Barronelle Stutzman

Is the Demise of Today’s Version of Religious Liberty Needed?

Barronelle Stutzman is a florist in Richland, Wash., who is alleged to have violated that state’s law prohibiting her from refusing services to persons based on their sexual orientation. This week, the Washington Supreme Court upheld the judgments of lower tribunals against her, and now she is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to accept her appeal and reverse the decisions against her. But I sometimes wonder if a victory for religious liberty is, in the long run, the best thing for those who profess to be Christians.

It pains me on several levels to write that last sentence.

Why Thinking a ‘Religious Liberty Victory’ Would Pain Me

On a personal level, it pains me, because I’ve met Ms. Stutzman. She is a kind, gentle, sweet-spirited person. I don’t want to see her business bankrupted or even her income suffer because of this dispute over the law.

It pains me, because I do believe in religious liberty, though a more nuanced understanding of it in accord with our Founding Fathers than that for which many Christians advocate today. And this is why I think a victory on religious liberty grounds (as opposed to one based on freedom of speech/expression) may not be helpful in the long run.

Religious liberty is a colloquialism that hides from Christians an important truth: There can be no religious neutrality from God’s perspective, which is the perspective from which Christians are supposed to operate.

The Christian Myth of Religious Liberty as Neutrality

The first reason that is true is found in God’s declaration to the Serpent after seducing Adam and Eve into their rebellion against God, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15 NKJV). That is not neutrality.

The second reason is that religious neutrality is the cultural embrace of a polytheism, and God is not neutral in that regard, either. Read Acts 17:16–32. Paul’s message on Mars Hill to a polytheistic culture was, “Truly, these times of ignorance [in the past, prior to Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension] God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). It was not the modern-day evangelistic call to come forward if you happen to be interested in having your better life now or if you want to get control of X in your life; it was literally a command from God.1

Of course, Paul’s audience did not appreciate his message on Mars Hill, and it’s not tolerated today, either, even by many in evangelical churches and in their pulpits. People, including many professing Christians, like their liberty more than they like the biblical message of a sovereign creator God to whom His creatures and such liberty as He gives them are subject.

Given these facts, it is impossible, as I’ve written before, for religious liberty to work as an organizing principle within the social order.

Why The Emphasis Today on Religious Liberty?

But the sad thing to me is that many Christians of all stripes, though certainly not all, have retreated from the biblical position of advocating for laws that reflect what they believe to just defending and arguing for religious liberty.

Exhibit A is the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities recently leading the charge for accepting (and eventually accepting) the fairness-for-all proposal, because the proposed inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal law as a protected class carved out an exception for its members.

No doubt, some accept retreat to a supposed safe harbor of religious liberty because they believe they just need to hold out a wee bit longer because Jesus is going to rapture them out of here.

For others, retreating to religious liberty is either consciously or subconsciously a lot easier and a lot less costly in terms of lost friendships, diminished communal approval and acceptance, and deprivations of material wealth than challenging in the first place the enactment of the law from which they now clamor for a religious exemption.

I suspect those costs are in the back of the minds of many in the first group, too. Perhaps they believe they can escape the rich young ruler’s dilemma and plight (Mark 10:17–22) if they can just hold out a bit longer. Unlike him, they may be able to keep their “stuff” here and get to heaven to boot!

If Ms. Stutzman wins on religious liberty grounds, I will be personally happy for her. But if her victory perpetuates among Christians the belief that religious liberty is the saving bulwark against a God-denying culture carrying out its God-denying precepts with all its attendant consequences, then it will only have delayed the Christian’s understanding of the true nature of the conflict that exists in this world and the deceitfulness of the man-centered philosophy of religious liberty being espoused.

NOTES

1. I get that the thought of God commanding us to repent sounds like the mad, angry, dictatorial kill-joy caricature of God that many have and that is often bellowed from pulpits. I get not liking the sound of that at all! But if preaching is all thunder and lightning about God’s wrath against sin and sinners and devoid of the incredible news that God freely offers to all the provision He has made out of His great love to bring peace between us and the inestimable worth of being in a present and eternal relationship with the most glorious of all beings, then that caricature is justifiable. See Thomas Chalmers’ The Expulsive Power of a New Affection. In keeping with Chalmers’ sermon, it just may be that loss of the perceived protection for religious liberty will so strip us Christians from our affection for the things the world offers in place of the glory of God, that we will return to our first affection—the love of God—as the church at Ephesus was exhorted to do (Revelation 2:4).

