What's any church to do, not just Ridgedale Church of Christ, when what has been wrong for 2,000 years is — backed by like-minded liberal judges — judged to be right.
It's painful for anyone to hear that a church asked, in the case of Ridgedale recently, that a choice must be made between faith and family. For a mother to choose between supporting her daughter, as she did at a public meeting where her daughter sought benefits for her same-sex partner, and being asked to repent before the church behavior that was said to be supportive of a homosexual lifestyle.
But Jesus said exactly that would happen -- that lines would be drawn. In Matthew 10:34-39 (New American Standard Bible), he said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the Earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake will find it."
It's likely churches like Ridgedale Church of Christ see the increasing acceptance of homosexuality as the kind of thing Jesus was talking about. Accept the teachings of the Bible or accept someone who is doing what the church teaches is wrong.
Indeed, following Christ is not for the feint of heart. Such a life asks people to discipline themselves, to take personal responsibility for their behavior, to govern their lives.
The church was ordained of Christ to help people follow in those footsteps.
You could argue, and you'd be right, that its followers often have done a woeful job of that. Some have built marvelous temples and neglected the poor at their doorstep. Others have stepped into the political realm and put more trust in government than in the man who stilled the waters. Still more have tried to become everything to everybody and in doing so lost sight of the Creator who brought it all into being.
But most, and by like sign most of its members, have done an untold amount of good.
They stock the food banks, they educate the poor, they're the first on the scene after disaster strikes.
And with 2,000 years of history at their back, they dare to have absolutes: God created the earth, God sent his son to assume human form and die for the sins of the many, marriage is one man and one woman, life begins at conception and deserves protection.
Over time, courts have ruled against those absolutes. Abortion has been legal for 40 years, and the United States Supreme Court ruled in June that the Defense of Marriage Act -- which, in essence, said marriage was between a man and a woman -- was unconstitutional.
But even the latest ruling isn't enough, according to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which ruled recently that a photographer was wrong in turning down business from a same-sex couple because of the photographer's religious beliefs.
Incredibly, Justice Richard C. Bossen wrote that compromising their religious beliefs was "the price of citizenship."
"At its heart," the justice wrote, "this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. ... That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people."
Of course, religious employers already are familiar with that type of ruling since the Obama administration is forcing them to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions, even if doing so goes against their religious beliefs.
This creeping government hand is what people are afraid of -- a forced compromise of business principles, of religious beliefs.
If such a thing can happen, the Ridgedale churches of Christ of the world are afraid it won't be long before courts tell them what their absolutes can be, how they can run their church, what will and will not be tolerated.
You can debate how humane the church's decision to pit mother against daughter was, but how far are we from courts that tell churches they can no longer teach that God was a part in the creation of the world, that all churches must be uniform in their teachings, that crosses on private property violate the religious beliefs of non-Christians, that weddings must be civil ceremonies since whatever the faith involved could violate the sensibilities of someone not of that faith.
Ridiculous, right? Never happen, right?
Tell that to Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, who had the temerity to turn down a client in their photography business because it violated their religious beliefs.
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Faith is a wonderful thing.
Conservative pastors say this is a fight they didn't pick. Rather, society carried its culture wars right into the sanctuary.