This is “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” In 1954 an amendment was added to the IRS tax code that “absolutely prohibited” pastors from speaking on behalf of or in opposition to any political candidates. According to the IRS, “Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax.”
For 50 years pastors generally followed this IRS rule. Even though most of our Presidents were probably not Christians, none of them were openly hostile to Christianity or biblical values. Why make and issue out of something that didn’t make much difference?
All that has changed! We now have the most openly anti-biblical President in the history of the United States. While I could talk about all kinds of issues that sincere Christians can disagree on—like the wisdom (or lack thereof) of Obamacare, the stimulus program, the enormous debt buildup, the failed Green energy programs, the Fast and Furious cover-up, the immigration debate, and so on, this sermon will cover only four issues that I believe to be biblical issues. When the Bible speaks, we cannot remain silent—not even if the IRS says so. Just as prophets in the Old Testament were not silent about the social and political realities of their day, pastors in our day must not be silent either. The four biblical issues I’m going to address, therefore, are Israel, abortion, homosexuality, and freedom of religion.
My first topic is Israel. Now, granted, even Evangelical Christians disagree on Israel, but hear me out. According to Genesis 12:3: God gave a promise to Abraham; a promise which was later passed down to his son Isaac and to his grandson Jacob, also known as Israel. God said, “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.
In Genesis 27:29 this blessing, “Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!” was specifically passed down to Abraham’s grandson, Israel.
These passages would seem to indicate that God has a special blessing on the Jewish people. Now some would argue that God is done with the Jews and that all the blessings given to Israel now come to the Church. It is true that many of the blessings God gave to Israel in the Old Testament are now inherited not only by believing Jews but also by Christians who have been grafted in to the promises of God, as Paul teaches in Romans 11.
But the idea that God has rejected ethnic Jews is absolutely unbiblical. In Romans 11:1-3, Paul asked, “has God rejected his people?—and in the context Paul is clearly talking about Israel. His answer is, “By no means!” Paul says, “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” It is hard to see how Paul could have been any clearer.
I believe, therefore, that a nation is walking on dangerous ground that sets itself in opposition to Israel. No this doesn’t mean, “Israel right or wrong.” Even Jesus severely criticized his generation. But I do think it means that in general we should stand by Israel and that any talk about destroying Israel is unbiblical.
We have a serious crisis brewing in the Middle East. By virtually all accounts, Iran is on track to develop nuclear weapons and Iranian President Ahamadejad has made his position on Israel perfectly clear.
· In October 2005 Ahamadejad said that “Israel must be wiped off the map….” Now some have tried to say that that’s not what he meant but the fact that he said this in a conference entitled, “The World Without Zionism” along with his other statements on Israel, seem to make perfectly clear that we have not misunderstood him. For example:
· In November 2006 Ahamadejad said, "Israel is destined for destruction and will soon disappear."
· In August 2008 speaking of Israel he said, "We will witness the dismantling of the corrupt regime in the very near future."
· In October 2009 he said, "The uniform shout of the Iranian nation is forever 'Death to Israel.'..."
· In April 2011 he said, “I am telling you that a new and greater Middle East will be established without the existence of the U.S. and the Zionist regime…..” [The “Zionist regime, of course, is Israel].
· As recently as August 2012 Ahamadejad said "…any freedom lover and justice seeker in the world must do its best for the annihilation of the Zionist regime…”
A nuclear Iran would not only threaten Israel but the world! Failure to take these threats seriously is no less insane than was the failure to take Hitler seriously before World War II. Yet President Obama refuses to even draw a “red line” beyond which we will not allow Iran to go. In the mean time we continue with endless negotiations and worthless sanctions that simply give Iran more time to develop nuclear weapons!
