CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Churches Will Be Trashed When Marriage is Trashed

Sep 15, 2017

Reality always triumphs over ideology. When homosexual marriage proponents try to tell you that churches, faith-based institutions, and religious individuals of all stripes will not be impacted by the redefinition of marriage, they are telling you porkies – and they know it.

One simply has to look at places that have redefined and thus trashed marriage – churches and believers are being trashed as well, as I have documented for years now. We already have hundreds of cases of this happening right now, and it gets worse each passing day.

Let me look at just a few more recent examples of this, then look again at how precarious things are in Australia. Let’s begin with Sweden which legalised homosexual marriage in 2009. Just recently the Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven said this:

“We Social Democrats are working to ensure all priests will consecrate everyone, including same-sex couples… I see parallels to the midwife who refuses to perform abortions. If you work as a midwife you must be able to perform abortions, otherwise you have to do something else… It is the same for priests.”

In Ireland homosexual marriage was legalised in 2015. Assurances were given that no one would be adversely impacted by this, and that religious bodies would be just fine. But within months of the law change this took place:

The Irish Parliament has passed a bill forcing publicly-funded Catholic institutions, including schools, to employ open homosexuals. The bill, which extends the ban on discrimination in the “equality law” to religiously-based institutions, affects the 90 percent of the country’s schools that belong to the Catholic Church. While homosexual groups and media pundits hail the new law, defenders of the Catholic schools and teachings say the law is unconstitutional.

And consider this stark remark made by the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow in the UK. Speaking to a homosexual audience he said this:

“We don’t want to behave like it’s all over, everything’s been done and nothing remains, because that isn’t true. I still feel we’ll only have proper equal marriage when you can bloody well get married in a church if you want to do so, without having to fight the church for the equality that should be your right.”

Always nice when the other side spills the beans. But such talk is common of course from the homosexual camp. They have long insisted that churches and religious bodies should not be granted any exemptions. In my 2011 book Strained Relations I quoted American legal expert Roger Severino on all this:

The legal definition of marriage does not exist in isolation; changing it alters many areas of the law. For example, the definition of marriage plays an important role in the law of adoption, education, employee benefits, health care, employment discrimination, government contracts and subsidies, taxation, tort law, and trusts and estates. In turn, these legal regimes directly govern the ongoing daily operations of religious organizations of all stripes, including parishes, schools, temples, hospitals, orphanages, retreat centers, soup kitchens, and universities. Moreover, current law provides no room for non-uniform definitions of marriage within a state, it is all or nothing….
Changes in marriage law impact religious institutions disproportionately because their role is so deeply intertwined with the public concept of marriage. . . . The specific consequences that will likely flow from legalizing same-sex marriage include both government compulsion of religious institutions to provide financial or other support for same-sex married couples and government withdrawal of public benefits from those institutions that oppose same-sex marriage. In other words, wherever religious institutions provide preferential treatment to husband-wife couples, state laws will likely require them to either extend identical benefits to same-sex married couples or withdraw the benefits altogether.

Exactly. And homosexual activists in Australia know full well that this must be the endgame: no religious protections whatsoever. Consider a recent survey of over 6000 homosexual Australians taken on this issue by a leading homosexual advocacy group. As one report puts it:

The survey, funded by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in partnership with just.equal, showed sky-high opposition among LGBTI Australians to refusal-of-service exemptions targeted exclusively at same-sex couples, whether applied to civil celebrants, private businesses, or employees at a government marriage registry.
Targeted same-sex couple exemptions for religious celebrants – which would be on top of an existing provision stating religious ministers do not have to marry any couple – were opposed by 60% of respondents….
92.6% of respondents opposed exemptions for civil celebrants to wed same-sex couples based on conscientious or religious belief. This dropped slightly to 91.2% when asked if they would accept a civil celebrant exemption in order to achieve same-sex marriage.