Related Posts:


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.

Young girl swimming in pool with googles on her head

Coming to the Rec Center Swimming Pool Near You

On February 15, 2019, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion that gives a clear picture of the constitutionally required degeneracy that lies ahead if two U.S. Supreme Court decisions from the past are not dealt with soon and decisively. If you have young children or grandchildren, you better read what follows.

On that day, the appellate court issued an opinion upholding a federal district court’s temporary injunction enjoining enforcement of an ordinance adopted by the city of Fort Collins, Col., that banned women from exposing their nipples in public. The ordinance did not apply to men.

An organization named Free The Nipple-Ft. Collins was formed, and it then sued to have the ordinance enjoined as a violation of the equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment.

A Justice That’s Literally Blind to the Obvious

The appellate court upheld the temporary injunction because the ordinance’s distinction between a man’s chest and a woman’s breasts was based on a “sex-object stereotype of women’s breasts.” Really? Are they saying that Playboy magazine and its ilk created from nothing that kind of stereotype in the human mind and injected it into the relations between men and women?

I guess so, because the Court then said:

that stereotype doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Cf. People v. Santorelli, 600 N.E.2d 232, 236 (N.Y. 1992) (Titone, J., concurring) (‘One of the most important purposes to be served by the Equal Protection Clause is to ensure that ‘public sensibilities’ grounded in prejudice and unexamined stereotypes do not become enshrined as part of the official policy of government.’); accord Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584, 2603 (2015); see also Planned Parenthood of Se. Penn. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 850 (1992) (‘Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.’).

Notice the two U.S. Supreme Court cases that the 10th Circuit understood to support its decision that women are constitutionally allowed to go topless in public if men are allowed to go topless: its decision telling states they can no longer enact statutes that define marriage in regard to the sex binary of male and female (Obergefell) and abortion (Casey).

What possible connection is there between abortion and marriage and constitutionally prohibiting women from going topless at the county recreation center’s swimming pool while young boys are around? (Yes, “recreation centers” were included under the now non-enforceable ban on female toplessness.)

The answer: The U.S. Supreme Court has redefined under the Constitution what it means to be human (abortion) and that logically opens the door to redefining what it means to be male and female (marriage without regard to the two sexes) for the purpose of civil laws.

‘Fleshing’ Out the Logical Progression to ‘Free the Nipple’

In Roe v. Wade, the predecessor to the Casey decision, the U.S. Supreme Court denied that a person for constitutional purposes existed in the womb, that even there the child bore the indelible image of God, and that the child was biologically distinct even from the mothers. It substituted for those truths a lie, creating a false boundary between two distinct human beings based on their differing levels of development or their physical location, giving the one the right to kill the other.

This blurring of what it means to be human and a person was necessary in order to advance an ethic of sexual liberty, to break the perceived slavish chains between sex and marriage.

Not surprisingly, the next step in the evolution of that liberty had to be the denial of the distinction and boundary between male and female, which is what Obergefell did in redefining marriage as part of the “liberty” provided by the 14th Amendment’s Due Process clause.

But think about that for a moment. If the very essence and meaning of a marital relationship is rooted in the complementariness of the two different biological sexes—male and female—then it would have been impossible for the Court to think that two people of the same sex could be married and have the same kind of relationship as that of a man and a woman. Thus, there could be no violation of equal protection under the law.

So, for those two biologically different relationship pairings to be the same, then the two biological sexes and their readily perceived complementariness had to become constitutionally meaningless and irrelevant. A belief that the two sexes are distinct and complementary is, in the 10th Circuit’s words, the “prejudice” and “unexamined stereotype” that Obergefell jettisoned.

Consequently, if we’re androgynous in the eyes of the law for the purpose of the one societal institution in which male and female was fundamental to its meaning and purpose, then how can we not be androgynous when it comes to a law prohibiting only women from going topless?

People and legislators who think Casey and Obergefell were only about abortion and who can get married need to think again. If they don’t, they may not like what they see going on around them in a few years. But by then, absent a constitutional amendment, they will not be able to do anything about it.


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.

