Identity Politics Shouldn’t Dictate Your Virtue

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When I heard that a group of white supremacists had assembled in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, my first instinct was skepticism. “A large, visible gathering of actual racists? The media is obviously exaggerating again. I’m sure it’s just a bunch of mislabeled conservatives who are sick of political correctne—Oh. Wait. They are white supremacists. They are professing Nazis. They are KKK members.”

I admit, I didn’t want to believe it. The media is so dramatic and lopsided these days, and with more and more conservatives being unfairly labeled “fascists” and “neo-Nazis,” acknowledging the reality of the situation in Charlottesville would feel like a concession to the left. I could not have that. Peter has whined about a “wolf” for so long that I couldn’t stand the thought that there might actually be one. But after reading multiple sources, listening to various news reports, and watching actual videos from the protest, I had to not only admit the truth of the present situation but also repent for allowing identity politics to cloud my judgment of right and wrong.

What is identity politics? It’s when people of a certain race, religion or social background form an unswerving political alliance based on their common interests. It’s when every event or story must be filtered through that group’s particular agenda rather than absolute truth or morality. It’s self-seeking subjectivism on a tribal level. The right and the left have been devolving into identity politics for quite some time, and the tragedy in Charlottesville has exposed both sides more than ever. For Christians, this can be confusing. If we speak out against white racism, we fear sounding like liberals. If we fail to agree with all leftist logic, we fear sounding like defenders of racism. Which side do we choose?

The problem is found precisely in that false dilemma—that we must choose a “side.” As Erick Erickson points out, “The country seems headed down a path between right wing authoritarianism and leftwing totalitarianism. Those of us who want nothing to do with either should be willing to call out both sides.”

THE SIN OF RACISM.

Like myself, many conservatives may try to tone down the story or shift the blame. I was reading the headlines of a popular “alt-right” news site yesterday, and I got the gist that they were angrier about liberal reactions to Charlottesville than they were saddened by what actually happened there. Such excuses are probably not the results of conviction or deep thought, but attempts to keep the liberals from “winning.”

The press might be wrong about a lot of things, but our anger at them must not prevent us from calling out evil for what it is. Christians, in particular, must be first to affirm the dignity of all people made in the image of God, and the worldwide gospel call to every tribe, tongue and color. Racism is an affront to the image of God, the finished work of Christ, and a hindrance to the church’s commission (cf. Mt. 28:19).

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, Albert Mohler and Timothy Keller both posted fantastic pieces that I recommend every Christian read. Mohler, writing from Germany in the shadow of the Third Reich’s memory, says: “Seen from Berlin, the news from Charlottesville is alarming. Seen as a Christian, the images are heartbreaking. The ideology of racial superiority is an evil anti-gospel that leads to eternal death.” Keller, meanwhile, warned against identity politics: “Christians should look at the energized and emboldened white nationalism movement, and at its fascist slogans, and condemn it—full stop. No, ‘But on the other hand.’ The main way most people are responding across the political spectrum is by saying, ‘See? This is what I have been saying all along! This just proves my point.’ The conservatives are using the events to prove that liberal identity politics is wrong, and liberals are using it to prove that conservatism is inherently racist. We should not do that.”

We cannot refrain from speaking out against injustice for fear that it will make our own platform look weak. The truth of God’s Word is the strongest platform you can stand on.

SIN IS SIN, NO MATTER WHO DOES IT.

On the other side of the political coin, the left’s reaction to Charlottesville has been nothing short of a collective hernia. When President Trump denounced “hatred, bigotry, and violence—on many sides,” he was accused of refusing to call out white supremacists by name. Even when he issued a follow-up statement clarifying, “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups,” it was too little, too late. Swarms of protestors met him outside Trump Tower on Monday night, waving signs and chanting “New York hates you!” A CNN commentator even went so far as to say he’s unfit to be human. Regardless of what the President actually said, the left is more concerned with feeding the theory that Donald Trump is the hellish light who’s summoned all fascist cockroaches to the surface. Trump could personally shoot James Fields in the head, and that still would not be enough to get him off the hook. Why? Because it doesn’t fit the left’s story, that Trump and his White House (pun intended) staff of neo-Nazis are out to breed hatred and prejudice. Acknowledging that he legitimately denounced racism would be like getting water in their gun powder. If Donald Trump is not an evil, minority-hating, slave-driving racist, then the entire liberal story about him and the Republican Party falls apart.

