About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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The Church And The Morality Of Tolerance


The apostle Paul tells us to pray for, and obey the  government. (1Timothy 2:2, Romans 13:1)  He also tells us to try to live in peace with everyone. (Romans  14:19)  Paul's goal in life was to preach the gospel to as many people as possible.  This was made easier if he was at peace with the prevailing government.  Such peace would give him the freedom to preach.  Peace with the ruling authorities was a nice idea, but the early church seldom experienced such a luxury.  That's why the apostle Peter at times had to obey God rather than the ruling authorities. (Acts 4:19)  As Christians in the western world, we have been fortunate to have peace and freedom, but that's almost over. 


One evangelical denomination in Canada is involved in helping the poor.  This ministry is a separate identity from their church.  The following is a small portion of their employee policy relating to discrimination. 


"Discrimination includes any discrimination and/or harassment contrary to the provincial human rights legislation, which includes discrimination and/or harassment based on the following protected grounds:

- race, colour, ancestry, citizenship,
  ethnic origin or place of origin

- creed, religion

- age

- sexual orientation

- family, marital or same-sex partnership status

- disability or perceived disability
  (including the dependence on alcohol or drugs)

- gender."


Notice who sets forth the regulations for discriminatory policies.  It's not this church or its social service organization.  It's the government.  Also notice who cannot be discriminated against by failing to hire them.  Note also that the government has a different standard of morality than Biblical based Christians. This Christian organization cannot refuse a perspective employee based on any of the above categories, even if it goes against their Biblical based morality.  Here's why.


Recently in a nearby city, a lady in this Christian organization asked a male co-worker to attend a church gathering.  He refused.  She kept asking and he kept refusing.  Finally he told her why he didn't want to attend these functions.  He said he was gay.  This lady answered by saying something like, "that's okay, if you come, we'll help you become straight".  When I heard that, I groaned and shook my head in unbelief, and you probably just did too.  Subsequently, this lady and this Christian organization were sued.  They lost the case and had to pay a certain sum of money to the gay man.  The lady had to enroll in a program to learn how not to discriminate and to be taught the morality of tolerance.  Ironically, my friend who told me this rose from his chair in the middle of our conversation and closed the door to his office.  I suddenly realized that I'd better be careful what I say and how loud I say it, even though we were in a building dedicated to the work of the Lord.


Such government legislation and court cases are happening with greater frequency, and not just in Canada.  The government and the courts are on the door steps of our churches, ready to indoctrinate us with the morality of tolerance.  Is your church ready for the knock on the door?  Actually, the knock will probably be accompanied by a letter from a lawyer.  Your church  should be prepared, but it's probably not.  


What will your church do when it receives a letter from a lawyer telling you to cease from certain practices or lose its legal status?  Will your church cave in and hire a gay man as an assistant pastor?  Will your church hire a Muslim as a secretary?  Will your church allow an atheist to teach Sunday school?  When the letter arrives at the door, churches will have two choices.  It either accepts the government's ruling and keeps its legal status, or, it declines the ruling and forfeits its legal status.  Does the church submit to a non-Biblical government or to Jesus?    


The loss of legal recognition from the government will be costly for your church if it goes that route.  Your church will  have to pay property taxes which will push many churches over the brink into financial disaster.  Your church will no longer be able to issue tax receipts for financial donations.  Your pastors will no longer be able to perform a legally sanctioned wedding.  The organizational structure of your church will disintegrate.  It will look more like the illegal church in China than what you've been used to.  There's all sorts of organizational and financial matters that will have to be rethought.  Is your church prepared for this reality?   


For those churches and Christians who stand as Peter stood before the authorities in his day, obeying Jesus rather than man is the only option.  I say, "bring it on."   I not only like the idea of a church not being recognized by the government, I tend to think it's the church of  the New Testament.  It's a church where personal relationships matter.  It's a church where everybody functions in some capacity because they are joined personally to a few real people, and not just to an organization.   Being joined to fellow believers is different than being joined to an organization.  Many will decline to be a part of this church.  It's too drastic of a change.  For others of us, it's something we've already tasted and will gladly embrace. 


It's time to seriously think about these matters because in the name of protecting our personal freedoms, we're actually in the process of losing those freedoms.  As weird as that sounds, it's true.


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