In light of the way things seem to be going it seems to me that lines have been drawn and forces arrayed on both sides. Nothing new under the sun. Though the time to choose may well be upon us sooner rather than later. It's important to me to clearly state my position and openly declare which side I am on and who I am. It comforts me that so many have also stated in no uncertain terms what they believe and who their alliance is with. I can do no less.
I am an unabashed and unapologetic Christian. That means that I have accepted and embraced Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. That also means that I believe the Bible is the literal Word of God. In that light I also believe homosexuality is a sin. Not a crime but a sin. I only care about this as it relates to everyone's immortal soul. It horrifies me to think some will be going to Hell and it's my Christian duty to tell folks that in my view unrepentant sin is a one way ticket away from the Grace of God and into eternal damnation. My position is that everyone has a relationship with God. What that relationship is depends on each of us. I'm not in the eternal judgement business, that's God's purview, but I can make my own judgements on what constitutes sin, what the result will be and what I need to do to be right with The Lord. I'm a sinner, no less than anyone else. That puts me in the position of preaching but also looking after my own house. How you manage yours is your business but I will speak out. I will not be silenced no matter the cost. That makes me loving, not intolerant.
I also strongly believe in the rule of law and the fact that all people are created with inherent free will. I believe the term is Free Agency. That means they are free to choose the life they wish to lead and so long as that doesn't infringe on the inherent personal rights of others I support them. I'm supposed to love all and I strive to do just that. I do not hate anyone based on their culture, life choices or sexuality. Everyone is my brother or sister. If you're gay then you're gay. It doesn't effect our relationship only yours with God. It has nothing to do with me and if you've heard The Word then go and live your life as you deem fit. I have taken the same stance on gay marriage. It seems to me that it is in the best interest of a country to encourage the idea of Going Forth and Multiplying but in the end, as a libertarian, it's hypocritical for me to support the idea that everyone is not in fact created equal. I believe the Constitution is a divinely inspired document and it's silent on the specifics of marriage. Fine. Rule of Man's Law and rendering unto Caeaser. If that's where we are then let's get government out of marriage altogether and let churches decide who they'll marry and for everyone else it's a civil license. Perfect equality while respecting religious freedoms.
But. There's a limit and it's reached under duress and state coercion. Pope Leo XIII said this;
is a high crime indeed to withdraw allegiance from God in order to
please men, an act of consummate wickedness to break the laws of Jesus
Christ, in order to yield obedience to earthly rulers, or, under pretext
of keeping the civil law, to ignore the rights of the Church.
they who blame, and call by the name of sedition, this steadfastness of
attitude in the choice of duty have not rightly apprehended the force
and nature of true law.
But, when necessity compels, not those
only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the
integrity of faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains: “Each one is under
obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage
others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.” To
recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such
clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of
character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes
to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is
insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of
mankind. This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the
faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good….Nor is there any ground for
alleging that Jesus Christ, the Guardian and Champion of the Church,
needs not in any manner the help of men. Power certainly is not wanting
to Him, but in His loving kindness He would assign to us a share in
obtaining and applying the fruits of salvation procured through His
(h/t Ann Barnhardt)
Now I'm not a Catholic but I deeply respect the pontiffs and Pope Leo XIII was a man I greatly admire. He tended to get things exactly right. This then is the position I and many others of my faith find ourselves in. By our very silence we encourage further persecution of Christianity. As a Christian it is my sacred duty to preach The Word to anyone who desires to hear and that's the key phrase. Who desires to hear. I do not preach to those who have rejected God or simply have no interest (which amounts to the same thing in my view but that's me). And preaching has a lot of different connotations. I'm a layman so I'm generally limited to a soft word, a prayer or an answered question. But I'm beholden to my God not to be silent. That is my Faith. Stop pushing.
