My faith and my job

Kim Davis is no longer in jail, but she’s still fighting for the right to use her county clerk position as a platform to proclaim that same-sex marriage is wrong. The Kleins have fought the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry, but as of right now they are still on the hook to pay a hefty fine for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. In Ohio, Chris Routson has been fired for recommending the Christian film Audacity to a lesbian co-worker, even though he did so via Facebook outside of work hours.

Christians are learning the hard lesson that in our “enlightened” society, your beliefs about LGBT issues are unwelcome in the workplace. Unless, of course, they’re in support of same-sex marriage and so on; so far we haven’t heard any stories of someone being in trouble for endorsing it. If it has happened, it hasn’t made headlines.

Most would probably say that when it comes to your job, you keep your personal beliefs to yourself. But many Christians are starting to argue that not only should the First Amendment protect us in expressing these beliefs, we have a responsibility to say what God says about these issues, even in our workplace. Are those Christians correct?

Much could be said about this – indeed, much already has been said – but it seems like most of the arguments fall either to the side that the workplace is most definitely a platform for speaking the truth of God’s Word, or that the Christian’s professional life and faith life have nothing to do with each other. Both of these viewpoints fall flat.

Our purpose as Christians is to be Jesus’ witnesses. Jesus says as much in Acts 1:8. “You will be my witnesses…” he says. This isn’t optional. It’s a statement of fact. But the manner in which we witness is contextual – which is why we don’t all just stand up on the street corners shouting Bible verses at people.

When speaking to a close friend who doesn’t know Jesus, my witness is to share what matters most to me, and maybe even confront them about something I think is a problem in his life. But when I’m at work (well, the hypothetical me that doesn’t work for a church), my witness is to do my job faithfully, be respectful of my coworkers, and work for the best of my company. If my boss asks me to do something that goes against my conscience, I have the right to respectfully refuse to do it, but then I also have to accept the consequences of that action. Maybe I just have to resign, if there’s no simple resolution to the issue.

What about sharing my beliefs with coworkers or people I come into contact with through my work? Should I keep silent? Not necessarily. But it’s my employer who sets the terms on that, not me. If they say that such sharing will not be tolerated, I can choose to still share my beliefs – but then I must accept the consequences of that action as well. Maybe it’s worth it, because maybe I’ll reach someone with the Gospel. But maybe it’s not the hill to die on, and my witness will be more effective by respecting my employer’s rules.

I don’t have the right to declare that my position is a pulpit given me by God to hold the torch for the truth. Kim Davis recently did this, when challenged with why she won’t just resign, she stated that if she does she loses her voice to speak out for God’s Law. But her government position is not there to force people to obey God’s Law, and she hasn’t been put there to make people holy.

I also don’t have the right to claim persecution if I choose to violate my employer’s policies on personal faith sharing. If I get fired because I crossed that line, I can hold my head up high and say that I shared the Gospel. But I can’t claim I was mistreated; I knew I was taking a risk, and I need to accept the results.

If I’m working faithfully, as God has called me to do, chances are good that I’m going to see doors open to sharing my faith with people in ways that don’t bring any consequences. A life lived to the Lord has a way of catching people’s attention. Rather than being aggressive about it, I need to be winsome, and pray for the open doors.

In all of this, I need to remember this very important thing: It is the Gospel that changes hearts. We’re in a season right now where far too many Christians are trying to “stand up for the truth” by standing in opposition to same-sex marriage, as though getting people to follow God’s Law is the goal. It’s not. The goal is to introduce them to Jesus. Let your life be a testament to what he has done for you, and how much you love him, and let that be what brings people to him.

 

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What has changed?

So now same-sex marriage is legal all across the United States. For some it is cause for rejoicing in the streets. Others hang their head in dismay. Many probably just don’t know what to think or feel. Some think this is the end of America, or the end of marriage, or the end of the world. Some feel like they can finally just be who they want to be.

And now more changes are on the horizon. We’ve changed the legal definition of marriage nationwide, and what’s next? How will this affect our churches, our schools, and our families? What other changes are coming?

These fears and more I’m hearing in conversations and reading all over online, even as other voices urge caution, acceptance, resistance, and temperance. But the question that keeps running through my head?

What really has changed?

Another country has passed another law to vindicate sin. What has changed?

People who live in sin have the legal system on their side. What has changed?

Religious hypocrites now have another “societal evil” to gossip about, while they ignore their own vices. What has changed?

God’s Word is not the source and guide of our culture – human emotion and reasoning is. What has changed?

The Church is asked to abandon God’s Word and embrace worldly philosophies. What has changed?

If the Church is to remain true to its Lord, it will face trouble, hostility, and persecution. What has changed?

I’m called to love, lead, appreciate, and pursue my wife – and I will still struggle to do so faithfully. What has changed?

I’m called to raise godly children who know their Savior and are guided by God’s Word – and I will still struggle to do so faithfully. What has changed?

I’m called to speak the truth in love to my community and the world – and I will still struggle to do so faithfully. What has changed?

The Gospel is the only solution for a fallen world. What has changed?

The Gospel is the only solution for a fallen man like me. What has changed?

Jesus loves sinners, died for them that they may be free, and calls people to himself through his Word. What has changed?

Jesus wants you. Every part of you. And he wants you to trust that his plan for your life is better than anything you could want or think to ask for. What has changed?

What really has changed?

What if we lose our schools?

