By Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall
August 30, 2015
“Take ye wives, and
beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters
to husbands that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased
there, and not diminished.” Jeremiah 26:6.
Long before the birth of Jesus Christ and Christianity,
marriage was perceived by the world’s oldest civilizations as the best means to
insure property would be lawfully passed to the legitimate children of a
specific sire. Men were the property owners; women were more or less the
property of men – much as they still are in various parts of the world.
Legitimate children were – and still are – defined as
progeny born of a man and a woman who in a public ceremony that is registered
with the governing power commit themselves to one another for life. Marriage
has always been the public declaration by two people who commit themselves to
one another, swearing to put aside non-marital physical relationships and
vowing fidelity to one another. The primary reason for this vow has to do with
the legitimacy of offspring. John Smith didn’t want to leave the worldly goods
he had worked for all of his life to the sons and daughters of Phil Jones. Too,
there were crowns to be inherited legitimately.
Though love is usually present when people marry, the reason
for a public commitment of fidelity has nothing to do with love. It has to do
with offspring. Society could care less whether two people who get married love
one another. How two people feel about one another has very little impact on
the social order. Knowing who is responsible for children – for feeding and clothing
them, for educating them, for making preparations to care for them should one
member of the marriage die – has a great impact on society. Why? Because
society will suffer – much as America is suffering today with so many
fatherless homes, so much poverty caused by illegitimate children for whom no
financial responsibility can be enforced. When illegitimate children – children
born outside of marriage – are numerous and are dropped on society to care for,
it is costly.
Americans can look at the welfare rolls to see just how
costly it is – and providing a home, food and clothing for those who cannot or
choose not to work is only the beginning. Gangs made up of young males and
females who have no strong family to guide and teach them to love and respect themselves
(which makes it possible for them to love and respect others) abound in America
today. This is a far more dangerous issue than owning a gun because socially
abused human spirits provide the distraught hand that shoots the guns. Yet,
typical of those who cannot see through the obvious to the subtle, liberals
oppose guns and support a moral code that encourages socially abused human
Same sex relationships do not produce children. Thus,
marriage has always been defined as being between one man and one woman...
until the Supreme Court of the United States said otherwise.
This article isn’t about whether gay marriage is right or
wrong nor is it a statement about the gay lifestyle. Such decisions are above
my pay grade. I’d say “some of my best friends are...” (and they are) but I
hate that statement.
This article is about how the church may be signing its own
death warrant by ignoring what has always been considered a Christian
sacrament: Marriage. Pastors, priests and parishioners need to know what is
coming. Personal opinion is meaningless in the face of Presidential power that
sees fit to light up the exterior of the White House – a House that belongs to
the citizens of this country, not to the President or his wife or the gay
community – splashing the colors of the gay rainbow to light up the night in
celebratory victory when the Supremes told America’s churches gays had a right
to the sacrament of marriage. Isn't that a violation of the First Amendment's
guarantee of freedom of religion with no government interference?
If there is any question about whether gays will force
churches to provide equal opportunity for marriage rites the answer lies in a
Colorado baker who has paid huge penalties for refusing to bake a wedding cake
for a same sex couple – and that happened before the Supreme Court decision.
Bakeries refusing to provide wedding cakes for same sex couples face large
fines. In addition, the Colorado baker is being forced to give comprehensive
staff training, ensure compliance, and to file quarterly reports with the
government for two full years. He had to provide sensitivity training to his
employees – including his 88-year old mother.
Our spiritual leaders lost their freedom from government
interference when Senator Lyndon B. Johnson decided it was time to silence the
church... to eliminate the significant impact it had on public opinion
especially when it involved political matters and public policy. Senator
Johnson proposed 501 (c) (3) tax exempt status as if the Congress were doing the
religious community a favor. The fact is, churches were not taxable to begin
with and this legislation was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Prior to application to the IRS for tax exemption under 501
(c) (3), the First Amendment protected churches from falling under the
jurisdiction of the federal government.
Go online and look at IRS Code § 508 (c) (1) (A). You will
find that churches and their auxiliaries have mandatory exceptions from the tax
code – even the IRS says so. It was and is unnecessary for churches to apply
for tax exempt status because they already have it – and that status is
protected by the First Amendment. When churches signed up for tax exempt
status, they lost their First Amendment rights.
That information is provided for people who wonder why the
silence of America’s churches echoes so loudly throughout the halls of a nation
that is rapidly becoming morally bankrupt and politically uninformed.
Churches that unnecessarily applied for 501 (c) (3) tax
exemption may find it more difficult to opt out than it was to opt into the
system. The corporate church may need to be dissolved and a new church may have
to replace it. Better that than to be muzzled by the government. Better that
than being forced to provide religious services considered sacraments by the
church in opposition to Biblical dictates.
