A Christian View of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act :: by Howard Green

I would like to address the issue with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act recently passed here in Indiana. Let’s take a quick look at the current controversy and then look at a Christian view of Indiana’s religious freedom restoration act.

A disturbing precedent is being set by rogue judges, local prosecutors and gay activists. It’s set by compelling a business or organization to provide a service that conflicts with the religious beliefs of the owner or leadership and does so under threats of discrimination lawsuits, civil penalties, and prosecution.

Since there has been an over the top amount of news regarding the social-political firestorm here in Indiana and most people are acquainted with the details, we are going to look at the real issue…behind the issue.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence has made it clear that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is not a license to discriminate. He has been forthright and open about where he personally stands regarding discrimination. On the national news morning show Fox & Friends the Governor stated:

“I abhor discrimination and this law is about religious liberty. He went on to say that, “The law was never intended (although some have mischaracterized it) to give the impression that business had the right to turn away customers based on sexual orientation.” The Governor also said, “If I was in a restaurant and saw a business owner deny services to customers because they are gay…I wouldn’t eat there anymore.”

The bottom line is this: Governor Pence has made it clear that this law is simply meant to protect religious liberty and not discriminate. In my estimation, the law and its intent is clear…to protect religious freedom, the the religious freedom of all faiths…not just Christianity. This realization brings up another issue and I refer to it as the real issue behind the issue.

This current political firestorm here in Indiana has galvanized many social activists because this isn’t about discrimination, fairness, or tolerance…it is about a growing anti-Christian movement.

In an earlier article I noted the case of Barronelle Stutzman, a Christian florist in Washington state who is facing stiff fines and penalties simply for refusing to make a flower arrangement for a gay wedding because it conflicts with her religious beliefs. Then there is the case of the Colorado bakery owner who didn’t make a wedding cake for a gay couple because he is a Christian and believes marriage is between one man and one woman. He is also facing fines and penalties.

A final example is the Lexington Kentucky T-shirt shop, Hands On Originals, where in 2012 the owner was asked to make T-shirts for the Lexington Gay Pride Festival. The owner declined to do so based on his religious beliefs about traditional marriage because he is a Christian. The city’s Human Rights Commission investigated and sided with the complaint from the gay activists.

All Hands On Originals employees were forced to attend “diversity sensitivity training.” These are just a few samples of hundreds of such cases impeding religious freedom around the country.

The argument and chief complaint of the gay and social activists is based on a false presupposition. Their argument is that when people are refused service…that automatically equals discrimination. That notion couldn’t be further from the truth.

The only reason Christians have refused service to a gay customer was based on the intent of the product. If a Christian’s religious conviction prohibits condoning a “gay wedding” by baking a cake, taking a professional wedding portrait, or providing “honeymoon” lodging for a gay couple at a Bed & Breakfast, that’s exercising religious freedom…not discrimination.

The Christian baker might refuse to bake a “wedding cake” for a gay couple, but you would be hard pressed to find a bakery owner who is a true Christian ever refusing to sell the daily baker’s dozen to the same couple. This isn’t about discrimination…this is about a radical agenda, making a statement, making an example of, and fueling a growing anti-Christian movement.

I find it so ironic that the people screaming and demanding tolerance the loudest…are the most intolerant people.

The following point has been made in recent weeks, but I want to bring it to the forefront again to drive the point home — that this outcry from the social-gay activists isn’t about discrimination, it’s about an anti-Christian agenda. The point is this: Except on very rare occasions and none that I can document, I cannot fathom any gay-social activist, attorney, or local government would dare make an example of a Muslim owned restaurant refusing to cater a “gay wedding reception” because the Koran forbids homosexuality.

You can put any religion, sect, or non-Christian faith group you choose in that scenario and the outcome would still be the same…it is a non-issue. The very fact that hundreds of these cases involve Christians and no other group is indicative of a growing anti-Christian movement. What makes this truly unnerving is that local governments, prosecutors, and judges are party to this mob mentality…not just the activists on social media and on the streets.

John 15:18-21: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”

This growing intolerance, agitation, and frankly…mob mentality witnessed on social media, television, radio, and in front of the Indiana state house this week isn’t directed at any other group but one: Christians. The popular movement is #boycottIndiana is full of the most vitriolic hateful speech I have ever seen.

But as a Christian, I’m not about to call the local prosecutor to file a hate speech lawsuit or call the local media to bring attention to this because this type of anti-Christian behavior is exactly what I expect. Knowing what we know about the situation, the street level facts, and how it affects everyone involved, here is my Christian view of the real issue behind the issue:

The real issue at hand for Christians isn’t Indiana’s RFRA or the social-political-media firestorm surrounding it. The issue is this: Are we going to finish well, be in the world and not of it, and show love by living out the gospel before the world and gay people…or are we going to capitulate, break under the world’s pressure, and compromise the core gospel message to simply fit in.

The LGBT activists don’t want to be understood and tolerated…they want your approval and participation.

As I stated before, activists are making this issue primarily about the people they believe are behind the legislation. I want to reiterate; if a person is a true Christian, they welcome all people in their restaurants, businesses, and churches…that’s the love of Christ demonstrated toward all people. It’s another thing all together to expect Christians to compromise their religious beliefs and be active partakers in someone’s path away from their Creator. As Christians, how are we to respond?

We are to engage the culture and the people in our lives. No, I’m not talking about the kind of cultural engagement that compromises beliefs for the sake of unity at all cost, I’m talking about walking a (genuine Christian walk) in every aspect of our lives. I have had gay friends who have remained my friends and it’s not because I jumped on the contemporary bandwagon and embraced everything they believe in.