This determination has perhaps blinded many to the reality that, yes, there was unnecessary violence coming from both sides in Charlottesville. Both sides were looking for a fight, and we should be saddened that they both got one. The counter-protestors did not kill anyone, while the supremacists did (which conservatives must admit, because remember, we shouldn’t be trying to defend the supremacists anyway), but the left must also admit that both sides raised havoc with force.

What the white supremacists did in Charlottesville is evil, and without excuse. But so were the Black Lives Matter riots in Ferguson, Baltimore, and London, where people were beaten, stores were looted, and cars and buildings were torched. James Fields is a murderer and a terrorist, and must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But so was Micah Xavier Johnson, a sniper who responded to the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling by shooting and killing five police officers in July 2016. To deny, soften, or sidestep any of these, on either side, is to play identity politics, and it is a moral failure. We can, and should, affirm all instances of evil without worrying whether it makes “our side” look bad or not.

ABHOR WHAT IS EVIL, WEEP WITH THOSE WHO WEEP, OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD.

Am I just trying to insult everyone? Am I intentionally trying to have zero Facebook friends left by tomorrow morning? Not at all. I hope that the church can act and react beyond what’s expected of 21st century American conservatives or liberals, and be a truthful, biblical, convictional, compassionate voice. We need to practice the commands of Romans 12:9-21: “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep…Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly…If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

The two sides in this country, which are splitting further and further apart every day, have each written their own script that we’re supposed to recite and act out. But I encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to stay Kingdom-minded. The problem with claiming allegiance to a party or ideology, rather than moral principles, is that you must make every event and news story support your “side,” and you must make sure that the “other side” is never, ever right. When that happens, you just might end up defending people and actions that should never, ever be defended.

THE LORD’S SIDE.

In Joshua 5, as Joshua is overlooking Jericho and contemplating the battle to come, he saw “a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand” (vs. 13). This figure is identified as the commander of the army of the Lord, and commentators debate whether this is a pre-incarnate Christ or an angelic captain. Either way, he means business. So Joshua, still strategizing for war, immediately asks: “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” He wants to know what side this commander is on. Which side do you identify with, Israel or Jericho? Are you with us, or our enemies?

The commander’s short, grammatically humorous response must have been confusing and perhaps disappointing to Joshua: “No.” Whose side was he on? No. Whose campaign did he pick? No. “But,” the figure clarified, “I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come” (vs. 14). In other words, his business was to do God’s business. His agenda was not any particular race or empire. He was there to carry out God’s goodness and God’s justice.

Christians must be the same way in our cultural involvement. It is not our business to promote any race or party above another, but to always seek the goodness and justice of God in every situation. Even if that means not conforming to a certain group’s identity. We cannot let the fog of platforms and agendas cloud our morality.

Racism and violence are never acceptable, regardless of the culprit’s skin color or political affiliation. If you denounced the Black Lives Matter riots, you should be the first to condemn what happened in Charlottesville. And if you’re angered about what happened in Charlottesville, you should carefully reconsider any Black Lives Matter or “antifa” movement that involves vandalism and violence. If we’re raging against one on social media but ignoring (or even justifying) the other, we’re guilty of identity politics, and hypocrisy, and we need to repent.

As citizens of this world, we must be ready to recognize wrongdoing regardless of whose “side” it seems to help or hinder. And as citizens of heaven, the church must be ready to preach that all people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and may be justified by grace alone through faith alone in the gospel of Jesus Christ alone.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Lady Gaga, the Super Bowl, and when postmodern progressivism shoots itself in the foot.

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Lady Gaga dropping in on Super Bowl 51.