So churches declare your tax exempt corporation to be
dissolved, re-name your church leaving corporate status behind, and then get a
little creative with the way you perform traditional church services and rites.
For example, inform government of the new limits the church
is placing on itself.
“ABC Church will no longer perform marriage ceremonies that
register any two people as a married couple under the laws of any State in the
United States of America.
“ABC Church will no longer register marriages with the State
or sign marriage licenses issued by the State. ABC Church is not an Agent of
the State and is not a 501 (c) (3) corporation. ABC Church membership has, in
recognition of its First Amendment rights under the Constitution of the United
States, voted to remove our Church from joining people in what is defined by
State and Federal Governments as a legal marriage. Rather, our Church
membership believes the role of ABC Church is to perform a Rite of Marriage
Ceremony using the guidelines provided by the Holy Bible and which has standing
only within the Church and with family members of the Church. This Rite of
Marriage we will now perform commits people to marriage only in the eyes of
God, as defined by the Holy Bible. It may or may not comply with State
expectations or requirements and thus will not be submitted to the State as a
“If two people wish what is termed a ‘legal marriage
recognized by the State,’ those two people must apply to the State for the
appropriate license and go to an appropriate Agent of the State to make any and
all commitments required by the State to be recognized as lawfully married by
the State and other government entities. Those who seek a State-approved
marriage as defined by the State and Federal Governments will be unable to
acquire that status at ABC Church which recognizes the State’s authority to
define for the State the parameters of what is and what is not defined as
‘marriage’. This same couple may request a church service at ABC Church and we
will consider granting it based on church, not government, guidelines."
In other words “We resign as an Agent of the State in
joining people in marriage as defined by and according to the laws of both
State and Federal Governments.” Before that can be done, however, churches must
dissolve their corporations and give up access to tax exempt laws.
I’m not a lawyer and before any church takes any action of
this kind it needs to confer with legal counsel. What I am suggesting is that
there are lawful ways to regain the protections of the First Amendment for
Churches and freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution. There are ways
to regain the voice of authority regarding political and public policy issues
and to regain control of what the church will and will not do because
government demands it. There are ways to regain your First Amendment rights.
Begin by realizing that God never intended the Church to become a corporation
that functions under the jurisdiction of any government.
Perhaps part of the problem is Romans 13:1-2 which
references the importance of believers honoring governmental authority in
general. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there
is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that
exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the
authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so
will bring judgment on themselves.” (Italics added..)
Other Bible verses tell us that the laws of government are
secondary to the laws of God and when government demands of Christians that
they ignore the word of God and obey the laws of government, Christians are to
obey God, not government.
If you wonder where this is heading, take a look at some
actions that have already taken place in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s
decision regarding gay marriage.
Baptist-affiliated Baylor University has removed a ban on
“homosexual acts” from its sexual conduct code. Two members of the Council for
Christian Colleges and Universities, Goshen College and Eastern Mennonite
University, have added “sexual orientation” to their nondiscrimination
policies. Staff and faculty who are in same sex marriages may now be hired.
First Baptist Church of Greenville, SC adopted policy allowing for the
ordination of homosexual ministers and gay marriage.
It appears the church stopped representing the needs of its
flock and the dictates of God the moment they allowed themselves to be tempted
into the tax advantages offered by government – which really offered them
nothing they didn’t already have. When churches accepted the government’s tax
exempt status, it accepted government’s jurisdiction over it.
Faith is only real when it complies with God’s word, not
government dictates. Perhaps our churches even more than others need to be
reminded that freedom is not free – or tax exempt. Perhaps churches need to be
reminded that freedom of religion cannot occur when the churches whose job it
is to teach Christ’s flock are Agents of the State with a message limited to
what the State allows to be said.
Churches need to give serious thought to the real objectives
of the Lesbian/Gay movement as explained by Matt Barber when he said they were:
“1) The ultimate destruction of marriage; 2) forced affirmation of (what the
Bible views as) sexual deviancy under penalty of law, and 3) the eventual
criminalization of Christianity.” (Copy in parentheses added by me.)
Rarely do we get advance notice of our own demise. You don’t
even have to be able to read tea leaves to figure this one out.
I have no comment about the sexual preferences of any
individual. It is not for me to judge. I do, however, believe the sacrament of
marriage exists only between a man and a woman and for gays or government to
insist the church ignore this sacrament is blasphemous.
As most segments of society granted minority status find
out, "equal" does not mean "identical." Nor does it mean
© 2015 Marilyn M. Barnewall - All Rights Reserved