No Compromise for the Baptized Faithful

—Ryan J. Ogrodowicz

Late last June the Supreme Court handed down the ruling that legally recognized same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits. Thought the ruling fell short of declaring same-sex marriage constitutional-so states still have the right to define marriage-it is hardly a victory for proponents of traditional marriage. Instead, it has created jubilation amongst SS (same-sex) advocates and rightly so: the high court's decision is now serving as the impetus for judges to challenge state laws on this issue.

While the ruling does not exactly compare to the wide-sweeping 1973 Roe vs. Wade, which declared abortion a constitutional right virtually unrestricted by state law, it has created plenty of momentum indicating under present circumstances it's a matter of time before the constitution is invoked to establish same-sex marriage as a fundamental right.

Some churches are beginning to brace themselves for what seems inevitable. The Associated Press recently reported churches are changing their bylaws to explicitly state their position against SS marriage and performing SS wedding ceremonies.

The reason is precautionary. A written position could benefit a church if taken to court for denying service to practicing homosexuals. Not everyone is convinced this is necessary, including Justin Lee, the executor director of the Gay Christian Network, who says "they seem to be under the impression that there is this huge moment with the goal of forcing them to perform ceremonies that violate their freedom of religion . . . if anyone tried to force a church to perform a ceremony against their will, I would be the first person to stand up in that church's defense."

Justin will have the opportunity to back up his words, for little indicates the SS lobby will stop outside church walls. Already Christian consciences are being violated. Recently, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against Elaine Hugenin, a photographer who had denied services to a lesbian couple. The couple then initially filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission with the accusation Elaine Hugenin was practicing discrimination based on sexual orientation. All five of the justices supported the ruling that she had no choice but to provide services for homosexual couples; denying them was a violation of the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA).

In his concurring opinion, Justice Bosson wrote: "At its heart . . . this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others." The compromise expected is that people are to act in a manner socially tolerant even if it means violating their religious beliefs. For Mrs. Hugenin, it will take the Supreme Court to overturn the state's verdict, which seems unlikely. editor Erick Erickson posted an intriguing, insightful, and likely prophetic blog the day following the DOMA ruling. "You will be made to care about gay marriage. You may think it does not affect you or will not affect you or you can support it and leave well enough alone, but you cannot. The secular left and aggressive gay rights activists will not allow you to."

The blog ends with this: "There is one bright spot for Christians in America, though it will not appear so. Christianity has become soft. Persecution of the faithful will strengthen it as it has done for centuries. It will happen. We best prepare. You will be made to care."

Erickson's warning is hard to ignore.

So what does all this mean for the Christian?

Lost on Justice Bosson and others is that separating belief from conduct is an unbiblical concept. Christians are neither called to behave in a way contrary to their confession nor can they compromise even one letter of Jesus' teaching. Good trees bear good fruit, the city on the hill cannot be hidden, and burning lamps are not to be hidden under baskets. Being a baptized believer means confessing the same faith of Peter and the apostles, who before the Sanhedrin confessed: "We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). A similar incident occurs in Acts 5:29 where they respond: "We must obey God rather than men." When it comes to faith and salvation, there can be no compromise, for a little leaven leavens the whole lump (Gal. 5:9). Discipleship never excludes persecution and death, a teaching that deserves contemplation by everyone bearing the name of Christ, who says "You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved" (Matt. 10:22).

God never promised our earthly lives would be a bed of roses. We will contend against the enemies of God, and the fight will require endurance until the end. But during the fight God promises many things. Salvation belongs to the baptized faithful. And as we endure, we have as our advocate Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith. He will not permit the righteous to fall, and during persecution we can rejoice knowing the outcome-eternal life and glory secured for us by Jesus, our Lord and our God who knows all about ridicule and persecution, mockery and death.

Let us pray God gives us the endurance to persevere in this world of trouble, always looking forward to what lies ahead while clinging to his words, "Take heart, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).


The Rev. Ryan Ogrodowicz serves as pastor of Victory in Christ Lutheran Church in Newark, Texas.


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