by Nathan A. Cherry, 07/17/2012
I’ve been talking a lot lately about the need for Christians, pastors in particular, to rise up and defend the religious freedoms granted to us in the Constitution. We are at an unprecedented time since our nation’s founding in seeing religious freedom undermined by those who would seek to limit religious practice and exercise to the confines of a church building. Events that many people never believed would occur in America are beginning to take place with regularity; such as the Bronx Household of Faith (NYC) and Elane Photography (NM) cases.
The opposition I hear most from Christians, pastors in particular, is that there should be a “separation of church and state” and the two should have nothing to do with one another. The problem is that while many pastors are following that philosophy, the government is not. The government is seizing upon the apathy and inaction of pastors and churches with an increasing number of attacks on religious freedom and religious convictions. The government has duped people into believing we should honor a “separation of church and state” while they simply ignore it altogether. The consequences are obvious.
What would have been the outcome regarding the recent HHS insurance mandate demanding that every person pay for contraception and abortion through their insurance coverage, if every pastor and Christian in the country claiming to be pro-life flooded Washington with protest calls, emails, and letters? Would it still have stood?
Additionally people will say “at least we’re not like China, Egypt, or Cuba. Those people are really being persecuted; we have it good here in America.” In other words, “persecution hasn’t personally touched me so I don’t care.” Because, and let’s be honest, that is what you are really saying. But let me ask, do we ignore the hungry because we are full? Do we ignore the homeless because we have a home? Do we ignore the poor because we have a few bucks? And do we not cry foul and claim outrage when the human, civil rights of these same people are violated and demand they adopt a system more like ours? Perhaps we should pay closer attention to what is happening here at home before we look to fix problems around the world.
Another often cited reason for inaction from Christians and pastors is that “we should be focusing on preaching the Gospel, not politics.” It’s a nice sounding argument, but it completely ignores the example and principles of Scripture. And truthfully, it’s a cowardly excuse given to seek justification for continued inaction designed to sound spiritual. But Scripture paints a clear picture of Christians actively involved in public policy for the benefit of living out their faith in peace (1 Tim. 2:1-4), while spreading the Gospel freely, without government interference.
Consider Joseph, a Christian public servant reporting directly to the Pharaoh. Do we really think he segregated his faith and politics in some compartmentalized way? Or was he bold about his faith even in the public sector. What about Daniel? He boldly opposed the King and his anti-God decree and refuse to comply, speaking boldly to anyone that would listen. And Esther’s faith motivated her to risk her own comfort and safety in approaching the King to seek an end to persecution against her people. Nehemiah’s faith propelled him to seek favor from the King in rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem. And let’s not forget Paul, who often cited his civil rights (Acts 22:25-30) and used civil rights and public platforms to preach.
And what about our founding fathers? These men were not politicians; they were Christians that sought to create a nation founded on the Bible and religious freedom. They were Christian’s first, politicians, business men, and even pastors that believed faith and politics could not be segregated. It was the faith of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that stirred his passion for civil rights. He believed segregation was not just civil injustice but sin, and he boldly preached the truth. Dr. Jerry Falwell helped shaped public policy for three decades because he believed policy should reflect biblical principles. Dr. James Dobson used his platform as the nation’s most respected family leader to influence public policy regarding the family in light of his biblical faith.
Incidentally, a recent report out of China says that the faith of Christians in that country is helping them to stand up to the government and demand an end to human and civil rights violations. Even the most persecuted people on the planet understand that faith is no excuse to keep silent. Chinese Christians have more reason than anyone else to be silent; no one would blame them for keeping quiet since Christians are tortured and so heavily persecuted. Yet they speak.
Faith is no reason for apathy and inaction. Faith should be the driving force behind our bold action in the public sector. Do we need to wait until America looks more like China or Egypt, until Christians are imprisoned and killed for their faith until we decide it’s time to take action?
I’m thankful for men like John Piper that will boldly teach what the Bible says concerning issues like life and marriage. I’m thankful for pastors like Dr. Jim Garlow that fear God far more than they fear the government and refuse to be silent. And for other pastors that are now waking up and taking a stand against unbiblical public policies and government positions.
Now, we need more men like these that are willing to stand up and boldly preach what the Bible says about issues of life, marriage, and religious freedom. We need men in the spirit of Joseph, Daniel, and Nehemiah, ready to confront the rulers of the day. People like Dr. King and Dr. Dobson that are more concerned with leaving a legacy for generations that their kids can be proud of than they are with personal comfort. We need more John Piper’s and Jim Garlow’s that will stand up and be heard.
As a pastor you can make a difference today and impact the future by refusing to sit idly by and watch those hostile to our biblical values try to advance their anti-biblical agenda. You can take part in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, you can educate your congregation on their religious freedoms, you can show support for candidates that support biblical values, and you can preach boldly on issues of life and marriage from a biblical perspective.
Don’t let government intimidation or the fear of man overshadow you. I still believe that “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
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About Nathan Cherry
Nathan Cherry is the chief editor and blogger for the Engage Family Minute blog, the official blog of the FPCWV. He serves also as the Regional Development Coordinator as a liaison to the pastor's of West Virginia. He is a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-religious freedom conservative. He is also a husband, father, pastor, author, musician, and follower of Jesus Christ.