Indeed, back in 2012 there was a federal inquiry into anti-discrimination legislation. Back then one pro-homosexual group after another told us what they think of religious exemptions. Here are just some of them that I quoted at the time:

-Legal Aid Queensland: “… argues for the removal of those (i.e., religious) exemptions”.
-Legal Aid NSW: “… does not support the retention of any exemption on religious grounds”.
-Public Interest Law Clearing House (Vic) Inc: “The Consolidated Law should include no exemptions for religious organisations in relation to the protected attributes of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
-Discrimination Law Experts Group: “We recommend that the religious exceptions be repealed.”
-ANU College of Law “Equality Project”: It “rejects permanent exemptions on religious grounds for institutions or individuals”.
-Human Rights Law Centre: “These exemptions are manifestly inappropriate and inconsistent with Australia’s human rights obligations and international best-practice.”
-HIV/AIDS Legal Centre: “Remove entirely any religious exemption to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

There are plenty more such quotes that could be offered here. So much for religious freedom. The same militants calling for the destruction of marriage have made it clear that they want the destruction of religion as well. Mark my words, there can be no compromise here – the other side will not allow it.

Let me finish with some wise words from Princeton University’s McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Robert George. He highlights the folly of thinking that somehow compromise can be achieved here:

The fundamental error made by some supporters of conjugal marriage was and is, I believe, to imagine that a grand bargain could be struck with their opponents: “We will accept the legal redefinition of marriage; you will respect our right to act on our consciences without penalty, discrimination, or civil disabilities of any type. Same-sex partners will get marriage licenses, but no one will be forced for any reason to recognize those marriages or suffer discrimination or disabilities for declining to recognize them.” There was never any hope of such a bargain being accepted.
Perhaps parts of such a bargain would be accepted by liberal forces temporarily for strategic or tactical reasons, as part of the political project of getting marriage redefined; but guarantees of religious liberty and non-discrimination for people who cannot in conscience accept same-sex marriage could then be eroded and eventually removed. After all, “full equality” requires that no quarter be given to the “bigots” who want to engage in “discrimination” (people with a “separate but equal” mindset) in the name of their retrograde religious beliefs. “Dignitarian” harm must be opposed as resolutely as more palpable forms of harm….
The lesson, it seems to me, for those of us who believe that the conjugal conception of marriage is true and good, and who wish to protect the rights of our faithful and of our institutions to honor that belief in carrying out their vocations and missions, is that there is no alternative to winning the battle in the public square over the legal definition of marriage. The “grand bargain” is an illusion we should dismiss from our minds.

All over the West these sorts of laws are being used, and they are all rather sneaky. They will speak about “exemptions” for religious bodies, but then define what that means so narrowly that basically no one is safe. Thus a Sunday school class may fall afoul of the law. A Bible study held in a home, conducted by the pastor, might not be safe. And plenty of other religious bodies (schools, bookstores, etc) will not be safe. So what we have here is a war on religion.

In sum, homosexual marriage changes everything, and religious bodies are among the biggest losers. It is never wise to let the State determine what religious bodies can and cannot do here. Remember, when the State arbitrarily decides that religious groups can be granted certain exemption “rights,” it can just as easily take them away.

You have been warned.

www.catholicweekly.com.au/monica-doumit-if-you-think-the-state-wont-force-churches-hand-on-same-sex-marriage-take-a-look-at-sweden/
www.lifesitenews.com/news/new-irish-law-forces-catholic-schools-to-employ-open-homosexuals
www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-manchester-35046629
www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/07/18/speaker-john-bercow-we-dont-have-equal-marriage-until-its-in-churches/
www.buzzfeed.com/lanesainty/lgbti-community-rejects-civil-celebrant-exemptions?utm_term=.xvdDBWbX5#.tvdLW8V1Z
billmuehlenberg.com/2012/05/25/lets-get-those-lousy-christians/
www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/07/5884

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23 Responses to Churches Will Be Trashed When Marriage is Trashed

  • Thank you for the timely warning, Bill. We are eagerly waiting for our plebiscite forms to arrive so we can vote NO.

    But I was disappointed that the daughter of one of the leaders of the NO Campaign has apparently publicised she will vote yes:- http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/tony-abbotts-daughter-frances-supports-yes-campaign-in-ssm-survey/news-story/ef99704717311c34d3945dc8b58e4147

    This made me ask my own son who is 20 y.o. and he said he doesn’t want to vote NO and will probably not vote at all. He said with his Christian friends they are not in favour of same-sex marriage but most don’t want to stand in the way of it.

    It’s obvious our traditional arguments aren’t winning over the youth. Bill, do you have any specific advice on how to convince our children? Tony Abbott may want to take note too.

