Myths that Led to the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in the United States, Part 6

These activists aren’t after a “live-and-let-live” policy. They’re on a march to force all Americans to celebrate and affirm what they do under the penalty of law.
Tony Perkins

Key point: Same-sex marriage never was the ultimate goal of LGBT activists. Rather, “marriage equality” is a means to even more destructive ends. In the process, advocates of man-woman marriage are being punished severely for their views. Yet, even those who stay silent cannot remain unaffected by the societal upheaval that is taking place.

You can view brief summaries of all the articles in this series here.
You can see a list of the myths we have dealt with here.

Myth #14: Same-sex marriage has implications for the same-sex couple only, and not for others. “If don’t agree with same-sex marriage,” we were told, “don’t worry. “Changing the definition of marriage won’t affect you!”

Fact: Same-sex marriage affects everyone because it influences the culture with regard to everything from perceptions about what marriage is to attitudes about how to deal with those who dare to express support for the natural family. Those who dissent, even politely, are severely punished—under the banners of “diversity” and “tolerance.” These ideals are misleading, because genuine diversity isn’t pursued, nor is tolerance practiced.

Barronelle Stutzman

Let’s begin by highlighting briefly how advocates of man-woman marriage often are treated. Here we see some of the clearest evidence that same-sex marriage adversely affects people who oppose it and act on their convictions. We aren’t talking here about people who treat homosexuals rudely, but individuals who, based on their deeply held religious beliefs, politely turn down opportunities use their talent and their goods and services in same-sex weddings.

Jack Phillips

On December 5, 2017, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In that case, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner and operator Jack Phillips has been told by the state of Colorado that he must provide custom-made wedding cakes for same-sex couples. Keep in mind he gladly does business with homosexuals in all other contexts—but believing that marriage is between one man and one woman, he could not, in good conscience, participate in a same-sex wedding. He was sued, and his case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court.

In commenting on Jack’s case and where we as a nation now have arrived in the debate over what rights flow from government recognition of same-sex marriage, Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families observes that years ago,

Gary Bauer

the left and the radical gay rights movement made a version of a libertarian, live-and-let-live argument: You can marry who you want, I just want to marry who I want. And a lot of Christians, particularly young Christians, bought that argument. It was, we were told, a matter of love to accept it.

But as is almost always the case with radical social change, what started out as a libertarian appeal inevitably turned into a movement to use of the full power of the federal government to threaten and browbeat everyone into kneeling in submission to the new normal.

It’s a variation of what has happened in the abortion debate. The pro-abortion movement started out arguing that women should have “the right to choose” to control their own bodies, but recently has focused its efforts on forcing nuns to subsidize abortions.

Jack Phillips isn’t the only wedding service provider who believes in natural, man-woman marriage (also go here). Yet these attempt to coerce those who do not wish to celebrate same-sex weddings into actively participating in them isn’t the only way the new definition of marriage is affecting more than just gay and lesbian couples.

A Means to Many Different Radical Ends

It is now clear that “marriage equality” has not been the only goal of militant homosexual activists—and probably this has not even been the primary goal. Now that the government recognizes same-sex unions as marriage, activists can use that very fact as a crowbar to pry open a great many other “opportunities,”—legal and otherwise—for themselves and for other LGBT individuals. In other words, as important as marriage is, we are wise to see the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling as about a great deal more than marriage alone. It is about marriage—but it’s also about everything else! If you don’t realize this, you have been hibernating during the last two-and-a-half years as marriage debate has given way to debates over whether biological males can use women’s restrooms and whether children who express discontent with their biological sex should be given puberty-blocking drugs or other hormone therapy.

The Supreme Court ruling redefining marriage is about marriage—but it also is about everything else!

Dr. James Dobson made some dire predictions just weeks before the Supreme Court issued its decision about marriageHe wrote of a torrent of lawsuits that would be coming against Christians and others who believe in man-woman marriage. He also said,

Pastors may have to officiate at same-sex marriages, and they could be prohibited from preaching certain passages of Scripture. Those who refuse to comply will not only be threatened legally, but many will be protested and picketed by activists. Perhaps this is a worst-case scenario, but maybe not. Prison is also a possibility.

Moreover, it isn’t far-fetched at all, Dobson contended, to envision that Christian wedding service providers will have to choose between serving at same-sex weddings and going out of business. And Christian colleges, especially those that receive federal money through any avenue at all—even individual student grants and loans—could be prohibited by law from teaching the biblical view of marriage. Dobson went on to cite a then-recent piece from liberal newspaper columnist Frank Bruni, who had written that church leaders ought to be forced to remove homosexuality from their list of sins.

In the same opinion piece, Bruni also said that the

debate about religious freedom should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices that they needn’t cling to and can indeed jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.

Professional counselors, added Dr. Dobson, would become yet another target of the state, which would issue regulations mandating their practices adhere to the government’s definitions of marriage and morality. School textbooks, too, would be rewritten to advance the gay agenda even further. After all, if marriage is not just for a man and a woman but also for two men or two women, then homosexuality is on par with heterosexuality—and all government entities, including schools, should treat them the same way.

Right Before Our Eyes

Do any of Dr. Dobson’s warnings sound extreme today, nearly three years after same-sex marriage was made legal nationwide by judicial fiat? There is no question that the push for everything LGBT activists want has accelerated—and a great deal of what Dr. Dobson predicted is happening right before our eyes! Mark it down! If Jack Phillips loses his case before the Supreme Court, the dam will burst and a flood of litigation will come crashing down on those who believe in man-woman marriage. These lawsuits will relate to every context in which dissent can be expressed. Current trends portend that this is precisely what will happen.

If Jack Phillips loses his case before the Supreme Court, the dam will burst and a flood of litigation will come crashing down on those who believe in man-woman marriage. These lawsuits will relate to every context in which dissent can be expressed.

The assault on counseling and counselors currently is ongoing. Keep in mind that with regard to counseling and therapy, gay activists’ goal is to prohibit clients from getting help to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction and help to grapple with other related issues. Not surprisingly, part of the strategy is to misrepresent and demonize this type of professional help. You can watch one professional counselor set the record straight here. If anyone is struggling with same-sex attraction and/or gender identity issues and wants help, shouldn’t he or she be able to get it? Not if militant gay activists have their way!

If anyone is struggling with same-sex attraction and/or gender identity issues and wants help, shouldn’t he or she be able to get it?

The push to promote the LGBT agenda in schools started long before the Obergefell decision was released (go here, here,  hereherehere, and here.). This article shows how the marriage ruling makes the problem much, much worse—and harder to fight.

