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Regis Nicoll Christian Blog and Commentary

Regis Nicoll

Freelance Writer, Speaker, Worldview Teacher, Men's Ministry Leader

Two weeks after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex “marriage,” a Catholic priest withheld communion from Tim Ardillo, a gay man, during his mother’s funeral in southern Louisiana. Communion was denied Ardillo not, as insinuated by the media, because he was gay, but because he had "married outside of the church," having married another man in violation of Catholic teaching.

In the brouhaha that followed, Ardillo received apologies from the Diocese of Baton Rouge and the Archbishop of New Orleans. Although the content of the apologies was not disclosed, a diocesan spokesperson, channeling Pope Francis, opined, “We don’t deny people communion. . . . Who are we to judge whether they believe (the church’s teachings on the communion) or not?” (Emphasis added.)

The executive coordinator of the Canon Law Society of America also weighed in, suggesting that the only valid reasons to withhold communion are “if the person is known to be of a different faith or has been excommunicated or formally left the church.”

Well, given that the catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion,” another valid reason is if it is known by the pastor that a person is in a state of unrepented sin—like a homosexual who comes to church with his same-sex partner. A priest who administers the sacrament under those circumstances would be derelict in his duty as a shepherd of the flock.

Nevertheless, the story of a gay man denied communion at his mother’s funeral has, as I put it in “How Should Churches Receive Same-Sex Couples?,” “an emotional tug sure to convince many Christians wondering ‘What Would Jesus Do’ that anything less than full, unconditional acceptance of non-celibate homosexuals into the church is un-Christlike.”

More to come

As the push for full inclusion of gays expands, church leaders will have to wrestle with being socially acceptable through cultural accommodation or risking social censure and financial ruin by remaining biblically faithful.

And the push will expand. For what has become plain in recent years is that the endgame of the gay movement is not, nor ever has been, marriage—but rather, as gay legal expert Arthur S. Leonard disclosed, the “societal acceptance and support for the reality of lesbian and gay family structures as something to be valued and reinforced, in the same way that society values and reinforces heterosexually-based family structures.”

And make no mistake; the refusal to actively support such structures will result in chastisement. The last several years have witnessed entities, ranging from military chaplains and company CEOs to wedding service providers and faith-based organizations, disciplined with the rods of legal fines, civil suits, loss of employment, bankruptcy, and public opprobrium.

Now that gay “marriage” enjoys the imprimatur of the state and homosexuality enjoys high regard in popular opinion (a University of Chicago study found that a minority of Americans feel that same-sex relations are “always wrong”), the only thing standing athwart the homosexualist agenda is the church, which is finding itself increasingly in the crosshairs of controversy. One of the latest involves... Continue reading here.

If you were surprised at the Supreme Court ruling that redefined mankind’s most primal and essential institution, you shouldn’t have been. The Pandora’s box of state-sanctioned pseudotrimony was flung open in 2004, making the Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges inevitable.

After Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex “marriage,” it took a mere decade for 36 states to follow suit (although only three by popular vote) and for the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).*

Although the 2013 DOMA ruling did not make SSM a constitutional right, the High Court tipped its hand on future decisions by casting the Act as demeaning, disparaging, and injurious to gay people and their families. (It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to presage a time when the same reasoning will be used to libel two-partner, genderless “marriage” as equally injurious to heterosexual, homosexual, and non-sexual throuples and other varieties of familial associations.)

Despite the Court’s sentiment, it limited the DOMA decision to the granting of federal benefits, leaving state law intact. States with traditional marriage laws could continue to refuse recognition of non-traditional marriages performed legally in other states. The effect was an incremental move toward nationalization that avoided getting too far in front of public opinion. At the time, public support for legal SSM was 50 percent (up from 32 percent just ten years prior).

A turning tide

In the last two years, the tide of popular opinion has caught up with the liberal leanings of the Court. Today, 57 percent of the general public and 73 percent of millennials favor SSM. What’s more, Fortune 500 companies like Walmart, Apple, Starbucks, and Target have been active advocates for “marriage equality” with no negative market impact.

