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Time to Rend?

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  • Time to Rend?

    Articles that influenced this posting, please read before continuing:

    http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclu...a-time-to-rend

    http://theweek.com/article/index/272...lling-it-quits

    The short version of the argument is when a minister solemnizes a marriage, he is acting as an agent of the state and because of the redefinition of marriage by the state, the minister should stop invoking the states power as part of the marriage. A couple can still get a religious service but to make the union civilly legal, they have to go elsewhere.

    I think the articles are essentially correct. I think Christian need to rethink if they act as an agent of the government. We may also need to rethink the benefits of government. Is the tax exemption for clergy valid or does it makes one beholden to the government? I have one pastor friend who would give the tax break up in minute if keeping it restricted how he proclaims the Gospel.

    I am recognizing (while not fully comprehending the impact) that once society generally endorsed conservative Christian values even if in application society was a little lax. Now that endorsement is being withdrawn. We are now watching the pendulum swing towards condemnation of those who hold conservative Christian values.

    Is it time to rend the connection between Christian participation and government?

    Is there a chance that being a participant in the government will make a difference?

    To be clear, I view voting as acceptable and even a requirement for Christians (render unto Caesar). The question is can a Christian be an employee or agent of the government.
    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

    "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

  • #2
    There were Christians in the imperial Roman government before Constantine (and under Julian the Apostate), well before Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of the empire. It was acceptable as long as they did not have to sacrifice to pagan gods.
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

    Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
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    I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
      The question is can a Christian be an employee or agent of the government.
      I think the Bible directly addresses this one. In Romans 16:23, Paul mentions a Christian city employee, Erastus (in the wicked city of Corinth, no less), and doesn't seem to have a problem with him holding that position.
      "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
        I think the Bible directly addresses this one. In Romans 16:23, Paul mentions a Christian city employee, Erastus (in the wicked city of Corinth, no less), and doesn't seem to have a problem with him holding that position.
        Perhaps because Paul dealt in real life situations instead of pretend stuff.
        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
          Articles that influenced this posting, please read before continuing:

          http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclu...a-time-to-rend

          http://theweek.com/article/index/272...lling-it-quits

          The short version of the argument is when a minister solemnizes a marriage, he is acting as an agent of the state and because of the redefinition of marriage by the state, the minister should stop invoking the states power as part of the marriage. A couple can still get a religious service but to make the union civilly legal, they have to go elsewhere.

          I think the articles are essentially correct. I think Christian need to rethink if they act as an agent of the government. We may also need to rethink the benefits of government. Is the tax exemption for clergy valid or does it makes one beholden to the government? I have one pastor friend who would give the tax break up in minute if keeping it restricted how he proclaims the Gospel.

          I am recognizing (while not fully comprehending the impact) that once society generally endorsed conservative Christian values even if in application society was a little lax. Now that endorsement is being withdrawn. We are now watching the pendulum swing towards condemnation of those who hold conservative Christian values.

          Is it time to rend the connection between Christian participation and government?

          Is there a chance that being a participant in the government will make a difference?

          To be clear, I view voting as acceptable and even a requirement for Christians (render unto Caesar). The question is can a Christian be an employee or agent of the government.
          Sorry for my part in the derail, TM.... back on topic....

          My Church and I have already declared (and it's in our Church's constitution) that we won't be doing any weddings other than "Christian weddings" between a man and a woman.

          I had already started downplaying the "power vested in me by the State of Texas" part, and kept the "In the Name of the Father....." part.

          I hadn't actually thought seriously about the "Marriage License" as a "government document", though, obviously, it is. Interesting topic.

          Again, I apologize for my part in the derail.
          "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
            I think the Bible directly addresses this one. In Romans 16:23, Paul mentions a Christian city employee, Erastus (in the wicked city of Corinth, no less), and doesn't seem to have a problem with him holding that position.
            Its probably like all jobs. Some really honor God; most are neutral; and a few should be avoided. How the job is done is more important.

            Being a government employee by itself is probably not an automatic disqualification. What you do as part of the job is more important.

            I came to this conclusion at my job. I'm in the back office so I have near zero contact with customers. However I am sure my company serves all manner of sinners and the occasional Christian. I'm sure that describes my co-workers as well. However who I serve doesn't prevent me from doing my job. And since none of my responsibilities cause me to sin, I just work as best as God strengthens me.
            "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

            "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
              I hadn't actually thought seriously about the "Marriage License" as a "government document", though, obviously, it is. Interesting topic.
              Since you're a pastor, think about this scenario and tell me what you think:
              1. A homosexual couple comes to your church asking you to marry them.
              2. (Yes, I think will eventually happen just to force the courts to take up the issue - case will start in New England, DC, or the 9th circuit in all likelihood.)
              3. You and the church politely decline.
              4. The couple goes to court to compel you to perform the marriage.
              5. The court rules that since the marriage is a government document and you in a service are acting (at least in part) as a government official, you may not discriminate against them and you must marry them. (Personally I think this is how the court cases will eventually play out.)
              6. (If you want, the case goes all the way to the Supreme Court and its ruling comes out per #5.)
              7. Now what?


              Actually I would be interested to hear a synopsis if you ever discussed this with the church leadership.
              "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

              "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                The question is can a Christian be an employee or agent of the government.
                If you are a Christian police officer against abortion for example, and were commanded to protect abortion clinics, that would seem to be a problem.

                If you are against gay marriage but are licensed by an agency that requires you perform gay marriage, that could also be a problem, as with The Hitching Post case.