The Obama administration argues that the sanctions are increasingly isolating Iran. Charles Krauthammer, writing on September 14, 2012 responded, “Really? Just two weeks ago, 120 nations showed up in Tehran for a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement…Even the U.N. secretary-general attended…” Krauthammer said that the “director of national intelligence testified to Congress” in 2012, that the sanctions had absolutely no effect in slowing Iran’s nuclear program. And yet, while the administration does nothing, according to Krauthammer, it “warns Israel sternly, repeatedly, publicly, even threateningly not to strike the Iranian nuclear program.”
In the meantime, Israel’s very existence is at stake. The lives of millions of Jews are at stake. But it is not just Israel that is at stake. A nuclear Iran would either encourage other Muslims nations to develop their own nuclear weapons in response, or Iran would succeed in pressuring them into its dream of a revived Islamic empire. In any event, a nuclear Iran has the potential to make the threat posed by Hitler’s Germany seem trivial by comparison.
By contrast Romney has made it clear that he would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons…period.
But Iran is not the only issue regarding Israel. Last year—May 2011 to be exact—President Obama publicly called on Israel to move back to its pre-1967 borders. Some call these borders “suicide borders” because they are indefensible.
Now if Israel were living at peace with its neighbors this might be an issue that was at least open to negotiation. But as we saw above, Iran has publically declared its desire to wipe Israel off the face of the map and they are funding the terrorist groups, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza to do just that!
In 2005 the Israeli government required all Israeli citizens to leave their homes in Gaza so the land could be given to the Palestinians. This was a perfect opportunity for the Palestinians to prove they could live in peace with Israel. It was a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that the “two-state solution” would work. Instead, the people of Gaza freely elected a terrorist Hamas government and since then Gaza has fired literally thousands and thousands of rockets at innocent Jews living in border towns all the while the world and even our own government stands by and criticizes Israel.
In 2006 the Israeli-Lebanon War began when Hezbollah terrorists fired rockets at Israeli border towns and launched an anti-tank missile attack on an Israeli patrol which was guarding the Israeli side of the border.
The world—and many in the United States—treat these incidents as if there is a moral equivalence. In other words, as if both sides are equally at fault. This is simply not true. The only thing necessary for peace in the Middle East would be for Muslims to stop attacking Israel. But some Muslim nations won’t even recognize Israel’s right to exist: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen do not recognize Israel. Hamas and Hezbollah, supported by Iran, actively prepare to destroy Israel.
In this context, President Obama’s refusal to deal with Iran, and his call for Israel to move back to its pre-1967 borders—suicide borders--is dangerous to Israel and therefore, in my opinion, unbiblical.
Unfortunately, President Obama and many others seem to live in dream world in which they imagine that if we were just understanding enough, if we would just negotiate enough, if we would just give the Palestinians enough land, we could have peace. These politicians are secularists who really don’t understand religion. Someone who does understand is Jamaan Al-Harbash, a Kuwaiti parliament member, who said in 2010, “This is a war of religion, not just a war between Arabs and Israelis, or a war between liberators and occupiers. This is an ideological war, an Islamic war, which will end in victory only under the banner of Jihad.”
Oh, but we don’t want to be one issue voters, do we? Very well, let’s look at the second issue.
I want to preface my remarks by saying the we worship a God of forgiveness. We have all sinned against God, sometimes in major ways. Abortion is not an unforgivable sin. Those who sincerely repent of their abortion(s) can find forgiveness in Christ Jesus. But having said that, I need to say that the Bible is very clear, Thou shalt not murder, which is the more accurate translation of the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” Murder is the premeditated taking of innocent human life. And scientifically speaking, human life begins at conception. The fetus is not a non-human animal, it is not vegetable, it is not mineral, it is human and it is unquestionably alive!
Now our Catholic brothers and sisters might disagree saying that human life begins before conception. After all, the sperm and egg are human cells and they are living. True, enough, but the same thing could be said of human cancer cells. They are living, human cells too. The difference is that unlike cancer, for example, the embryo has a separate DNA structure from both parents, and will eventually grow into an adult human. Biologically, life begins at conception.
