On Thursday we learned that an evangelical pastor cannot say a benediction at the Presidential Inauguration because 15 years ago he affirmed the Bible’s prohibition of homosexual behavior. It was a sad day for evangelical Christians. A hard day. A frustrating day.

But let it also be our Independence Day.

Let us be free from the false hope that heroic deeds and quiet agreeableness can atone for the sin of orthodox conviction.

Let us be free from the wishful thinking that good works and good manners can appease the Great God Tolerance.

Let us be free from the misplaced assumption that faithfulness to God can go hand in hand with worldly congratulation.

If it is “anti-gay” to believe that the normativity of male-female sexual union is taught by nature and nature’s God then let us wear a Scarlet Letter around our necks. Christ bore much worse.

If the culture of free love is going to hate those who believe marriage was made with God-given limits then let the opprobrium fall on us. We will despise the shame.

If henceforth we shall be considered the scum of the earth for believing what the Church has taught for 2000 years then let us be the scent of death to some. We shall be the aroma of life to others.

And lest anyone think this is a call to arms or a manifesto of malediction, it is not. If we are reviled, we shall not revile in return. If we are hated we shall pray to God for more love. If we are excluded from polite society, we will still include all Christ-exalting, Bible-believing, broken hearted sinners in the fellowship of the redeemed. And if we are esteemed by some as better off dead, we will not cease to offer the words of life.

We will not stop serving where we can. We will not stop repenting when we sin. We will not stop speaking the truth about our Lord and about his law.

There are likely far bigger disappointments to come than the one that dropped last Thursday. We did not choose this culture war and it is not about to leave us alone. The media, the academy, the government, the libertine elite–they may sully our reputation and shame our convictions, but they cannot steal our joy. We can pray more, sing more, and smile more than any of the party-goers making mud pies in the slums. We do not have to fit in down here so long as we fit in up there. We do not need a president’s approval if we have the affection of our King. Our hearts and our Bibles are wide open. Our salvation is firm. Let freedom ring.

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39 thoughts on “Let Freedom Ring”

  1. Joe says:

    I love the really positive tone of this post. It’s good to be reminded that Christianity has flourished and is flourishing under governments far more hostile than the present American government. As a Christian who lives outside the United States, it’s often easy to imagine that it’s the easiest country in the world to be a Christian and again it’s good to be reminded that even if in many ways the culture is more friendly than elsewhere, we were always meant to be the sojourners and exiles even there.

    I understand that this whole affair has been frustrating and disappointing to brothers and sisters in America and I’d agree that the culture certainly looks to be changing quite rapidly towards further hostility. We pray for you. But it does seem like it’s possible that too much is being read into one (albeit symbolic) act. Surely if Romney had won a convincing election win, we wouldn’t bat an eyelid if he chose not to invite a pro-choice, pro gay marriage mainliner to pray. And certainly that would be a sign of what to expect from Washington for the next four years. But would it really tell you anything you didn’t learn on election night?

  2. Melody says:

    No if Romney won we would of had Mormon prophets praying and the people would have been deceived into thinking they were seeing light. They would have thought the Mormon god was the same god. That would have been worse. As bad as this is, it is a clear black and white contrast. Sadly some representatives of the faith are clearly without discernment. But even that helps us to know they are not real.

  3. Paul Reed says:

    “On Thursday we learned that an evangelical pastor cannot say a benediction at the Presidential Inauguration because 15 years ago he affirmed the Bible’s prohibition of homosexual behavior”

    I think we need to start warning our youth and our congregation in general that their are going to penalties for staying in an orthodox church down the road. It may very well be the case that belonging to an orthodox point at any point in their life might be a career-limiting move. In other words, if they’re a nominal Christian, they might want to consider leaving.

  4. Kevin, why was this frustrating or a let-down? I was happy that Giglio ended up getting out of the inaugural benediction and not a bit surprised that the liberals complained in the first place. Ideally Giglio would never have accepted the invite. To me the fact that he did (and the fact that he withdrew with a weak protestation that this issue isn’t a priority for him anymore) are the two most disappointing elements of this whole situation. Regarding the rest of it, I can only say that in the words of Aslan, things can’t help working the way they are made to work. If you couldn’t have seen this coming a mile away, you’re not paying attention.

