One of our responsibilities in these troubled times is to look at the cultural chess board while taking care to think three moves ahead. We need to look at our current conflicts in the light of the year of our Lord 2022. Those who do not anticipate the future are doomed to go through it, as Santayana didn’t quite say.
I have already written that Christians need to make the current battle a battle over our right and responsibility to speak the truth. If we start to trim our discourse to make their hypocritical commitments to free speech less obviously hypocritical, we will quickly find ourselves in the next phase of battle, which will be over taxes, tax exempt status, 501(c)3 organizations, and so on. The next battle will be about defunding the Church. And I would rather fight over defending the truth than I would over defunding it.
Of course, if we get there I will be happy to fight there, but all things considered, I prefer my goal line stands on the seven-yard line instead of the one-yard line.
In an abrupt metaphor shift, I say this because of the position of the chess pieces on the board. This is not simple speculation on my part. During the oral arguments of Obergefell before the Supreme Court, this issue was brought up by one of the justices, and he was told plainly that this “would be an issue.” And here is why it has to be an issue.
In 1983, Bob Jones University lost a case before the Supreme Court (8 to 1), in which it was decided that it was acceptable to revoke the tax exempt status of a religious institution if the practices of said institution were contrary to a compelling government public policy. The public policy in that case was eradicating racial discrimination.
Bob Jones had a university policy that prohibited interracial dating. The merits of their policy are neither here nor there when it comes to the constitutional issue, but it should be said — once again — that bigots are among the best friend that the statists ever had. They are the gift that never quits giving. Moses couldn’t have been a student BJU, even if he had agreed to live off campus with that Cushite woman (Num. 12:1).
Now everybody ought to know that if you take the king’s coin you become the king’s man. Government money always comes with strings. Christian organizations (philanthropic, educational, etc.) that receive actual federal largesse are just asking for federal meddling. You accepted that $100,000 gladly enough. Why are you now bucking when they cluster around with some mandatory suggestions?
So many Christians, wise to their tricks, refused to take any federal grants, subsidies, and so on. Good on them.
But the government is good at figuring out ways to redefine everything to their own overweening advantage. In their totalitarian economy, they are giving to you when they let you keep your own money. When they allow a donor to an organization to keep some more of his own money in return, they pat themselves on the back for their overflowing generosity. And all they had to do was stand there with a gun, not taking any money. So when they did not take $100 from Smith because he had given $1000 to Jones University, they then take the full credit for having donated that 1K to the university.
You didn’t think you were taking any government payments, so ha ha! He who breathes the king’s air becomes the king’s man.
So here it is in a nutshell. Simply having 501(c)3 status is considered by the government to be a financial gift to the organization in question. So whether you have ever taken a dime of their money or not, you did take the financially advantageous status of being a 501(c)3. People will donate to you for that reason, and so it is that the government takes the credit for giving you the status which enabled or prompted the gift. Now it has already been decided (8 to 1) some 32 years ago that the government could revoke the 501(c)3 status of any organization that was contradicting something that the government felt was of compelling interest. In that case, the interest was in eradicating racial discrimination. Now the federal government has said in Obergefell that homosexual mirage is a “fundamental right.” Review the rhetoric of the last ten years. Does the government currently maintain that eradicating discrimination against homosexuals is the same battle as eradicating racial discrimination? We know that it isn’t the same battle, but do they identify it as the same battle? You betcher.
Now what will happen to all the Christian organizations — and there are thousands of them — who will not want to cooperate with the new sodomite imperatives decreed from above? Married student housing at Christian colleges? A homosexual couple who want their nuptials to occur in the campus chapel? Employees of big Christian organizations that want the right to be openly homosexual whatever the organization’s code of conduct says?
This means, given the premises, the conclusion is a given. There is no way that Christian organizations that hire anybody, or that provide services to anybody, will be in any way permitted to function in accordance with their conscience.
Any solutions? There is only one solution, and three rearguard actions.
The solution is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The solution is a proclamation of the crown rights of King Jesus. The solution is to preach the objective reality of man’s profound guilt before God, and God’s solution for that profound guilt in the shed blood of Jesus, the one who purchased His right to be King of the United States by means of His sacrifice on the cross.
And as we pray for the kind of reformation and revival that will make all the foregoing manifest, there are three things that we can do in the meantime as stopgap measures. These are admittedly like running from Godzilla while overturning chairs behind you to slow him down, but still. Worth doing, and anything worth doing is worth doing cheerfully.
In addition to things already said, these three stopgap measures are: 1. to keep any Democrat from coming anywhere near the White House in 2016, 2. if we must talk about defunding, then let’s make it Planned Parenthood, and 3. start developing a theology of civil resistance and disobedience. We need the kind of theology that will enable organizations to continue to issue tax receipts after they are outlawed, and equip citizens to prepare their tax returns accordingly. Remember — well-behaved Christians rarely make history.