- March 9, 2014
- By Staff / Baptist Standard
Dance until the music stops?
When I was young, I worked for a well-known regional wholesaler. They specialized in servicing the mom-and-pop businesses that then dominated the landscape, They had some innovative approaches that lowered risks and labor costs for their clientele. Because they understood the business environment of the era, they grew rapidly and became a household name.
Today, very few would recognize their name. They went bankrupt decades ago. This was not because they changed and began to drift from their principles or business model. Indeed, their failure came about precisely because they did not change. Urban corporations began to replace small-town retailers, and they were unwilling or unable to grapple with this new reality. So they kept “dancing with the one who brung ’em” until the music stopped.
The church in general and Baptists in particular are in danger of meeting that same fate. Culture has shifted dramatically since the heyday of Baptist expansion. BGCT Executive Director David Hardage understands if Texas Baptists fail to respond to this shift, they will soon cease to be relevant. I am certain his diagnosis is correct, but inertia is a powerful force.
The question that lies before us is: Are we willing to change, or will we keep on dancing until the music stops?
Treat all neighbors the same
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer did the right thing by vetoing a bill that would have allowed people, and corporations, to discriminate against individuals for religious reasons. I was worried that as a conservative she would sign the bill into law, but luckily enough people and corporations complained. The bill was originally designed to discriminate against gay people, but it could have affected women, Jews, Muslims, black people and anyone else.
As a supporter of the separation of church and state, I believe secular laws should take precedence over religious laws. No government should support a law that would allow people and corporations to discriminate against people for religious reasons. All adult citizens should have the exact same rights, no matter what any religion says.
Who would Jesus discriminate against? Jesus believed in the Golden Rule, and he said we should love our neighbors and enemies. Jesus said whatever you do to the least among men, you also do to him. We should all treat our neighbors the same way that we want to be treated.
Jesus Christ established the institution of marriage as one man and one woman for life, which in turn created the family, the building block for civilization. Marriage in societies of the civilized world is a Christian institution.
There has to be some irony here in same sex marriages.
Religious liberty ‘doing fine’
“Seventy percent of Protestant American pastors say religious liberty is on the decline in the United States, according to a survey from LifeWay Research.”
“In the past, (Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research) noted, Christians—and Protestants in particular—took for granted that Americans would look to the church for guidance on moral issues. Churches were seen as good for society, and so they received special privileges—like exemptions from taxes and other laws. ...”
Those who run Lifeway Research define religious liberty, though, as “My way or the highway.” They preach hatred of people with whom they do not agree. They preach hatred of ideas and concepts with which they do not agree—equality for women, support for the poor, evolution, man-caused climate change, contraception or homosexuality. They demand that we agree with them, and if we don’t, our country and we shall face the wrath of God.
We are not a “Christian” country. We are, rather, a nation which from its beginning defined religious freedom in the first phrase of the First Amendment. And judging by so many empty state churches all over the world, that’s not a bad thing. Christianity has been and continues to be successful in this country because we are free to choose to believe what we wish, and given that choice, people tend to choose Jesus.
Religious liberty is doing just fine in this country. We’d do even better if our churches and church organizations could provide some leadership.