  5. Samuel James says:

    “Ideally Giglio would never have accepted the invite. To me the fact that he did (and the fact that he withdrew with a weak protestation that this issue isn’t a priority for him anymore) are the two most disappointing elements of this whole situation”

    I’m getting weary of this argument. First of all, praying in a public appearance for the President’s second term is not an endorsement of all his policies, any more than paying taxes is an endorsement for everything those taxes fund. I’m starting to suspect that people who use this line of argument are confessing that they do not, never have, and do not intend to pray for a President with whom they disagree; and if that’s the case, there’s nothing I can say of value.

  6. John says:

    Excellent, inspiring words, Kevin. Thank you!

  7. Kevin Jandt says:

    Maybe they’ll invite Paul Washer to pray?

  8. Phil Long says:

    Well. Done.

  9. Hi Samuel! Let me clarify what I was saying: I do advocate praying privately for the President. We should pray that he would be convicted of his sin and that God would prick his conscience in some way so that his eyes will be opened. However, that’s not the sort of prayer that goes over well when you’re invited to the inauguration. The idea isn’t supposed to be “Come and pray that I will rule with wisdom and righteousness when by your standards there’s small chance that I will be doing any such thing.” The idea is that you’re making a gesture of friendship and that there’s still some level on which you respect the President and have confidence that he will do some good things. When you have a President as blatantly evil as Obama, that becomes very difficult.

  10. Matt says:

    Thanks for this brief and encouraging word. I think it can be easy for us to forget what God’s people have gone through in the world already and are expected to do. When God’s people had their homeland destroyed and the Temple and they were taken captive to Babylon, what did God require of them? Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 29:5-7, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (English Standard Version). God told His people to seek the prosperity of the foreign nation they were living in by settling down, starting families, and working for peace and prosperity in the city. God’s people were strangers in a foreign land, sojourners. We are likewise living in exile from God’s immediate presence ever since Genesis 3, ever since humanity sinned in the Garden. God has been on a mission to reconcile humanity to Himself which climaxes in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. How many of us though today expect to be treated as Christians as kings and princes by those who are not Christians? How many of us wrongly equate the Kingdom of God with the United States of America? We need to remember that God’s plan of redemption and God’s Kingdom is much larger than ourselves and our national borders. John says in his letter that the world is against God. Why then, do we expect to have it good in the world when we have been born again and are now citizens of a Kingdom that is not of this world? Perhaps we would do well to stop complaining about the problems and our lack of freedoms, and start proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ even when things do not go well for us. After all, the Apostle Paul said in Philippians that he was willing to count all things as loss for the surpassing knowledge of knowing Jesus Christ, the Son of God. When will we learn to cling to our hope in Jesus Christ and loose our false hopes in the powers and authorities of this world? One would think that when you read the Bible and see what was done with many of God’s people who sought to do God’s will in the world, we would think twice about expecting the world to give us special treatment as Christians. We should remember that we deserve nothing, and it is only by God’s grace that we have been saved. And we should remember this everyday as we seek to live for the Gospel in this secular city.

  11. Jack Adkins says:

    Joe, I don’t think Kevin is reading too much into the controversy. His point is that we (in the USA) have crossed a threshold of having a pastor with a traditional stance on marriage rebuked in a public way that other clergy were not subject to, with no defense from the president. It’s an opportunity to take stock of where we (in the USA) are.

  12. Stephen Mook says:

    Amen brother…

  13. Darren says:

    Kevin: The Evangelical martyr complex, as well as this deeply-held conviction that standing up for “traditional” values is more important than being known as a church that lovingly shares the gospel with those who hate the church, is getting ridiculous.

  14. Evan says:

    @Darren, which ‘traditional’ values are you talking about? Is standing up for said ‘traditional’ values and lovingly sharing the gospel mutually exclusive? I’m confused.

