Christianity,  Politics

Peter Leithart on the DOMA Decision: “A call to martyrdom”

Peter Leithart’s response to last week’s Supreme Court decision on gay marriage is a must-read. He rightly points out that the decision faces Christians with a new reality, which likely include a loss of religious liberty. He concludes:

All this means that Windsor presents American Christians with a call to martyrdom. In Greek, martyria means “witness,” specifically witness in a court. At the very least, the decision challenges American Christians to continue to teach Christian sexual ethics without compromise or apology. But Windsor presents a call to martyrdom in a more specific sense. There will be a cost for speaking the truth, a cost in reputation, opportunity, and funds if not in freedoms. Scalia’s reference to the pagan Roman claim that Christians are “enemies of mankind” was probably not fortuitous.

Many churches have already capitulated to the Zeitgeist, and many others will. Some Christians and some churches won’t be up to the challenge. For those who heed Paul’s admonition not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, things are going to get sticky. But we are servants of God. He opens our ears to hear, and he gives us tongues to speak truth. If that means we are insulted and marginalized, if it means we yield our back to the smiters and our face to those who spit on us, so be it.

This will force a major adjustment in conservative Christian stance toward America. We’ve fooled ourselves for decades into believing that Christian America was derailed recently and by a small elite. It’s tough medicine to realize that principles inimical to traditional Christian morals are now deeply embedded in our laws, institutions and culture. The only America that actually exists is one in which “marriage” includes same-sex couples and women have a Constitutional right to kill their babies. To be faithful, Christian witness must be witness against America.

God has his winnowing fork in his hand, and he’s ready to use it. There’s likely to be a lot of chaff, blown away like mist. But there will be a harvest. We’re being sent into an oven, but Jesus will crush the grain of the harvest so that, baked in the fire of the Spirit, it will become bread for the life of the world.

Read the rest here.


  • Chris Ryan

    Good message here. Sacrifice–and that’s really what we’re talking about here–is a core theme of the Bible. As Christians we have to be ready to accept hardship as the cost of promoting the Good News.

    But I think that some of us risk making this ruling worse than need be. Drunkeness is a sin & beer & booze are big businesses with millions of customers, yet I don’t see Christians going to jail b/cs they preach that drunkeness is a sin.

    Moreover, if we remember what it is to be Fishers of Men, then we’ll realize most fishermen catch fish with appetizing bait—and not by blasting the lake with a shotgun. That is, our message to the world should emulate Jesus’ message to the adulterous woman: It should be a simple message wrapped in love. If we do that we have nothing to fear; indeed having wrapped ourselves in the full armor of God we should never fear.

  • Ian Shaw

    Simple message wrapped in love, yes. Change the message to make it more appealing, no. The message itself will convict, seperate the wheat from the chaff. Jesus didn’t just tell the adulterous woman she was not condemned. He also said “go and sin no more”. There has to be a balance. Many churches have taken the ‘Jesus is love’ lenses and have created tunnel vision with them. We also have to realize that HE is also righteous, holy and will be our judge. We cannot forget that God’s moral standards still apply.

    In reghards to the article, his point regarding the Christian witness must be a witness against America is something that is long overdue.

    • Chris Ryan

      “Go forth and sin no more” is a lot nicer than what I hear bandied abt by some people on these cable news channels.

      As in all things we should take our cue from Christ & the Apostles. Homosexuality was rife throughout the classical world. How much time did Jesus spend talking abt homosexuality? What abt Peter? What abt Paul? Of the three, Paul spoke of it the most but even for him it was relatively little & he *always* listed it as one sin among many. This hyper focus on it that some of us have does not reflect how Christ and the Apostles handled it. If we stick to the Bible we can’t go wrong.

      If we spend more time telling ppl that they’re going to Hell than we’re spending time telling them how to get to Heaven then we’ve gotten our balance wrong. Our Christian message should spend abt as much time denouncing homosexuality as we spend denouncing fornication, adultery, drunkeness, gluttony, swearing and violence. If our goal is winning souls for Christ then we need to share a message which wins souls for Christ and doesn’t scare them from coming in the church door. This doesn’t mean changing the Word, it means tempering ourselves so that we reflect the entirety of the Word & not just whatever’s making headlines at the moment.

  • James Bradshaw

    Using the word “martyr” is smart. It paints the opposition as an evil, fanatical cabal and implies your own cause is comprised of saints floating around with halos and glowing auras.

    Is that how you folks see this?

    The minute you start viewing reality in this light, you start to justify literally any action done in the name of your ideology to those who hold opposing views.

    On both sides, we need to recall this is about people and their lives, not merely about advancing ideologies and agendas.

    I encourage you all to read the story of Linda Robertson and her son.