A Total Makeover of Society

So, why can’t two people who love each other marry? This was the question we repeatedly were asked. It sounds innocent enough, but homosexuals have not been singled out for mistreatment at this point. For millennia, there have been a good many loving relationships that governments have not recognized as marriages or potential marriages. A father cannot marry his daughter; nor can an individual marry his or her pet cat or dog; and two men or two women couldn’t marry because their relationship also did not and cannot qualify as a marriage. Now, however, the government says it does.

Quite tellingly, a lesbian activist admitted five years ago that the real goal of her movement is destroying marriage altogether. Masha Gessen said,

It’s a no-brainer that (homosexual activists) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. …(F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there—because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.

The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist.

(F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.
—Masha Gessen, lesbian journalist and activist—

Tim Huelskamp

Tim Huelskamp, a three-term congressman from Kansas’s first district, understood this. CNSnews reporter Lauretta Brown summarized Huelskamp’s statements at the 2014 March for Marriage this way.

Congressional Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) said he agreed that the ultimate goal of homosexual “marriage” is to destroy the institution of marriage altogether by diminishing it to whatever type of contract people sign on to and, at the same time, denying the natural right of children to be raised by a mother and a father.

Author and political science professor Paul Kengor also sees the goal as the total destruction of marriage and the family. The radical left, he says, has been trying to obliterate the family for two hundred years. Now, in and through same-sex marriage, militant LGBT activists have found the perfect means by which they can fulfill their cherished dream.

Societal Chaos

Just how radical will it get? Fasten your seatbelt! Among other things, LBGT activists are “now encouraging society to view children as ‘genderless.'” Canada issued the first gender-neutral government ID card for an infant in April of last year, and not long after that, the state of Oregon began issuing state ID cards and driver’s licenses that also are “gender-neutral.” The designation for the individual’s sex can be M, F, or X. Ponder this for a moment: What would it be like to grow up from infancy in a setting where the adults taking care of you refuse to acknowledge that you are a boy or a girl?

What would it be like to grow up from infancy in a setting where the adults taking care of you refuse to acknowledge that you are a boy or a girl?

Leftists, including LGBT activists, will continue to advocate this type of approach to reality, even as they also attack everyone who dares to publicly make the case for a biology-based gender identity framework and the traditional family. If allowed to continue unchecked, activists’ efforts will lead to societal chaos. Note carefully that radicals wouldn’t be able to accomplish all this, certainly not nearly as effectively, without same-sex marriage.

Ben Shapiro

Within a few days after the Supreme Court released its decision redefining marriage, Ben Shapiro expressed concerns similar to those of Dr. Dobson. He wrote,

Leftists have already moved to ban nonprofit status for religious institutions that refuse to acknowledge same-sex marriages; leftists have already sued into oblivion religious business owners who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings. It will not stop there. Religious schools will be targeted. Then, so will homeschooling programs. The secular religion of the left has been set free to pursue its own crusade against the infidel.

And who is “the infidel” in this case? Anyone who does not share, and yes, celebrate, everything about LGBT agendas and lifestyles. Or it might just be someone who wants a semblance of order in society.

The Grieving Don’t Even Get a Break!

In Cincinnati, Ohio on March 7, 2018, a male employee at a funeral home won the legal right to dress as a woman when he performs his duties for his employer. It was a three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit that ruled in the employee’s favor. Alliance Defending Freedom represented the Michigan funeral home and its majority owner in this case. ADF’s report on the ruling read in part,

The company’s sole corporate officer and majority owner, Thomas Rost, is a devout Christian whose faith informs the way he serves customers with compassion during one of life’s most challenging moments.

The male employee served as a funeral director, regularly interacting with the public and grieving family members and friends. After informing the funeral home of his intention to begin dressing as a female at work, the employee was dismissed for refusing to comply with the same company dress code that all other men are required to follow while on the job.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took the matter to court on behalf of the dismissed worker. Note that the EEOC, a government entity, contended for the LGBT position. On the first round, a lower court ruled in favor of the funeral home. In its ruling, the federal district court cited the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and stated that it protected a business owner’s right to enforce a dress code rooted in genuine religious convictions. The EEOC appealed that decision and won.

Gary McCaleb, ADF Senior Counsel, had this to say after the 6th Circuit panel overturned the lower court’s ruling:

American business owners, especially those serving the grieving and the vulnerable, should be free to live and work consistently with their faith. The funeral home’s dress code is tailored to serve those mourning the loss of a loved one. Today’s decision misreads court precedents that have long protected businesses which properly differentiate between men and women in their dress and grooming code policies.

The multi-location funeral home has won more than one award for the services it has rendered in the three communities where it is located in and near Detroit. Now, according to the court, it must allow a man in women’s clothing  to serve as a funeral director. This means he must be allowed to wear women’s clothing while he performs his work with grieving families! Would you want a man in women’s clothing to coordinate the arrangements for the memorial service and burial of one of your loved ones? Might this court ruling set the stage for the eventual closure of the funeral home? One doesn’t have to have a wild imagination to envision this scenario.

Yes, it is a myth that same-sex marriage affects only same-sex couples. There are even more incidents to highlight as we seek to expose this important myth. Tune in next time to read about at least two more events.

You will see evidence, not only of the marriage ruling’s severity, but also of its pervasiveness.

And you’ll understand even more thoroughly why we must contend for natural marriage in robust and compelling ways.


Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

image credit, top image: rainbow flag flying in the Castro District of San Francisco, California

image credit: Gary Bauer at the 2007 Washington DC Values Voters conference

image credit: Ben Shapiro at the University of Missouri in 2015




Absolute Truth Really Is All About God

 Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes, Part 17

Consider the atheist who is outraged at seeing a violent murder on the ten o’clock news. He is very upset and hopes that the murderer will be punished for his wicked actions. But in his view of the world, why should he be angry? In an atheistic, evolutionary universe where people are just animals, murder is no different than a lion killing an antelope. But we don’t punish the lion! If people are just chemical accidents, then why punish one for killing another?…[Moreover, m]any atheists behave morally and expect others to behave morally as well. But absolute morality simply does not comport with atheism.
Dr. Jason Lisle

Truth always carries with it confrontation. Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation nevertheless. If our reflex action is always accommodation regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there is something wrong.
Francis Schaeffer

View summaries of all the articles in this series here.

Part 16 is available here.

The Declaration of Independence begins with this insightful and profound statement:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The acknowledgement of “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” is more than significant. The Founders affirmed the existence of a set of standards coming from God and reflected in nature, or the natural world. It’s true that the Declaration does not mention a specific God; the point of the document was not theological. Even more importantly, it was widely understood that this reference was to the God of the Bible. Our early leaders believed strongly in religious liberty. Even so, God’s existence is assumed, not argued—and equally assumed is the idea that laws, including principles that affirm human dignity and a set of standards of right and wrong, are an inherent part of the natural order of things. These standards originate from outside—and not from within—humanity and human reason.

