minister to their spiritual needs.  Legitimate, God ordained marriage is part of that job description.   

Don’t market it for a fee.  Just do it.   If those whom you serve give you an unsolicited, free will honorarium as a token of their love and appreciation, okay.  But don’t put a price tag on it.  If you don’t have a product to sell, you can’t be sued for discrimination when you don’t sell it.

4.         DON’T RENT YOUR FACILITIES FOR UNHOLY ACTIVITIES.  This should be a no-brainer.  The facility belongs to God.  Every use of it ought to be deliberately considered in view of your biblical mission and in harmony with your doctrinal statement.

5.         DO NOT SIGN THE STATE’S MARRIAGE LICENSES – When you come to the close of the service and announce, “By the authority vested in me by the State of…”  you are acting as an agent of the state.  And as such, you will not be permitted to discriminate and you will be forced to perform same-sex fake weddings.   The authority you have to perform a ceremony of holy matrimony is of God and only to recognize that which is ordained by God.  Marriage is His institution and it should be observed by His standard; “one man and one woman" joined together by God and not to be changed or redefined by man.

Therefore it may be necessary for all your candidates to obtain a signed license from an independent, state-approved notary, clerk, judge, or even another, unprincipled clergy person.  That might mean that they arrange for a contracted legal witness to attend the ceremony or have a separate state sanctioned wedding, with witnesses, apart from the church ceremony.   

7.         DENOUNCE SIN - Make a regular habit of bringing your congregation to the point of conviction and repentance of sin.  Preach it once or twice a year.  And in the context of sexual sin, that means ALL kinds of sexual immorality and perversions.  Don't single out homosexuality while you are knowingly tolerant of other kinds of sexual sin within your flock.  And make sure that your sermons are recorded to protect yourself from accusations of discrimination. 

8.         FORMALIZE YOUR POLICIES - Write them into your church's constitution and bylaws and then "PRACTICE THEM."  Also, it would be to your advantage to cite the scriptural references for all the imperatives that govern your church's practices.   And make sure your congregation knows the church's policies.  It is a lot easier for knowledgeable members to direct their unsaved relatives to a heathen church down the street, than it is to suddenly surprise and upset them at an emotional time when you have to tell them that you won't allow or officiate the wedding ceremony of their darling daughter to the heathen scumbag who impregnated her.  

9.         FINAL THOUGHTS - It may just have to come down to all of this.  You may have far fewer weddings but that’s not all bad.  Most Christians will want to solemnize their marriage covenant in the presence of God and witnesses who will love them, care for them, and hold them accountable, in a formal ceremony.   And those are the one's who willingly subject themselves to your premarital spiritual assessment and counseling.   On the other hand, most people who want a same-sex fake wedding will want no part of it with you.   

The church is not (or shouldn’t be) a public commercial enterprise.  The world will not insist on “purchasing a product that your store simply does not sell.”

I Don't Go There Anymore

A few years ago I was a deacon in a church whose pastoral staff asked us to submit, in writing, our evaluations of each individual pastor and to provide reasons for our approval or disapproval.

I protested at the outset; I believed the process would be unbiblical, fruitless, divisive, emotionally stressful, and just plain stupid. Nevertheless, the “powers that were” insisted that we should proceed. We were assured that our input would be anonymous and confidential.  But I knew better and, as it turned out, I was right.

In my evaluation I revealed, what I believed to be, a careful and objective analysis of a pastoral team  that was ideologically and philosophically conflicted concerning the ecclesiastic work and purpose of the church.

Basically, it boiled down to this; there was a recognizable division among leaders where one side possessed a sincere, evangelistic desire to affect changes in our worship services, practices, and programs for the purpose of being more relevant, attractive, and acceptable to contemporary cultures and the local unchurched community.  On the other side was an obvious attempt to preserve traditional and conservative methods usually associated with orthodox Christianity.

