“The alien who is among you shall rise above you higher and higher, but you will go down lower and lower…. he shall be the head, and you will be the tail.
“So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the Lord your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you….The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.” – Deuteronomy 28:43-45, 49
“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? ….You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.
– Romans 1:28-32
[UPDATE: On July 14, 2015 the 10th Federal Circuit ruled against an injunction protecting the non-profit Little Sisters of the Poor from the HHS mandate to provide abortifacients and birth control to employees against their 1st Amendment right to free religious exercise, while on July 17, 2015 a judge in Federal district court, in he 7th Circuit reached the opposite result and granted a permanent injunction to for-profit Tyndale House Publishers.]
One week after the cataclysmic 5-4 pronouncement of the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v Hodges, a poignant reminder of a very different sort of religious freedom pronouncement came up in SIFC’s i-phone, as decided by all the same SCOTUS justices only a year ago, June, 2014. Obergefell held that a newly-minted 14th Amendment fundamental right to redefine civil marriage, and to state-enforced “dignity” (which nevertheless remains a perception of the heart, mind and will as reflected against the backdrop of God’s law) shall supercede the very first fundamental right enumerated in the Bill of Rights, our irreplaceable freedom of religious exercise and of acting on our right of conscience. Unlike Obergefell, that 5-4 majority based their finding on sound constitutional analysis, with appropriate respect for precedent. That 2014 case was Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
The Becket Fund, a public interest religious freedom law firm that successfully represented Hobby Lobby before the Supreme Court last year has also enjoyed a long list of judicial successes affirming Christian-owned profit and non-profit entities who object to the requirements in the Obamacare mandate to provide birth control and abortifacient drugs to their employees. In so doing, they are upholding a “non-negotiable” in the kingdom of God that dates back to the days immediately following the days of Noah’s flood. God promised with a rainbow reminder to never again wipe out all life on the earth in a single event, no matter how vile and wicked man became again. He laid down one expectation, however: honor life.
Of the dozens of HHS mandate cases filed by religious non-profit organizations and Christian-owned for-profit firms, there have been 28 successful injunction requests to bar enforcement versus only 6 cases denied, and 6 favorable Supreme Court orders resulting directly from the Hobby Lobby ruling. In the case of a similar number of for-profit firms, there have been 8 temporary injunctions and 39 permanent injunctions granted, versus only one denial.
By contrast, the same pro-family, religious freedom Christian law firms, such as Liberty Counsel and the Alliance Defending Freedom, who were so successfully defending their clients’ honor of life issues in court, were at the same time losing virtually every case in every state and Federal Circuit where they attempted to uphold only half of God’s definition of marriage – complementarity, but not permanence. Sanctity-of-marriage is God’s second “non-negotiable“, one that He expects to be defended from far more than only the gender-confused.
Some of the judges in those cases bluntly pointed out the brazen hypocrisy of attempted sanctity-of-marriage arguments which centered around the welfare of the children, but in the face of those states’ unilateral divorce laws which ruthlessly subjugate the rights of the children of covenant marriages to the (apparently) “compelling” state interest of sexual autonomy for the petitioning parent. For example, Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th U.S. Circuit, in Latta v Otter eloquently opined:
“If defendants really wished to ensure that as many children as possible had married parents, they would do well to rescind the right to no-fault divorce, or to divorce altogether. Neither has done so. Such reforms might face constitutional difficulties of their own, but they would at least further the states’ asserted interest in solidifying marriage.”
In fact, several of these public interest legal firms who have in their mission statements expressed sanctity-of-marriage and religious freedom-of-conscience aspirations told SIFC in May, 2013 that the punitive confiscation of retirement funds from a non-offending Christian spouse to award to the offending petitioner as a result of an unwanted marriage dissolution was only an “incidental” religious freedom burden. The severe curtailment on technical grounds of the right to bring evidence in a dissipation of marital assets claim (that would otherwise defend against such confiscation) solely because of refusing to file one’s own petition based on biblical conviction was not an unconstitutional violation of freedom of conscience. Constitutional attorneys from a firm which regularly works for these legal ministries, once they were retained with SIFC’s personal funds, resoundingly disagreed with their assessment, and have filed her appeal accordingly.