                It's hard to do these days, but I think the gist of the NT on that point suggests to stay out of the "world" as much as possible, which would seem to include being a Christian government agent or politician.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                  Since you're a pastor, think about this scenario and tell me what you think:

                  [*] A homosexual couple comes to your church asking you to marry them.[*](Yes, I think will eventually happen just to force the courts to take up the issue - case will start in New England, DC, or the 9th circuit in all likelihood.)[*]You and the church politely decline.[*]The couple goes to court to compel you to perform the marriage.
                  I'll probably answer this in parts, TM, as I have a really bad headache.

                  First of all, the court cannot compel me to perform a gay marriage. Simply can't happen. They might could punish me for NOT doing it, or otherwise make life difficult, but they can't compel me to do it. I would simply refuse.

                  One of the things they might likely do is take away our tax exempt status, but we're fully prepared for that. We have a law firm advising us on this, and they would step in and try to mitigate things, but we are prepared for the worst case scenario.

                  [*]The court rules that since the marriage is a government document and you in a service are acting (at least in part) as a government official, you may not discriminate against them and you must marry them. (Personally I think this is how the court cases will eventually play out.)[*](If you want, the case goes all the way to the Supreme Court and its ruling comes out per #5.)[*]Now what?
                  Again, they can't make me.
                  It's like the new recruit that the Drill Instructor orders to do 50 pushups and the recruit refuses, and says "I'm not gonna and you can't make me".
                  The best the Drill Instructor can do is say "no, I can't make you, but I can sure make you wish you would have!"

                  That's about all they can do is TRY to make me wish I would have. But it won't work.

                  Actually I would be interested to hear a synopsis if you ever discussed this with the church leadership.
                  Yes, but it wasn't "taking a poll" -- it was providing leadership and explaining "this is where we are...."

                  Our first step was to have our attorneys guide us in revising our Constitution and Bylaws to very clearly spell out our religious beliefs, and the fact that marriage is between one man and one woman. We also refer to our Baptist Faith & Message 2000 which ALSO clearly defines "family".

                  Our Church leadership is in full agreement that we will obey God rather than man, and --- there's a Texas Ranger motto that says "do the right thing and accept the consequences". That's what we're prepared to do.
                  "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                    Since you're a pastor, think about this scenario and tell me what you think:
                    Actually I would be interested to hear a synopsis if you ever discussed this with the church leadership.
                    The CAVEAT here is, having been in the ministry for over 40 years, I fully realize there are a lot of people who would declare, "yeah, if I'm ever in X situation, I would most DEFINITELY do Y".

                    I'm reminded that Peter was totally sincere, in my opinion, when he declared that, even if everybody else abandoned Jesus, Peter would remain true. He was quite emphatic about it. Yet, you know where that went --- he denied Jesus three times.

                    So, when I'm badgered (not by you) by others to declare what I'd do in a certain situation, I don't like to play those games. I learned way back in police academy that you can ALWAYS come up with "yeah, THIS is how I'd handle that", but when the situation actually arises, things don't go quite like you would have thought.

                    On the gay marriage thing, it's pretty clear to me, and it's a situation over which I have MUCH more control, because it happens on "my turf" (our Church) and directly involves ME (my services) and somebody coming on OUR property.
                    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                      To be clear, I view voting as acceptable and even a requirement for Christians (render unto Caesar). The question is can a Christian be an employee or agent of the government.
                      Not to derail too much, but how is it that voting is a requirement for Christians based on "render unto Caesar"?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                        First of all, the court cannot compel me to perform a gay marriage. Simply can't happen. They might could punish me for NOT doing it, or otherwise make life difficult, but they can't compel me to do it. I would simply refuse.

                        One of the things they might likely do is take away our tax exempt status, but we're fully prepared for that. We have a law firm advising us on this, and they would step in and try to mitigate things, but we are prepared for the worst case scenario.
                        Don't you think it would be better just to do stuff like I do, talk about religion for free, rather than make a business of it where you have to worry about licensing by the government and paying lawyers and all that crap?

                        John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

                        I really don't get the notion of some Christians that they ought to be able to fit in with the world. They ought to stay out of it much as possible.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                          Our first step was to have our attorneys guide us in revising our Constitution and Bylaws to very clearly spell out our religious beliefs, and the fact that marriage is between one man and one woman. We also refer to our Baptist Faith & Message 2000 which ALSO clearly defines "family".

                          Our Church leadership is in full agreement that we will obey God rather than man, and --- there's a Texas Ranger motto that says "do the right thing and accept the consequences". That's what we're prepared to do.
                          Makes me wonder how far we are from a future where Christianity in the Western world becomes a sort of underground movement. Where Christians, deciding to no longer to be a part of a system that is forced to sanctify unholy unions, unplugs from the system. Maybe couples would go to their pastors and priests to have their unions religiously sanctified, and then go to a court to get the union officiated. Basically letting the world have the word "marriage", and letting them do whatever they want to do, and call it whatever they want to call it, but keeping the concept of Christian marriage holy. Hopefully Christ comes back before we come to that, but who knows?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                            Not to derail too much, but how is it that voting is a requirement for Christians based on "render unto Caesar"?
                            That's just an American patriotic idea turned into Christianity. All we have to do for Caesar is pay taxes and die.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
                              That's just an American patriotic idea turned into Christianity. All we have to do for Caesar is pay taxes and die.

                              Comment

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