The hands of a married man and woman on top of a wedding bouquet

Will Tennessee’s Legislature Make the Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Mistake Alabama Made?

If Alabama’s new law abolishing the issuance of marriage licenses was intended to circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision regarding marriage, its Legislature utterly failed. Five years ago, some of Tennessee’s House members almost made the same mistake, and if they don’t get their thinking straight, I expect some to want to again follow Alabama’s lead. Here is why they should not.

Though the Alabama law passed just last week, it was initially proposed after the Obergefell decision in 2015. Obergefell held that it was unconstitutional for a state’s “enacted law and public policy” to license something as a “civil marriage” but limit the issuance of those licenses to two people of the opposite sex. Biological sex had to be irrelevant under a state’s enacted “civil” law.

Back then, some of Tennessee’s representatives wanted to follow suit, and I opposed that effort.

That proposed law did nothing but remove Tennessee’s county clerks as the official purveyors of a government license for a couple to enter into a legal marriage if the applicants were of the same sex. That’s all Alabama’s new law does, except that in Alabama, licenses are issued by probate judges, not county clerks.

What Alabama’s Law Actually Does and What Tennessee’s Would Have Done

Alabama’s law actually defined in state law for the very first time a legal marriage as a relationship between two people regardless of sex. Alabama’s Legislature actually voted to legalize same-sex “marriage.”

I doubt that was their intention, but if the only way to have a legally recognizable marriage in Alabama is to file what the Legislature requires and meet the conditions for filing, then the Legislature has defined what constitutes a marriage in Alabama and who the enacted law will recognize as having one.

Since the Alabama law does not require the two persons filing the statutorily required document for a legal marriage to be a male and female, that means being male and female is not a part of Alabama’s definition of a legal marriage. Defining a legal marriage without regard to a male and female is same-sex “marriage,” and that is what some of Tennessee’s representatives wanted to do.

Why Don’t Legislators Understand This Simple Logic?

While I don’t know the thinking of every Alabama legislator who voted for its same-sex “marriage” law, the problem is that too few legislators think outside the box when it comes to marriage, namely, the box that says marriage is something the state enacts in its public policy. That leads them to think that the Legislature must have a statute that defines and legalizes marriage.

But why would Christians in those civil government offices think that way when they protest against Obergefell on the grounds that God created and ordained marriage and that marriage as such existed prior to any positively “enacted” laws by civil governments?

It’s because their right thinking about marriage has not worked its way down into their thinking far enough.

In other words, Christian state officials who believe male-female marriage is a real thing, not a man-created thing, are stuck in the mindset that an adult man and woman cannot get married unless civil government gives them a de facto permission slip (license) to get married or, at a minimum, defines it for them.

Tennessee’s legislators simply need to repeal the marriage licensing statutes and let an adult man and woman enter into what the civil law has called for centuries a “marital contract.”

How Would a Man and Woman Marry Without a License?

What I’m saying is that a man and woman would marry the way they did it for centuries under the common law—a non-written type of “law” that precedes “enacted,” or statutory, written law. They would declare publicly their intention to be married as husband and wife, and then live as husband and wife.

I know that sounds rather loosey-goosey to those accustomed to the certainty of government paperwork, but that would only be true if one is playing loosey-goosey with his or her marital intention in the first place and wants to claim later he or she was never married.

So, to avoid widespread panic among those who like government paperwork and want to “nail down” the marital intention, the law would allow (not require) the happy and newly married man and woman to file a notice of their marriage with the county clerk and have the county clerk send that notice to the state for a statewide record of their private, non-government marriage.

Answering the Naysayers

I can hear the naysayers now: This is unheard of. This can’t work.

Hogwash!

Texas allows couples to choose between a licensed marriage and an “informal” marriage, or what I’ve called a common law marriage; a few other states still recognize common law marriages. Federal law recognizes common law marriages.

Moreover, this type of private “transaction” coupled with a “public registration” system has worked for decades with respect to real estate. People don’t get a government license to sell their home, and people don’t get a government license to buy a home. A buyer and seller contract for the sale and purchase of a home, exchange a deed and money, and then register that transaction to provide notice of the arrangement to the public and third parties.

