Sleeping at Gethsemane

Sadly, most Christians in the United States, when it comes to recognizing the dangers to their civil and religious liberties, sleep the sleep of ignorance that the disciples slept at Gethsemane before the arrest of Jesus. It ought to be obvious by now how “sexual orientation” laws and “gay marriage” are used to subvert the civil and religious liberties of those who rightly view homosexual practice as sinful, contrary-to-nature conduct.

In terms of protecting themselves against such developments, it matters not if they reach out in love to those who are same-sex attracted, acknowledge their own need for God’s grace, and speak out against a “God hates fags” rhetoric that exists only on the extreme fringes of the Christian faith. They too will be subject to the same harassment and curtailment of liberties. Sometimes in a misguided effort at appeasement, orthodox Christians even offer support for “sexual orientation” laws and same-sex civil unions or marriage in the mistaken hope that they will lessen the ire of homosexualist activists. In reality, they merely supply such activists with the political weapons by which the liberties of Christians will be attenuated.

Most pastors have failed to fulfill their responsibility to alert their flock to the dangers that the church is now facing. Consequently, most Christians cower in the face of abusive attacks by those promoting a homosexualist agenda, just as the disciples fled at Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested. Sadder still, many Christians, particularly those who consider themselves among the elite of evangelical Christianity, continue to relegate this issue to the back burner of political concerns, dissuading fellow believers from seeing this as a central (in my view, the central) political issue of our day.

Our children are being taught at school (with our tax money, incidentally) that their parents are bigots for opposing homosexual unions. Teachers who don’t toe the line are threatened with dismissal. They must teach about “Stonewall” and other historical occasions of homosexualist advocacy as positive events in history, irrespective of the fact that such readings are at odds with reality. They must lift up people like Harvey Milk, who bedded many an underage boy and lived a sexually promiscuous life with hundreds of male sex partners, as heroes of history, or be fired. The entire state of California already mandates that the “historical contributions” of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans” be included in textbooks and teaching in California Public Schools, while expressing forbidding any “materials that reflect adversely” on LGBT persons or the gay rights agenda.

To get an idea of what else is coming down the pike for America’s elementary and secondary schools, one need only look to Canada and Britain. The Vancouver (British Columbia) Board of Education has adopted a new policy that mandates that all schools from elementary on up appoint at least one staff person to promote “LGBTTQ+” resources to “students, staff and families” and that all high schools have “Gay Queer/Straight Alliance Clubs”; that under no circumstances are staff ever speak positively to students about “programs or services that attempt to change a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity”; that teachers regularly combat in the classroom “homophobia,” understood as any critical attitude toward homosexual and bisexual relations and the “Trans” life; that all teachers in elementary and secondary schools avoid masculine and feminine pronouns (using “xe,” “xem,” and “xyr” instead) and references to “boys and girls,” in order to avoid offending “transgendered” students; that schools “reduce or eliminate” all “sex-segregated” activities; and that in sports students can participate in either boys or girls athletics in accordance with their own self-perceived “gender identity,” in addition to having access to shower and rest room facilities that correspond to that identity. Already in the United States some school districts have adopted similar policies.

Christian colleges like Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., are now being threatened with loss of accreditation and/or loss of federal funds if they have moral standards that prohibit all sexual conduct outside of marriage between one man and one woman, including homosexual intercourse. Students at Gordon College seeking public school teacher certification are no longer allowed to student-teach in an area school district because of Gordon’s policy on homosexual activity. Intervarsity chapters and other Christian groups have been de-recognized in various colleges (including at Vanderbilt; and all the public universities of California) if they operate with the notion that the views of student leaders of Christian groups should be, well, Christian (i.e., comport with the orthodox sexual ethics of the Christian faith taught by Jesus and the apostolic witness to him).

Bakers are being fined as much as $150,000 if they refuse to letter a “gay wedding cake,” even if they are willing to sell cakes to homosexual couples, just not specifically design it for a wedding. Photographers in some states are liable to fines of thousands of dollars if they politely decline to photograph a “gay” or lesbian “wedding,” even though it is their right not to contribute their gifts of artistic expression to further what they regard as immoral sexual conduct. Florists unwilling to provide floral arrangements for “gay weddings” are likewise being put of business. A couple in upstate New York who allow their scenic barn to be used for weddings were fined $13,000 for declining a lesbian “wedding.” A civil rights commissioner has found that a Kentucky Christian T-shirt company that refused to print shirts for a gay pride parade is guilty of discrimination, requiring its employees to attend diversity training, with fines to follow if the violations continue. Religious liberty does not even exempt religiously affiliated associations, like retreat centers connected with denominations that forbid same-sex marriage, from renting its facilities out for homosexual “marriages.”

Increasingly, Christians in “white-collar” positions who don’t support homosexual indoctrination at the workplace are being fired. Some have been fired simply for expressing the view on Facebook and other social media outside the workplace that “gay marriage” is immoral. Even in professional sports, coaches and players that express publicly their own thoughts about the immorality of homosexual practice are disciplined or fired. A major CEO was removed when it was discovered (horrors) that he once had the audacity to contribute to California’s Proposition 8. Employees, both blue-collar and white-collar, have been fired for indicating that they no longer want to be bombarded with emails that promote a homosexualist agenda. Not joining in work station “coming out” celebrations can be cause for dismissal in some places of employment. Workers at the water cooler may rail against “bigots” who oppose a homosexualist agenda but workers who express disagreement with such an agenda can be terminated.

