Evangelical Christians are in danger of tragically misapplying the gospel. It’s a mistake we’ve seen before.
Before the Second World War, the rise of Adolf Hitler forced German Christians to make a choice. Some attempted to make peace with the Nazis, engaging in dialogue and endless discussions. Most in this group ended up allowing their churches to become accomplices.
The other main group advocated staying on the sidelines and simply obeying the government, saying that gospel witness was just too important to be muddied up with controversial political stances.
In both cases, Hitler had little to fear from these believers — and he knew it. “They will submit,” the Fuhrer said derisively. “…they are insignificant little people, submissive as dogs, and they sweat with embarrassment when you talk to them.”
Of course, Hitler overlooked Christians such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who risked their lives to boldly oppose Nazi injustice.
No, we’re not facing a Hitler, but the stakes are still very high. You’re no doubt aware of the battle over marriage raging across the country. And it’s time to make a choice: Speak out, or acquiesce.
On one side are those of us who say that marriage is and always has been the union of one man and one woman. On the other are those who want to redefine marriage as between any two people, including two men or two women. In every state where voters have been given a choice, marriage as Western civilization has always understood it has been affirmed.
Well, the battle has moved to Minnesota. This November, an amendment to define marriage as being between a man and a woman will be on the ballot. You would expect pastors in the Land of 10,000 Lakes to take a clear stand.
Unbelievably, a couple of evangelical stalwarts are electing to sit this fight out — choosing not to endorse the amendment. Leith Anderson, a former pastor and President of the National Association of Evangelicals is one. John Piper, of Bethlehem Baptist Church, is another. During a recent sermon, Rev. Piper said “Don’t press the organization of the church or her pastors into political activism. ... Expect from your shepherds not that they would rally you behind political candidates or legislative mandates, but they would point you over and over again to God and to his word.”
I’m all for pointing people to God’s Word — surely we need that! But is attempting to protect marriage from a dangerous redefinition mere political activism? Anderson warned that “churches should seek to be nonpartisan in their approach to teaching moral truths.” Agreed! But defending marriage is not a partisan activity!
As our late friend Chuck Colson said, marriage is a central pillar of our civilization, and if we allow it to be redefined, the religious liberty of all will be imperiled. I talked about this recently on BreakPoint — pointing to Canada, where so-called gay “marriage” is legal, and where a Catholic bishop was charged with a human-rights violation for writing a letter to his flock about the Catholic Church’s stand on marriage! In Denmark, by law, gay couples, may now get married in any church they want! Don’t think that can’t happen here.
Look, I understand we’ve been rightly criticized for, at times, politicizing the gospel. But the fact that we have sometimes gotten our civic engagement wrong doesn’t mean that we should stop trying to get it right! We believers simply cannot sit this one out.
I urge you, join the half a million Christians and sign the Manhattan Declaration in defense of marriage, life, and religious liberty. Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll link you to it.
As Bonhoeffer and like-minded German Christians knew, there comes a time to choose. Pastors: Choose courage, not silence.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: July 2, 2012