Don’t ever forget that, for some folks, “separation of church and state” is a half-measure. It’s just a pit stop on the road to de-Christianizing America. It’s a temporary means to a much bigger end.
Over the weekend, I was honored to sign a document called the Nashville Statement. It’s a basic declaration of Christian orthodoxy on sexuality, sexual orientation, and sexual identity. Its 14 articles can be boiled down to a simple statement: We believe the Bible is the word of God, and the word of God declares that sexual intimacy is reserved for the lifelong union of a man and a woman in marriage. It acknowledges the reality of same-sex attraction as well as the reality of transgender self-conceptions, but denies that God sanctions same-sex sexual activity or a transgendered self-conception that is at odds with biological reality. In other words, it’s basic Christianity.
Sometimes, however, one needs to state the obvious. There are powerful peer and cultural pressures that are pushing Christians to compromise on core principles. In some parts of the country, Christians are social pariahs if they admit to their Biblical views. In other places, their career opportunities are limited and their civil liberties are at risk. As a result, a number of Christians have retreated to a fallback position: They claim that they’ll comply with Christian orthodoxy in their own lives, but they won’t “judge” anyone who chooses to live differently. In perhaps its most contentious article, the Nashville Statement deals directly with this mentality, declaring:
WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.
Again, this is basic Christianity. Moreover, it’s a moral statement. It declares no position on matters of constitutional law, civil rights, or civil liberties. It does not in any way urge any individual or the government to mistreat any LGBTQ person. To the contrary, it repeatedly declares God’s love and God’s saving grace.
The backlash was of course immediate, with multiple liberal Evangelicals deriding the statement as cruel or mean. In their theology, God’s word is subject to an overriding cultural and political test. One can reject even His clearest commands if those commands are “mean” or “intolerant.” And what’s “mean” or “intolerant” is — oddly enough — defined almost entirely by secular social revolutionaries. For example, here’s noted liberal Evangelical Jen Hatmaker:
The fruit of the "Nashville Statement" is suffering, rejection, shame, and despair. The timing is callous beyond words.
— JenHatmaker (@JenHatmaker) August 29, 2017
Every now and again, progressive politicians tip their hand. Every now and again, the message of “inclusion” becomes, “We don’t want your kind here.” When Chick-fil-A was in the eye of the culture-war storm, progressive city leaders from coast to coast indicated they wanted no Chick-fil-A chicken sold within their city limits. Consider for a moment that degree of malignant intolerance. No one is indoctrinated in a fast-food restaurant. But the mere idea that faithful Christians would be enriched by liberal dollars was too much for some progressives. “Inclusive values” apparently demand punitive reprisals.
We now live in a world where a subset of progressive politicians is enthusiastically and vindictively intolerant in the name of tolerance. They will re-educate or ruin small-business owners who won’t lend their creative talents to celebrate gay weddings. If the Constitution allowed, they would ban from their cities any businesses run by faithful Christians who refuse to be silent on matters of sexual morality. They will publicly reject basic statements of Christian theology, and they will do it in the name of comprehensive social engineering.
These politicians are the twin brothers and sisters of their repressive campus and corporate cousins, but they wield the power of the state. They will name, shame, and push their power beyond its constitutional limits to build their brave new world. There’s nothing “inclusive” about any of this. It’s secular social justice, the new progressive faith, and heaven help those who dissent.
— David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.