  • Thanks Peter. But we must ask broader questions here. That so many young people are getting it so wrong on marriage means they are getting it wrong on a whole raft of other issues, and the big picture, long-term answer is we need a massive social, intellectual and cultural renewal that may take decades if not longer to achieve.

    And again: that so many young Christian people are getting it so wrong on marriage means they are getting it wrong on biblical Christianity. That too is a massive problem to resolve, and one that will not be fixed overnight.

  • I have puzzled a long time over this issue….and have to ask, what exactly is God planning to achieve by permitting this to happen? We are almost at a checkmate position on the board…the only way out for churches is to relinquish their authority to conduct marriages, which means no-one at all will be able to get married in the building, whether Christian or not. Until mud-stirring politicians and gay groups are put down once and for all, and their power destroyed, the laws won’t be changed.

  • Thanks Chris. Well, as I have long said, God may allow things like this in order to do some important sifting in the churches, separating the wheat from the tares. So that might be one good outcome of all this.

  • Chris and Bill perhaps Paul is speaking to us through his letter to the Thessalonians in 2Thess 2 In particular v9-12

  • Bill, we need to address what is happening with our failed church leadership. I went to Westminster Seminary here in the states. It is supposedly a conservative seminary. However, they teach a dualistic worldview that is nothing more than Gnosticism in which the Christian life only deals with spiritual issues – not cultural issues. It is called “The Kingdoms” theology and is the same theology dominate in Germany prior to the arrival of the Nazis. This is the same false pietistic theology Francis Schaeffer addressed. Yet, this is coming from a conservative seminary! The corruption of our church leadership starts at the top levels of education where we are getting leadership that is compliant to the pagans taking dominion over the church and our nation. Until we address that issue we are wasting our energy since we have a major leadership problem.

  • Hi Bill,
    I have just listened to former Deputy Prime Minister Senator John Anderson’s video about SSM produces a few days ago. It is well worth listening to and refreshing. I hope that he is still a respected advisor in our politics.
    See it here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN0zz5720yU

  • Yes it is very good Bruce.

  • John Anderson again today.

  • A year or so ago, Peter Hitchens referred in an Oxford University debate to these words by the novelist, D.H. Lawrence:

    “…The Church really rests upon the indissolubility of marriage. Make marriage in any serious degree unstable, dissoluble, destroy the permanency of marriage, and the Church falls. Witness the enormous decline of the Church of England.

    The reason being that the Church is established upon the element of union in mankind. And the first element of union in the Christian world is the marriage-tie. The marriage-tie, the marriage bond, take it which way you like, is the fundamental connecting link in Christian society. Break it, and you will have to go back to the overwhelming dominance of the State, which existed before the Christian era. …”

    – D.H. Lawrence, A Propos of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (First published in 1928)

    Lawrence was neither a Puritan nor a prude. Yet he understood something many Christians today do not understand…

  • Dear John, did we as a Christian nation cause the church to fall when we made marriage dissoluble when we legalised no fault divorce? And if so what can we do to reverse the decline? The obvious answer would be to outlaw no fault divorce but is that realistically achievable?

  • As I keep saying, the mission statement of stonewall.co.uk says it all

    Acceptance WITHOUT exception!

  • Pastor Muhlenburg, this also is a war being fought in the United States.
    For many years I have predicted that as the gay rights movement came full flower into mainstream acceptance,
    The Churches and Christians would be torn asunder and persecuted.

    As you have stated, the “Culture Wars expose who is Wheat and who is Chaff” (paraphrased).
    A leading Conservative Christian, Eric Erickson has stated about this, ” You will be made to care.”

  • What is baffling me is the number of Christians who think that it is right for the church to just stay silent or neutral on this. Bible believing Christians are welcoming the fact that their ministers are not endorsing the vote one way or the other. They think this is the right way for the church to respond. No wonder our young people are confused. They get so much rot from the world and their churches do not see it as their role to get involved and give a Biblical view. They are even boasting that their minister will not give his view or try to persuade anyone, one way or another, like that is the most righteous course. Completely baffling.