What is even more uncanny as the marriage redefinition cases unfolded, is the unsoundness of the legal reasoning on which those cases were decided, especially the Obergefell decision. The favorable hand of God in the HHS cases was nowhere to be seen in the cases that would further desecrate marriage and bring fines and penalties to hundreds of Christian businesses in wedding-related goods, services and facilities. If marriage is a sacred symbol for the relationship between Christ and His church, where was the protective hand of God in those cases? Why was the situation so out of hand that two Justices who were performing these sodomy ceremonies and making biased personal statements before the oral arguments were even heard, were not strongly compelled to recuse themselves for the sake of retaining confidence in the integrity of the Court?
Like the harlot of the Book of Proverbs who eats and wipes her mouth, declaring she has done nothing wrong, the aftermath of the SCOTUS announcement shows a defiant, rather than a reflective and repentant mood among the nation’s most influential Christian evangelical leaders. Some even got into unseemly skirmishes with each other on the battlefield of their respective blogs and facebook pages. There is much talk of civil disobedience, of church leaders going to jail rather than follow a Federally / judicially-imposed national marriage law. There are state efforts to cease issuing marriage licenses to anyone. Nobody seems to even miss the conspicuous absence of the Most High so soon after His stunning presence in defeating the HHS mandate over the same 12 month period. Only a few are speaking publicly about the connection with unilateral divorce, and none are doing so with a view toward reforming or repealing these laws in order to fundamentally, rather than superficially, rebuild a culture of marriage.
Instead of any sign of contrition on the part of evangelical leaders in the week that has followed the Court’s announcement, in the form of a pledge to stop performing weddings where there is an estranged living spouse, or to work toward reform or repeal of unilateral divorce laws, all the talk was about circling the wagons around all marriages (whether covenant, or adulterous remarriages) to discourage future divorces, and to “educate young people to choose their spouses with more discernment”. (SIFC suggests they start with the most basic counsel: don’t marry somebody else’s spouse!)
Any suggestion is ignored or rebuffed that a real dilemma looms wherein pastors will find themselves counseling “married” homosexuals differently than those suffering the corruption reaped from their own flesh due to being in civil marriages whose roots were adulterous. Meanwhile, churches are bracing for a likely loss of tax exemptions and liability insurance, while perhaps not even understanding that a future of vandalism and harassment also awaits their events. Such was carried out in the past in various states by activists against congregations that continue to teach that homosexuality is immoral. In the UK, Canada, and several other countries, it has become illegal “hate speech” to read certain scriptures from a standard bible behind the pulpit. How will a church or denomination that couldn’t even withstand the “persecution” of people going down the street in order to defend the sanctity of biblical, covenant heterosexual marriage stand when unprecedented TRUE persecution ramps up?
Where was the Lord in 2013 when SCOTUS was formulating their decisions in the cases of Hollingsworth v Perry and United States v Windsor? Many fasted and prayed fervently for His intervention that would have prevented trampling of our Constitution that followed, and also prevented so much suffering for His servants running wedding industry businesses. Why didn’t that sway the Most High? Why did He instead choose to show Himself mighty in the Hobby Lobby case? Could it be that He was having a very hard time getting the attention of His shepherds, and was determined to keep trying?
SIFC is personally thankful for some of the precedents that came out of the various marriage redefinition rulings in the lower courts. Even when the Lord sent Judah and Israel, the apple of His eye, into captivity, He continued to prosper His people until they repented. He used the resources of her enemies and even urged the people to pray for the prosperity of Babylon while they were exiles in that land. The Lord shows Himself mightiest when He even goes so far as to turn the enemy’s own weapons back on the enemy. May it be so here, in Jesus’ name.
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!