The argument, from a legal perspective, is largely over. There will be maneuvering and scrambling to carve out exceptions and define rights both for religion and gay rights, but the Supreme Court definitively directed the conversation today. Gay marriage is the law of the land, that is indisputable. The law of the land in this case is in line with the opinions of the land as 60% or so of the population believes that gay marriage should be a fundamental right . . . and now it is.
Agree or disagree, here we are so what does it mean for those that disagree regarding the moral and Biblical foundation for such an opinion? How do things play out for people who live from a conviction that is contrary to public opinion and the Supreme Court of the United States? Obviously, time will tell, but my two cents on where things go from here:
- Gay marriage, thus people who identify themselves as gay, are afforded protection under the Constitution in line with the protection afforded other protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other related legislation (race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability).
- Protected class status prohibits discrimination and faith-based schools, businesses, churches, etc. will be challenged in various ways regarding their acceptance of people with a sexual preference outside of the institution’s convictions regarding Scripture’s views on that preference.
- Some denominations will align with the law of the land (some already have) and agree that equal treatment is good and valid.
- Other denominations or segments of the faith-based community will maintain what they believe to be a Biblical view of marriage and sexual preference.
- Those that maintain the view of the conviction (and act on it) will be found to be illegally discriminatory against a protected class.
- This type of discrimination a civil violation, not a criminal violation, and undoubtedly the response from the government will be to revoke any tax benefits which that particular church or 501(c)3 charity would otherwise enjoy.
That’s the deal . . . that’s where it’s all headed. Tax status. These tax exempt organizations are about to become the target of taxation. So what, you might ask? Here’s what, I think:
- The marginal believer will not longer align with or give to the now “illegal” institution.
- The consumer or capitalistic believer will no longer give to the now non-exempt institution that previously provided a tax advantage.
- The institution will now have to pay taxes on the income that they do maintain.
The net effect is a substantial (50%? Maybe 75%?) drop in money coming in and an increase in expenses (taxes) of something like 25-35% (I’m no accountant, that’s just a guess). There are very few churches that can survive such a drastic financial hit. The eventual result, for “conservative” churches in particular:
- Big buildings will not be maintained – the costs are prohibitive
- Staff costs have to be reduced – the costs are prohibitive
- Services and programs have to be reduced – the costs are prohibitive
Bad news, for the evangelical conservative church? Maybe not.
The church – that is, the people that go to church – will be challenged at their point of conviction. They will have to consider their beliefs and be convinced of their faith. The consumerism afforded the marginal program attender will no longer be an option so people will either be “in” or “out” related to their faith in a living God through Jesus. “In” will require encounter with Him because the math won’t add up otherwise. It just won’t make sense or be worth it unless there is a change from the inside-out.
The necessary change from the inside-out via a love encounter with Jesus will transform how that believer sees people. Love is the lens, even where there is no compromise regarding the truth of Scripture. That will prepare hearts to deliver the evangelical message that heads have been trying to convince or legislate.
The gifts within the Body of Christ (the members of a church) will have to be awakened and deployed to make up for the reduction in programs and staffing. The Body will come alive in the purpose of their design from the love of an encounter with Jesus. Living rooms will become sanctuaries and accountants will become pastors without ever stopping the practice of accounting.
The stage is set for a viral and organic growth of the Good News of Jesus. Rejoice!