But it’s not that simple, we are told. How can the zygote formed at conception possibly qualify as being a person. It is just a collection of cells. It doesn’t have a brain, or a heart, or limbs. The embryo is not a person, or so we are told. So how do we know when we get a soul or become a person? Fortunately, we don’t have to decide. All we need to know is that life begins at conception and that God condemns murder, which is the premeditated taking of innocent human life.
We are on very dangerous ground when we tie murder to how we choose to define personhood. If you want to kill Jews or blacks, you simply define them as not having personhood. If you want an excuse to kill the severely mentally retarded or those will severe medical problems, you simply declare that they are not truly persons. If babies are inconvenient, we simply deny that they are persons. But let’s not kid ourselves. We are merely playing games to get around God’s commandment.
Now granted, a President only has limited power to stop abortions. He cannot simply overrule the Supreme Court. But he does not have to support abortion either. Although President Obama once said he wants to make abortion rare, he has done more to promote abortion than any President in history.
I’d like to quote some excerpts from a 2012 article by James Dobson at length because I think he explains the issue quite well. Dr. Dobson writes:
You and the American people have been deceived about matters of enormous significance. You may remember that on the night of Sept. 9, 2009, President Barack Obama gave an address to a joint session of Congress, which was televised to the nation…As he explained in his opening remarks,
The speech was filled with promises and assurances that have proved to be shockingly false, and the president’s premise was based on deception. This comment stands out:
The first indication that we had not been told the truth came in March 2010. Steven Ertelt, editor of LifeNews, filed this report:
The Obama administration has officially approved the first instance of taxpayer funded abortions under the new national government-run health-care program. This is the kind of abortion funding the pro-life movement warned about when Congress considered the bill.
Later on in the article Dobson quotes the Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee as saying that “The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million in federal tax funds” to fund abortions. Dobson continues,
A mere six months after the president’s solemn promise to Congress, he endorsed a federal abortion plan for the people of Pennsylvania in preparation for a $5 billion national rollout. It was done quietly, and of course, the media were silent about it….The Big Promise of Sept. 9 had already been abandoned.
Then Dobson says,
Well, the plan that was hatched in secrecy in 2010 came to fruition early this year when Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius announced an expansion of Section 1303 of the Obamacare law. Her ruling requires many millions of Americans to pay a minimum surcharge for abortion services, whether or not they receive or want them…The president had parsed his words very carefully in 2009 when he said funding for abortion would not come from the federal government. Clearly it won’t. It will be compelled by the federal government to come from YOU.
Here is a summary of the new regulation: When an insurance company provides coverage for abortion, it MUST charge all employees an amount sufficient to cover the costs of abortion services, even by those who are horrified at the thought. No one can opt out of the provision….
Additionally, as you probably know, HHS announced recently that businesses and non-profit organizations, including churches and Christian nonprofit institutions, will have to provide free contraceptives with health insurance. It must also pay for medications that kill babies, known as abortifacients.
When Catholic and evangelical church leaders objected strenuously to this assault on religious liberty, the president simply announced an “accommodation,” requiring insurance companies to pay for the contraceptives. Of course, they will pass the expense along to their customers, and employees will all be in the abortion business.
It gets worse. It was announced a few weeks ago that colleges and universities, including Christian institutions, must provide free contraceptives that kill babies (abortifacients).
This brings us to another falsehood spoken by the president Sept. 9, 2009. Let me quote his words again…:
This second sentence contains another big lie. The president never intended to protect the conscience clause. Indeed, on Feb. 18, 2011, he canceled President Bush’s executive order guaranteeing doctors, nurses and other health professionals would not have to violate their beliefs.
Finally, Dr. Dobson concludes:
The Creator will not hold us guiltless if we turn a deaf ear to the cries of His innocent babies. So come and get me if you must, Mr. President. I will not bow before your wicked regulation.
The situation is actually even worse than Dr. Dobson presented.