It seems like everything is a political controversy these days. Even sports. Prior to Sunday’s Super Bowl, reporters kept baiting Tom Brady on his support for Donald Trump. Then, prior to her halftime performance, it was speculated that Lady Gaga would use her worldwide platform to make a political statement against Donald Trump (à la Meryl Streep).

Fortunately, Brady didn’t bite and Gaga didn’t lecture. Both did what they’re paid to do—entertain—and both did it exceptionally well (I don’t understand or care for Lady Gaga’s, shall we say, artistic vision, but there’s no denying she has immense talent). It was nice to enjoy football and music without political controversy.

But if the controversy doesn’t come to you, then you go to the controversy. Many on the left are now criticizing Lady Gaga precisely because she didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to criticize the President in front of the entire planet. As Mitchell Sunderland at Complex lamented, “She failed us.” It was, in the minds of many, a wasted platform from which she could have spoken up on what they consider to be an important cause.

Curiously, the liberal worldview is known for its secular postmodernism. Religious authority is oppressive and bad. Truth and morality are not absolutes. Whatever feels good for you is good for you. If something makes you happy you should pursue it and no one should tell you otherwise. After all, we’re temporary, material beings and nothing more, and we must enjoy life while we can. It’s a worldview that promotes moral autonomy, the pursuit of pleasure above all else, and the rejection of objective right and wrong.

But then you come to the Super Bowl halftime show. And suddenly you must have indoctrination. You must have conviction. If you are an entertainer you must use your platform to preach “truth” before the whole world. The gods of political liberalism must be appeased, or else. They demand your allegiance.

A worldview that rejects enforcing absolutes on everyone is criticizing one of its own for not preaching right and wrong to the whole world. A worldview that cries for freedom from religious authority is commanding its adherents to visibly profess faith at every opportunity. Do you see the disconnect?

If we’re just matter in motion, the product of neural-chemical reactions in the brain, then there’s no true higher cause. And if there’s no true higher cause, then one opinion doesn’t deserve to be preached to the world any more than another. The only truth is that there’s no absolute truth. So at the end of the day progressivism cannot consistently hold to its own worldview while also espousing that worldview with any real conviction or urgency.

So when progressives criticize Lady Gaga for just performing and not seizing the opportunity to speak against Donald Trump, they betray their own worldview. If enforcing your beliefs on others is the unpardonable sin, and if right and wrong are purely a matter of personal preference, then why would you expect pop singers to hammer their audience with a liberal profession of faith every chance they get? The outrage at Lady Gaga contradicts everything progressivism claims to believe. So perhaps there is such a thing as right and wrong, and perhaps it’s not always bad to express that to others. Perhaps truth does exist, and it should be shared.

Granted, the divide between conservative and liberal definitions of truth has never been larger. But only one side has an objective basis for believing in truth, and in the end only one side can make any sort of demanding truth claims without contradicting itself. Once we realize that life is more than meaningless matter in a temporary pursuit of pleasure, and once we realize that there is good and evil in this world, and once we realize that there is truth worth standing up for, then secular progressivism is left dangling like Lady Gaga over the arena, without a leg to stand on. When objective, worthwhile truth has the homefield advantage, we find ourselves on God’s turf.

Enduring Election Exhaustion

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I admit, this election season has exhausted me. Pastorally, socially, ethically, politically, theologically, and mentally. I’m exhausted.

Every four years brings the tough battle of conservatives sparring against liberals, but this election has produced a whole new kind of battle that’s way closer to home: conservatives against conservatives.

The candidacy of Donald Trump has caused some of the sharpest controversy I’ve personally experienced in my own circles. Trump’s Republican supporters say those who will not vote for him are handing Hillary Clinton the White House, thereby compromising their conservative values. The Republicans who will not vote for Trump say that his supporters are justifying a historical Democrat with a perverted sexual history, thereby compromising their conservative values. This has not been a simple matter of agreeing to disagree—it’s become a take-no-prisoners bloodbath.