Truth comes from outside human beings, not from within.

Writing for the Heritage Foundation, Mark David Hall addresses the question “Did America Have a Christian Founding?” He essentially answers by saying, “It depends on what is meant by ‘a Christian founding,’” but affirms the answer is yes if the phrase means biblical principles and ideas strongly influenced America’s architects. “I believe,” Hall writes, “that an excellent case can be made that Christianity had a profound influence on the Founders.” He cites five specific examples, including these.

  1. Their faith taught them that humans were sinful.…
  2. They firmly believed that God ordained moral standards, that legislation should be made in accordance with these standards, and that moral laws took precedence over human laws.

The idea of absolute truth, therefore, was an important principle informing and guiding America’s Founders as they led the Colonies to separate from Great Britain and as they drafted the US Constitution. Although it didn’t originate in the United States, the affirmation of absolute truth can rightly be called an American ideal.

Last week we highlighted five specific characteristics of Alliance Defending Freedom’s clients, and we used Blaine Adamson, Jack Phillips, and Barronelle Stutzman as representative examples. Against the backdrop of America’s founding, I want to underscore a point we dare not miss from our previous discussion. Here I am elaborating on last week’s fifth point, the importance of affirming and living by the right principles.

Blaine Adamson, Darold and Barronelle Stutzman, Kelvin Cochran, Evelyn and Donald Knapp, and Jack Phillips

Adamson, Phillips, Stutzman, and others are upholding principles that originated outside themselves. They are not willing to risk everything to have the right to follow their own feelings on a matter. If an individual is going to risk everything, he or she ought to risk it for something more certain than that! ADF clients are upholding the truth—absolute truth that reflects universal standards of right and wrong. These arise from God and His character.

God is the Architect of all that is, including morality and ethics.
Ancient of Days by William Blake (1757-1827)1

Yet their convictions run even deeper than that. Their beliefs are rooted, not just in ideals or principles, but in God Himself and their sense of accountability to Him. Last week’s three-minute audio clip contained clear evidence of this from the perspective of each client. This one-minute excerpt presents that core evidence. You’ll hear Adamson first, Phillips second, and Stutzman third.

To be clear, an individual doesn’t have to believe in God to believe in moral principles or absolute truth. However, the existence of absolutes is best explained by the existence of God, as apologist J. Warner Wallace has pointed out.

Confronted with the hostility, pressure, and expressions of hate that ADF clients surely must experience, these courageous men and women are not following their feelings. They’re not following their opinions either, although their opinions align with what they know to be true.

Alliance Defending Freedom’s clients aren’t following their feelings or opinions. Rather, they’re putting everything on the line because of what they know to be true and because they are compelled to obey the God who is the source of all truth.

They are putting everything on the line because of what they know to be true and because they are compelled to obey the God who is the source of all truth. It’s all the more reason to follow their examples. As Barrnelle Stutzman affirms, “you can’t be lukewarm” in your commitment to Christ.

What have you risked lately because you’re a Christian?


Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

1Use of Blake’s work is not to be construed as an endorsement of his religious views. Ancient of Days does, however, symbolically highlight a number of divine traits that are consistent with the authority and creative power of the God of orthodox Christianity, which we do affirm.

top image: portion of an 1869 US postage stamp commemorating the presentation of the Declaration of Independence

Modern Heroes: The Clients of Alliance Defending Freedom

Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes, Part 16

When God looks for someone to accomplish His purposes on earth, what kind of man or woman is He looking for?…To begin with, we see that God uses ordinary people.…Who else does He use? He uses truly spiritual people. I’m not speaking here of some pompous “holier-than-thou” type, but the real thing. The most spiritual people I have met have been very down to earth.…[Moreover, w]hen God looks for people He wants to use, He also looks for faithful people.
Greg Laurie

View summaries of all the articles in this series here.

A young couple on their way home from church wanted to make sure their young son understood at least something about what the pastor had said in his sermon. “Eric,” asked the dad, “do you remember what Pastor Jack preached about today?”

Eric beamed. “Uh-huh. He preached on the Bible verse that says, “Many are cold, and a few are frozen.”1

Unfortunately, this description applies to a great many churchgoers today. Even so, you won’t find any frozen—or even cold—folks among the clients being served by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

Senior legal counsel Jim Campbell has emphasized that ADF’s clients aren’t “super Christians.” Rather, God calls ordinary people who love Him, and He enables them to take courageous stands for truth and religious liberty. Moreover, Campbell says, the call to protect religious freedom is a call to everyone.

Here’s an illustration that helps us understand. When artist paints a beautiful picture, no one says, “Wow! What a great brush that artist used!” In a similar way, God gets the credit when He uses His people to contend for His truth before a watching world. Even so, ADF clients still have a lot to teach us through the examples they offer and the faithfulness they demonstrate.

The call to protect religious freedom is a call to everyone.
—Jim Campbell—

How is the faithfulness of Alliance Defending Freedom’s clients manifested? I’ll name five specific ways. These overlap, but each is worthy of mentioning as a distinctive trait. Even though I’ll draw from a variety of sources, all of the characteristics I’ll highlight here are evident in these three ADF videos that tell the stories of clients Blaine Adamson, Jack Phillips, and Barronelle Stutzman. You also can hear each of them in that order in this three-minute audio clip, compiled from four different ADF videos.2

The Kentucky Court of Appeals sided with Adamson on May 12 (also go here), but its ruling may not be the end of the story.

Blaine Adamson of Hands-On Originals in Lexington, Kentucky

Phillips and Stutzman thus far have lost their legal battles. Phillips currently is waiting to hear if the US Supreme Court will hear his case, and Stutzman has said she will ask the Supreme Court to consider hers, as well.

Neither Frozen nor Even Cold

Just what are ADF clients like? First, they have passion about their work and about serving others in it. They love people, and they find great satisfaction in serving them. They also do excellent work in their respective professions. It’s common for ADF clients to be accused of being hateful, but Jack Phillips has said, “You don’t get into the birthday business and the party business if you’re a hater, if you don’t like people. I love people.”

Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado

Second, ADF clients have a right sense of purpose. They live their lives to glorify God, and an important part of honoring Him is serving people. When The Daily Signal asked Barronelle Stutzman what is the best part of her job as a florist, she said, “My customers and being creative.” She didn’t arrange flowers for the same-sex wedding of a longtime friend, she said, “because my faith teaches me that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington

Isaiah 41:10 is her favorite Bible verse, and she has no regrets. You won’t see any evidence of animosity, either. Barronelle says if the homosexual man who is suing her walked through the door of her business today, she would hug him, catch up on what’s happening in his life, and continue to serve him. You can tell she really means it!

