In recent years, we have witnessed a stark increase in the numbers of incidents where legal pressure has been exercised against churches that honor Biblical doctrine, demanding conformity to secular standards in states where same-sex civil unions have been legally recognized. Churches have come under increasing scrutiny for refusing to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.
Yet in a disturbing new federal lawsuit filed on Monday, April 28th, 2014 against the state of North Carolina, the liberal 1-million-member United Church of Christ (UCC) is suing the state, demanding a reversal of a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, passed by voters in 2012.
Others have joined the UCC in the case, stating that the state’s marriage law “represents an unlawful government intervention into the internal structure and practices of plaintiffs’ religions.” The plaintiffs include a Lutheran priest, a rabbi, two Unitarian Universalist ministers, a Baptist pastor and several same-sex couples.
Defendants in the case include North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, several county district attorneys and five registers of deeds.
Attorney Jake Sussman, legal counsel for the plaintiffs, says this is the only case thus far claiming First Amendment religious freedom rights among the more than sixty pending marriage equality cases currently active in the nation’s state and federal courts.
Under the state ban in N.C., it is a Class 1 misdemeanor if a minister performs a marriage ceremony for a couple that hasn’t obtained a civil marriage license. In fact, the law further allows anyone to sue a minister who performs a marriage ceremony without a license.
Participants in the lawsuit argue that the ban limits clergy choices and violates the principle of “free exercise of religion” by requiring clergy to minister to one segment of the public. The UCC-led case presents a similar argument used by religious conservatives in their complaint about the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, which opposes same-sex marriage, made this statement: “It’s both ironic and sad that an entire religious denomination and its clergy who purport holding to Christian teachings on marriage would look to the courts to justify their errant beliefs…These individuals are simply revisionists that distort the teaching of Scripture to justify sexual revolution, not marital sanctity.”
Fitzgerald helped lead a coalition of Christian and conservative groups who supported the state’s 2012 constitutional amendment, which became law when six out of ten voters backed the ban on same-sex marriage. Fitzgerald said the lawsuit is an attempt to void the will of voters who backed traditional marriage, according to huffingtonpost.com.
Though states can still decide individually how they want to proceed with same-sex marriage legislation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the federal government must recognize marriages of same-sex couples. If the UCC wins their case – the first federal lawsuit claiming First Amendment religious freedom violations in an attempt to overrule a state law – we may witness a tsunami of others who will exploit this new legal precedence.
Were the laws penned by the original signers of the U.S. Constitution – laws created to promote and protect our freedom to pursue “life, liberty and happiness” – actually intended to defend a pursuit of those freedoms within the sanctity of Biblical parameters?
Today, these laws are not only being challenged, but are being rigorously tested for use in defending and protecting a dangerous kind of relative and non-absolute form of “life, liberty and happiness,” without any parameters, moving farther and farther outside of the spiritual safe haven of Biblical Godliness.
The Bible tells of a “falling away” from truth in 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3, before the revealing of the antichrist and the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 7 foretells that the “mystery of lawlessness is already at work,” and there is much evidence that we are now in that season.
The prophet Isaiah warned of woe coming to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter… Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight. (Isaiah 5:20,21)
Sadly, these warnings go largely unheeded in a growing community of “churches” all too willing to forsake Biblical doctrine for secular relativism.
When Jesus Christ returns for His “Bride,” the Church, will He find that His wife has made herself ready, with fine linen, bright and clean, given her to wear? “Fine linen” is translated as the righteous acts of God’s holy people. (Revelation 19:7,8)