I’ve experienced this tension in my friend groups, on social media, and even in our church (where it’s been the hardest for me). These have been difficult waters to wade through. Not just because of the wrestling I’ve done with others as we try to navigate this moral dilemma, but because of the wrestling I’ve done with myself. What is the right thing to do? How big of a deal should I make this? How tough of a stance should I take? Is this a gray area, or is it an essential matter of church purity? How do I engage the issue with that Christ-like balance of grace and truth?

Last night, as I was poring over the strongly-worded election-eve opinions of my Facebook friends, I came to a weary realization: I’m ready for this to be done.

I found myself fed up with politics. Fed up with Christians turning on each other. Fed up with asking the tough questions. Fed up with trying to answer them. I found myself ready to disengage from the whole process and just get back to Jesus. I was all prepared to write a piece today about how God is still on the throne regardless of who wins and the truly important thing is the gospel. After all, isn’t that all that matters?

Ultimately, yes. God is sovereign. The gospel of Christ is central. May we never forget that. Never. But as I dreamed of escaping the moral and political complications of the 2016 election, another thought flooded my senses: We aren’t called to escape the world, but to engage it. We aren’t called to sit back and wait for the kingdom, we’re called to advance it. We aren’t called to remove ourselves from the system, but to impact and change the system for the glory of God.

Isn’t that the nature of life itself? Isn’t it easy to get frustrated with the fallen systems of a fallen world? When school gets challenging, we want to drop out. When our jobs get tough, we want to quit. When our marriage gets difficult, we want a divorce. When church gets rocky, we seek a new local body or even a privatized spirituality free of establishment. There is no area of life untouched by the Fall, no area where Easy Street does not beckon us to retreat into the monastery of our own private world.

The same is true of politics, of culture, of morality, and even of those issues that we Christians just cannot seem to agree on. Don’t throw your sucker in the dirt and storm off the playground. It may sound super spiritual to say “It’s all about Jesus!” and ignore everything else, but that can quickly digress into spiritual laziness and escapism if we’re not careful. Of course it’s all about Jesus. But that doesn’t mean we sit back and disengage ourselves from the world He created and the world He’s made us stewards over.

Of course we always want to watch our conduct to ensure we’re acting in humility rather than pride, and exhibiting grace rather than self-righteousness. But that doesn’t mean we never approach the issues. We’re supposed to wrestle with the tough questions. We’re supposed to wrestle with the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, the true and the false.

Yes, I’m tired. And I’m sure you are, too. But to stop caring or participating is the wrong choice because our task is not yet finished, and our Sabbath rest is not yet here. Until that Day arrives, let us keep thinking, asking, wrestling, and striving to actively and lovingly engage the issues of this fallen world. Let us seek to advance our true Ruler’s kingdom as faithfully as we can.

It’s not always easy. But of all the options voters might face today, that choice is always the right one.

To my fellow Christians who support Trump: Seek first the kingdom.

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Eternal security. Predestination. Speaking in tongues. Donald Trump.

So goes the list of things that cut a hostile, fiery divide between Christians. With the 2016 Presidential Election fast approaching, American evangelicals are facing a moral dilemma unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time: what on earth do we do with Donald Trump?

This is a man whose reputation more than precedes him, from his Olympian ego to his claim that he could get away with murder. Some might dismiss such examples as nothing more than a big personality, while others could call it troubling arrogance. What’s even more concerning is his derogatory sexism and his objectification of women. But what’s truly alarming is the fact that he’s bragged about bedding married women; that over the course of three marriages he’s cheated and enjoyed it; and of course the hot topic this week is the leaked video of his lewd and crude comments about trying to seduce (or perhaps “assault” is a better word) multiple women, including grabbing their genitalia.

Here is a man who functions according to one overarching principle, and that principle is himself. He is vulgar, insensitive, and claims he doesn’t need God’s forgiveness for any of it. Yet here he is, the Republican nominee for President of the United States of America.