Blaine says, “I want God to find joy in what we do and how we work, how we treat our employees, and the messages we print. So if someone walks in and says, ‘Hey, I want you to help promote something,’ I can’t promote something that I know goes against what pleases Him.”

Jack says baking a cake for a same-sex wedding would send a statement that says “we don’t want God to be part of our lives except for on Sunday. No, we want Him to run our lives…every day in any way that He wants.”

Third, ADF clients have the right perspective. Taking the long view, they refuse to walk the path of least resistance today.

ADF clients remind us of the heroes of the faith named in Hebrews 11, who, by the way, also were very ordinary and imperfect people. Consider Moses, who initially offered a wide range of excuses when God called Him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Yet the inspired writer of Hebrews says of Moses, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27). We can say something very similar about Blaine, Jack, and Barronelle.

Jack has declared, “God does everything according to his plan. And so nothing is a coincidence.… I’ve come to the realization that God does what he wants to do and uses who he wants to use, however he wants.” Is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop judgmental? Not at all! He really doesn’t have a holier-than-thou attitude. One Bible passage that encourages him is Titus 3:3-7, which “says that at one time we too were foolish and disobedient, deceived, enslaved to all kinds of passions and pleasures. I was in that boat too,” he adds, but God “redeemed me through his son.”

And take note! This is important! ADF clients don’t just have the right perspective about their own situations, but also the right point of view about the world, life, people, relationships, and the rest of reality. They see life through the clear lens of biblical teaching. C. S. Lewis expressed this well when he said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
—C. S. Lewis—

Fourth, the men, women, and young people ADF serves have the right priorities. What are some biblical priorities that should guide our lives? Dr. Mark Corts recommends these four—and we see all of them in Blaine, Jack, Barronelle, and others.

  • The unseen over the seen. When Abram and Lot, Abram’s nephew, had to separate, Lot chose what he saw—the well-watered plain of Jordan. Enticed by what he saw, Lot missed the importance of what he didn’t see—the moral depravity of nearby Sodom and Gomorrah (see 13:1-13). Later he would pay a heavy price for his choice.
  • The eternal over the temporal. As he led God’s people out of Egypt, Moses invested his life in doing God’s will and shunned sin’s fleeting, temporary pleasures (see 11:24-25).
  • Quality over quantity. In Judges 7:1-7, God cut Gideon’s army down from 32,000 men to 300 and then used that small number to win an important battle over the Midianties.
  • The difficult over the easy. In recommending that God’s people take Canaan, Joshua and Caleb gave a minority report and countered the fearful advice of the ten other spies. It isn’t easy to go against the crowd, but because they did, of those 20 or more years of age, Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter the promised land, even as everyone else died (see 13; 14:1-10,26-30).

Fifth and finally (even though this isn’t by any means an exhaustive list), in one ADF client after another, we see men and women who affirm and live by the right principles. For much of this year, through a series of articles, we’ve been “Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes.” This post stands as a part of that series.

You see, ADF clients are showing us and the rest of the world how to embrace absolute truth without being absolutists, people who want to shove their views down everyone else’s throats. These champions of liberty are taking the stands they are taking because they see the world clearly from a biblical perspective and have resolved to follow the God of the Bible. They recognize that right and wrong are part of the real world, and they simply want to be able to do what they believe is right. Put another way, they, like everyone else, just want the freedom to live their lives according to their beliefs. They therefore are taking appropriate steps to resist having the views of secularism and relativism shoved down their own throats!

ADF clients are showing us and the rest of the world how to embrace absolute truth without being absolutists, people who want to shove their views down everyone else’s throats. They simply don’t want to have the views of secularism rammed down their own throats!

An important question arises at this point. When a Christian business owner refuses, even politely, to perform a service at a same-sex wedding or to do a job that would affirm homosexuality or something else directly in conflict with biblical teaching—how does such a refusal reflect Christ’s love? Here’s the answer. It never is

loving to participate in a lie, which is exactly what Stutzman…and many others are now being told they must do. Pray for an increasing number of pastors to have courage to publicly stand with these believers and to explain to their people the importance of biblical marriage.

Actually, performing any service that directly or officially affirms a falsehood demonstrates a lack of love—and dishonors Christ. Of course, it never is fun to take an unpopular stand on behalf of the truth. It’s tough to be misunderstood. Yet, contrary to conventional wisdom, such stands can have a long-range positive effect on people and the culture. In a previous discussion of Barronelle’s case, we cited an important lesson from history.

The first Christians were accused of many things, including cannibalism, atheism, and a lack of patriotism—and that’s just three of the items on a ten-item list. If any people ever were misunderstood, the early Christians were! Yet, according to Pastor Greg Laurie, “they came to be known as those who turned their world upside down.” He must have been thinking of Acts 17:6.

Examples to Follow

With this post, I commend to you the examples of ADF clients Blane Adamson, Jack Phillips, Barronelle Stutzman, and others. Let’s cultivate in our own lives the traits we’ve seen in them. They encourage us to

  • have passion about our work and about serving others through it,
  • maintain a right sense of purpose in our everyday lives and seek to glorify God in all we do,
  • maintain the right perspective by becoming and remaining worldview Christians,
  • cultivate and live according to biblical priorities, and
  • uphold the principles of absolute truth and contend for the recognition of absolutes in the public square.

We don’t have to become ADF clients to do these things—but if we do them, I guarantee we will avoid becoming frozen churchgoers.

We’ll even avoid growing cold.

A Helpful Resource for Creative Professionals
Alliance Defending Freedom offers a helpful resource to all creative professionals. Get your free copy of Create Freely from this page.

Part 15 is available here.

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.


1In Matthew 22:14 Jesus declared, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

2The videos used in the audio clip can be seen here, here, here, and here.


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Christians Must Stand with Barronelle Stutzman—for the Very Same Reason the Left Is Obsessed with Crushing Her

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.  Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.
attributed to Reformation leader Martin Luther


A condensed version of this article is available here.

Luke 14:25 says of Jesus, “Now great multitudes went with Him.” Apparently, at this point in His ministry, Jesus had quite a following. Probably not all of these individuals were committed to Him, but they at least were curious—and their numbers were plentiful. Why, then, would Jesus do what He did next? Beginning in verse 25, the passage goes on to say,

And He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. 34 “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Again, why would Jesus challenge the people in this way? Weren’t things going well enough? Surely His presentation would cause some, and probably many, to turn away. Why would He want to ruin a good thing? You’d think He’d at least wait until later to deliver this kind of message! We see that He offered a similar challenge to the man we often call the rich young ruler.

