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If our religious freedoms are taken in the United States in our day, they will be taken under the guise of ending discrimination, which even most religious people would say is a noble agenda. After all, we are now a nation of people seeking social justice and ending discrimination is at the top of our political to-do list. Might I be bold enough to say that it is a pipe-dream? Might I explain why I think this is an imaginary and nonsensical agenda?
On October 24, 2018, an article was published on christianaction.org that claims a city ordinance in Austin, Texas prevents churches from rejecting a potential pastor on the basis of his sexual orientation. Effectively, under this ordinance churches would be required to forego the religious conviction that God designed marriage as a sacred institution and covenant between a man and a woman. Austin is currently being sued by a church because it has imposed upon religious freedom and has not kept the state and church separate as required by protection put in place by both the State of Texas and the United States government. This article is not about the moral acceptability of homosexuality. I use this illustration simply to point out that it is not far-fetched to imagine an America in which religious freedoms are taken from Christians in order to pursue social justice on some level.
There are a couple of things that I want to point out, here, and they will not serve as a definitive answer to any specific question. I simply want to stir your thoughts. The ending of discrimination seems a noble cause. We certainly don’t like being discriminated against. So, it seems that all people ought to have the right to not be discriminated against. In our pursuit of ending discrimination, have we not also caused a more severe and widespread discrimination? Consider the story above. To end one form of discrimination based on one system of ethics, another form of discrimination is introduced based on an entirely different system of ethics. Discrimination in this scenario is unavoidable. Either the state will allow religious institutions to discriminate according to their very real and meaningful religious beliefs or the state itself will practice religious discrimination. Therein is the sheer absurdity of the social justice (particularly regarding non-discrimination) movement. It causes the very thing it claims to fight against.
Any ethical system built on the idea of ending discrimination is an ethical system that ultimately implodes. That is precisely where moral relativism lands any society. Anywhere there are present any divergent moral opinions, there will always be discrimination. No matter the language used to make it seem just, it is unjust according to its own principle. Ending such discrimination is impossible because to end such discrimination, discrimination must be practiced.
What if the state removes our religious freedom? What if the state discriminates against the organized church? As absurd as it is, moral relativism is also a religious view. The plight to end discrimination is entirely religious and built upon a code of ethics that is founded on acceptance and coexistence (even if these things are logically and practically impossible because they cause the very problems they claim to prevent in this world) as its basic doctrines (unlike Biblical Christianity). Yet, the United States constitution and her amendments currently protect the freedom of religious institutions to discriminate according to religious belief. This means that not all people have the freedom to practice their religion, particularly if their religious code demands the absence of discrimination (which, again, is nonsensical). Say, then, that the United States Constitution was to be amended to allow the non-discriminatory measures of this fairly new social justice code of ethics. It would necessarily discriminate against and remove freedoms currently granted to other religious groups. To impose these new non-discriminatory measures, the state itself would have to discriminate- effectively breaking its own law. Religious freedom, in any true sense, is a myth- though it is good that there be an explicit separation of church and state.
When we worry so much about religious freedom or when the social justice movement makes its way into our pulpits as the social gospel, we miss the point of what it means to be the church. The Scriptures state very clearly that in the end times, people will stop listening to the truth and will choose for themselves teachers who will tell them what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3). In fact, it is clear that people will not tolerate sound doctrine. Jesus, Himself, was honest with those who followed Him,
“Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves. Beware of them, because they will hand you over to local courts and flog you in their synagogues. You will even be brought before governors and kings because of me, to bear witness to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you are to speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because it isn’t you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you” (Matthew 10:16-18).
Around the whole world, this is happening to the followers of Christ just as Christ said. There is a need for the followers of Christ to be as innocent as doves and as shrewd as vipers. When persecution comes we, like Christ and like the apostle Paul and like every other martyr listed in the Scriptures, are to bear witness to our persecutors about Christ and what Christ has done to redeem the world, paying for her sin, and saving people for Himself by His amazing grace.
We have placed such a great emphasis on ourselves, our preferences, our comfort, our safety, our acceptance, our being, and our imposed will that we have forgotten God’s kingship and have rejected Him as the world also rejects Him. May His great mercy fall on us all. May we understand the sheer absurdity of the myth of non-discrimination, a myth by which even Rome fell, a myth that shreds society, destroys any semblance of logic, ends any genuine pursuit of moral purity, and fires the very gun it claims to unload.
That being said, I want to be very clear. I hope you don’t misread what I have written. I have not stated that people are not equal in their worth. I have not proposed that some forms of discrimination are not unjust. I have not claimed that it is okay to not act with great benevolence and beneficence. I have not claimed anything regarding the church’s treatment of people. The proposition is that hard non-discrimination is impossible. The appeal is that we need to think well before jumping headfirst into radical social-justicism. The plea is for us to worship our Lord no matter the cost in a society that becomes more and more absurd and incoherent and non-correspondent and increasingly ignorant in her basic beliefs.
In this sinful world, discrimination is certain as is persecution against those who wish to truly live godly lives (2 Timothy 3:12). Yet, the command for the Christian is for him or her to love those enemies and pray for those persecutors (Matthew 5:44). We live this way despite both the sin and the discrimination and the persecution in this world and, in doing so, proclaim the Gospel of our Lord. For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory and are freely justified by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24). Even though our morality is detestable to God and even though all people have failed to keep His moral standard, God is the one who freely justifies through Christ. As we are commanded to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, so Christ is good to all people by grace even though all people are deserving of His unmitigated wrath. This is the truth that makes the Gospel so good. Salvation is not by works, but by grace. God’s goodness toward those who do not strive for godliness is not by their works, but by His own grace. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!