In Exodus 34, after Moses narrowly saves the Israelites from God’s wrath (they had made a golden cow to worship), God gives instructions. They amount to staying apart from the world.
Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.
God tells Moses not to place himself under financial or legal obligation to the unbelieving world. Rather he should stand prepared for perpetual conflict with it in order to obey God. This mission remains particularly important for the churches, as the body of Christ gathered.
Forced into Civil Disobedience
During the coronavirus lockdowns, some Christian thought leaders cited Romans 13. They said Christians should obey the government’s closing of churches. But two recent SCOTUS decisions, South Bay United Pentecostal (May 29) and Bostock (June 15) foreclosed any easy ways to reconcile Exodus 34 and Romans 13. South Bay stated the government can ban religious exercise. Bostock passed the dreadful Equality Act via judicial shortcut. In 2019, I discussed at length the problems with the Equality Act.
It is effectively against the law to be a true Christian.
My first academic work was Colorful Conservative: American Conversations with the Ancients. In that book I charted out an “unconventional” but “traditional” kind of conservative. This character must defy peer pressure but submit to ancient moral dictates. I had no idea when I wrote that book how pertinent it would prove to present-day churches.
Christian America, Occupied
The juridical, economic, and political powers have told churches that they cannot exist in the United States unless they enter into a new social contract with the unbelieving world. The new social contract amounts to an occupation of Christian America. Gestures toward religious exemptions in the text of Bostock should be treated as mere fluff. It is effectively against the law to be a true Christian.
On the other hand, Bostock adds but a feather’s weight to the heavy load we’ve been bearing for quite some time. Rod Dreher seized upon Senator Josh Hawley’s speech to say that “from the ashes of the Bostock decision, a truly populist Republican Party is being born.” I find Dreher’s claim far too melodramatic. A populist Christian insurgency started four years ago with Trump. This court decision may feel huge to people who have been buffered from the LGBT juggernaut thus far. Those of us without the buffers have been living in Bostock world for almost a decade.
The Last Screws Turning
Most Americans live in locales or work in institutions that have already made LGBT a protected status. Most Americans have to earn a salary to survive. So they work for companies that have by and large already incorporated these laws into HR policies. Even without Bostock, the most orthodox Christian organizations would be terrified to fire people for being gay or transgender today. I’m baffled as to why Christian thought leaders thought they were ever going to win the Bostock case. I’m somewhat bewildered as to why they see the results as anything more than a symbolic reflection of what’s already happened.
Quite honestly, the average believer should rejoice. Think for a moment about the opening pages of Revelation. Seven churches are mentioned, of which five — Sardis, Laodicea, Ephesus, Pergamum, and Thyatira — are scolded. In the end times the vast majority of organized churches is not going to pass muster. We should know which churches are heading in the wrong direction.
I have been on the front lines and witnessed Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, and now Southern Baptist churches go astray. The Lord has made it so plain to see who will be losing their lamp stands when Jesus comes back. We should celebrate that God has exposed them.
Are We All Christian Bakers Now?
No. Our situation is much worse. Very few people are in their position because the LGBT demands on us are not merely aesthetic threats to our sense of holiness. Most of us aren’t at Baronelle Stutzman and Jack Phillips’ ages. We face the possibility of losing half or all our careers to an LGBT mobbing campaign. We aren’t business owners. We won’t have the entire apparatus of the conservative movement rallying behind us and offering us free counsel. Our confrontations with these legal changes will be much more visceral and threatening. (For more on this, listen to my podcast.)
The twenty-five-year-old Christian just finishing professional school will have to choose between having a career or a lifetime of holy poverty.