Then there’s that fact that SSM was already legal in three fourths of the Union with over 200,000 legally married homosexual couples, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But a marriage that isn’t transportable from Massachusetts to Texas isn’t a marriage; it is a social construction that promotes discrimination, inequality, and confusion—social injustices the Justices were compelled to correct with a wave of their Constitutional scepter.

And correct they did, by conjuring up a right for homosexual pseudotrimony from the “penumbras and emanations” of the Constitution. The result is a man-made civil right that will continue to trump human rights our nation’s founders deemed self-evident and inalienable: the freedoms of conscience, association, and religious expression.

Yes, continue, as the assault on these freedoms has been underway for some time: from court orders and civil suits brought against wedding service providers, faith-based charities, and parents wanting to exempt their children from indoctrination; to the loss of certification and employment by professional counselors, military chaplains, and company CEOs whose thoughts and beliefs run afoul of “marriage equality” dogma. All in lockstep with the rhetorical shift from “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship” by the political class.

About those exemptions

With genderless “marriage” nationalized and state marriage laws overturned, the assault will ramp up. And it won’t stop at the church door—for what Caesar has declared “holy,” no one, not even the Church, will be allowed to declare “unholy.”

Oh, but there’s the religious exemption, you say.

The state, having consecrated gay “marriage” as a civil right, will no more exempt a church from marrying same-sex couples or allowing non-celibate homosexuals as members, leaders, or staffers than it would for ethnic minorities. Oh, it may for a while, but only in the interests of incrementalization. (Over the weeks and months ahead, look for same-sex couples to press legal action against churches refusing to marry them.)

Churches that acquiesce and “come to terms” with genderless “marriage” will be legitimized by the state. For becoming part of the conforming church, the benevolent hand of the state will deign to continue granting them tax exemption.

Churches that refuse to genuflect before the rainbow banner, at minimum, will lose their tax-exempt status, causing many—perhaps, most—non-complying churches to become financially unsustainable, close their doors, and vanish or splinter into smaller congregations and home churches. Noncompliance may very well lead to lawsuits and criminalization, driving the confessing Church underground, much like in the first centuries of its existence. And, yet, that could be the best thing for Christianity since Pentecost. Find out why here.

Having crossed the gay “marriage” Rubicon, the question now becomes, what should Christians do? The answer is, doing what we should have been doing all along: making “disciples of all nations.”

The word, “nations,” signifies that our duty is more than proclaiming the good news of the kingdom to individuals; it includes applying kingdom principles in every dimension of human interest – arts, literature, government, science, marketplace, education – to redeem nations through the institutions and artifacts that make them and shape them.

And that starts with Christians modeling the sacramental essence of marriage and living lives of sexual purity. The failure of Christians to do so, while holding others to standards they don’t keep, is largely responsible for the loss of the Church’s moral authority and the growing acceptance of homosexualism.

Nothing in the past 2000 years, including the legalization of homosexual pseudotrimony, changes our call to be light in darkness and salt in a decaying culture. Whatever cultural conditions exist, whatever hostility we experience, we are to be martyrs (from the Greek word for “witnesses”) by profession and practice, even in the face of martyrdom -- not by lions in a state coliseum or by fire in a village square (though their modern versions can’t be ruled out), but by increased discrimination, marginalization, and persecution.

Are we prepared for that? Are we prepared to bear the cost of social shunning, unemployment, law suits, criminalization, or worse? Are churches prepared to forsake property, buildings, and professional staffs to remain faithful to its mission if tax exemptions are threatened, adversely impacting already low giving levels?

If the answer is no, depends, or we’re not sure, one thing we can be sure of, is the continued shrinking domain of religious liberty: from the public square, to the house of worship, to the family circle, to the temporal lobe, to the incredibly vanishing “God spot.”