Hardship Foretold

Twenty-first century American Christianity tends to resist saying or doing anything that would bring down its numbers, but we need to understand that Jesus simply was being honest. If you think following Jesus will be easy, think again. Elsewhere, Jesus told His disciples,

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”

One individual who understands the meaning of these words experientially is Barronelle Stutzman, the Richland, Washington florist who is being sued for everything she owns because she politely turned down the opportunity to use her talent at the same-sex wedding of a longtime friend. We have highlighted her case in several Word Foundations posts (for examples, go here and here). This past Thursday, February 16, the Supreme Court of Washington issued a unanimous, nine to nothing ruling against Barronelle. Never mind that the left has exercised its right to refuse to perform services because of the political and moral convictions it espouses (you can read about examples here, here, and here). The left simply cannot allow anyone to disagree with its own beliefs about sexuality and marriage—or about anything else it deems important, for that matter—and get away with it. We should note, of course, that not everyone in the LGBT community holds this perspective (also go here), but militant activists and the prevailing culture do.

The Appalling Silence of the Church

On the very same day the ruling was issued, Barronelle appeared with her attorney, Kristen Waggoner, on Line of Fire, the radio program of Dr. Michael Brown. You can download the entire program here. Also, you can listen to the portion of the show where Brown interviewed Stutzman and Waggoner here. Dr. Brown wrote an article about the ruling on February 16 as well. He declared,

There is only one thing more appalling than the Washington Supreme Court’s 9-0 ruling against religious liberty today. It is the silence of Christian leaders across America, leaders who choose convenience over confrontation, leaders who would rather be popular than prophetic, leaders who prefer the favor of people over the favor of the God. Shame on these silent leaders. Today is a day to stand.…

Friends, what [we are] witnessing today is a breathtaking abuse of power, an extreme overreach by the government, a shocking example of LGBT activism out of control, yet over the next 7 days, church services will come and go without a word being spoken, and over the next 48 hours, the Christian blogosphere will remain relatively quiet. How can this be?

Dr. Brown asks a very important question. Why would church leaders and other Christians avoid talking about this issue? Perhaps the answer is tied to the reason we would wonder why in the world Jesus would tell His inquirers just how difficult it would be to become and remain one of His committed followers.

The reasons for the silence among churches and Christians include fear of intimidation, the desire to avoid controversy, a fear of losing people because of having offended them, and a desire to “stick to preaching the gospel.” In this post I want to address some of these issues and thereby challenge Christian leaders and laymen to stand publicly with Barronelle Stutzman.

Let’s examine four realities.

Costly Discipleship

First, Jesus wanted everyone following Him to know that for true disciples, a cost was involved. As a simple example, consider repentance, which Jesus indicated is essential for salvation. Also look back and read the passage of Scripture we cited when we started. Are we unwilling to challenge people with the full truth of the gospel? Perhaps more to the point, are we unwilling to bear any cost ourselves?

Are we unwilling to bear any of the costs associated with being a disciple of Christ?

We certainly can do nothing to earn salvation, but I’m not talking about doing anything to be saved. I’m talking about what we do because we have been saved. If we claim to be Christians, then according to our own professions, we are willing to identify with Jesus Christ. Barronelle Stutzman determined she had to draw the line at the point of marriage, because of what marriage is. It is not at all farfetched to say that Barronelle’s unwillingness to arrange flowers for a same-sex “wedding” represents a resolve to stand with Christ and identify with Him and with the God of the Bible. Marriage, the lifetime union of one man and one woman, was designed by the Creator to promote order, companionship, nurture of the next generation, and individual and societal cohesiveness and stability. In addition, if all of that weren’t enough, it’s also a picture of Christ and the church. Again, Barronelle is taking a stand at the point of marriage. Are we now going to cop out at this same point? For the professing Christian, this makes absolutely no sense.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
—Ephesians 5:25-27—

Consider the following declarations, presented in the probable order in which Jesus gave them.1 You can go here to see all of them printed on one page.

Matthew 7:21,24-27; Luke 6:46-49
Matthew 10:37-39
Matthew 16:24-27; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26
Matthew 8:18-22; Luke 9:57-62

Note especially Mark 8:38: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” About marriage, Jesus spoke very explicitly (see Matthew 19:1-6 and Mark 10:1-9). Thus, of these words about marriage we are warned by Jesus Himself not to be ashamed.

Misplaced Priorities

Second, a church leader or a Christian layperson might remain silent because his or her priorities are out of whack—and here I’m being very serious. In a previous post subtitled “Eight Menacing Trends in the American Evangelical Church,” we elaborated on the following misplaced priorities. We mentioned this post in a recent article but didn’t quote from it. There’s much more to the article than the list, but here we will quote the points on the list without elaboration. Please read the original article for more information.

  1. The church has focused on attracting people and keeping people, and it has failed to challenge them.
  2. The church has equated loving people with not offending them.
  3. The church has emphasized God’s love to the point of effectively neglecting His holiness and wrath.
  4. The church has endeavored to win converts and failed to make disciples.
  5. The church has upheld the benefits of salvation and avoided talking about its demands.
  6. The church has presented Christianity in terms of its implications for individuals alone and overlooked its benefits for the culture.
  7. While recognizing that Jesus was compassionate, loving, and kind, the church has largely ignored the fact that He was controversial.
  8. The church has failed to understand and acknowledge that the followers of Christ are at war with the forces of evil.

Let me be clear. I absolutely am sympathetic with church leaders who are concerned that if the church is not careful, it can come across as hateful and mean to unchurched people, including gays, lesbians, and other members of the LGBT community. Christians always are without excuse for being insensitive, unkind, or hateful to anyone, period. My point here, however, is that even when the church is careful, it still will be perceived by some as being insensitive, unkind, and hateful. Why? Because the gospel itself is offensive: “It is inherently offensive because it exposes sinners as guilty before a holy God.” There’s no way around this, and looking for ways around it constitutes an attempt, however unintentional, to water down the truth of the gospel. Failing to present the truth about God’s holiness and wrath helps no one, and in fact, it is quite harmful.

Marriage and the Gospel

Third, Barronelle Stutzman’s case underscores the truth that in the battle over natural marriage, the gospel is at stake. Here I am not saying that the gospel can be changed or manipulated by those who oppose it or by anyone else. No, the gospel is what it is because it has been divinely written and orchestrated, and because it is divinely offered to humanity. Nothing can or ever will change this.

Here’s what I am saying. When we as Christians living in the early 21st century in the United States of America share the gospel (something, by the way, that Christ has commanded us to do), we share it not only (1) with sinners in need of a Savior, but also (2) in a particular cultural and political context. If the political and cultural climate does not recognize our right to follow our deeply held convictions about marriage today (convictions that align with thousands of years of practice in countries worldwide), can it really be long before sharing the gospel itself is outlawed? This is not a farfetched idea.