I maintained, without interjecting my personal opinions, beliefs, or preferences, that both ideologies could be wrong but it was absolutely certain that both could be simultaneously right. Therefore, I concluded, there was tension and conflict in leadership that was confusing to the people.

Now, it is not my purpose here to expound any further on the nature or the result of the rift; I simply want to point out that my entire six-page analysis was wasted and lost over my use of ONE WORD.

When they received my input (which, remember, they asked for it), one of them became fixated on the word, “orthodox.”

“Orthodox? Is that the kind of church Ralph thinks we should have?” he asked.

The truth of the matter was that I offered no personal opinions or preferences at all.  I simply made the case that they had the ability to decide, among themselves, what would be their ministry direction and what practices they would employ to realize their objectives. We were a baptist church, for cryin' out loud, and baptists are self-governing; it is certainly within their prerogative to do what they think they need to do.  Once they reached consensus and were united in purpose, they should openly declare it courageously and unapologetically, and defend it biblically (if possible) so that the people could make informed decisions about their support for the ministry and their leaders.

I guess it was just ignorance on the part of my critic but, I admit, I was disappointed that he would criticize the word I used without even understanding its meaning.  My guess is that he errantly defined orthodoxy as a stiff-collared style of worship and formal practices usually associated with liturgical churches.

Now I am NOT a Greek scholar but, as near as I can determine, the word, orthodox, derives from two Greek words.

Ortho - meaning correct or straight as in orthodontics (to straighten or correct teeth) or orthopedics (to straighten or correct bone structures).

Dox – from which we get the word, doxology (having to do with the form of worship or praise).

So orthodox Christianity would be defined by worship and teaching that is doctrinally straight and correct according to the authoritative Word of God.

Yes! As a matter of fact, I guess that really is exactly the kind of church I want.

Needless to say, I am no longer a member of that church.

original post July 25, 2009

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sufferin' Suffrage

Dear members of Congress.

Voting is a responsibility of the RESPONSIBLE.

I propose that voter eligibility laws be amended so that the right to vote will only be granted to property owners or business owners and then with the following restrictions:
  • Only one vote per household.
  • Only women who are single or widowed may vote.
  • No students of any state university may vote.
  • No person under the age of 25 may vote.
  • No person may cast a vote who cannot read the ballot in English.
  • No person may vote who cannot produce documentation of citizenship.
  • No public employees may vote.
  • No person may vote who is receiving welfare benefits.
  • No union members may vote.
  • No stupid people may vote.
  • No person may vote who is not a member of the NRA.

I'm sure I probably missed something but this would be a great start. Please give this careful consideration.

Respectfully yours

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Four Most Terrifying Words In the Bible

(Well I don't know if they are the scariest but they certainly rank high up there.)
"GOD GAVE THEM OVER."  This not a passive phrase; it is active. It is not something that happens as a result of someone's actions.

Unseemly perverted sexual deviancy is not just another among a plethora of sins that God will judge; It is a deliberate, eyes-wide-open, act of God.  Homosexuality (and other forms of sexual perversion) is a direct judgment from God to men who refuse to acknowledge and honor Him.  It is a judgment for deliberate unbelief.  And if you think you can stand before Him someday and convince Him that you didn't know, think again.  He has sufficiently revealed Himself to and within every man so they are without excuse.
Read this carefully and be warned:

"The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.   For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made.
"So people are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give Him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
"Therefore GOD GAVE THEM OVER in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

"For this reason GOD GAVE THEM OVER to dishonorable passions.  For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another.  Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

"And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, GOD GAVE THEM OVER to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.  They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips,  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless. Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them."

Romans 1:18-32  New English Translation

Friday, October 10, 2014

Post Modern Baby Announcement

It has occurred to me that traditional birth announcements are presumptuous, insensitive, stereotypical, and unusable.  So I've created a whole new kind of baby announcement for our contemporary, enlightened culture.  What do you think??

(click on image to enlarge and read carefully)