In fact, these naysayers fail to realize that marriage was considered a civil (as opposed to ecclesiastical) contract at common law, the same as that governing a buyer and seller of real estate, only the former was known as a “marital contract” and the latter was known as a real estate contract. Even the United States Supreme Court has acknowledged that a marital contract and registration procedure was common before states switched in the 1900s to requiring licenses. There is really nothing new here.

Tennessee’s Constitution Affirms Marriage as a Civil Contract

The right to contract is not itself a right created and bestowed by civil government. People have been entering into contracts before there were any “enacted” statutes governing contracts. That’s why, as far as civil law (not ecclesiastical law) was concerned, this private, non-government created and non-government licensed understanding and form of marriage was called a civil contract.

That’s also exactly how our state constitution understands and treats marriage: “The historical institution and legal contract solemnizing the relationship of one man and one woman shall be the only legally recognized marital contract in this state.”

Alabama’s Constitution is much the same. Unfortunately, its Legislature didn’t appreciate the fact that there is no constitutional conflict between a man and woman exercising their right to marry under the non-government enacted common law and Obergefell’s holding regarding the right to marry under “enacted law.”

Alabama can fix its mistake next year; let’s hope that next year Tennessee’s legislators won’t make the same one.


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.

Who will be the next TN House Speaker?

Picking the Next House Speaker

With the impending resignation of state Representative Glen Casada as Speaker, the question turns to “Who’s next?” As someone who has either served in the legislature or observed it from up close for 25 years, unless some particular things and attitudes change, nothing much may change other than the name on the Speaker’s office door. Here’s why.

My reason for saying so is this: As troublesome as some of the things were that came out, there was not much, if anything, that has not been true of the House for decades. So, if change is going to come, the same old same old will produce the same old result. It’s time to ask some hard questions.

The Two Questions That Need to Be Asked

The first question that I think needs to be asked and answered by House Republicans (only because there are too few Democrats to influence the outcome of the Speaker election) is this: Why does the House have recurring problems with corruption, sexual trysts, and authoritarianism regardless of who is Speaker?

And a second, related question is this: Is there something about the way the House (really, virtually all political bodies) goes about choosing a Speaker that contributes to these recurring problems?

To me, these two questions go together, and if we get the answer to the first question right, it might just serve to change the way the Republicans go about electing the next Speaker.

My Answer to the First Question—Worldview

The answer to the first question, in my opinion, is an out-of-favor word, “sin.” But don’t let that word put you off. In this context, I refer to the most basic sin of all, not particularities.

The most fundamental sin that lies at the root of all other particular sins is that which ensnared Adam and Eve—they lost sight of God’s authority over all things, and by eschewing an incredible delegated authority, they grasped for their own authority that, as creatures, it was impossible for them to have.

For the biblical perspective, because God is God and all else is creaturely, all authority on earth—at all levels and in all positions—is a delegated authority, and therefore a person with authority must understand that he or she is first under authority.

So, like Adam and Eve, the House Speaker holds only delegated authority, in this case, the efficient cause (as Aristotle would have put it) or we might say, direct or immediate cause, of which is a delegation (vote) by the whole body of the House.

But also like Adam and Eve, most Speakers aren’t content, at least for long, with only delegated authority. They begin to want to exercise authority over the members of the House.

So, I would advise the Christians in the Republican Caucus to look for someone who understands that having authority means being under authority. Any candidate who even smells like he or she wants to be in authority needs to be moved off the list.

But there is more. The ultimate cause, or what Aristotle would call the final cause, of the Speaker’s authority is God.

So, I would commend to the Christians in the Republican Caucus that they take off the list any candidate who does not readily recognize that he or she is foremost and in the ultimate analysis under the authority of God and, moreover, does so because it is evident from the person’s life (words are cheap) that he or she has somewhere along the line been humbled by the authority of God.

If the next Speaker doesn’t understand these two things, then that Speaker will be prone to abusing power. And abuse of power will lead to all kinds of particular evils.

However, if what is needed is a person who understands these things, then the Christians in the Republican Caucus may need to think about changing the process by which a Speaker is elected.

My First Answer to the Second Question—A New Process

Typically, people decide to run for Speaker, and there is nothing wrong with offering to serve.

But think about this: David of Israel was out in the field tending sheep while his brothers were being paraded before the prophet Samuel for his consideration as the next king of Israel, and Moses was a fallen-from-power nobody tending his father-in-law’s sheep. They were “drafted” by God to be leaders.