  • Chris Wofford

    That is a very difficult story to read. But every struggle with sin is a difficult story to read. Remember that Jesus condemned the Pharisees because they allowed sin when being holy was too hard.
    Matthew 19:7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

    Even when the disciples questioned how hard this was he never backed away. The simple, true answer is that this is not about people and their lives or advancing ideologies and agendas. This is about acknowledging the sovereignty of God and His right to dictate what is holy and what is not.

    The issue I am currently struggling with is the Pledge to the American flag. I am not sure that this has any place in our churches. I am not sure how we can stand in God’s house and pledge our allegiance to a country that is against God’s law. And has been for a while but we deluded ourselves into believing otherwise.

  • Ian Shaw

    “Using the word “martyr” is smart. It paints the opposition as an evil, fanatical cabal and implies your own cause is comprised of saints floating around with halos and glowing auras.”

    The entire homosexual agenda has been about a war of words, and pushing acceptance under the guise of tolerance. Look at any open blog about homosexual marriage. Anytime I make a comment voicing my disaproval (which btw is not the same as hate), I’m called a bigot. Everytime a supporter uses the term “bigot” or “closed-minded”, etc. they are putting an evil, fanatical judgement upon someone. Not in discourse, but a personal attack. The SC’s decision has done exactly that; anyone the disagree’s with this decision is a hateful person, regardless of religious conviction. One can disagree with something and not be based on hatred. But that’s not what some people want you to think.

    • Michael Sweet

      I consider myself to be a very conservative, reformed Christian. I can at least somewhat understand why we come across as bigots. In my opinion, most congregations have turned a blind-eye/ignored the adultery, fornication, pride, etc in their churches while condemning homosexuality. Church discipline is rare to non-existent.

      We tolerate the heterosexual college-aged couple living in sin because”they really love each other, but they cannot afford to get married at this time”. Love is preached – as it should be. But the reality of hell is ignored. Well maybe not ignored, but hell is treated like it’s only for child-molesters, murderers, Hitler and gay people.

      I love my family very much, but they are mostly unrepentant adulterers and fornicators. They go to church and hear that God loves them unconditionally just the way they are. Really?

      We are getting what we deserve.

  • Brett Cody

    James doesn’t get it. He refuses to acknowledge the hypocrasy of those who support the homosexual agenda. Rather, he strives to enunciate any obscure inconsistency he can find in Christianity without recognizing the obvious inconsistencies that abound in the sinful fiction of homosexual “marriage”. By the way, the article he linked to ironically chronicles the life of a ‘martyr’ to the god of homosexuality. It is a tragic story, but it leaves no room for the Bible and only leads people to make abusive, hateful comments…just read them. Articles like that only perpetuate the lie that Christians are hateful, when in fact they love their Savior more than the sins of this world.

    • Lauren Bertrand

      It also doesn’t help when the parties in question refuse to acknowledge the hypocrisy of the Evangelical agenda–patently visible to Mainline Christians, secularists, Catholics, Jews, people from other religions, Christians in other countries, you name it–all these people who don’t really seem to be on your side. If all these people can see it, and they clearly reject the Evangelical agenda when they go to the polls, how can you call those inconsistencies obscure? We leave no room for the Bible in this discussion, because the bible is the lens that magnifies the hypocrisy of its adherents.

      I’d agree that “bigot” is a term bandied about so much these that it has lost its meaning. However, “martyr” is in danger of suffering the same denotative diminution through overuse. After all, everyone–liberal and conservative–knows that the one group who never gets tired of referring to its martyrdom is radical Islam.

      Everyone wants to be a martyr–it is the apotheosis of victimhood. And if we glorify being a victim, then the “victims” place themselves on permanent moral high ground–they are incapable of being wrong because everything they do is righteous. Its a righteousness bordering on pathology that allows Islamic extremists to blow themselves up in marketplaces and think that they’re doing it to glorify God.

  • James Bradshaw

    ” He refuses to acknowledge the hypocrasy of those who support the homosexual agenda”

    Not true. There’s one gay blog in particular where the participants tend to be a bit more left-leaning and militant than I care for. As I’ve said to them, you either believe in freedom of conscience and speech or you don’t. They called me a “concern troll”.

    So I get it from both sides.

    ” the article he linked to ironically chronicles the life of a ‘martyr’ to the god of homosexuality”

    Why do you folks reduce all gay relationships to the sex that occurs and discard the other 99% of the relationship as irrelevant? When you live with someone in a relationship, you are often forced to make many sacrifices: your time, attention, even your finances. I’m going to be downsizing soon so that I can help put my partner through school. It’s what he wants, so it’s what I want. You don’t do this for mere friends, and rarely even for family.

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