  15. Darren says:

    Evan, you’ve put your finger on the issue: The real difficulty that the church faces in this cultural tide shift is not how it can defend “traditional” marriage, but how it can do so (if, that is, it believes that this is a gospel issue worth defending) without completely alienating its mission field in the process. In other words, how do we reaffirm our beliefs about social norms without those very efforts becoming a wedge against the gospel?

    Responses like Kevin’s, I fear, work precisely against this desperately difficult balancing act.

  16. Evan says:

    “In other words, how do we reaffirm our beliefs about social norms without those very efforts becoming a wedge against the gospel?”

    I’m assuming by ‘social norms’ you mean the King’s laws. In that case how would that become a wedge against the gospel? (I guess that depends in what sense you’re using the word gospel.)

  17. Darren says:

    You’re not wrong — we may have understandings of the gospel that are far enough apart to hinder this conversation. Is the issue of gay marriage a matter of the gospel? Is the ordination of women? Is racial segregation? Nudity on television? Spousal abuse? While the gospel certainly touches all of these — and, indeed, every facet of human living — I’m worried about the presumption that a church that gives up on gay marriage has given away the gospel of Jesus Christ’s reconciling grace.

    The gospel is big enough to encompass all of these social issues — but it’s also big enough to endure changing cultural situations with regard to each of them.

  18. Evan says:

    If the gospel is the free offer of pardon to all who are in rebellion against their Creator based on the life, death, and resurrection of the King whom they’ve rebelled against, doesn’t said gospel need to include the the proclamation of the laws which they’re guilty of breaking?

  19. Michelle says:

    Hear, hear, Kevin. Well said.

  20. Melody says:

    Obama would not be president if God did not allow it. The very fact that it has been worse for Rick Warren from so-called body of believers because he dared to be faithful to God’s word in praying for the president for all to see airs more of our dirty laundry than should ever be seen by the world. That is exactly the kind of hatefulness that causes people to leave the church.

  21. Greg Belser says:

    Kevin, I follow your work from a distance and appreciate all you do to serve the church beyond your local congregation. Among all the wonderful things you’ve said and written, this may be your finest contribution. You have said it rightly, winsomely, pastorally, and faithfully. You have served the Savior well in this!

  22. Tony says:

    Darren, while I am concerned that the Giglio controversy will reduce the gospel to being synonymous with opposition to gay marriage in the eyes of non-Christians, I don’t think your comments are helpful. We can’t present the good news about God’s love in Christ on the one hand, while telling people to ignore the parts about him that they dislike. They will only end up serving a god after their own image that they are able to love, rather than loving God as he is.

  23. Joy says:

    Wow…and AMEN!

  24. Neil Foster says:

    Kevin, your comments are spot on- holding and defending a Biblical view of marriage is going to see believers marginalised and persecuted by the majority, but this is a price we should rejoice to pay. This is already obvious to believers outside the US, esp in the UK (I am located in Australia but follow these developments as they are also starting here.) Ironically when I noticed your post I thought it was referring to another decision from the European Court of Human Rights which was handed down today (or yesterday, depending where you are in the world!) The ECHR ruled that Lillian Ladele, a Christian marriage registar who was sacked for refusing to register same-sex civil partnerships lost her claim that she had been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of her religion. See http://www.facebook.com/notes/neil-james-foster/freedom-of-religion-in-the-uk/10151232593878457 for a note on the decision.

  25. Mark L Loving says:

    Thank you Kevin DeYoung for taking the time to write these encouraging words for the body of Christ. Well done young man.

    MLL

  26. Pingback: Let Freedom Ring
  27. Mike W says:

    This is fantastic! Great post Kevin.

  28. What’s wrong with presenting the gospel as synonymous with opposition to gay marriage? I agree that it’s only one facet of the gospel as a whole, but it is still one necessary consequence of embracing the gospel’s full meaning.

  29. Tony says:

    yankeegospelgirl: I am in complete agreement with you second sentence – that is basically what I had said in my comment. Your second sentence and I disagree with your first sentence. In Canada synonymous means two different words that say the same thing. It might mean something different down south. ;) Blessings.

  30. I was using “synonymous” to mean that you couldn’t have one without the other—they’re inseparable. Sorry for any confusion.

  31. Regardless, I think this post is fantastic. Well said Kevin.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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