In case you hadn't noticed, Christendom is no longer friendly to Christians. It is in fact incredibly hostile. Scholars tell us we live in the Post-Christian era. And, from one perspective at least, they might just have a point: Christendom, at least as we used to know it, is as dead as Monty Python's famous parrot. This bodes ill for the future: Ancient boundary stones are being moved, bedrock institutions of society are being redefined, inalienable rights are being stripped away, and taboos.... Well the only taboo now is to have the audacity of actually having a taboo in the first place! For decades we have sown to the winds of Secular Humanism, and it seems we are about ready to reap the whirlwind.
What do we mean by Secular Humanism? Secular Humanism is the rather bizarre belief that man began as a fluke, lives out a farce, and ends up as fertilizer, yet is to be regarded as the measure of all things (Synthesized from John Blanchard, "Does God Believe In Atheists). This last phrase is all important: When it comes to reality, from the perspective of the Humanist, man is the High Priest, He is the measure of all things. He is the gatekeeper of knowledge, the one knows what is good and what is evil (Cf. Gen 3:22).
In 1961, the United States Supreme Court officially designated Secular Humanism (SH) as a religious system of belief. This is tremendously important, and more than a little embarrassing for the Secular Humanist, because as a group they like to cry foul in the presence of any daring enough to publicly express religious convictions. The SH like to use catchy sound bites to suppress all God-talk. Things like: "Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!", or "You can't legislate morality!", or "Keep your religion out of my bedroom!" Listen to these people for more than a few moments and you will realize they are dogmatically anti-dogmatic.
In making statements like these, the SH likes to imagine himself/herself/itself as the champion of those oppressed by the religion of others. In response they desire a brave new world in which - at least in the public square - people can be free from religion. But all this begs the question: what is religion? The SH, of course, has his own definition (They like making definitions. It allows them to control the argument, set the rules, be the measure, and to determine the outcome). From their perspective, religion basically amounts to the private devotion of those who believe in an imaginary, invisible god-sized friend. I realize this is my rendition of their definition. In it, I try to capture the "look-down-your-nose" contempt with which the SH crowd view their religious interlocutors. It is also of interest to note how the definition determines the subsequent discussion. Once you get on this train, it doesn't matter how fast you run down the center isle in the opposite direction, you are always only going to go in one direction towards one destination.
By this standard, the SH claims to be non-religious, an open-minded, scientific man, interested in the common good of modern society. But, not so fast; let's take a closer look at this whole religion thingamajig. What if religion was even more fundamental than just a belief system involving an imaginary god-sized friend. What if religion had to more to do with what happens when a man tries to live out his answer to life's ultimate questions? Questions like: Where did life come from? - the question of origin. Where is life headed? - the question of destiny. What is life all about? - the question of meaning. How should life be lived? - the question of ethics. Why is life so difficult?- the question of evil. How can life be better? - the question of redemption. Defined from this perspective, we see that everyone is religious, and that no one really tries to keep their real religion private. How could they? Religion is not just the tired old rubric of some priest in some dusty inner room, religion is the stuff of ultimate reality. Matters about which we cannot pretend indifference? Matters that define and drive the direction of man's life, the places he will invest his time, his talents, and his treasure. How can any man's religion be locked away in private? Our true religion will always shows its face everywhere, to everyone, in every moment of our existence. If we are to be true to ourselves, we cannot be false to our religion, we can't just hide it away -- as if our answers to life's ultimate questions didn't really matter to us. And this is precisely what the SH wants us to pretend.
Now, I hope you are beginning to see the rub? While secular humanists pretend to desire a land free from religion, what they really want to create is a land free from your religion, a land in which only their religion has privileged status in the public sphere. In essence, they say, you play by our religious rules, or you will not play at all. And if you don't believe me ask Sweet Cakes for Melissa what happened when they refused to make a wedding cake celebrating homosexual marriage. They will give you 135,000 reasons to fear the cultural hegemony of the SH. It is not friendly to Dissenters.
This is why the cultural observers like Al Mohler are all sounding the alarm: Make no mistake, Religious Liberty as we once knew it is about to become a thing of the past. The redefinition of marriage isn't just about the rights of people of same sex attraction to marry, it is about the right for you and for me to practice our religion in public.
Perhaps you are saying, "Oh, come on pastor, you are sounding like a conspiracy theorist. The Gay marriage lobby assure us they will grant us freedom of worship. They aren't against our church. They are willing to respect our beliefs as long as we are willing to reciprocate the same respect to them."
But did you notice the change in what you just said? You changed the historically important phrase, "freedom of religion", and your turned it into "freedom of worship." At first glance, you might be tempted to say, "Well it sounds the same to me!" And of course it does, but it's not. Freedom of Religion grants you religious liberty everywhere, to be a public Christian. Freedom of Worship grants you this same right only in private - you can do whatever you want "quietly" in your place of worship, but just make sure that what you do in there doesn't offend anyone out in the "real" world, in the public sphere. Because the secular humanist says, "Your religion can have no place out here in the secular realm!" You have no right to offend the sensibilities of the sensible people who don't want to hear about your narrow minded God.
Yes, they will use platitudes like, "We will respect and tolerate your religious beliefs, if you respect and tolerate our sexual and gender preferences." As always, the devil is in the details, ask them, "What precisely do you mean by" respect and tolerate" and you will find out just how free your religious expression is about to become!