What I strongly object to is the idea that I must celebrate any lifestyle at odds with my religious beliefs. Why isn't it enough that we can live together in peace and harmony without my having to deny my profound and deeply personal relationship with my Creator and literally abandon Him? I won't do that no matter the cost. Leave me alone and I'll return the gesture. Defend my freedoms and I'll do the same for yours. But stop pushing me. If you back me into a corner where the choices are between belief and non belief, between God and political correctness, there's going to be a fight because I'll choose God every time and I won't go down timidly. It has nothing to do with tolerance or bigotry or phobia or any of the other buzzwords being tossed out by a culture increasingly hostile to God. It has to do with my own personal and deeply held faith and the idea that I am either free to live my life as I deem fit or we as a people are a lot less free than we imagine. Thought Crime persecution isn't on my side, it's on the side of the rabidly atheist, humanist, politically and power driven left.
I desire no authority over anyone's life and it infuriates me that others do. On any side of the die. God is my ultimate authority and I desire no more than to be free to try and live as I believe he wants me to. In my world Christians are the Paladins, riding to the rescue and defending freedom and the forces of good and decency. Yes, we do fall and fail with maddening regularity but that doesn't take away from the core. The basic idea behind true Christian Faith. Love. Love for God and Love for each other. If you're like me, a sinner (and in my belief you are, we all are), then I love you. If you hate me I love you. If you persecute me I will still love you and I will continue to do so even if you force me to defend myself, my freedoms and my faith. And understand, in my opinion defense of self and faith is no sin. Defense of faith does not mean forced conversion to Christianity but it does mean active and forceful resistance to forced conversion to a belief system incompatible with my faith by those who view Christianity as something to be eradicated.
We were once a nation founded on the basic idea of live and let live. Cuique Sum," to each his own". We are seemingly no longer that country. I still see signs of it, in the words of some who are not of my faith, but I fear they are now the exception and not the rule. So let me state it for myself. My words and not those of any other. My understanding and not those of learned scholars. My misunderstandings, failures and weaknesses. My human frailties. My Faith.
We are all created equal in the sight of God. We all have the exact same chances, choices and inherent rights. We are all free to choose the life we want within the strictures of civil law. No one should be free to exercise undue and unfair influence on that basic equality. We should be free to practice religion, or the absence of same, as we deem right and fit without fear of repercussions or silencing. No one is created better or worse than anyone else. How we end up depends on the choices we make on this Earth. I love everyone to the extent that I am capable and within the bounds of my life experiences and how they have shaped me. I am fragile, fallible and imminently human. I am prone to mistakes and errors of both discernment and judgement. I am a terrible sinner who needs God's Grace and Forgiveness each and every day of my life. I am neither judge nor jury and have no desire to be either. I have enough problems ordering my own life to meddle about in others. Please stop pushing me.
And that's sort of my point in all this. Faith, or the lack of, is a deeply personal thing. It's in our hearts and the deepest and darkest parts of our minds and souls. It is an intimate matter between each of us and our Creator and no one else. In the end it's all that really matters in this life and to be so arrogant as to believe that anyone has the right to dictate what that relationship is, or even whether it will be allowed to exist at all, is the ultimate tyranny. Coercion is evil. Period dot end. My answer is an unqualified No.
I keep getting told that my faith makes me a hater and a phobic and a criminal moron. So be it. If that's what you believe then you are free to do so. You are free to insult me and hate me and preach against me and my faith. But understand that I, and a lot of others just like me, have more than a bit of the Old Testament in us and we absolutely will not lay down and die just because we're inconvenient to your view of the World as you wish it to be. I am most definitely an acolyte of the Church Triumphant. Anyone who has ever read me knows that I am hardly a fire and brimstone preacher. I consider myself a fairly quiet man on issues of faith preferring to let others seek and find as they will. Sometimes I worry that I'm too silent but my Libertarian side requires that of me just as my Faithful side requires obedience. I am not tolerant, I am an American who holds the idea that true freedom is given by God Himself and is the natural state of Man. Your relationship with God is your own business and I won't pretend otherwise. But so is mine. Please refrain from telling me otherwise.
I've come to the point where I have stopped begging and started telling. Stop pushing me into that corner.
h/t and thanks to Rev. Paul for once again giving of his wise counsel. I am grateful my friend.