· In addition to the above, our president opposed legislation that tried to keep minors from crossing state lines to get abortions, and he opposed notifying the parents of minors who seek out of state abortions.
· The President has opposed a bill that would have prevented someone from aborting a baby just because the baby was a girl or a boy. In other words, if you find that you are pregnant with a girl and you don’t want a girl, President Obama thinks that should be all the reason you need to get an abortion!
· Mr. Obama supported the “Freedom of Choice Act” that would have eliminated virtually all federal and state limitations on abortion—even limits on partial birth abortions in which a baby is partially delivered and then killed!
· In fact, when he was senator, at least three times he argued in favor of allowing living babies who survived abortion to be left in some cold stainless steel pan to die unattended!
This has been the most rabidly pro-abortion President in American history.
But we don’t want to be one issue voters, do we, so let’s look at a third issue:
In Leviticus 18, the prohibition against homosexual behavior occurs among such sexual sins as sex with one’s father, mother, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, or even with animals! The text calls these behaviors “depravity” and “abomination” and says that the land of the Canaanites would “vomit out” its inhabitants for such behaviors. The writer intends his readers to understand that these sins are so vile that God even expects pagan nations to know better. The condemnation is repeated in Leviticus 20.
But that’s just Old Testament, right?
Contrary to popular belief, the New Covenant does not wipe out all Old Testament commands. But even if it did, this is one command repeated numerous times in the New Testament, in Romans 1; First Corinthians 6:9-10; and First Timothy 1:10. In fact, when Jesus condemned sexual immorality in Mark 7 and Matthew 15, there can be no serious doubt that he was referring to the sexual sins listed in Leviticus 18 and 20.
But what difference does it make? Who cares? After all, we don’t outlaw other sins like adultery, right?
True. And no one is trying to outlaw homosexuality either. We just don’t want to give it government recognition which would make it official public policy. Once same-sex marriage becomes public policy, there will be disastrous consequences for religious freedom.
Don’t take my word for it. Anthony Piccarello, president of the Becket Fund which specializes in religious freedom cases, said “The impact will be severe and pervasive.” “This is going to affect every area of church-state relations.”
Marc Stern, one of the attorneys for the American Jewish Congress said the coming conflict between religious freedom and gay rights is “going to be a train wreck”
The problem is that when homosexuality becomes part of official U.S.
public policy the government will take legal action to enforce it. For example, in Massachusetts a couple complained when their second grader was forced to read a book about romance and marriage between two men. The school refused to let them opt out of the assignment. The case went to court.
A judge ruled that since gay marriage was legal in Massachusetts—in other
words it was public policy—the school had a duty to promote same sex marriage to children and had no obligation to let children opt out! In direct opposition to the Constitution, public policy was seen to trump freedom of religion.
In 2009, a group of law professors sent a letter to a New York assemblyman warning of the potential consequences of a same sex marriage bill. While their concerns specifically addressed New York, the same concerns apply nationwide. They warned that:
- · Religious colleges may have their accreditation revoked and could be sued for not allowing same-sex couples to live in their married student housing, or for even having codes of conduct that say homosexual behavior is wrong. [And by the way, this would put many Christian colleges out of business].
- · “Religious camps, day cares, retreat centers, counseling centers, or adoption agencies could be sued if they cannot, in good conscience, offer their services to members of a same-sex marriage.”
- · Religious “Doctors, psychologists, social workers, counselors” and other professionals could be sued and/or have their licenses revoked for holding to biblical convictions regarding homosexuality.
- · Religious organizations and even churches may be sued if they fire employees for marrying someone of the same sex.
The letter cites the legal reasons for all of this and also cites actual cases in which these things have already happened. The issue is that once same-sex marriage becomes public policy, the flood-gates of litigation and government intervention are likely to burst wide-open.
