Friday, 6 September 2013

Choose You This Day . . .

Becoming a Shechemite Christian

Astute Christians have known for some time that persecution against God's people is coming again--in the West.  The Church has never been entirely free of it, of course.  Constantine abolished state persecution of the Church.  Since that time, it has sprung forth again occasionally.

In recent history, regimes that have locked Christians up and killed them off for the crime of being Christians have been cast as evil or wicked, such as the Nazi's or the Stalinists.  The point is that Nazi and Stalinist repression was not focused upon Christians, but upon lots of ne'er-do-wells.  State repression hit gypsies, Jews, kulaks, Poles, and Christians.  Anyone and anything which seemed to challenge the totalitarian iron fist was fair game.  Satan does not mind.  Evil and rebellion against God is his game.  Hatred of all men is his modus operandi. 

But what is coming down the pike now is a bit different--more like a throwback to pre-Constantinian Roman times.
  Society is singling out Christians for opprobrium and hatred.  It is following up its hatred with legal repression.  The current battleground is homosexual "marriage".  Next decade it will likely move on to more pretexts. 

Homosexual "marriage" is not "legal" in the United States, except in those states which have deemed it so.  New Mexico is one state where homosexual "marriage" is not legal.  Nevertheless the state supreme court has declared it illegal for any provider of marriage services to refuse service to a homosexual "marriage", regardless of the faith or convictions of the service provider.  This from TheBlaze:
Today the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that Christian photographers cannot decline to participate in gay-marriage commitment ceremonies, even though that state does not have gay marriage and the court acknowledged that providing services for the ceremony violated the Christian’s sincerely-held, traditional religious beliefs.

This becomes one of the first major cases where religious liberty collides with gay rights, and could now go to the Supreme Court of the United States. Elane Huguenin is a photographer in New Mexico. She and her husband Jonathan jointly own their family business, Elane Photography. Specifically, Elane is a photojournalist—using a carefully-planned series of photographs to tell a story and convey a message. She is also a devout Christian, who believes that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

In 2006, Vanessa Willock contacted Elane Photography, asking Elane to photograph her lesbian commitment ceremony. It was a private commitment ceremony because New Mexico recognizes neither gay marriage nor gay civil unions. Elane thanked Willock for her interest, but explained that due to her religious beliefs she only does traditional weddings.

Willock filed a complaint against Elane with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, citing a state law that does not allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The commission ruled Elane’s decision illegal, and imposed a fine of $7,000 to cover legal fees.  Elane took this matter to court, represented by Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The trial court upheld the fine, as did the court of appeals.

The New Mexico Supreme Court has now affirmed the lower courts, holding that Elane Photography is a “public accommodation,” and because they photograph wedding ceremonies they cannot refuse a gay-commitment ceremony (even if it is not a legal wedding).

In a concurring opinion, Justice Richard Bosson wrote Elane and Jonathan:
… now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives… the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.

… At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less. The Huguenins are free to … pray to the God of their choice … But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.
Bosson goes on to say having to violate your religious beliefs when they conflict with social issues like gay marriage “is the price of citizenship.”

In response to today’s decision, Lorence said in an ADF statement:
Government-coerced expression is a feature of dictatorships that has no place in a free country. This decision is a blow to our client and to every American’s right to live free. Decisions like this undermine the constitutionally protected freedoms of expression and conscience that we have all taken for granted. America was founded on the fundamental freedom of every citizen to live and work according to their beliefs and not to be compelled by the government to express ideas and messages they decline to support. We are considering our next steps, including asking the U.S. Supreme Court to right this wrong.
A recent Rasmussen poll showed that 85% of Americans support the right of a religious photographer not to participate in a gay-marriage ceremony.  A petition to the U.S. Supreme Court asking for review is due by mid-November.

Breitbart News legal columnist Ken Klukowski is senior fellow for religious liberty at the Family Research Council and on faculty at Liberty University School of Law. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.
It is likely that this ruling will be challenged in higher courts.  What the outcome will be is unknown.  But some initial observations are in order.

Firstly, notice that homosexual "marriage" is legal non-existent nullity in New Mexico.  Nevertheless, the state supreme court decided that human rights legislation forbad any refusal of service, regardless of the conscience of those involved.  Human rights--or, more accurately, spurious human rights dogma--trumps religious convictions.  Imagine how the courts will decide in those state where homosexual "marriage" is legalised. 

Secondly, note the reasoning of one of the justices.  The law now requires Christians to compromise their faith.  In the conflict between society's demands and the demands of God, society must win.  It is what a multi-cultural society demands.  No less is expected.  People are free to do what they like in the privacy of their own heads.  But when it comes to civic and civil matters, the state and secular humanism and multi-culturalism trumps every time.  It is one of the strengths of the republic, we are told.  And if any disagree or demur or do otherwise, they will be punished by the state, lest the republic be undermined.

The battle-lines are becoming clearer: secular humanism versus the Lord Jesus Christ.  All Christians in the West are going to have to face this.  It is best now that we prepare ourselves, our children, and grand-children for it.  But how to prepare?  The best preparation is one of faith.  It is to re-commit, to resolve again to be the Lord's servants.  The challenge of Joshua to our fathers at the great covenant renewal of Shechem is as relevant today as it was then: choose you this day whom you will serve.  Will you serve the gods your fathers used to serve in Egypt or those of  the Amorites around you? But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  (Joshua 24: 15)

Facing Joshua's challenge, and answering it as he did, both for himself and his household, in heart, in truth, and in integrity, is the essential preparation for the tests that lie ahead. 

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