The friendships have continued because it was based on his or her value as a person and mine. Some of these gay friends agreed with my stand as a Christian and others do not. I care for them unconditionally because the fact is, if it were not for God’s grace…I’d be lost without knowing my Savior.

Friendships with gay people or anyone else in the world doesn’t give me the right to withhold sharing the Good News of the gospel for the sake of peace at all costs. On the contrary, it is eternally imperative that we share the truth about God’s righteous judgment, repentance, atonement, and following Jesus at every opportunity.

My concern is this: Many of the notions about real Christians…aren’t real at all. They are stereotyped by the social media, entertainment industry, and sadly…some “professing Christians.” I support a Christian’s right to vote with values in mind, engage in the political/public arena, and weigh in on the issues of the day.

It is another thing all together to stand toe to toe, screaming out in opposing protest lines, and posting hateful venomous talk on social media to get your point across.

This kind of behavior has no place in the life of a Christian. Those are the actions of a religious activist, not a born-again believer. Those are the attitudes and actions that others will use as an example to label Christians as hateful.

Am I endorsing burying our heads in the sand? No way…I’m endorsing engaging-confronting people with the truth of the life changing gospel. The battle is the Lord’s and this engaging starts on our knees in prayer and asking the Lord to give us opportunities to tell people about Jesus.

I had a brother ask me this week if we should show the love of Jesus by going ahead and baking the cake, taking the portrait, etc….to open up a way to talk about the Lord? Excellent question, but the answer is, no. I appreciated the motive, but baking a cake won’t open the door to the gospel; it brings more confusion to a soul that’s already mired in confusion.

Mark 16:15: “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

The most loving thing we can do for a person who is blinded by sin and stuck in the homosexual lifestyle is to engage them with the truth. The truth is that…God is holy, sin cannot be in His presence, we are (all) sinful rebellious people, and left in our present state we are facing eternity away from God’s presence in hell.

People need to hear the hope of the gospel. But it’s not enough to say, “Jesus loves you.” He certainly does love them, but they will perish if they die in their sins. They must be told about sin, coming judgment, repentance, and atonement. That is the hope of the gospel.

It’s not about fighting people that think differently on social media or screaming across protest lines…it is telling people the truth about God’s coming judgment and the forgiveness found only in Jesus if they repent of their sins and follow Him.

This message of death and life is applicable to everyone. For those who believe Christians are singling out LGBT people, nothing could be further from the truth. For those carnally minded
Christians” who use the LGBT issue as a platform for an unbiblical version of “showing the love of Jesus,” please know you are adding to their spiritual confusion.

The message of the saving gospel is for LGBT people, adulterers, the abusive wife beater, the proud, the white collar churchgoing thief, the hypocrite, the gambler who wastes his family’s savings, and the fornicator.

The gospel is for everyone because all sin is sin. W must stop compromising this 2,000 year old message of repentance that has been the one thing that has pierced even the hardest hearts and brought many a sinner to Jesus. Godly sorrow produces repentance that leads to salvation.

Romans 1:26-32: “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

I have a final thought on being a faithful witness for Jesus in this darkening world:

Being a Christian in the West has been a relatively safe issue for many years, but because of the current trends, I believe the situation is beginning to change. While I’m thankful for the passage of RFRA here in Indiana, in Arkansas, and other states, it seems clear that the tide of public tolerance is turning toward tolerating virtually every group, except Christians.

What will this mean in the future? It might mean that my pastor is charged with hate speech for simply reading Scripture that condemns homosexuality. It might mean that bank accounts and properties are confiscated because as a Christian, the powers that be consider me part of a hate group.

Friends, these scenarios aren’t far flung in the distant future events because things like this are happening across parts of Europe and Canada. I don’t know to what extent this persecution of Christians will go here in the West, but I do believe were are living more as exiles and strangers and aliens like never before.

Be a responsible voter, engage in the political system, dialogue about current issues, but the most important thing we can do as believers is to live as salt and light before the Lord returns. This dark world and people blinded by the enemy of their souls need to hear the truth from people who know who Truth is. Pray for those in leadership and pray for strength to finish well.

Acts 5:29: “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”

The verse above isn’t to promote unlawful disobedience, disrespect of leadership or those in authority. It’s not permission to engage in the type of vitriolic activism so present today. In context, the rulers were forbidding the Apostles and early church from teaching or proclaiming in this Man’s (Jesus’) name.

Christians should be the kindest most peaceful, law abiding, people in the world. If however, it becomes unlawful or there are threats of civil penalties for following Jesus, we must choose the Lord…even if it costs us.

If you are a person in the LGBT lifestyle, I want you to know that there is a way out. That way isn’t acceptance through a church that claims to love you just the way you are with broken relationships or addictive products to numb the pain in your heart.

My friend, the way out is through taking Jesus at His Word. He is faithful and just to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. There is nothing you have done that’s too much for God to forgive. This takes action on your part. You must come to the knowledge that you are wretched, wicked, and totally without hope before God, as we all are in our sin.

The only way to have eternal life with God in heaven is by confessing your sin with a broken contrite heart before God and confessing Jesus as your Lord. There is no other way to eternal life. You can’t be kind enough, charitable enough, religious enough, or good enough because even our best is like filthy rags to a holy God.

Jesus paid the price and atoned for you sins and mine on the cross. His blood is the only thing that will cover sin and the only thing that erases God’s coming wrath against every individual on the earth. Please call out to Him today, and God will forgive you, give you a new heart, and you will belong to Him.