Some Christians have taken up arms with the #NeverTrump movement and either refuse to vote or will write in a third-party. Some will vote for him, but begrudgingly, and only to keep Hillary Clinton out of office. Others parade him as the savior of the Republican Party and shamelessly excuse his every move. Still others who previously endorsed him have since recanted.

Now, of course I would never vote for Hillary Clinton, but as it stands right now I have no intention of voting for Donald Trump, either. Yet I have many, many Christian friends who not only say they’re voting for him, but become confused or angry when they hear that I am not.

Some of their concerns are legitimate. The Supreme Court has a large, empty seat that needs filling, religious liberty has never been more endangered, and the abortion issue still casts a dark, bloody shadow over the land. For many Christians, a failure to vote for Trump means conceding these issues to the liberals. It means giving Hillary Clinton the keys to the country.

I get that, I really do. It’s a tough call to make. And I hope as much as anyone to see our land return to conservative principles and practices. But it’s precisely my belief in principles that keeps me from supporting Trump, and I hope to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to consider the same.

It seems to me that many Christians are supporting Trump out of fear. Fear of ISIS. Fear of illegal immigration. Fear of losing party unity. Fear of losing seats in the Supreme Court. Fear of losing cultural influence. Fear of losing religious freedom. With so much on the line, it’s no wonder that conservatives are standing by the Donald regardless of whatever comes out of his mouth. They’re terrified to do otherwise. He represents their only bastion of survival.

So the stakes are simple: get on board with a man who boastfully defies all standards of Christian character and conduct, or risk a dark future of liberals, socialism and terrorists. Never mind that Donald Trump is the poster boy for all the sexual perversion Christians have long stood against. Never mind that Donald Trump is the poster boy for crudity, egotism, and dishonesty. So long as he promises to protect us we’ll let him be our poster boy, too.

Yet as I consider these issues, a passage of Scripture keeps popping into my head that I think we would do well to remember in times such as these, from the very mouth of our incarnate Lord:

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:31-33)

Jesus is addressing fear. He’s addressing how easy it is for us to slip into anxiety over the many troubles of this world, and how easy it is for our actions to be dominated by the constant need for security. But that sort of fear, He says, is for the godless. The heathen feels the need to secure his own provision and protection because he has no other source of hope. Since he paves his own destiny, he alone is responsible for ensuring its safety.

But the believer, according to Jesus, has a very different mindset. We “seek first”, before anything else in this world including political platforms, to be faithful to Christ’s kingdom and the pure “righteousness” of God. Our top priority must be to walk in integrity before Him. We must applaud that which is good and denounce that which is evil (Rom. 12:9, 21) We must call sin for what it is, we must never excuse or endorse it, and we must never go along with men who glory in such things (Ps. 1:1; Prov. 1:10).

We must not let fear distract us from faithfulness to God’s kingdom and God’s righteous ways. The kingdom of God is not just a distant, eschatological hope, but a current reality. We participate in and advance that kingdom every day. Our churches, families, neighborhoods, books, movies, and yes, even our politics, must all be built on the foundation of the fact that Jesus reigns. His kingdom is advanced not by who’s in the White House or who’s on the Supreme Court, but by His people faithfully obeying Him without compromise: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

Believe it or not, our top goal as American evangelicals should not simply be to stop the Democrats at all costs. Gun rights, strong borders, and personal freedom are all good things to pursue. But since they have become what we “seek first” we now find ourselves ready to follow a shamelessly immoral man who promises them to us if only we’ll give him our loyalty in return. That’s not faithfulness to the kingdom of God. When millions of Christians are giving their pledge to a lying, hot-headed, name-calling, womanizing bully, that’s not faithfulness to the righteousness of God.

Our goal must be Christ’s glory in our every choice and association. And if “all these things”—like safety and liberty—end up being added to us later, then great. But that part is not ours to worry about.

That’s why Jesus told us to not be anxious. He was not saying that material things—food, clothing, housing, or even politics and laws of the land—don’t matter. Christ’s primary concern in this passage is what we make our primary concern in this life. Instead of operating out of constant worry for the unknown, our business must be to honor God with the choices we make right here and right now and trust the outcome to His sovereignty. We don’t compromise the means to achieve the ends; we’re faithful with the means, and leave the ends to God. As my old youth pastor used to say, “You worry about God’s kingdom and let Him worry about yours.”

