Archive for the tag “Supreme Court”

DOMA: Do justice, affirm love

Mark Kelly writes at kainos:

do justice affim love 2Celebrations erupted today as news broke that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act violated the constitution. Supporters of same-sex marriage proclaim “justice” has been done.

Followers of Jesus must remember that the Creator alone defines what is right and good.

Justice is restoring God’s shalom well-being to broken people, setting free children of God held captive by an evil dominion bent on destroying them. Broken people may change the rules by which their society is governed, but the Creator’s intent for human sexuality is hardwired into his creation. A man can dress as a woman, a doctor may even surgically alter his physical attributes, but gender is in his DNA, not his feelings. Justice for broken souls is helping them find healing in Jesus and moving them toward the abundant lives God has in store for them. Love is welcoming other broken souls into the fellowship of the forgiven. I do not become whole simply by declaring my brokenness is now normal. I become whole only as I accept the Creator’s design for my life and allow his power to begin re-creating me from the inside out.

In striking down DOMA, the court today merely reflects a society that has decided to redefine what is right and good — including sexuality and marriage — on its own terms. Our society has concluded that refusing to accept homosexual behavior as normal is no different than racial prejudice, and a majority of the justices agree.

Much is being said and written about the DOMA and Prop 8 decisions. I commend to you articles written by Russell MooreTrevin Wax, Denny Burk and Albert Mohler.

I particularly like what Dr. Moore says, that this ruling “gives Christian churches the opportunity to do what Jesus called us to do with our marriages in the first place: to serve as a light in a dark place,” that “we have the opportunity, by God’s grace, to take marriage as seriously as the gospel does, in a way that prompts the culture around us to ask why,” and that “the increased attention to the question of marriage also gives us the opportunity to love our gay and lesbian neighbors as Jesus does.”

“As we stand with conviction, we don’t look at our gay and lesbian neighbors as our enemies. They are not,” Dr. Moore says. “Same-sex marriage is headed for your community. This is no time for fear or outrage or politicizing. It’s a time for forgiven sinners, like us, to do what the people of Christ have always done.”

Of two things you can be sure:

– Believers and congregations must decide whether they will pay the price of discipleship and follow Jesus, or go with the flow and accommodate a culture that refuses to walk in God’s righteous path. When biblical faith convictions are labeled “hateful,” the full force of government power will be brought to bear on the “hater.”

– In a society where feelings rule, no one has the right to reject even the most perverse feelings. The same irrational logic that normalized homosexuality will do the same for polygamy — and any other sexual proclivity society can be persuaded to accept. You cannot begin to imagine the depths to which this society can sink but, I promise you, not only are those depths being imagined, but some are working today to make their dark fantasies a reality for us all — under the banner of “justice.”

We must do justice. We must affirm love. But when we follow God’s definitions, rather than the world’s, we will find ourselves on a narrow road to a small gate.

Their freedom is your freedom — and it’s at risk

freedom_of_religionBy Mark Kelly

The majority of people in the United States seems not to care a whit about an outrageous situation in which the federal government is ordering people of faith to violate their genuine convictions in obvious violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Most don’t seem to think the situation matters or that it affects them personally. Some even have publicly approved.

I’m talking, of course, about the federal Health and Human Services Department requiring all employers to provide health insurance that covers access to contraception — except that the issue for some isn’t contraception but abortion. The federal government’s definition of ‘contraception’ includes toxic chemicals like the “morning-after pill” that prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in its mother’s womb. For a great many earnest evangelical Christians, that isn’t contraception; it’s abortion. (For traditional Catholics, the violation of conscience is even more serious.)

Many Christian institutions and businesses have filed suit against the HHS requirement, citing the First Amendment’s clear language that Congress may not adopt any law the prevents the free exercise of religion. Although the HHS abortion-drug mandate clearly violates the First Amendment, federal lawyers say religious people have no religious freedom rights once they step into the “secular” public square. On Dec. 26, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied a request from the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby that federal fines of up to $1.3 million per day be held off while their suit against the law is pending. The esteemed justice said the potential fine fails to satisfy the legal standard for an “emergency.”

I shudder to think what it would take for Ms. Sotomayor to declare an emergency for these business owners.

Americans who value their freedom ought to be deeply concerned about this situation. Even those who do not see the current regime as a threat must realize that regimes change. We live today in a highly polarized society. Various factions, each completely convinced of the rightness of their opinions, would be totally comfortable binding the entire society with laws based on those opinions.

I’d love to hear from those of you who aren’t deeply concerned about the HHS mandate and its effect on religious freedom. What will you think when another regime comes to power that is aggressively opposed to your convictions? Even if you disagree about the “morning-after pill” and the issue of abortion, why would you not want to defend the freedom of Hobby Lobby’s owners to conduct their lives according to the mandates of religious conviction?

Isn’t their freedom your freedom?

Muslims, why are you not already up in arms over this culture’s celebration of immorality and promotion of homosexual marriage? What would you do if a regime comes to power that condemns Muhammad as a cruel tyrant, forbids possession of the Quran, outlaws Sharia as a backward, unjust legal code, and denies faithful Muslims the right to live according to its precepts?

Jews, many of you already are outraged by the favoritism expressed by this administration toward Palestinians and Islamists over Israel’s right to peaceful existence. What would you do if a regime declares that your religion promotes racist apartheid and closes your houses of worship, outlaws U.S. citizens assisting Israel, uses its military might to displace the Israeli government, and installs a Palestinian government in its place?

