I believe Jesus is Lord. He is the only Man who keeps His promises. That’s not in dispute. I do not despair, no matter what happens in any given country, because my hope is not in this world or its rulers or its laws.
As far as the secular realm goes, this is not a good day. This is not about Mitt Romney. I have no idea how a Romney Administration would have turned out, and we will never know. This is about the policies of the current Administration, as well as the arguments that this President and his Administration have made in the public square. In the Hosanna-Tabor case before the Supreme Court, the Obama Administration argued that there is no “ministerial exception,” which, if that argument had succeeded (and with 2 or 3 new Justices in the next four years, it may yet), would mean that neither the Roman Catholic Church nor the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod would be able to limit its ministerium to men. You can bet that both churches’ Biblical and traditional arguments would have been challenged in court, if the Administration had won that argument.
More recently, the Administration has argued that religious freedom (i.e., “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]”; and, further, the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly) does not extend to business owners such as the owners of Hobby Lobby. If you think this is going to stop with contraception and places that are not explicitly “houses of worship,” you are fooling yourself. Who really believes that the pushers of the absolute secularization of the public square are going to let churches get away with flouting the new progressive order? (“First they came for the Roman Catholics…”) For a litany of other attacks on religious freedom in the United States, see here, including
In our universities, those citadels of toleration, we find that toleration can be sharply limited. At the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, the student chapter of the Christian Legal Society was denied any status on the campus because it would not abandon its requirement that members commit themselves to traditional Christian norms regarding sexual morality. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling in 2010, held that the student group’s rights were not violated by a “take all comers” policy. Following this lead, Vanderbilt University has rewritten its student organizations policy and effectively chased every traditionally Christian student group off campus, denying them regular access to campus facilities. And at the University of Illinois, an adjunct professor of religion, hired to teach a course on Catholicism, was let go because a student complained about his patient explanation of the Catholic Church’s natural law teachings on human sexuality. (He was later restored to his teaching duties, but at the expense of the Newman Center, not on the state payroll.)
In our states and localities, we see other kinds of pressures. Authorities in Washington state and Illinois have attempted to force pharmacists, against their conscience, to dispense “morning after” pills when other pharmacists short distances away make these abortifacients available. New York City has barred church congregations—and them alone—from using public school buildings outside school hours. In New Mexico, a Christian wedding photographer was fined for violation of a state “human rights act” because she refused to take the business of a same-sex couple who claimed to want her services at their civil union ceremony. And in Massachusetts, Illinois, San Francisco, and the District of Columbia, the adoption and fostering agencies of Catholic Charities have been shuttered because they will not place children with same-sex couples, as the local authorities demand.
So welcome to the continuation and expansion of the Brave New World, where the unborn are problems, diseases, and accidents; where fighting against a “war on women” is a euphemism for fighting against the birth of human beings (including, obviously, unborn women); where there may not be any limit whatsoever on the “right” of a woman to kill her own child, as long as it’s still inside her womb; where we have a subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) policy of Lebensunwertes Leben, whether the youngest, the oldest, or the most handicapped. (It is not a coincidence that somewhere between 80-90% of those diagnosed with Down Syndrome–whether diagnosed correctly or not–are aborted.) Welcome to a world where the most pro-abortion President in history (Cecile Richards’ fawning is evidence of this) now does not have to worry about being re-elected, and so has more freedom to push the extreme edges of his agenda. Welcome to a world where you have the freedom to worship, but that’s it, and when your religion’s convictions come into conflict with the State, the State wins, simply by virtue of being the State. I would take a civil-religion, one-nation-under-whatever-god, syncretism over this anti-religion any day. If the State is the overarching authority, that means that it must and should overrule family, community, religion–anything that opposes its all-consuming agenda. We will soon discover if this is an overreaction. But the Obama Administration has given us no hints of any moderation on this or any other issue. They know what is right and good, and if you oppose them, you are wrong and evil. There is very little gray area for the defenders of such statism.
If these things are true, the next four years are going to be very bad, and successes on the part of the Administration will mean a lot of this will be very hard to repair. The damage will already have been done.
The Church will continue to do what the true Church always does: preach Law and Gospel to sinners; pray for and obey the properly constituted authorities up until the point when the State interferes with the Church’s proper sphere (and the HHS contraception mandate clearly crosses that line). Then we must always obey God rather than men. But what am I going to do today? The same thing I do every day, Pinky, try to take over the w–, oh, um–I mean, prepare my sermon, visit my people, pray, and confess. We’re not in control, anyway. God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes in Christ. Will this country progress (regress) to the point where it is illegal to call sin sin? Will churches lose their tax-exempt status? Will churches be sued for refusing to violate their collective conscience? Perhaps, and we should fight against such things for the sake of our neighbors. But, ultimately, the Church may lose those battles. No matter. Trust the promise of the Promised One. Though all men are liars, He is the Truth.
“O Thou, whose coming is with dread/To judge the living and the dead,/Preserve us from the ancient foe/While we dwell on earth below” (LSB 351:5).
And, “Preserve Your Word, O Savior,/To us this latter day,/…O keep our faith from failing;/Keep hope’s bright star aglow./Let nothing from truth turn us/While living here below. … Preserve, O Lord, Your honor,/The bold blasphemer smite;/Convince, convert, enlighten/The souls in error’s night. … Preserve, O Lord, Your Zion,/Bought dearly with Your blood;/Protect what You have chosen/Against the hellish flood./Be always our defender/When dangers gather round;/When all the earth is crumbling,/Safe may Your Church be found” (LSB 658:1, 2, 3).