You might think that sounds like a cop-out. I hope not. I’m not saying Christians should sit on their hands and then blame their laziness on God’s will. That’s not what I’m talking about at all. I’m talking about actively doing the morally right thing—seeking God’s righteousness—in every situation, even when it seems futile, and trusting Him to take care of the rest.

We should care about politics. We should vote. We should be involved in the issues of the day. But that cannot be done at the expense of forgetting which kingdom we’re truly fighting for. We must not abandon the principles of God’s kingdom in order to secure the political platforms of our own. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 warns that those who are “sexually immoral”, “adulterers,” “greedy,” “revilers,” and “swindlers…will not inherit the kingdom of God.” It’s hard to claim that we’re putting God’s kingdom first when we’re so blatantly supporting a man who exhibits these exact traits.

I am shocked and saddened at how many times I’ve heard Christians telling other Christians to “get off their moral high horse” and vote for Trump. Get off our moral high horse? Do we hear ourselves? Isn’t that what liberals have been telling us for years? Must we identify ourselves with a man who has built his empire on the very things we’re told to flee?  Isn’t our commitment to holiness supposed to be the very thing that sets us apart? Are we really supposed to shove our identity in Christ to the back burner for the greater good of winning an election? I’m sorry, but no.

Many have also claimed that by not voting for Trump we’re “throwing away” our vote. But that depends on our goal. If our goal is simply to stop Hillary Clinton, then yes, I suppose that might be considered a throw away. But if our goal is greater than that—if our goal is the holy integrity of Christ’s kingdom, and if we remember than we will be held accountable for our endorsements long after America is dust—then we will not be throwing anything away. In that case, throwing away our vote would be to compromise morals for worldly security. Doing the right thing before our Lord is never a waste. Even when the alternative seems scary.

So before you gaggle over Donald Trump, make excuses for him, or before you cast a vote for him in November, I beg you to consider: Is your decision motivated by fear? Does anxiety for the future have you throwing in your lot with a man who defies all standards of God and His righteousness?

Get involved, Christian. But when you do, consider which kingdom you’re seeking first.

The Church, the State, and the crumbling concept of religious liberty.

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On September 1, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination issued its Gender Identity Guidance to define what is considered “discrimination” against “the rights of LGBT individuals” and “to describe what evidence may be submitted to support a claim of gender identity discrimination.”

In other words, here’s what you better not do unless you want to get sued.

Most of it is what you would expect: employers, banks, restaurants, etc. cannot treat someone different or deny them service because of their gender identity, nor can businesses prevent them from using whatever restroom or locker room they want. But then under section D. Places of Public Accommodation, you come to this plot twist:

“Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public. All persons, regardless of gender identity, shall have the right to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation.”

Read that again. If a church holds a public event other than its normal worship service, it must fully comply with the LGBT. The commission goes on to clarify that this includes letting them use whatever bathroom they want, calling them the gender pronoun of their choice, and not displaying anything that might disagree with their lifestyle (so make sure no Bibles are opened to Romans 1!).

The significance of those three little words, “even a church,” cannot be overstated. Although the left has long claimed that Christians are hyperventilating over nothing, and that we’re still free to practice whatever religion we want (Hey, didn’t Obama say something similar about our insurance providers? Ah, I digress.), this new terminology says otherwise.

As it is, churches in Massachusetts may now be subject to LGBT discrimination lawsuits within their own walls. As I’ve mulled over this shocking (but not surprising) development the last few days, here’s a few thoughts that came to mind:

#1. This will not stop at Massachusetts.

