Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Barronelle Stutzman Makes Last Stand--The Supreme Court

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The Associated Press reported Sunday that lawyers for Richland, WA., florist Barronelle Stutzman are now asking the United States Supreme Court to reverse a Washington State court's decision earlier this year that found her guilty of discrimination for refusing to provide flowers for a so-called "gay wedding."

For more than 4 years, Stutzman has been in litigation because of her biblical beliefs regarding marriage.

Some in the evangelical community are saying maybe it's time we agreed to disagree over the same-sex issue.

In 2005 the Washington State Supreme Court agreed with a Benton County Court decision that fined the florist $1001 and held her responsible for paying the thousands of dollars in legal fees incurred by Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed, the homosexual couple who sued her back in 2013.

You will recall, Stutzman had served Ingersol as a customer for about 10 years before this incident.

When Ingersol asked her to provide the flowers for his and Freed's "wedding," she respectively declined because she believes marriage is, as described in the Bible, only between a man and a woman.

Long time friend/customer Ingersol became the enemy. He and Freed sued her, attempting to force her to lend her artistic abilities to something she does not believe in or condone.

In February, Associate Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud argued that the Washington Law against discrimination "does not infringe" on any of 72-year-old Stutzman's constitutional protections.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) says Barronelle has, during these 4 years, "endured the litigation in this case with unwavering grace, humility, and faith---even as she faces losing every thing she owns."

I have spoken with Barronelle a number of times over the past 4 years, I have never sensed bitterness or anger---only deeply held biblical convictions.

"Now," ADF says, "she will take her last stand before the Supreme Court, asking it to preserve her religious freedom and her right not to be forced to speak a message about marriage that violates her beliefs."

With current episodes, including that of "The Message" author Eugene Peterson articulating that his beliefs have changed on same-sex relations...and that it is "no longer a right or wrong thing "---then retracting his statements 3 days later, and scores of others---florists, bakers, photographers, etc., being litigated for their biblical beliefs, some in the evangelical community are saying maybe it's time to "agree to disagree" on the matter.

Some issues in the Christian life matter more than others The Apostle Paul made a distinction between matters that are primary to the gospel and issues that were not.

In I Corinthians 15:3 he sets out the most important---the primary message of the gospel..."For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures."

In Romans 14:1 he tells Christians not to dispute over doubtful things.

Not taking a side on the issue of human sexuality as God designed the human race, and on marriage, the fundamental cornerstone of human existence---is to take a side. To decide it is a matter of indifference is to side against God Himself and His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, who affirmed that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Sam Allberry admits he has personally dealt with same sex attractions.

He wrote a column this week for "Crosswalk" titled, "Same-Sex Relationships: Should We Just Agree to Disagree?"

He says there are 5 reasons why we must regard the issue of homosexuality as being of first importance.

These are his reasons:

1. The witness of the church

For virtually all of church history the people of God have held that homosexual behaviour is sinful. This is still the case for the vast majority of Christians around the world today. Those in the church who demand that we affirm homosexual behaviour are proposing something that virtually every member of the universal church would be bewildered by. And the one place where this is being pushed is in the Western church at the precise moment our culture is making this a defining issue. This should give us enormous pause.

2. The authority of Scripture

What you have to do with the Bible to make it supportive of gay relationships is profoundly un-evangelical, un-Anglican and un-Christian. There are six passages that directly mention homosexual behaviour, and all of them do so negatively. For those of us with same-sex attraction these are not easy passages to read. But they are clear in what they say and we must receive them as good words to live by.

The only way to make such passages supportive of gay relationships is by employing the most tortuous methods of interpretation to discount them. These methods include: ignoring the contexts such verses come in; and determining the meaning of key word and terms not by how the biblical author uses them but by how later secular culture uses them.

3. The purpose of marriage

One of the purposes of the union of a man and woman in marriage is to display the mystery of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32). Marriage is the visual aid of how our saviour relates to his people. If we construe marriage as being between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, then this picture is radically distorted. When we alter the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, we radically alter the gospel message which marriage is meant to visualise. The Bible’s teaching on marriage alone is enough to settle the issue of homosexuality. Even if the six passages directly mentioning homosexuality were not in the Bible, we would still be clear that homosexual practice is ungodly. Christians believe what we believe about homosexuality because we believe what we believe about marriage.

4. The fate of homosexual people

Paul is very clear that the “unrighteous” will not enter the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6 :9-11). Among the very various examples of unrighteous behaviour he lists is homosexual practice. Paul is delivering a profound warning: those who do not repent of such behaviour will not enter heaven. Eternity is at stake. To say the issue does not matter is to say that the eternal destiny of people does not matter. This is not the case with secondary issues like infant baptism or women’s ordination.

5. The censure of Christ

In Revelation 2 Jesus rebukes the church in Thyatira for tolerating someone whose teaching leads people into sexual sin (Revelation 2:20). We do not know if this is a lone voice or one of many (most likely “Jezebel” is not the teacher’s name). What is more significant, however, is how Jesus responds to this situation: he is not just against those who are doing the teaching; he is against those who tolerate such teaching in their midst. Not all tolerance is godly, and it is Christ-like to be intolerant of certain things.

Not taking a side on this issue is to take a side. To decide it is a matter of indifference is to risk having Jesus against you. Read the description of him in Revelation 1 and consider if you would ever want to risk that Jesus being against you.

This is a gospel issue. When so-called evangelical leaders argue for affirmation of gay relationships in the church, I’m not saying they’re not my kind of evangelical, I’m saying they are no kind of evangelical. This is not an easy position to hold, for I have friends who hold to different views on this subject. But it is the right position to hold. For the five reasons given above, we must never allow ourselves to think of this as just another issue Christians are free to differ over.

Dr. Michael Brown published an article yesterday completely independent of the above. However, Browns article titled "True compassion isn't silent---it warns with love" carries the same message.

Take a moment and read it. I believe this is something God is saying to His church.

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Faithful. Be Prayerful.