We thank God regularly for the privilege of freedom of religion in our country – which seems to be the case in most western democracies.
What we however need to have an open eye for is that matters of faith, and therefore traditionally seen as matters of the Church, are taken from the domain of the Church and relabeled as political issues.
Marriage, an institution of God, is one of the issues which has now been labelled as a political issue. All other related issues like same-sex marriages, homosexuality, abortion, genetic engineering, etc. fall within this “political” field. The freedom of the Church in these matters are taken from the Church and put squarely in the political domain.
To claim that we have freedom of religion in our democracy, is only true in as far as the Church remains within its assigned (by politicians) corner. The principle that the Church can do its work in freedom, which includes preaching and spreading the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in its fulness, including the impact of this massage on society, is now compromised: the definition of what the work of the church is, is now in the hands of the law-makers. The principle of separating the spheres of work between Church and State has seen a paradigm shift – the State oversteps its limits and destroys this principle. After encroaching on the sphere of authority of the Church and assuming more and more rights by enlarging its own sphere of authority, it is now easy for the State to charge the Church for interfering with the work of the State.
Fact is, the boundaries have shifted. And it seems it is going to shift a lot more. The sphere of authority assigned by the State to the Church will shrink dramatically if this trends continues. Yet, in the same time, what is left for the Church will still be sold as “freedom of religion”.
For the Church to have courage and stand up for its God-given authority in the sphere assigned by Him for the Church, will be the challenge. It is probably at this junction where many martyrs of the past stood and decided it is their duty to obey God rather that the State.
The Case of Family First of New Zealand is a good example.
During the same-sex ‘marriage’ debate prior to the April 17 passage of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, Family First was a major force in educating and mobilising the public to stand up for marriage being between one man and one woman.
After passing of the Bill, Family First was deregistered as a charitable organisation. The reason:
Brendon Ward, the General Manager of Charities Services, said “Family First’s main purpose is to promote particular points of view about family life. Under the Act promotion of a controversial point of view is a political purpose.”
“The Commission argues that Family First’s efforts to represent the voice of 80%-plus of families on the anti-smacking law or half of New Zealanders on attempts to redefine marriage, for example, have no ‘public benefit’, and that it is in the ‘public interest’ for Family First to be deregistered.”