Most bad ideas seem to originate in Massachusetts or California but rarely stay there. Whatever new legislation passes becomes the new gold standard for tolerance and the LGBT agenda, and so naturally there will be no rest until all other states have followed suit. And if individual states don’t comply, well, as Obergefell v. Hodges showed us, the Supreme Court will simply step in. Rest assured, it’s only a matter of time before this is a national issue. As Eugene Volokh said over at the Washington Post, “…this is where these rules are headed, at least in places like Massachusetts but likely elsewhere as well.”

#2. What happened to separation of church and state?

It’s funny that liberals have been so quick to cry “Separation of church and state!” when they want to keep religion out of politics, because they apparently don’t believe that the same principle applies the other way around. The church should never dictate the laws of the state…but I guess it’s okay for the state to dictate the laws of the church? Such a separation is meant to protect religious groups just as much as it’s meant to protect the government, for instances exactly like this one. Such measures are a gross violation of the church’s religious liberty.

#3. Everything a church does is ministry. You cannot separate the sacred and the secular.

These new “guidelines” are based on the supposed distinction between a church’s worship service and a church’s public outreach. A worship service is for its religious adherents, but an outreach event (like a “spaghetti dinner”) is considered “secular” and “a place of public accommodation.” Therefore, the logic goes, a private worship service can enforce its own guidelines but as soon as you open the door to the public you’re on the government’s terms.

These new guidelines limit a church’s free of exercise of religion to within Sunday morning parameters, which sounds frighteningly similar to Russia’s recent legislation that Christians aren’t allowed to share their faith outside of church services.

There are two massive problems here. For one, worship services are also “public” in that anyone can sit in. So you can bet your bottom-tithe-dollar that it will only be a matter of time before these services would also be required to submit to such “anti-discriminitory” standards.

Secondly, everything a church does is a part of its ministry. You cannot call worship services sacred and every other event secular. Whether a church is singing hymns, listening to a sermon, running a soup kitchen, or hosting a community yard sale, it’s all a part of their religious exercise and it’s all based on their religious theology.

#4. If you don’t like a church’s doctrine…don’t go. No one’s forcing you.

One of the great tragedies in our culture of self-entitlement is the idea that if I willingly go into a place, and that place advocates something I disagree with, my rights have somehow been violated. This is another prime example.

If transgender individuals don’t agree with Christian doctrine and Christian practice, then don’t go through the doors of a Christian church. No one is making them.

That’s freedom, and freedom of religion, at its finest. Person #1 can say what they want, but no one is forcing Person #2 to listen. I don’t agree with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Catholics, Muslims, or Buddhists. So I don’t attend their services and I don’t attend their events where certain beliefs might be endorsed. For me to do so, and then legally demand that Catholics stop baptizing babies or that Muslims stop facing east to pray, would be as silly as going into my neighbor’s house and then demanding they change the color of their walls.

The left is quick to point this out whenever Christian groups protest a movie’s sexual or blasphemous content. If Christians don’t like it, the argument goes, then they don’t have to go see the film. I agree. So it baffles me as to why the same rules wouldn’t apply here.

If an LGBT person feels uncomfortable around Christians and their moral opinions then there’s a very simple solution: don’t go to their church events. No one is forcing them to.

#5. What should Christians do?

So how should the church respond? On one hand, we should not be afraid to stand up for the religious liberties provided to us by the laws of the land. Although some Christians make it seem like the more holy endeavor is to just shut up and stand down, this certainly wasn’t the apostle Paul’s philosophy when his legal rights were infringed upon (Acts 16:35-39; 22:22-29).

On the other hand, we must remain humble and remember that our reason for desiring such religious liberty is not to win a political battle, but to worship Christ and minister His gospel to a dying world. We must not abuse this freedom by resorting to insults, nastiness, or reducing the kingdom of God to the kingdom of Republicans or Democrats (1 Pet. 3:14-17; Jn. 18:36).

And although these religious liberties are certainly a good thing, we must also remember that the success of the gospel is not dependent upon them. If these freedoms are ever taken away from us, we take it with graciousness, we take it with rejoicing, and we take it with perseverance. Despite whatever threats we face, we must also hold unswervingly the truth of Scripture and remember the determination of the apostles: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).