Albert Mohler posted a blog today (Monday, August 26) called, “It is the Price of Citizenship”?—An Elegy for Religious Liberty in America. It is a commentary on the New Mexico Supreme Court's decision last week against a Christian couple who run a photography business and were sued because they refused to photograph a same sex wedding. Mr. Mohler's post is longer than I can do justice to, and worth reading reflectively, but I want to pause on one aspect of it that should make Christians search deeply in their hearts. (All of the information I will use comes from Mr. Mohler's article, I have not independently verified it, but I trust him.)
Though at least one member of the court recognized the sincerity of the couple's belief and how the photographing and artistic capturing of the ceremony went against their beliefs, his opinion following that acknowledgement moves into the need for compromise, and he says compromise, “. . . is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the moving parts of us as a people.” He also writes, “In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.”
Far beyond the issue of gay marriage—which I believe the Bible is absolutely clear is wrong—there is a far bigger issue that has far more reaching effects which I think Christians in American need to start processing now. This is the issue of what happens when our two citizenships collide. We may be citizens, by law, of the United States (or whatever country you might be reading this from/in), but the Bible makes it clear that as Christians we have a different citizenship as well. Paul, writing to the believers in Philippi, says, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." (Philippians 3:17–21, ESV).
When we are born again, as new creations in Christ, we have a Father in Heaven, a King in Jesus, a new birth, a new nature, a new identity, a new citizenship. We are taken out of Satan's authority and rule and put into the Kingdom of Jesus—Jesus' domain, dominion, authority (Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,). We are told by the Bible to submit to our earthly leaders and authorities . . . but the Bible also gives us ample precedent for not submitting to them when it brings us into conflict with God's laws and heart—Hebrew midwives, Rahab, preaching despite authorities commands not to, plus the obvious reality that we, today, wouldn't abort a baby or murder an elderly person even if our government told us to, and we'd hopefully have hid Jews from the Nazis, etc., if we were in a position to.
Recently in California our governor signed a law allowing boys or girls who feel like they are the opposite sex from what their body says they are to be able to use the restroom or locker room of their feelings, not organs. Health care laws imposing things on Christian employers that violate their beliefs . . . gay marriage issues challenging churches and businesses . . . the list of laws that have been passed or struck down in the last few years which yank the foundations out of Christian values is accelerating at a mind numbing pace. Truly the time is coming, and has already come for some, when we will face the decision—which citizenship will rule in our allegiance and obedience?
If we are to truly follow God and honor His heart and his Word we will, inevitably, face this decision. We will have to choose between two citizenships, two authorities, two futures, as to which will weigh the most in our minds and choices. One offers "safety" and "comfort" and temporary reprieve here, now. The other offers eternal hope, but a promise of trials here. One serves this world and the other serves our King. The decisions won't be easy, and I can't imagine what our children and their children will face, but I know that God will never leave us and that something far bigger is at work. The lost are still lost and Jesus still died for them and we can show God's love, declare God's truth, rejoice in God's good news, model God's sacrifice, and serve others as Jesus did in times of hardship and trials maybe better than we even can in times of comfort. Right now it is still fairly easy in America to walk with one foot on each side of the fence—enjoying our Christian identity but remaining comfortable in the world and with the world . . . but I don't know that this option is going to be available much longer. I have a sense that the decisions will becoming closer and closer together when we will have to choose to stand on one side of the fence or the other, to declare and stand for truth at earthly cost, or to stand with the world and turn our back on the One who died for us. Praise God that our true citizenship, the one that trumps them all, is eternal and can never be taken from us, and that while this earth will pass away, our citizenship in Heaven is forever! May we have the strength to invest not in the cares of this world and its passing acceptance and pleasure which render us unfruitful, but to invest in the things of eternity, that transcend this fleeting moment we call life. And, may we do so with a joy and a hope and a love and a humility and a service and a confidence that draws everyone watching us past us and to the One in Whom our hope is anchored. God bless all of you. He reigns!