Relentless efforts to silence voices like Barronelle’s move us ever closer to this point. Let’s understand that leftists and secularists already have gotten what they said they wanted; marriage has been redefined in the United States. Take note: Barronelle’s polite refusal to supply and arrange flowers for a same-sex wedding didn’t keep the wedding from occurring. Let’s put it another way. If this were about only the definition of marriage, then why are leftists threatening to take away everything Barronelle Stutzman owns? The Supreme Court already has ruled that nationwide, two men can “marry” each other, and two women also can enter into a relationship the state will recognize as a “marriage.”

Yet, even though homosexual activists now have what they’ve said was their ultimate goal, they’re not stopping. Barronelle and others in similar situations must acquiesce. They must comply and align with the left on this issue. To the activists, the supreme prize wasn’t really redefining marriage. It’s what’s behind natural marriage that raises ire and incites panic on their part.

The Real Rub

Just what is behind natural marriage and the case to restore it and to preserve it? Many things, but here I’ll name three:

Rebellious sinners, including you and me in the natural inclinations of our hearts, absolutely cannot abide anything that points directly to human accountability to and guilt before a holy God. Marriage as an exclusive union between one man and one woman, however subtly, does just that! Why? Because it also points to the salvation that Jesus made possible for His bride, the church.

In a previous post we said something similar about the Ark Encounter, a theme park in Northern Kentucky that includes a life-sized Noah’s ark. Answers in Genesis (AiG) is the parent ministry of the Ark Encounter. Opposition to the building of the ark and the opening of the park was vicious and even involved a crucial legal battle.

As a religious entity, Answers in Genesis had to fight for the right to hire only those whose beliefs aligned with its theological and moral convictions. It also had to fight for the right to participate in a state sponsored incentives program designed to make it easier for venues to attract visitors to Kentucky. Why would people who didn’t believe the Genesis account be so vehemently opposed to the Ark Encounter? Why would a gay or lesbian even want to work for AiG in the first place? Here’s what we said.

Reading between the lines, one gets the distinct impression that the problem these people are having isn’t primarily what they see as taxpayer-funded discrimination, but the fact that AiG and other Christian entities, including many churches, believe what the Bible teaches about sexuality, marriage, God, creation, and sin in the first place.

It runs even deeper than that. The ark of Noah, like the cross of Christ, offers strong reminders of humanity’s guilt before a righteous God. It is just as AiG states in its Ark Project Vision Statement: The ark is “a sign to the world that God’s Word is true and its message of salvation must be heeded (Romans 3:4, 5:12). Just as the Ark in Noah’s day was a sign of salvation, as well as judgment, an Ark rebuilt today can be a sign to point to Jesus Christ, the Ark of our salvation, and to coming judgment (2 Peter 3:5-13; John 10:9).”

In the cultural and political context in which we currently live, natural, man-woman marriage is like the ark of Noah. Consider these words from a well-known Bible passage, John 3:16-21.

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

We can express this even more explicitly by repeating something we’ve already said. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. In other words, it’s a picture of the gospel. This is why I say in the title of this post that “Christians Must Stand with Barronelle Stutzman—for the Very Same Reason the Left Is Obsessed with Crushing Her.” This case really is about the gospel!

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18).

In recent years, a resurgence of reformed theology has taken place in the American evangelical church. Participants in this movement have encouraged the church to rediscover and reemphasize Reformation theology, and, accordingly, have offered a renewed emphasis on the gospel of Jesus Christ. In a variety of ways, this has been beneficial for the church and for society at large. Yet respectfully, I am compelled to make this sobering observation. Barronelle Stutzman and others who are laying everything on the line to uphold God-ordained marriage are doing a lot more than affirming marriage. They are championing the gospel! If members of the New Reformed movement respond by looking the other way and refusing to publicly support people like Barronelle, then are they not offering empty words when they say they are affirming the gospel?

Hold it! Church leaders and Christians who don’t consider themselves a part of the New Reformed movement aren’t off the hook, either. Not by a long shot! It’s your job to uphold the gospel by defending marriage as well. Anyone professing the name of Christ is obligated by virtue of his or her allegiance to Christ to defend natural marriage. The inspired writer of Hebrews made this crystal clear when he wrote, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Heb. 13:4, NIV).

The Risk of Being Misunderstood

“But wait!” someone might say. “I don’t want to be misunderstood.” This is our fourth consideration. I appreciate this desire, of course. No one wants to be misunderstood. Yet if we fail to uphold marriage, there’s no doubt we’ll be misunderstood. Granted, if we do uphold it, we run the risk of being misunderstood on some levels—but at least we will be misunderstood for the right reason instead of because we were ashamed of Jesus’ words about the first institution God established at the dawn of time!

A history lesson will help us at this point. The early Christians were accused of many things, including cannibalism, atheism, and a lack of patriotism—and that’s just three of the items on a ten-item list. If any people ever were misunderstood, the early Christians were! Yet, according to Pastor Greg Laurie, “they came to be known as those who turned their world upside down.” He must have been thinking of Acts 17:6.

Clarity Desperately Needed

In April, 2015, a little more than two months before the Obergefell marriage decision was released by the United States Supreme Court, I wrote about how divinely crafted symbols were being distorted in society, and how they weren’t even being clearly presented in the church. I said this:

We can be assured that God is keenly aware of divine signs and images that are being misrepresented today. Thousands of years ago, God placed the first rainbow in the sky as a reminder of His faithfulness after the flood of Noah (see Gen. 9:8-17), but in 2015 many people see rainbow colors and celebrate evil in the name of the politically correct principles of “diversity” and “inclusiveness.” Then there’s marriage—a sacred institution ordained and instituted by God (see Gen. 2:18-25) as well as a picture of Christ’s relationship with His church (see Eph. 5:22-32). Needless to say, that picture is being muddied and distorted everywhere people look. If marriage is redefined in America, how can it possibly continue to represent in society anything close to the relationship God ordained it to represent? If we lose marriage, we lose an image that helps people understand why Christ died. While we cannot expect non-Christians to act as Christians, neither can we ignore the fact that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and for many years upheld those ideals. Yet in recent decades in this country, we have, as a nation, kicked God out of public life. Given all the opportunities we as Americans have had to hear and respond to God’s truth, we must understand that God will hold us accountable.

How You Can Help

Here are some ways you can support Barronelle Stutzman in her fight for religious liberty.