What if tomorrow it was announced by the IRS that any school maintaining a doctrinal or philosophical statement against same sex relationships would lose its non-profit status and be subject to the same taxes any for-profit business is expected to pay? For some people that may not seem like a big deal. For some it may seem like a justified change. But for Christian schools and the families sending their kids to them, it’s a disconcerting thought. What would happen to our schools? What would it mean for our children?

The Supreme Court is still deliberating what many are calling a landmark case about same-sex marriage. At the end of last month, during verbal arguments, the Solicitor General in charge of making the case in defense of same-sex marriage stated that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, when it comes to religious schools and tax-exempt status, “It is going to be an issue.”

What does that mean? Does it mean that all schools with doctrinal statements opposing same-sex relationships will be brought to heel? Does it only mean that there would be some complicated hoops to jump through? Who will this affect, and how?

Some might call it a slippery slope argument to say that churches running grade schools and high schools will be threatened; right now that discussion is focused mainly on religious colleges with married student housing. But the trend has never been in the direction of more religious liberty when it comes to this issue. Is it that far-fetched to think that the people who want to fundamentally change the mindset of a nation would come after institutions where children are molded?

So let’s run with the possibility for a moment and consider what we might do if Christian schools were forced to pay taxes as for-profit organizations. How would this affect their futures? Sadly, many schools would probably be rendered inoperable; the cost of running them, coupled with a drop-off of support due to the lack of tax-deductible gifts, would force many schools to shut their doors. Or come up with a completely different way to operate.

None of this should worry us, of course. Christian parents who want to raise their children to be disciples of Jesus don’t need a Christian school to do so. See, no matter how much pressure the world puts on us, they can’t really take away Christ or his Word. Parents are still the primary spiritual teachers of their children. They’ll still bring their children to the cross. They’ll still read the Word. They’ll still pray for and with their children, and encourage them in their faith. Even if parents are the only way children will know their Savior, that is enough.

Of course, I sincerely hope and pray that it doesn’t come to this. The ability for parents to put their kids in a Christian school is a great blessing, and a resource that we are very thankful for. But we don’t know what the future holds. We don’t know what God will allow.

However, parents shouldn’t wait until we lose the blessing of Christian schools to be making a conscious effort at home. Parents are still the primary spiritual teachers of their children. It’s still important – necessary, even – for them to bring their children to the cross, to the Word, to pray for and with, and to encourage their children, even if their children go to a school where these things happen. Parents, let’s act like the only way our children will know their Savior is through us – even if it isn’t the only way.

In the Beginning: A theological look at homosexuality

It’s Thursday, time for some theology.

The same-sex marriage debate continues to be a big one in our society. It would seem that same-sex marriage is a part of our society for the foreseeable future, and we’re now wrestling as a people with who should be impacted by that and what kind of impact it should have. Christian business owners are being confronted with discrimination suits when they don’t provide the same services to gay and lesbian couples as they do to heterosexual couples. Celebrities arouse great furor when they express their beliefs about the issue. Recently a very well known blogger received a scathing email from a college professor for his insistence that monogamous heterosexual marriage is the only correct form of marriage.

It has been said that the progression of sin is that first it asks to be ignored, then to be tolerated, then to be vindicated, then to be promoted. The last few years have seen our country vindicating homosexuality, but of course, that is not enough. It is now incumbent on all to hold up homosexuality as being just as good and valid as heterosexual marriage. This puts pressure on Christians who have both an internal drive and a Biblical mandate to not simply believe and keep that belief to themselves, but to speak about what the Bible actually says. Indeed, some have buckled under the pressure and either keep silent, or even silently acquiesce that same-sex couples should be recognized along with married couples. There are even those making claims that the Bible doesn’t actually speak against homosexuality at all. (<—Note the lack of citations or proofs offered for his claims in that article).

So while any theologian worth his salt should be able to point out that the Bible really does condemn homosexuality, at the encouragement from a friend I’m going to take a stab at talking about why any use of our sexuality outside of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman is contrary to God’s will.

Continue reading “In the Beginning: A theological look at homosexuality”

“Keep your beliefs out of your business!”

This is not the first case of its kind, but it certainly is causing a stir, especially with the boldness of the statements made by the justices involved. In New Mexico, the State Supreme Court has ruled that a Christian couple may not conduct their photography business according to the dictates of God’s Word.

Here is the article: N.M. Supreme Court: Photographers Can’t Refuse Gay Weddings

In short, the court has determined that if you run a business and someone lifestyle runs in opposition to your faith, your faith has to get out of the way. “Keep your beliefs out of your business!” Claims Justice Bosson, “it is the price of citizenship.”

“You! Shall not! Stand up for your faith!!”

Since when?

Continue reading ““Keep your beliefs out of your business!””

Death of DOMA – So what?

This morning many people on my Facebook friends list were posting their thoughts and feelings – good and bad – about the decision the Supreme Court made this morning. If you’ve been hiding in a cave all day, just to bring you up to speed the SC declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. If you’ve been hiding in a cave since 2003, DOMA is a federal law that prevents same-sex couples from partaking of federal marriage benefits and allows states to make their own decisions as to whether or not they will recognize same-sex marriages.

Doubtless, there are many Christians out there who are in a quandary about this whole thing. How do we react? How should we feel? Does this mean the end of America as we know it? What’s going to happen to my marriage?

I guess I can’t really answer all of those questions, but I do have some advice about the first one.

Continue reading “Death of DOMA – So what?”