Remember now, that this letter was not sent by a coalition of right-wing
talk show hosts. The letter was sent by law professors and constitutional experts from universities like Washington and Lee, Valparaiso, the University of Missouri, and Notre Dame.
Some of the things they warned about have already happened. For example,
Some of the things they warned about have already happened. For example,
· In San Diego, a Christian doctor was sued by a lesbian because he could not in good conscience artificially inseminate her.
· In Massachusetts, a Catholic adoption agency was forced to go out of business when they could not, in good conscience, comply with a new law requiring them to adopt children to gay couples.
· In Georgia, a Christian counselor was sued and lost her job merely for referring a lesbian client to another psychologist who was more sympathetic to lesbian relationships.
· In Virginia, the Christian owner of a small film company was sued because he could not in good conscience reproduce a lesbian’s pro-homosexual movies.
· In New Jersey a Christian organization was sued for not allowing its private facilities to be rented for a same sex civil union.
· In Boston, public school teachers were threatened with termination if they failed to portray homosexual marriage in a positive light.
Whether you agree or not with the position these Christians and organizations
took, no one should be forced by the government to violate their religious convictions. It is unconstitutional.
Now contrary to the lies sometimes spread about us, we do not hate homosexuals. Homosexuals are people for whom Christ died. They should be treated with kindness and should never be mistreated—especially not by Christians. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Bible condemns sex between people of the same sex in the strongest possible terms. It doesn’t change the fact that ultimately, this is an issue which has been used to trample religious freedom. It doesn’t change the fact that President Obama has done more—far more— to push homosexuality on this country than any President in history.
The problem of course, is that Romney’s record is not spotless on this issue either, but at least with Romney we have his promise that he will defend religious liberty—something that Obama has already trampled.
But we don’t want to be one issue voters, do we? OK, let’s look at the fourth issue:
IV. The Constitution and Freedom of Religion
The Bible never commands a nation to have a constitution or to provide Freedom of Religion, so in one sense this is not a biblical issue. Yet it is a biblical issue in the sense that Christians are to have no higher authority than God and we must obey God rather than man. Therefore, it is crucial that Christians, as part of “we the people” promote a government that allows us to follow the religious dictates of our conscience legally.
At its root Freedom of Religion is the freedom to not have one’s conscience violated by the government. This was a core principle on which this country was founded. Thomas Jefferson once said, `[n]o provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”
Let that sink in. Thomas Jefferson said that the Constitution was intended to protect the rights of conscience against government! With this in mind, Barack Obama’s record on religious freedom should terrify us!
· For example, the Bush administration had passed provisions that would protect doctors and nurses who had religious objections to participating in abortions. In February 2011 Obama eliminated those protections. In other words, the Obama administration has taken the position that Christian doctors and nurses who cannot in good conscience participate in abortion, should not have the Constitutional protection of freedom of religion.
· The Defense of Marriage Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by Bill Clinton. The Obama administration simply decided that it would no longer support the Defense of Marriage Act, and administration lawyers have even attacked it in court.
· In “Hosanna-Tabor v EEOC, the Obama administration argued, in effect, that employment discrimination laws have priority over the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections—even concerning the choice of ministers.” Fortunately, the Supreme Court rejected the Obama administration’s arguments in a unanimous decision.
· In January 2012, the President approved regulations that would require employers to provide sterilizations, contraceptives, and even pills that cause abortions, to all employees. While the regulations exempted churches, they applied to other religious employers like hospitals, Christian schools and colleges, and Christian charities.
After a firestorm of protests, Obama announced a “compromise” which would “shift the costs of the contraceptives from the policyholders to the insurers.” Of course, they will simply pass the costs back to the policy holders who will be directly funding “services that they consider immoral.”
Unfortunately, some Evangelicals seem to think, well this contraception thing is a Catholic issue. It doesn’t affect us. We would do well to remember Martin Niemoller’s remarks regarding Hitler’s rise to power. Neimoller said,
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
and there was no one left to speak for me.