  • Pray for her and for others who are refusing to follow the state rather than their consciences and their God.
  • Give financially. Through Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), you can contribute to help finance Baronelle’s own case, which now is headed to the Supreme Court. The ACLU recently received $24 million from its supporters to litigate against people like Barronelle. ADF is attempting to counter this force with resources from freedom-loving and liberty-loving Americans who understand the importance of religious liberty. Learn more about this from David and Jason Benham in this video. Donate here. Be aware also that Samaritan’s Purse, which is headed by Franklin Graham, will accept funds given to help persecuted Christians in the United States. You can give by calling this organization at 1-800-528-1980.

Help Barronelle Stutzman by contributing financially to Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization offering her legal assistance. You can donate to help offset the legal expenses here.

  • Encourage President Trump to sign an executive order that would provide at least a measure of protection for religious freedom. This wouldn’t resolve the entire problem, but it would be a positive step.

  • Spread the word about the threat to religious liberty in this country and the importance of protecting it and preserving it. Don’t be intimidated! Speak up!

I close with an acknowledgement that I know what I’m encouraging you to do isn’t easy. It’s hard—especially in a culture that misunderstands the gospel and hates Christians. Against this backdrop, we do well to remember that in upholding marriage, we must never neglect our other responsibilities as believers, including loving, caring, helping, and serving—being Jesus’ hands and feet in the world. As we exercise love and uphold truth, we can be assured that God will use us to attract non-Christians to the Savior.

Just as He used the first Christians during the days of the early church.


Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.


1According to Steven L. Cox and Kendell H. Easley, eds., Harmony of the Gospels, (Nashville: Holman, 2007). This harmony is based on the text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, even though I have cited the New King James Version in this article. Moreover, Cox and Easley drew from the work of John A. Broadus and A. T. Robertson, who worked together to publish A Harmony of the Gospels (1893). Robertson continued this work and in 1922 published a revision titled A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christed Based on the Broadus Harmony in the Revised Version.


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

One Bible quotation in this article is designated NIV. It is from the New International Version. THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Thanksgiving in America 101, Part 2

 Thanksgiving and Religious Liberty

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort…. Conscience is the most sacred of all property.1

A man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.2

—Founding Father James Madison—

James Madison played a vital role in the founding of the United States, serving the new nation in a variety of important position during its earliest years. He was

  • influential in drafting the Virginia constitution,
  • a member of the Virginia House of Delegates (1776-1777; 1784-1786),
  • a member of the Continental Congress (1780-1783; 1786-1788),
  • a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, representing Virginia,
  • a member of the US House of Representatives from the 5th district of Virginia (1789-1793)
  • a member of the US House of Representatives from the 15th district of Virginia (1793-1797),
  • Secretary of State under President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), and
  • the 4th President of the United States (1809-1817).

Significantly, Madison has been called the Father of the US Constitution and the Father of the Bill of Rights (also go here). His work in getting the Constitution ratified was vital on many levels, including his role in addressing the states’ demand that the Constitution include a bill of rights.

Running against James Monroe for one of Virginia’s seats in the newly created House of Representatives, Madison promised to work diligently to add a bill of rights (also go here). He was elected and kept his promise. In the 12 articles that made up the proposed bill of rights sent to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789, “several of Madison’s concepts, if not his exact wording,” appeared. On December 15, 1791, 10 of the 12 were ratified by the required three-fourths of state legislatures, and they have stood through the years as America’s official Bill of Rights.3 These amendments wisely were enacted to restrain the federal government from encroaching on the liberties of America’s citizens—and again, James Madison had no small part in the process. Author and historian William J. Bennett writes that “no figure of antiquity—no Greek like Pericles or Solon, no Roman like Cicero or Cincinnatus—can claim an equal standing with Madison as lawgiver and champion of liberty.”


Understanding Madison’s contribution to American liberty will help us appreciate the importance of a special part of his proclamation for a day of prayer and thanksgiving. On July 23, 1813, President Madison issued a proclamation setting aside Thursday, September 9 of that same year for prayer, and to render unto God “thanks for the many blessings He has bestowed on the people of the United States.”

At the time, the United States was involved in the War of 1812, a conflict that had begun the previous year and that would not end until 1815. James “Madison had not seriously prepared for war and lacked a strategy or good generals. The war began poorly, as Americans suffered defeat after defeat by smaller forces.”


In October of 1812, US Forces were defeated at the Battle of Queenston Heights in Canada.

October of 1813, however, witnessed a turning point for America, and by the war’s end in 1815, a renewed spirit of patriotism spread throughout the nation. Let us not overlook the fact that the president called the nation to prayer just weeks before the tide began to turn for the United States.

Let us not overlook the fact that the president called the nation to prayer just weeks before the tide began to turn for the United States.

In his proclamation, which you can read here, America’s chief executive highlighted several examples of God’s favor on America, including the fact

that He has blessed the United States with a political Constitution rounded on the will and authority of the whole people and guaranteeing to each individual security, not only of his person and his property, but of those sacred rights of conscience so essential to his present happiness and so dear to his future hopes.

This clause reflects some of Madison’s priorities as he worked on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He, as much or more than all the other men who deliberated over the details of both, keenly understood that to maintain a free society, religious liberty and rights of conscience had to be protected.

Only when religious liberty and rights of conscience are protected can the people of a nation remain free.

In his proclamation, Madison also referred directly to the war that was at hand and the challenges it had brought upon the young nation. Accordingly, he underscored the need for calling out to God. The needs were great, so the occasion would be a serious one. September 9 was to be “a day of public humiliation and prayer.”

Having issued the call and set forth the rationale for observing the special day, President James Madison went out of his way to emphasize that no one would be forced to participate. Hear these words from the past and realize their import for the present.

If the public homage of a people can ever be worthy the favorable regard of the Holy and Omniscient Being to whom it is addressed, it must be that in which those who join in it are guided only by their free choice, by the impulse of their hearts and the dictates of their consciences; and such a spectacle must be interesting to all Christian nations as proving that religion, that gift of Heaven for the good of man, freed from all coercive edicts, from that unhallowed connection with the powers of this world which corrupts religion into an instrument or an usurper of the policy of the state, and making no appeal but to reason, to the heart, and to the conscience, can spread its benign influence everywhere and can attract to the divine altar those freewill offerings of humble supplication, thanksgiving, and praise which alone can be acceptable to Him whom no hypocrisy can deceive and no forced sacrifices propitiate.

Last week we observed Thanksgiving and highlighted the history of the holiday in America, even before it became an annual observance.


Two weeks ago, we considered florist Barronelle Stutzman’s appearance before the Supreme Court in Washington state. Refusing to violate her conscience, Mrs. Stutzman turned down the opportunity to arrange flowers for the same-sex wedding of a longtime friend. She subsequently was sued, and she may lose everything for taking this stand.