In other words, it just may be that the Christians in the Republican Caucus need to draft a person to serve, because the right person just may not be looking or clamoring to be Speaker.

However, the right person will have demonstrated the worldview and character qualities described above in fulfilling more “menial” responsibilities as a Representative. Like the shepherd David, who had learned how to slay the bear and the lion while guarding the sheep, this person may just be fitted to kill Goliath.

My Second Answer to the Second Question—A New Approach to the Usual Process

The problem, of course, is not in offering to serve vis-à-vis being drafted to serve, and my comments should not be interpreted to imply anything about those who have said they would like to serve or are thinking about offering to serve.

But, having been through caucus elections, I know the typical process of running means candidates getting on the phone, trying to line up votes. That’s when wheeling and dealing tends to kick in.

Too many candidates call and intimate if not outright say, “If you vote for me, I’ll do this” or the person being called asks, “If I vote for you, would you do this?” In my view, only a candidate who tells a solicitor of some favor “nothing” should be Speaker.

So, what if any Republican members who really believe they are being called by God to offer themselves for service as Speaker simply wrote a letter or sent an email to every member of the caucus stating why they are running, how they understand the responsibilities of that office, and how they would seek to fulfill them, and what qualifications and experiences, if any, they offer?

Then those “candidates” leave it at that. Make no phone calls (only answer a call). Offer to serve, but leave the matter in God’s hands, and then pray that His will be done.

After all, if a person is called by God to do something, does it really matter how many votes can be lined up ahead of time? I think not.

Will that put the candidate at a disadvantage to the candidate willing to make calls? Will it put the candidate at a disadvantage to the candidate making deals?

Worldly eyes would say yes. But is not this new approach a demonstration of the person’s belief that God is the ultimate cause by which His authority is delegated, and He can be trusted in how He works through the efficient or direct causes to bring about the delegation that will best accomplish His purposes?

To me, at least as a Christian, that would speak volumes about that person. It would tell me that God is central and fundamental to that person’s thinking process. That would be a real change.

But, says a Caucus member, I can’t make a “candidate” do that.

Really? What if a member or a group of members told the candidates that no phone calls from the candidate are needed or wanted but an email or letter like the one I mentioned will be appreciated. Be a cause for change!

Conclusion

If past sins of the House associated with a misunderstanding of the nature and source of authority continue, along with the ways in which the members decide how and for whom to vote, then don’t be surprised if the same old same old continues.

As former Lt. Governor John Wilder might have said, “A break from the past won’t come without a break from the past.”


Related Articles:

Casada, Cothren, Politicians, and Christians

Will the House Republican Caucus Avoiding Riding the Moral High Horse on Monday?

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.

black horse and red elephant with TN stars symbol

Will the House Republican Caucus Avoid Riding the Moral High Horse on Monday?

As I continue to contemplate on the one hand the lascivious nature of the texts exchanged between the House Speaker and his Chief of Staff two years ago and accompanying issues of racism in the state House and, on the other hand, the moral outrage expressed by leaders on the Democratic side of the aisle, the image of the moral high horse comes to mind. I have ridden that horse myself, and here’s how I think it applies to the present situation, particularly the House Republican Caucus meeting set for Monday.

Dehumanization by Other Means Provides Democrats No Moral High Horse

No doubt, the way in which women and those with greater concentrations of melanin in their skin were spoken of in various text messages was dehumanizing. But I have to ask the Democratic leadership that has spoken so strongly to this scandal, What is more dehumanizing than calling a pre-born human being nonhuman in order to justify a unilateral decision by one human being to kill another?

Do those who allow the literal killing of another human being by saying he or she has no ethical or moral status at all really sit on a moral high horse from which they can righteously throw moral judgments at those who figuratively kill the image of God by dehumanizing words? I think not.

But, to me, the bigger question is whether the House Republicans will ride their own moral high horse out of their upcoming caucus meeting concerning this scandal.

Is the Moral High Horse Syndrome Avoidable?

A moral high horse is easy to mount and to ride. I’ve ridden one many times. I hope those who think I’m doing so now will read to the end before they judge.

The fact is we all get on our moral high horse at times, and perhaps we ride most high when we are commending ourselves for not being like those “other people” who seem to always be on their moral high horse.

