The signs have been clear for a while that Christians in America are losing their rights to hold true to their faith. We will be faced with incredibly tough choices in the coming days. These are issues upon which we cannot bend.
A recent case-in-point is the story of Donald and Evelyn Knapp of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The two ordained ministers run the Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel where they perform marriages. Their choice to stand by their faith and not perform gay marriages that are now legal in the state has prompted city officials to threaten the couple with jail time and fines if they do not comply with its “non-discrimination” ordinance.
From a purely legal standpoint, the fact that the Knapps charge a fee for their marriage service could possibly allow the city to make such charges. The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent the charges against the couple, themselves married for 47 years.
This is a pivotal situation. If the city is successful, it will act as an example, setting a precedent that people who mix faith and business will not be under the same promises that have been made to religious non-profit organizations. Faith-based businesses are abundant in our country and people will be forced to make a choice – abandon their faith or abandon their business.
As an organization, we do not fight against gay rights unless they start to trample on Christian rights. Those who operate faith-based businesses should not be forced to chose.
Discrimination Goes Both Ways
If the law states that same-sex marriages are legal, then Christians should obey the law of the land and not discriminate against gay marriages. However, the laws allowing gay marriage cannot supersede religious freedoms. When an ordinance forces one to unreasonably suppress their religious beliefs in order to comply, it becomes oppressive.
Laws and ordinances are meant to protect and enable. They cannot enable and protect one right while subverting another. The Knapps have chosen to perform Christian marriages. Forcing them to perform marriages that go against their Christian faith is a discrimination of its own sort.
As the LGBT movement pushes to establish legal rights, it’s in their best interests to do so in a way that does not trample on other rights. The case in Coeur d’Alene is an example where a conscientious LGBT movement should step in and clearly state that their right to marry does not take away the religious rights of those who do not believe in performing gay marriages. This won’t happen, of course, but it would go a long way towards bridging the growing gap in America between the two sides.
Preparing for the Inevitable
As Christians, our fight is for the faith itself. The political lines being drawn are ugly and we can either fight to keep our “cozy Christian lifestyles” intact or we can prepare for a world where Christianity is no longer acceptable to the masses. It sounds crazy to think that this country would ever go against the faith that helped to build it, but that’s exactly what is happening.
The choices are getting harder. The Knapps are in a situation where they may be forced to choose to stop performing marriages altogether. If they are unsuccessful in their fight, they will need to choose to abstain from marrying anyone. Is it fair? No. Is it better to lose their business and their lifestyle as a result of their choice to stay true to their faith? Absolutely.
There may come a time in the near future where many of us are faced with harder choices. We may be in situations where we have to choose between our faith and our lives. These little battles like the one in Houston and the one in Coeur d’Alene may rile up our feathers and make us want to put on our boxing gloves, but they will be insignificant compared to the battles we may face in the near future. It’s already very apparent in many countries around the world that being a Christian is a risk to one’s life. Those days may come to America as well.
This is not a call for surrender. We will fight to the end. It is simply a call to prepare. There are those who will reluctantly bend their faith in order to maintain their livelihood. There are those who will stay silent on the question of Jesus Christ and God if the question is asked in an unfriendly environment. If people are unwilling to abandon their business for the sake of their faith, how can they expect that they will abandon their lives for the same reason?
People in situations like the Knapps must be willing to walk away from it if their battle is lost. Adjusting their faith is not an option. There’s a very big difference between accepting people’s rights as dictated by the government and breaking their Christian beliefs for the sake of tolerance.
If someone is unwilling to lose their livelihood for the sake of their faith, will they be willing to be beheaded if faced with a similar choice? We all must prepare now to stand for Savior regardless of the situation.