If the government gets away with trampling the rights of the huge Roman Catholic Church, they can easily crush the tiny North American Baptist and C&MA denominations like bugs!
As an illustration of just how radical this administration really is, the President appointed Chai Feldblum, a lawyer, to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “When questioned regarding a Christian employers’ right to hire an employees of their choice, Feldblum stated: “Gays win; Christians lose.
Similarly, Feldblum, when questioned about how she would decide cases in which religious liberty and homosexual ‘rights’ conflict, said she would have “a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” In other words, for this Obama appointee, sexual freedom should even take priority over your constitutional protection of Freedom of Religion.
If Feldblum on Obama had their way, the government would force Christian colleges, Christian schools, Christian missions, Christian publishers, Christian charities, Christian doctors and nurses, Christian psychologists and Christian business people and even churches, to violate their deeply held religious convictions.
Remember the words of Jefferson, “`[n]o provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”
So how do people get away with such a radical departure from what Thomas Jefferson said the Constitution was designed to protect? Easy, they just interpret it as a “living, breathing document.” This means they interpret the Constitution not as the founders intended, but however they want to interpret it in light of contemporary culture. Those who do this have no problem re-interpreting Freedom of Religion to mean “freedom of worship,” that is, you have the right to worship in the privacy of your churches and homes, but do not have the right to freedom of conscience. This is clearly how President Obama sees it.
We now have four Supreme Court justices in their 70’s. If any of them die or retire, the next president will select a replacement. For three of the justices, it would mean that the living-breathing theory would continue for the next generation. If Justice Scalia were to retire, die or be incapacitated, the whole balance of the court would change and the new justices could easily re-interpret Freedom of Religion to mean “Freedom of worship,” again, the idea that you are free to worship in the privacy of your home or church, but you have no freedom of conscience.
We dare not sugar coat this. When we do not have freedom of conscience, we have tyranny. And with that, the America founded by our forefathers will be dead.
Two quick final questions about Mitt Romney: First, can Christians in good conscience vote for a Mormon? The answer is almost a cliché now, but cliché’s often become clichés because they are true: We are voting for a President, not a pastor! Let’s not kid ourselves, the choice is not between a Christian and a Mormon. The choice is between a Mormon who often tends to uphold biblical values, and a President who has been openly hostile to biblical values.
Second, if Mitt Romney is elected, will he solve our problems? Let’s not kid ourselves about this either. The answer is no. Ultimately our problems are spiritual and only a national repentance and turning toward God will solve them. But Mitt Romney opposes abortion, opposes same-sex marriage, supports Israel, and supports freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.
Barack Obama, by contrast, has arguably been negligent at best in his relations with Israel, has done more to promote the murder of unborn children than any other President in history, has done more than any president in history to promote a sin God considers so abominable he even destroys pagan nations over it, and has on numerous occasions flat-out attacked Freedom of Religion and conscience.
I honestly believe the entire future and direction of America are at stake in this next election, and I believe it is our duty as citizens of America and as Christians to vote and let our voice be heard.
Let’s stand together and be dismissed in prayer:
Almighty god, our heavenly father; our nation has sinned against you.
We have promoted sexual immorality in our government, literature, theaters and schools and call it safe sex.
Our government, schools and media have promoted behaviors we call “alternative lifestyles” but you call abomination.
We have worshipped the creation above the creator and call it earth day
We have made it illegal in many cases for students in our schools to pray publicly to you.
We have made it illegal for teachers in public schools to talk openly about you.
We have promoted the murder of unborn children, calling it freedom of choice
God help us! God forgive us our sins. Lord, turn our nation around. Turn the hearts of our politicians and our people toward you.
We pray, Oh God, that you would give us a President who would uphold biblical values and biblical principles and who will uphold our constitutional freedom of religion.
We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
 Fox News, Sept 23, 2012.
 Hugh Hewitt, Brief, 112
 “The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011”; H.R. 1179.