By Dran Reese
Which state in America wins for having the wackiest laws? You guessed it: California, where I live and work. Having traveled the nation, I have to say it’s certainly made a case for itself.
California boasts a renegade legislature that delights in tormenting God’s rulebook and gleefully keeps upping the ante on moral depravity. Currently law, there’s AB 775, the 2015 California FACT Act. Now before the U.S. Supreme Court, it mandates pregnancy care centers inform clients where they can purchase the very abortions the centers were created to prevent. Then, there’s SB 0743 that ensures abortions to Medic-Cal beneficiaries from any provider – including Planned Parenthood. And, SB 0219 guarantees a Long-Term Care Facilities “LGBT” Resident’s Bill of Rights – with no religious exemption – meaning, Granny may find herself with a male roommate. Not to be outdone, an Assembly proposal making its way through the bill-mill, AB 2943, threatens to outlaw sexual-orientation counseling altogether.
Before you breathe a sigh of relief that you don’t live in California, consider the once-Golden State as just an example of a wider malaise. The Wild West is easy to pick on because it’s so obviously lawless. Free expression in America, though, is being gnawed at like a dog with a bone.
Ironically, California may hold a key to reversing the dearth of civility in America. Remember Proposition 8 in 2008? That year, California amended the state constitution to declare marriage as only between one man and one woman. That is, before the 9th Circuit, followed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hollngsworth v Perry, torpedoed it.
The Prop 8 story, though, bears repeating. Two pastors, Jim Garlow, of Skyline Church in La Mesa, and Chris Clark, of East Clairemont Southern Baptist Church in San Diego, coordinated a Pastor’s Rapid Response Team. A series of statewide webinars live-streamed from Skyline Church united pastors and Christian leaders throughout the Southwest.
It was an exciting time. I know because I was asked to share through the webinars an action plan for civic engagement we used at church. Subsequently, the Lord showed me the need for continued involvement and a wider purpose He had for my life.
The Pastors Rapid Response Team’s strategy worked. Biblical citizens won that battle. But then, the effort fizzled. Prop 8 was nullified, “church” took over, and things went back to “normal.”
California believers moved on, considering their involvement in the culture a one-time deal.
If you think Prop 8 is old news, think again. Daily, its reach intrudes nationwide. The trampling of God’s imprint on marriage goes way beyond same-sex couples. From a spiritual standpoint, this was an attack against God’s perfect design for His creation. Legally, coercion by activist lobbyists, legislatures and courts set a precedent and gained considerable traction to steamroll over voter’s wishes in a number of areas. A continual violation of conscience extends from bills affecting the sanctity of life and assisted suicide, to bans on sexual-orientation counseling, laws affecting public restrooms, and mandates on the teaching of comprehensive sexuality education in our children’s elementary public-school classrooms.
Prop 8 was our wake-up call. We didn’t know it, but we should have. The signs were there. The amendment came on the tail of Prop 22, a law enacted by California voters in 2000. It, too, prevented marriage between same-sex couples, but the California Supreme Court, in May 2008, invalidated it as being contrary to the state constitution, even though the measure was adopted with 61 percent in favor to 39 percent opposed. By 2013, that percentage reversed, with 61 percent of Californians favoring same-sex “marriage” and 34 percent of adults opposed.
A strategy fueled by political correctness, not just in California but nationwide, played out through Prop 8. It initiated a war of words. With the unconstitutional 1954 Johnson Amendment prohibiting 503(c)s from endorsing candidates, and a misreading of Thomas Jefferson’s intentions regarding separation of church and state, one specific arena was targeted, twisted and became so toxic no Christian wanted to touch it with a 10-foot pole. Politics.
Politics is not a dirty word. Consider its definition: “The activities associated with the governance of a country or other area.” That literally implies governmental authority, and fact is, such authority rightfully belongs to the church; that means us – you and me – ordinary people, ordinary citizens. It was given by God to Jesus, who deeds it to us, His body.
Why do we avoid involvement in civic affairs? It’s not because of politics. What we flee from is the corruption in politics. We despise corruption. That’s good; God hates it, too. But, we have allowed false accusations and political wickedness to legislate us out of the seats of power – a void corruption is only too happy to fill. If Christians are called to extinguish the fiery flames of injustice, why are we running for cover?
It’s high time to dispel false accusations:
- You are being too political.”No, we are exercising our God-given, governmental authority in the political sphere. We are being biblically correct!”
- There is a separation between church and state.”Exactly. The state needs to stay out of the church”
- We are chasing away the people we need to help!”Christians are called to love all people. To love properly includes being honest.” (See Acts5:29 and James 4:17.)
Often, people thank me for what I am doing to preserve the culture. I tell them to not thank me; this is what each of us needs to do. It’s true; my lifestyle changed dramatically when I began The Salt & Light Council. I’m not telling you to quit your day job. But, at the least, consider learning about the candidates, vote for those who pledge to uphold biblical values and then hold them accountable to fulfill their promises. Better yet, run for office yourself.
To reach the masses, we must stop tossing governmental authority to the devil and reclaim it for Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven. Consider that politics is a medium through which God works. It’s the people involved who decide for good or evil.
Prop 8 gave us an initial jolt in the ways of the world. We moved past our comfort zones and entered unfamiliar territory. Ten years later, we have learned much and taken many hits. California wackiness notwithstanding, love working with the truth of the Gospel can win this state and nation to the Lord. First, though, we have to enlist in the fight. That is our biggest hurdle.
Dran Reese is president of The Salt & Light Council, which activates churches and groups nationwide that are ready to engage in biblical citizenship. Our dream is to see an active civic-serve ministry in every congregation. We provide ready-to-use tools and resources to educate, train, equip and activate the congregation as biblical citizens – those who live their faith in public. If you want to consider running a Biblical Citizenship Ministry, visit https://saltandlightcouncil.org/get-trained, or call 888-SALT-654.