michaelmiltonBy Dr. Michael A. Milton

I was appalled. A sign in front of a Baptist church in Charlotte openly advocates its opposition to Proposition One in North Carolina. The proposition, which is due to go to the ballot in NC on May 8, 2012, reads:

“Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”

One familiar with the Bible’s unequivocal teaching that God ordained marriage is solely between one man and one woman, as well as the Bible’s condemnation of adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, and incest, might be confused by this Baptist church’s position.

The fact is there are a host of others, a variety of more liberal denominations and religious groups, now coming out to pronounce that Proposition One in North Carolina is evidence of hatred and intolerance by those who preach the sanctity of biblical marriage. However, radical groups, including churches and pastors, have that right, according to our Constitution.

Now let me be clear: I think they are wrong, and are pushing our nation onto the brink of self destruction. They are fulfilling St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans, that those who have denied God and God’s Word, ultimately end up codifying that which God abhors.

Yet, although I think they are wrong in their assertion, I say again, they have every right to speak. This episode of churches speaking into the State’s affairs is lacking in one thing: the shrill voices of the separation of Church and State groups.

Where are the famous “separation” activists of the world on this occasion? The undeniable evidence suggests that as long as churches advocate radical, left wing politics, they are safe from the groups who would scream “Separation of Church and State.” If the message reflects left wing political positions activist clergy have no fear of putting their message on a church sign on a busy street in the state’s largest city.

Ah, but let a congregation — or a minister — speak into the culture from a conservative Biblical position, that sodomy is ungodly, should be condemned as sin, and that believers have a God given responsibility to take a stand for righteousness in the public square, you will hear the familiar cries of “crossing the line” of politics and religion.
When the left wing groups come out against the public proclamation of conservative biblical positions, many local lay leaders will cower beneath the attacks of Atheist groups and liberal Protestant groups as they threaten to sue them to strip them of tax exemption and will have to tell their minister to “stay away from politics.” Sadly, for too long, too many have done just that.

Yet speaking the truth of God from His Word into the public arena of our nation is not only biblical and with great historical precedent in America, it is critically needed at this time, when the sanctity of marriage in North Carolina needs the same constitutional protection that 30 other states already have.

Perhaps the conspicuous absence of Separation of Church and State outcries in the debate on Proposition One in NC means that religious liberty is alive and well and that gospel ministers, in fact, have the right to apply their understanding of Scripture to culture without threat. Or maybe it just means that the unmolested voicing of one’s position publicly is applied to all groups but evangelical, pro family, pro life, Catholic and Protestant voices. We will see.
By the way, consider this commentary my own “yard sign” for the support of biblical truth that marriage is ordained by God, sustained by God, and regulated by God’s Word. That means marriage is between a man and a woman. There can be no lines of separation there.

Michael Anthony Milton (Ph.D., University of Wales) serves as the chancellor/CEO elect of Reformed Theological Seminary (one of the largest accredited seminaries in the country), a U.S. Army chaplain (instructing at the Armed Forces Chaplain School) and the James M. Baird Jr. chair of pastoral theology at RTS/Charlotte. He is an author, songwriter, singer, ordained minister, former pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., and he previously served as the president of RTS/Charlotte. Dr. Milton also hosts a national Bible teaching television program, Faith For Living, broadcast on the NRB Television Network, and a radio program broadcast on several stations in the southeast. For 16 years he served in the business world and has also served as a top-secret Navy linguist.

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  1. In a generation, when shifting public opinion inevitably causes state laws and amendments defining traditional marriage to be overturned, social conservatives will rue the huge strategic mistake they made by enshrining IN GOVERNMENT the  power to define what is and isn’t a marriage.  The true conservative/limited-government position is to get government out of this business, let churches define holy marriage based on religious liberty and free conscience, and — with respect to government — simply enforce “rule of law” by allowing free people to make enforceable civil contracts for things like medical decisions, hospital visitation, tax filing, right to sue, insurance, or inheritance.   The view closest to that is a form of “civil unions.” 

    Dr. Milton, I respect your education and position, but to say you are “appalled” any Christian would oppose a marriage amendment tells me that you are so expansive in your views of the purposes/powers of civil government (interesting, from people who call themselves conservative) that you are unable even to see other possible Christian viewpoints.  I’d encourage you to read some of the good arguments made by historic Baptist organizations, which have traditionally been more circumspect in their views of when the majority rules.

    1. I think you missed the whole point of the post.  The issue at hand is that liberal groups are quick to threaten churches with revocation of their tax exempt status if the churches support conservative political views.  But when a church supports liberal political views, the liberal groups remain silent.  The point is the hypocrisy of those who cry “separation of church and state” only when their liberal views are being challenged by religious organizations.

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