Religious Liberty

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The Supreme Court recently voted 5–4 to keep a Christian campus group at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco from barring non-Christians from their group, homosexuals specifically. I’m decidedly against alarmism, but I believe this is quite a serious matter.

This has been a perennial partisan issue on American college campuses. My dad witnessed it at UVA in the late 1970s. It is not difficult to think that permanent victory has just been handed to the liberals, though that is not certain.

Conservatives amaze me sometimes—in their willingness to believe silly conspiracy theories, for example. But where liberals amaze me most often is in their utter blindness to their own epistemological hubris. Basically, liberals preach, “All views should be tolerated and celebrated—except those of my opponent.”

Justice Kennedy, for example, concurring with the Supreme Court majority, wrote that “a vibrant dialogue is not possible if students wall themselves off from opposing points of view.” But does this mean that homosexual groups are required to allow Christian conservatives opposed to their sexual practices to take up membership and leadership positions in their campus organizations? And if a Christian group bars immoral activity among its members, does this mean, ipso facto, that all who remain have walled themselves off from opposing views? How do we know whether or not those members have come to their views through a long process of careful evaluation and discussion with all parties? How do we know, in fact, that the entire Christian group at Hastings is not composed of former homosexuals? And isn’t it possible that there are some views we should wall ourselves off from, views not even worth debating? How do we know?

It is within the state’s interests to forbid a university’s KKK members from taking over their campus’ NAACP chapter, but I have a transcendent reason for knowing that this is so: God says racism is wrong (Gen. 1:26-27; James 2:1). But, of course, He says the same about homosexual desires. And even non-Christians should know that volitional homosexual acts are not inherited and impossible to change the way skin color is.

I think often of the words of a church historian not known for alarmism, Carl Trueman, who wrote the following during the controversy over Rick Warren’s prayer at Obama’s inauguration:

What is becoming increasingly clear is that the day is probably not far off when those who regard homosexual practice as wrong will be consistently presented as the moral, cultural and intellectual equivalents of white supremacists.  Al Mohler (who seems to have spent the whole week writing or speaking on the issues of Lisa Miller and Rick Warren) has pointed out that this issue is set to shatter any possibility of traditional, biblical Christians being considered cool.   You can have the hippest soul patch in town, and quote Coldplay lyrics till the cows come home; but oppose homosexuality and the only television program interested in having you appear will soon be The Jerry Springer Show when the audience has become bored of baiting the Klan crazies.  Indeed, evangelicals will be the new freaks.

Trueman counsels evangelicals not to compromise, but not to be hatemongers, either. Certain segments of evangelicalism have chosen the former route, certain segments of fundamentalism the latter. By God’s grace let us stand firm in following Christ—both in opposing people’s God-hating efforts to destroy themselves and in loving them as God’s image bearers.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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