The fact is we can’t escape making moral and ethical claims and judgments. And those who tell us not to judge others are, in fact, judging others in violation of their own standard.

So how, when circumstances require us to judge, as happens with public “scandals,” can we do so rightly without coming across as being on a moral high horse?

In my view, at least two things are required if one is to avoid riding the moral high horse.

A Right Standard of Judgment

The first is that there must be a true standard by which all judgments are made, one that applies to all of us, and that none of us get to make up and impose on others.

If we don’t have that kind of objective standard from outside of ourselves, then all we have is a collection of opinions that some among us, by a variety of means, will impose on others. That solves nothing. Those on whom that standard is imposed can always ask by what standard we are to judge whether the standard has been rightly imposed.

But that kind of standard necessarily brings God into the picture, and more people may dread that than they do those who are always riding on their moral high horse. God is, after all—and if you’ll pardon any seeming irreverence—THE Moral High Horse of all moral high horses.

Applying the Right Standard Is Counterintuitive

However, excluding God is actually the problem. That seems counterintuitive, but the God of the Bible is the answer to avoiding the moral high horse. After growing up in the evangelical church, I’m learning just how counterintuitive the true gospel really is.

A right view of God can do nothing but humble us, and humble us to the point that we feel like it would just kill us to admit, even to ourselves or to others, let alone when in politics to the public, some of the ways in which we fall short of the True Standard. But that’s exactly what we all need.

What’s counterintuitive about the gospel is that each time we are willing to experience one more of those deaths, we find a new life. We find that our appreciation for and understanding of the height and depth and width and length of God’s love and of His grace is in direct correlation to our level of humility. God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. And grace is the second requirement for avoiding a ride on the moral high horse.

Applying the Gospel Tenor

Grace doesn’t change the standard by which a Christian is to judge, which is what some non-Christians now demand and what some Christians, understandably running from the legalistic moral high horses who may be in their church1, now espouse. Instead, grace should change the tenor of the way in which we express that judgment, because we understand that every day we fall short of the standard we profess and hold out to others. It is in falling short here that I’ve most often mounted my own moral high horse.

How Will the Republican Caucus Respond?

The Republican Caucus will formally meet next Monday to judge or begin the process of judging whether Glen Casada is the person they want serving as Speaker, even if there may be no legal means by which he can now be removed. They are not judging whether he should retain his elected position as a representative nor whether he should be excommunicated from the Christian faith.

In my view, judgment as to whether he should remain as Speaker must begin by each of the non-freshmen Republicans searching himself or herself for the sins of commission or omission by which he or she may have supported a leadership team that over the recent years overlooked, allowed, or accepted not only the activities by staff that have now been exposed, but also such activities among one of its leaders.

Among the freshmen, they need to ask if they knew or consciously or subconsciously avoided knowing about the sex scandals of recent years and who the public figures involved were and make inquiries about the character of those persons in the present.2

Then, each needs to judge whether the existing Republican leadership in the House, from the Speaker on down, has demonstrated the marks of true gospel grace, forged from brokenness and humility before God, that will garner from the members a respect for the kind of moral and ethical authority that will be needed if the culture in the House is to ever change.

Absent a conviction among them that such has been demonstrated, it is my view that changes need to be made, but the members dare not ride out of that meeting on some moral high horse when they should be sorrowful and broken that changes would be needed in the first place.


NOTES

  1. Here I’m reminded of my own failure for most of my life to understand the true gospel, thinking I had to “do” something to improve what Christ had done, even as the Christians in Galatia began to think they had to do something more—be circumcised or adhere to practices associated with the ceremonial laws of Moses. To such thinking, the Apostle Paul responded, “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).
  2. When I was elected to the Senate, I’d never even met a senator other than the one I ran against and hadn’t been to the Capitol since a field trip in elementary school. But, over time, it became apparent to me that one of the members of the Senate was profligate, though I don’t know that I ever heard of the female staff member, lobbyist, and interns being preyed upon by him, though it may have happened. Perhaps I was naïve not to consider that possibility. Within my own Senate Caucus, though, I don’t think such predatory behavior went on. Not being the same person now as I was then, I can’t honestly say what I would have done had I known of such behavior, but in Ben Atchley and in Ron Ramsey I had leaders who I think would have addressed it had I gone to them.

Related Article: Casada, Cothren, Politicians, and Christians

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.