Buddhists, your path to deliverance from suffering demands right views, aspirations, conduct, and livelihood, to deny the craving that enslaves us all. What would you do if the U.S. Department of Commerce declared it the patriotic duty of American citizens to teach their children the virtues of consumption and to bolster the economy by purchasing a set amount of goods and services each year — with tax penalties for failure to meet the quotas?

Hindus, you celebrate the vast diversity of your divinities, some of which represent values abhorrent to Muslims, Jews, and Christians. What would you do if a regime comes to power that declares those gods a danger to society and forbids their worship under penalty of law, placing federal observers in your temples to ensure compliance?

Christians, where do I begin with you? You ought to be deeply, deeply concerned already. But there is more to come, I assure you. What would you do if your church was forbidden to conduct any activities outside the walls of its building? What if heavy taxes are laid on church property and receipts? What if government elementary schools actively promote adult/child sexual relationships as just another “sexual identity” and “lifestyle”? What if parents lost custody of their children for teaching them the “intolerant” belief that Jesus is God and the only path to salvation?

Secularists, ignoring the First Amendment affects you too — if not the free exercise clause, then the clause that forbids Congress from enacting laws that establish one religion over others. What would you do if a Dominionist party managed to gain control of the government and mandated fundamentalist Christian church attendance, tithing and school prayer?

Yes, some of these scenarios are less likely than others, but none of them are inconceivable, given the animosities and polarization of U.S. society today. You know there are elements in this country right now that would be delighted to implement some of the policies mentioned above. Why are you not standing to defend conscientious objectors to the HHS mandate?

Perhaps it’s because you are comfortable and don’t want to rock the boat: You’ve got yours and no one is trying to take it away; let others figure out how to handle their own problems. Perhaps you have your hands full just trying to survive in this economy. Perhaps you simply are distracted — preoccupied with sporting events or Facebook or Angry Birds or Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Distracting the people with “bread and circuses” is a proven way for tyranny to worm its way into power unopposed. Perhaps, as I said before, you agree employers should provide such insurance and you have no sympathy for someone who disagrees, even for religious reasons.

Whoever you are, it’s time to start paying attention to this issue. Look past the specifics of this conflict and focus on the principle of religious liberty, both free exercise and establishment. The First Amendment’s religious liberty provision is all that stands between you and the tyranny others would like to impose on you. The Constitution must be defended if we are to maintain freedom and liberty in this country.

Their freedom, whoever they are, is your freedom.

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You can take a stand for faith freedom by learning more from the ERLC or the Manhattan Declaration websitesigning a petition, donating to a religious liberty organization like The Becket Fund, and contacting the White HouseHealth and Human Services, and your Congressman.

What the Obamacare decision means for Christians

John Stonestreet writes for BreakPoint:

You’ve no doubt heard that the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, upheld the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and the ACA itself.

The ACA will now, of course, be a major campaign issue in this fall’s elections. The GOP has vowed to repeal the ACA if they are elected. The Court’s decision will be scrutinized, and there will be no shortage of analyses about what this says about the Roberts Court.

What I want to do is start a discussion with BreakPoint listeners about the decision’s impact on Christians. While we can disagree about whether the ACA is good policy — personally, I think it’s deeply flawed in very important ways — the heath care issues addressed in the ACA cannot be ignored.

So while many of us may have been disappointed by the outcome of the case, the Court’s decision provides us with an opportunity to say what we are for and not just what we are against.

The first thing we can agree we are for is that the health care and insurance situation in this country is just not acceptable. Millions in our country do not have adequate or any health insurance, and while some avoid this by choice, many, including many with children, simply cannot afford it. The current system is broken, and Christians need to care about those who suffer. The Affordable Care Act is not the best answer for the problem, but it’s a problem that Christians shouldn’t, in good conscience, ignore. Morally, the status quo is unacceptable.

The same thing can be said about the rising costs of health care. When you hear about the tens of trillions in “unfunded liabilities,” the largest and fastest-growing part of that is related to health-care costs. These costs are by far the greatest threat to our fiscal future, a fact on which both parties agree. We should insist that this “agreement” translate into action.

Justice Roberts’ majority opinion, which upheld the individual mandate by justifying it under Congress’ taxing powers, invited Congress to revisit some of the ACA’s provisions. We should urge Congress to do so and provide better protection for the sanctity of human life.

I’m not only referring to taxpayer funding of abortion, although current provisions against it are woefully inadequate. I have also have in mind what might be called the “monetizing of human life,” the cost-benefit calculations that prompted people to talk about “death panels.”

Also, it should go without saying that we must insist on better guarantees for the freedom of conscience. The ongoing struggles over the HHS mandate have made clear the administration’s intention to define freedom of conscience and religious freedom as narrowly as possible. Given this intention, they shouldn’t be allowed the kind of carte-blanche discretion the ACA currently affords them to change definitions about religious freedom as much as they’ve done already.

The struggle over the HHS mandate underlines the need for courage. The first attempt to apply the ACA was a broadside against religious freedom. While I’m gratified at the loud and strong response from many Christians, I am also certain that more threats to our freedom are still to come.

Now that the ACA has been upheld, we need to be prepared to fight for something better than the status quo. We need to insist on something that addresses all of our concerns.

As Chuck Colson might have put it, the battle has just begun.

There will be a lot of discussion about the Supreme Court’s ruling at our blog. Why not join the conversation? Go to BreakPoint.org and click on the “BreakPoint Blog” tab.

Join in!

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