It is against this backdrop that we consider President Madison’s centuries-old proclamation, one of the early calls for prayer and thanksgiving issued in America. Recognizing both Madison’s roles in the founding of our nation as well as the fact the 1813 prayer observance occurred within a few years of the ratification of the Constitution, we need to make sure we take to heart our fourth president’s clear statements about religious liberty.

If under the Constitution no one could be forced to violate his or her conscience to participate in a solemn day of thanksgiving and prayer, then, under the same Constitution, neither can anyone ever be required to violate his or her conscience regarding the definition of marriage. James Madison is in a position to speak authoritatively on the matter, and while he didn’t specifically address Barronelle’s situation, he’s told us enough to eliminate every doubt about where he would stand—and where the Constitution stands. It’s crystal clear where James Madison would stand on same-sex marriage, but even apart from that, it’s also abundantly evident that he would say the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, upholds Barronelle Stutzman’s rights of conscience.

Read carefully again, if you have not already, the two quotes from James Madison at the top of this post. Significantly, our 4th president also said, “Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.”

Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.

James Madison’s insights could not be more relevant for America today, 203 years later, near the close of 2016. Let us fight to preserve the principles for which he labored tirelessly more than two centuries ago.


Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.




3The special program “We Hold These Truths” by Norman Corwin commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1941.


An Argument Every Homosexual Rights Activist Ought to Understand and Acknowledge as Valid

Our government is supposed to protect our First Amendment rights—freedom of religion and expression. But the government is telling me I can only be a faithful Christian within the four walls of my church. That’s impossible and it’s unjust. What would Rob and Curt say if the government told them they could only be who they are in their own homes? [emphasis added]
Barronelle Stutzman, in an op-ed piece published in the Washington Post on May 13, 1915, naming the men who wanted her to create floral arrangements for their same-sex wedding and defending her right to decline the opportunity because doing so would have violated her deeply held religious beliefs—

Previously at Word Foundations we have discussed how a typical homosexual activist looks at and assesses even polite refusals from Christian business owners to participate in same-sex weddings. Based on his or her deeply held religious beliefs, a baker, florist, photographer, or other professional might say, “I’m sorry, I don’t do gay weddings. I can recommend some other vendors to you, but because I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, I must decline your request for my services.” Even though such a refusal is based, not on hate, but on deeply held religious convictions about marriage, the homosexual has difficulty seeing this. Here’s why.

[O]ne hundred years ago, people viewed homosexuality as a behavior. (By the way, this is exactly the way Scripture sees it and treats it.) Fifty years ago, society viewed it as a condition. Our culture today sees it as an identity. This is [a big] reason gays and lesbians have difficulty understanding Christians’ claim to “love the sinner but hate the sin.” A gay man believes, “If you hate homosexuality, you must hate me, because that’s who I am.”

I call this the identity argument. For many years we’ve heard it from homosexual activists and others demanding same-sex for marriage: I can’t violate who I am!

It’s bad enough that the cultural narrative says homosexuality is fine, but it does more. It fuses homosexuality and identity together. For this and numerous other reasons, gays and lesbians cannot separate their sexual orientation from themselves as people. To them, it’s personal.

The identity argument says, “This is who I am, and I have to live that out and express it.”

Here I won’t try to analyze the identity argument on the part of homosexuals or try to explain its weaknesses. You can read more about my perspective on homosexuality in the article that carries the above quote. For now, my point is that even if we believe homosexuals are misapplying the identity argument, we need to realize its power, including how this perspective sets the stage emotional wounding when gays and lesbians hear concerns raised about the destructive nature of homosexual behavior. Moreover, we need to consistently respect them as people as well as their right to hold to their views.

That said, let’s now turn our attention to the convictions of Christian vendors who feel compelled to refuse to participate in same-sex weddings. Barronelle Stutzman is one such vendor. She’s a florist in Richland, Washington. Rob Ingersoll had been Barronelle’s customer and friend for many years, and never once had his sexual orientation been an issue in their friendship. Then same-sex marriage became legal in Washington state. Rob was planning to “marry” his partner, Curt Freed, and he asked Barronelle to arrange flowers for the wedding. Despite their longstanding friendship, Barronelle felt she had no choice but to decline. She became the target of a lawsuit. Here’s her story.

Barronelle Stutzman’s case has made it all the way to the Washington state Supreme Court. Oral arguments were presented to the court this week, on Tuesday, November 15. Go here, here, and here for reports.


On Saturday, November 12, three days prior to her appearance in court, Barronelle offered her perspective on her case through the Spokesman-Review, a Spokane newspaper. Here is a portion of what she wrote.

Since I never hid my faith, I always figured Rob understood that my beliefs shape not only how I look at the world, but how I envision and create my art—the art he appreciated for so long. So it wasn’t that I wouldn’t create something to celebrate his same-sex wedding—I couldn’t. This wasn’t about selling him flowers, or celebrating a birthday. This involved what, to me, is an event of unique spiritual significance—a sacred covenant. Art, like faith, comes from the heart, from who I am. I couldn’t deny my faith—even for so dear a friend—without damaging the very creativity he was asking for.

If you’re not a person of faith, that may sound odd. But Rob said he understood, and I took him at his word. He may not have shared my beliefs, but he knew I genuinely cared about him. I still do, and I miss him coming into the shop. But the state is trying to use his case to force me to create artistic expressions that violate my deepest beliefs. It’s moving to dissolve my most precious freedom, erode my life’s work and savings and take away the financial security of those who work with me.

If you didn’t read the above statements carefully you might have missed it. Note that Barronelle writes, “it wasn’t that I wouldn’t create something special for his same-sex wedding—I couldn’t.…Art, like faith, comes from the heart, from who I am. I couldn’t deny my faith—even for so dear a friend—without damaging the very creativity he was asking for.”

Here, Barronelle, rightly, I believe, has made the identity argument. It isn’t just that she holds to Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality; she is a Christian, and that identity drives her thinking, actions, and affections—all she is and does. Hers is an argument that, of all people, homosexual activists should understand and acknowledge as valid.

Barronelle Stutzman has made the identity argument. Even though homosexual activists will disagree with her conclusions, they still should respect her argument and acknowledge it as valid. After all, they themselves make a parallel case in defense of their position.

Clearly, Barronelle respects Rob’s and Curt’s convictions about who they are, for, as we noted at the top, she has said, “What would Rob and Curt say if the government told them they could only be who they are in their own homes?”

Yet the Richland florist also is right on target when she says, “If you’re not a person of faith, that [what I have written about my perspective] may sound odd.” Even if does sound odd, a Christian’s identity argument should be respected in the marketplace of ideas, just as is a similar argument from gays and lesbians.

Otherwise, it will be impossible to preserve genuine liberty and freedom in the United States of America.


Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.