Tag Archives: freedom

Religious Liberty Sunday

Many folks are interested in Religious Liberty, especially as they wait to hear how the SCOTUS rules in Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby.  There are numerous groups that are working to protect our liberties, particularly our religious liberty.  In today’s culture, religious liberty questions are most commonly being raised in regard to the homosexual agenda and right-to-life issues.  Many have likened the homosexual movement as the new front on the Civil Rights Movement.  The inherent danger in this is that the bible never condemns on the basis skin color, BUT it is very clear on the problems of sexual sin – fornication, homosexuality, adultery, etc.  DesiringGod.org posted a fantastic article explaining why homosexuality is particularly threatening in today’s culture.  You can access that article here.

Southern Baptists have been, and I hope will continue to be, adamant defenders of Religious Liberty.  Section 17 of the Baptist Faith & Message explains the SBC’s commitment to religious liberty.

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.

If you would like to read more about religious liberty, and the fight that is taking place in the court system to defend religious liberty, I would commend the following sites to you…

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Family Research Council exists to defend a culture in which human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives.

The Alliance Defending Freedom is a division of the FRC that helps provide legal counsel and representation to individuals and entities who are victims of religious discrimination.

ReligiousHostility.org is a database that has collected of more than 600 cases, detailing religious bigotry throughout America — most of which have occurred within the past 10 years.

Focus on the Family exists to help educate people in matters of marriage and family from a biblical perspective, and provide a biblical answer to many of the cultural problems pertaining to the family.

FamilyFacts.org is a site put together by the Heritage Foundation explaining why traditional families are critical for the upkeep of a civil society.

The Heritage Foundation is a think-tank that defends many conservative values, not just family and religious liberty.

The Institution of Faith, Work, & Economics is a Christian research group that studies the role of freedom in the marketplace.

The Acton Institute is a Catholic organization that also exists to help protect religious freedom.  Though their theology is not in alignment with Protestantism, their commitment to religious liberty is sound.

There are plenty of others, but these are a few of the groups I pay close attention to.  I have even learned that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has begun to become increasingly concerned about religious liberty.  The reality is that any person of faith – regardless of what that faith is – should be concerned about it.  If you know of other think-tanks or ministries that are keeping up the fight to defend religious liberty, post their link in a comment.  I will post the best ones.

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Sodomy or Sweet Tea?

They looked like they had been through a battle.  Their uniforms were dirty and disheveled.  They had sweat beading up on their foreheads.  They had been fighting, some for six or seven hours with no end in sight.  And when I looked one of them in the eye to tell them thank you, she replied with an exasperated, “My pleasure.”

Such was the scene at one of our local Chick-fil-A restaurants on Wednesday.  Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I don’t really need an excuse to eat there.  Yes, I am a fanboy.  Yes, I could eat all three meals there and even finish the day with a milkshake.

But who knew that my favorite fast-food establishment would be ground zero for a cultural battle that is simmering.  No doubt that Tuesday’s election in Georgia was important, but the biggest statements made this week were the lines that poured out of Chick-fil-A’s all across the nation on Wednesday.  Have we really come to a place as a nation where the most significant question is not black or white? Rich or poor? Republican or Democrat? Left or right?  Could it be that the most significant cultural question this week boils down to a simple choice – sodomy or sweet tea?

There may be some who feel that this whole thing is blown out of proportion.  I would tend to agree.  But when cities threaten to refuse business licenses because of the religious convictions of the owner, Christians should pay close attention.  Why not refuse Baptist churches building permits because the Bible explicitly condemns sexual sin?  Why not refuse business licenses to stores that sell the Bible?  Suddenly it isn’t about sweat tea any longer.  I hope we all understand that this is much bigger than Chick-fil-A.

And I hope we all understand that this is not about homophobia.  I do not believe the Cathy’s are homophobes.  If they were intentionally undercooking the chicken of homosexuals, then I might be persuaded otherwise.  The truth is that the homosexual is a sinner just like I am.  I was in the same boat as every homosexual in the world – condemned in my transgressions and sin.  But God saw fit to rescue me from my sin through the cross.  And I truly believe that God can rescue any sinner, no matter what sin they’re in bondage to – sodomy, pornography, or pride.

I don’t actually believe that the Chick-fil-A battle is about sin at all, at least directly.  Instead, it is about the right of people to have convictions that there is an absolute moral authority.  That’s all Dan Cathy did – made a statement of value based soundly on the authority of Scripture.  Who did he offend?  The people who reject the notion that moral absolutes apply to them – as well as those hoping to be elected by those same people.

The day that American citizens cannot form their opinions based on biblical principles without fear of persecution is a dark day for our nation.  I champion the rights of Mr. Cathy to make a statement like he did.  Believe it or not, I also champion the rights of the left to disagree with him.  But I do not champion the attempts of our culture to suppress the opinions shared by Mr. Cathy and at least half of the electorate of our nation.  This isn’t about sweet tea, it’s not about fried chicken, it’s about freedom.  And that is something you should definitely care about.

In Christ,

Pastor Brian

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The Cost of Liberty

My nine-year-old has never known a time that his nation was not involved in a major military conflict.  All he has ever known is the “Iraq War” or the “War in Afghanistan.” Though he is not knowledgeable enough to understand the dynamics of the tensions that exist with nations like North Korea and Iran, these threats have also become a regular part of our world.  In many ways, it is like living in a new Cold War.  At least the Cold War had some level of restraint to it.  The doctrine of “mutually assured destruction” kept rational people from going to extremes.  These new, rogue regimes do not seem to operate in rational ways.  One thing is certain, no one has ever accused Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-un of being rational.

These days, more people are focused on the economy than they are on the global pot that seems ready to boil over at any minute.  While there are countless uncertainties with the economic situation in our nation, there are even greater, and more dangerous uncertainties that exist in the political landscape of our global neighborhood.  There will no doubt come a day that a new generation of sons and daughters will have to put their combat boots on the ground in a strange land to fight for the cause of freedom in our world.

Americans are no strangers to flag-draped caskets.  It is estimated that as many as 1.3 million of our sons and daughters have died in combat since the Revolutionary War.  That is the high cost of liberty.  But, as long as liberty is an American ideal, we will still fight battles to defend that great cause.  Memorial Day is a time for us to reflect on the cost of our liberty.  It is a time to give thanks for our nation and for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

Christians must remember that battles are not only fought on physical battlefields with the incendiary devices of war.  We exist in an eternal battle that is being fought on countless fronts.  Paul said that our real “battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”  There is not much discussion about this today, but the spiritual fight in our lives is far more prevalent than the physical.

The casualties of this war are displayed, not with flag-draped caskets, but with homes broken by divorce, young men falling every time they turn on their computer, and churches riddled by the sins of their members.  When we see the sad state of the church in our nation, the empty sanctuaries of so many churches, we are reminded yet again that the battle is real, and the cost is high.

This Memorial Day, we should remember that as long as we have God-given spiritual liberty that there will be those who wish to oppose that liberty.  Paul said in Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.”  This is what Satan seeks to do, cause us to abuse our liberty.  His desire is that we abuse every good gift given to us by the Lord.  So the battle rages on.

We would do well to remember that the One in us is far greater than the one that we fight against.  Perhaps if we could take hold of that, the casualties would be far less and we might have more cause to celebrate our victories than grieve our defeats.  This friends, is the high cost of liberty.  But it is one fight that is truly worth it in the end.

Thankful for Freedom,

Pastor Brian

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