The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are currently pushing for a “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” promotion bill that will make this the law everywhere. Employment “non-discrimination” policies for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” lead to discrimination against any employee who indicates less than enthusiasm for promoting all things homosexualist in the workplace. This past summer Obama issued an Executive Order mandating that all corporations receiving contracts from the federal government (whether for-profit businesses or charitable relief agencies) embrace affirmative-action “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” policies. Even religious organizations “are not exempted or excused from complying with the other requirements contained in this Order,” namely, “race, color, … sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.”

Recall how the Obama administration revoked an invitation to a socially conscious pastor to offer a prayer at Obama’s Second Inaugural when it was discovered that he had once, a decade earlier, given a sermon where he expressed the view that homosexual practice was sin. It didn’t matter that the minister had worked tirelessly against sex trafficking and shown the love of Christ in countless other social justice causes. He must be defined as a bigot if he doesn’t bend the knee to the idol of homosexualism. The Obama administration appoints as judges and officials only those who are wedded to the homosexualist cause. If you are not, you have no right to serve in the executive branch or the judiciary, however well qualified. Obama regularly compares those who oppose “gay marriage” to racial bigots who opposed interracial marriage up until the 1960s.

At Dartmouth College, my alma mater, an African Anglican Bishop who was appointed to lead the Tucker Foundation, which oversees all social justice and religious ministries on campus, had his appointment terminated before he even arrived on campus because it was discovered that a decade earlier he had expressed disappointment over the appointment of Vicky Gene Robinson to be the first “gay” Episcopal Bishop. Even though the African bishop protested that he was now affirming of “gay marriage” they terminated his employment because at some point in his life he had expressed opposition to this idolatry of homosexualism. Dartmouth went on to hire as the moral overseer of the campus a lesbian Episcopal minister who was “married” to a woman.

In most mainline seminaries today (let alone secular colleges and universities) candidates for faculty positions who are known to have published in favor of the scriptural and orthodox position on male-female marriage are not hired. After all, institutions of higher learning cannot tolerate the hiring of “bigots.” Most colleges today even give an affirmative action bump to applicants who identify as “gay,” lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or no gender at all.

Articles and op-ed pieces in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Time, Newsweek, and other major media outlets, heavily staffed with homosexual activists, routinely mock those who oppose “gay marriage” as hateful, ignorant bigots (for an example, check out this tendentious article). Christians who believe that homosexual practice represents a degradation of the gendered-self are regularly ridiculed on TV sitcoms and dramas, even as homosexual characters are represented in greater numbers than African Americans. Balanced discussions of “gay issues” on television are now a nearly extinct species.

Against parental protests and concerns for safety, “bathroom bills” have been passed in many jurisdictions that allow males who identify as female to use female rest rooms. Women’s colleges are now beginning to enroll men who regard themselves as women or as no gender at all, claiming that the subjective sense of self is more important than biologically-based gender, even as these same “all women” schools contradict themselves in admitting women who view themselves as men.

In many states, even if an adolescent and his or her parents want to receive help in managing or reducing the intensity of homoerotic urges, that adolescent is forbidden by law to do so because, allegedly, it confirms the adolescent’s “internalized homophobia” (so much for the self-determination of the client). Christian adoption agencies that believe that it is inadvisable to place children in homes exhibiting gender confusion and instability (which defines homosexual parenting situations) have been put out of business. Foster care parents in some jurisdictions must first indicate affirmation of homosexual practice before they can be deemed suitable caretakers.

Most recently the lesbian mayor of Houston had subpoenas issued to some Houston pastors, compelling them to either produce transcripts of every sermon in which they discussed the issue of homosexuality and “gender identity” or face contempt of court (after the public outcry the demand has been reduced to speeches by the pastors pertaining to Houston’s “Equal Rights” Ordinance, which allows “transgendered men” to use women’s restrooms). Two ordained ministers in Idaho who for a fee conduct Christian weddings were threatened with six months in jail and $180,000 in fines for declining to officiate at a homosexual “wedding,” even though the homosexual couple could easily have walked across the street to get married at the courthouse. The national outcry forced city officials to back down and reclassify the business as a “religious organization”; but expect this sort of thing to reappear throughout the country.

A professor of English at a secular college (Robert Lopez) has been harassed by persons in and outside of his institution simply because he shared the story that his upbringing by two lesbians was less than ideal. Others who have come forth to tell their stories about life in homosexual households have had their workplaces phoned by gay activists to demand their firing and their home addresses and phone numbers published for further harassment.

It is not a question of “live and let live” when it comes to a homosexualist agenda. It is a question of homosexualist advocates doing their best to drive out of the public square with abusive rhetoric and the teeth of “sexual orientation” laws anyone who calls into question their agenda. So, no, I’m not willing to support ridiculous “interpretations” of the Constitution that codify me and other believers who adopt the view that Jesus held about marriage and sexuality generally as bigots and the moral equivalent of racists. Surprisingly, I’m not willing to supply the legal bat with which to beat me senseless. Imagine that.

It is time for Christians to make it their top political priority to vote against any politician who promotes a homosexualist agenda. If they do not, they will leave their children with a legacy of oppression against Christian believers, which they themselves had the luxury of avoiding for most of their adult lives. Who is foolish enough any longer to vote for candidates who regard said voter and his or her family as hateful, ignorant bigots and support policies and appointments that will codify that assessment in the law?

Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon is Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Abingdon Press), among other works.

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