  • I have felt for some time that the only way ahead for the church will be to get out of the legal marriage business altogether. The church can offer a different form of marriage that adheres to more Biblical requirements while the state goes its own merry way.
    In NSW we have a Relationships Register that gives legal recognition to all forms of relationships. It is possible that a facility originally given to placate the gays will be seized by christians.
    This is all going to take decades to sort out after SSM comes in if our politicians are weak and stupid enough to allow it.

  • As Peter points out, we are faced with a legal fait accompli when it comes to liberal divorce laws – laws which were touted as “compassionate” when they were proposed decades ago. Are Australia’s Christians prepared to obey the law of Christ on marriage rather than the laws of the State?

    Already, certain of our Muslim neighbours allegedly believe their marriage and kinship traditions hold higher priority, “higher moral ground” than Australian laws on these matters.

    Certain Non-Conformist Christians in 19th-Century Russia were exiled to Siberia when they chose to marry outside the marriage rites of the imperially-sanctioned Russian Orthodox Church: Their marriages were not recognised by Russian law.

  • Peter, have your asked your son if he’s concerned about the impending loss of freedom (of speech, religion, conscience …) should SSM pass? And is he concerned about losing his job should SSM be made law, or perhaps losing the ability to get married? The voting form apparently asks whether the law should be changed to permit SSM, but this ignores all the associated issues. Out of curiosity, why does your son and his Christian friends not want to stand in the way of SSM?

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

  • Dear Andrew,

    We have tried.

    Freedom of speech — He doesn’t think this is a problem, in fact he doesn’t like it when I use the word sodomite and he said he is embarrassed when I say it in public. His youth leaders have said not to use that word, undermining our teaching as parents.

    Religion and Conscience — We can’t convince him this is an attack on religion. I say think of all the things you would not be able to say if the the law changes, he says he would not say any of those things anyway so “Who cares”!!

    Losing his job — He is 20 and works casually in retail, so he doesn’t fear losing his job. He also works with homosexuals and says he wouldn’t want to say anything that would offend them anyway so a changes to the law would not affect him.

    I have struggled with his ambivalence. I don’t know who to blame. I think it is a combination. There was school but we were very clear the ‘morality’ taught at school was not we believed as a family and for moral and spiritual guidance it was church teaching that matters. Then there were our youth pastor and leaders who never want to strongly condemn the sin of homosexuality. And Christian leaders like Lyle Shelton who tells everyone how he supported full and equal civil rights for homosexuals.

    Bottom line… our society is full of messaging to young Christians that homosexuality is “normal” and our church leaders say nothing or say “Be nice to homosexuals but just don’t be one”. My son and his friends all have homosexual friends. They don’t have the natural revulsion we have. As soon as we humanise deviants we lose the our ability to teach our values. We should learn from this for the next battle and stop our youth leaders before they move on from “Be nice to homosexuals” to “Be nice to transsexuals” but most important we as churches have to get back to preaching about the evils of sin without worrying what the outside world thinks about us — before it is too late.

  • Hi Peter, thanks for the response.

    Sodomite is in some ways an archaic term but on occasion I write that, and sapphic, rather than homosexual. Part of the culture war is about language definitions and it can be hard to distinguish between those who perform particular acts, and those who choose to embrace or are associated with particular lifestyles. A male who rapes other males in prison is usually not considered homosexual, and yet a Christian who struggles against temptation for his\her own gender may be deemed a homosexual by society despite never engaging in sinful activity – we live in a very odd world! Since Scripture uses the term sodomite – it depends on the Bible you use, and condemns the practice – orientation is a modern concept, I do think it odd that youth pastors have said not to use the term.

    You cannot hold a dissenting opinion and hope to be tolerated: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/rendezview/yes-campaigners-show-their-true-colours/news-story/6ad4b71806c4c610329a1cb7dcaa43b2 What is considered still tolerable today will be deemed offensive tomorrow and treated accordingly.

    I appreciate not wanting to offend anyone – it’s a reasonable goal, however at times it may be unavoidable. And some industries are … less tolerant of dissent than others. What would happen for instance if a colleague were to ‘marry’ another of the same gender? Would he sign the card\attend the wedding if invited? Remember, Jesus was offensive at times.

