Events unfolding in Houston and Idaho fulfill a prediction I made to a Sunday school class over a month ago. I predicted the day would come when any hesitation to marry, accept into membership, or employ those openly gay would come under scrutiny and legal process.
In Houston the City Council passed a non-discrimination ordinance at the behest of a newly elected openly gay mayor. Seeking to cut down on criticism or opposition the ordinance led to charges Houston biblically-oriented ministered violated the ordinance. Subsequently the Council ordered pastors to surrender sermons opposing the lesbian mayor and preaching the biblical truth about homosexuality.The action captured the attention of Fox News reporter Todd Starnes who regularly deals with faith issues. Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz recently spoke out on the Houston City Council's actions calling it a violation of First Amendment Rights.
Today (10/20/14) Fox News reported Donald and Evelyn Knapp are facing fines or jail time for refusing to marry same sex coupes. The Couer d'Alene couple operate a "for profit" wedding chapel but the Knapps are ordained ministers. Their refusal to marry a same sex couple brought them into conflict with recent Idaho statutes permitting gay marriage. The rationale for the lawsuit filed in Federal Court alleges the Knapps must provide marriage services to gay precisely because their chapel is incorporated as a "for profit" entity.
A couple operating a bakery in Colorado were recently sued because they refused on religious grounds to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. Again the suit stipulates that since the couple operate a "for profit" business they must make their services available to all comers regardless of personal conviction. Other similar suits have been filed around the country creating a crisis in conscience for a variety of businesses.
The United States is merely following in Canada's footsteps. Canadian law prohibits "gay bashing" or speaking openly about the sin of homosexual behavior. I guess it is still okay to preach so as to oppose adultery or heterosexual misbehavior but not against gay behavior.
The potential here in the United States will undoubtedly follow the Politically Correct attitudes of Canada. American preachers will be permitted to speak in opposition of sexual sin--even homosexual sin-- but to do so may result in the message being labelled "hate speech." A church speaking out in such a matter may be labeled as a "hate organization" and openly condemned.
In my opinion the government has gone out of its way to openly abridge the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. That's been true long before the homosexual agenda reared its head. At one time restaurants and other businesses could display a sign which said, "We have the right to refuse service to anyone." That is obviously no longer true! Granted, most of us would agree it is wrong to refuse service to someone because of their race, color, religious persuasion, or whatever. Nonetheless, the only ones truly hurt from such prejudice is the business owner. I still see signs saying, "No shirt, No shoes, No service!" If someone does not have the right to refuse service to someone--regardless of who they are or what their color or sexual preference is--how can they refuse service to someone who elects not to wear shoes?
The church is facing trying times. Heresy from within and without, the rise of false religion, and the whole Politically Correct agenda is creating an atmosphere much like that in the early Roman Empire. Everything in Rome was hunky-dory as long as you were tolerant and accepted anything and everything as okay. Christians stood in the face of such goofy-ness saying, "Jesus is the only way!" Their willingness to die for their faith and their refusal to deny the Lordship of Christ eventually overcame the world. Whether it happens again depends on the willingness of Christians to stand for something!