    Perhaps I was more fortunate? I don’t recall school or church teaching really discussing homosexuality but the morals taught were, with one notable exception, generally Biblical. As for Shelton, I actually kinda sympathise with his position. In a society which is increasingly anti-Biblical it’s difficult to advance a Christian message – yes I realise that’s his job. The question is to what degree ought we publically push the Christian perspective of rights and responsibilities, and to what degree do we acquiesce to what others claim is ‘fair’ and ‘reasonable,’ especially where the boundaries are kind of fuzzy?

    I agree society is pushing the message that homosexuality is normal, but I’d go further and say that it also teaches that Christianity it not. I’ve known a couple of sapphics over the years – a girl I went to school with, and a girl I went to uni with, but their revelations were towards the end of our relationships – geography made it hard to stay in touch. The first one was a nice girl who’d been overseas on a mission trip with her mother before said mother passed away, and I guess she went off the rails after that. She was recruited whilst doing tertiary education and went really really odd – I still struggle to reconcile the before and after versions. It’s worth noting that there is a distinction to be made between deviancy and deviants – love the sinner, hate the sin etc, but folk need to careful not to go to one or other of the (non-Biblical) extremes.

    Easy to espouse theory of course, much harder to put into practice.

    And on a side note I’d encourage everyone to continue to faithfully pray that God’s will be done in regards to this coming vote etc. Obviously I’m wanting the NO vote to succeed – and the YES campaign are demonstrating just how devoid of love they are, but I wonder at times whether they may not be punishment for a nation that is moving ever further away from God. 🙁

  • Dear Andrew,

    We must never surrender our language in the culture war. If they define our words they define our beliefs. Already there is evidence of this in how tolerant young Christians are towards “gays”.

    Re:- Lyle Shelton, I too sympathise but I don’t agree. I was having a conversation with a Brother in Christ at a conference who said to me:- “Peter, you know Lyle believes exactly what we do. His church in Toowoomba is very conservative, uncompromising on traditional values and teaches a strict complementarian doctrine — but if he got in front of front of the cameras and said that he would alienate most of our potential NO voters, including lots of Christians.”

    I acknowledge some people accept that but I don’t believe any Christian should ever try to win a debate on Earth by denying or pretending not to believe in the Truth of the Gospel.

  • Thanks Peter. We have been over some of this ground already, but you seem to be missing the point here, and seem to want to keep going on the attack. I do not really wish to rehash this over and over again, so one last word on this if I may. There is no need to come here attacking various Christian leaders. If they are genuine apostates who have denied the gospel and have gone over to the enemy’s camp, then sure, I will criticise them plenty. But brothers and sisters in Christ who ARE on side do not deserve such treatment.

    Do I agree with every single strategy or tactic that they may use? No, of course not. But it is rather silly and unchristian to keep attacking others just because they do not see eye to eye with us on every single item. If we get that picky and critical, then we will end up being a club of one. I prefer to work with others as much as is feasible, and not attack others all the time because of various differences – many of which are minor and not worth hurling anathemas on.

    And here is the scoop: I have done thousands on media interviews over the past 30 years. I sure know how very hard they are, especially when you are dealing with a hostile, secular media personel. You have to be very careful, wise and tactful in what you say and how you say it. It has absolutely zero to do with compromise or denying the gospel, and everything to do with learning how to share biblical truths with non-Christian media outlets. It is called being wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove, as Jesus told us to be.

    Thus I often phrased things carefully when doing these media interviews, and felt no need to say everything about everything, or just dump a lot of Bible passages on them. Indeed, had I just gone full steam ahead with Bible-bashing them and being reckless, that would have been the end of my media ministry. Instead of thousands of interviews, I would have had a handful, and then no more.

    So with all due respect, until you have done many hundreds of media interviews with hostile, anti-Christian media folks, maybe you can cut folks like Lyle and me a bit of slack. You will never know how very hard it is until you have done it yourself for many years.

    As I said, there are many things I may not agree with that the ACL and other groups have said or done over the years. But I am not foolish enough and unChristlike enough to burn bridges with every one of them and live in my own little kingdom. We need each other and as much as possible, we must work together with others for the greater good of the Kingdom. OK?

    I hope you can see where I am coming from. If not, well, you can always set up your own website and deal with others as you see fit. So keep the comments coming, but a little less attacking other Christians who are in fact on side thanks. Bless you.

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