Meanderings of a Minister

Where Is the Line?
September 26, 2013, 9:42 pm
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This past Sunday, I preached on a passage from 1 Peter in which Peter told his hearers:


“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.  For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.  Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.  Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”[1]


It is just like God for this message to come before a week in which this would be put to the test in our community. 


On Monday, our school board took a stand to say that we ought to be able to be free to express ourselves through prayer in public, at football games, over the PA system, just as we had for many years until the policy was changed by one man’s decision.  They voted 7-0 to approve the prayer at schools.  They boldly stood up to say that they wanted to protect from the erosion of our religious freedoms on our nation.  They are to be admired and commended for doing so.


After prayer was removed from the football games a few years back, I contacted the American Center for Law and Justice and explained the situation.  They indicated that we could have continued to pray had this decision not been made, but that once the decision was made, we could not go back because any action to reverse the decision could be interpreted as endorsement of prayer by the school district and, according to the Supreme Court’s Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U. S. 290 (2000)[2] decision.


So, now we have a problem.  We have a school board that has acted admirably and expressed what many of the citizens of Liberal desire, but they will most likely have to reverse the decision at some point.  The question is how much they want to fight it and whether or not this is a “hill to die on”. 


So what can we do?  First, pray.  Next, pray some more.  Pray for wisdom for the school board to know that they are doing what God has called them to do.  Pray for courage to stand up for conviction.  Pray for God’s grace for them.  What else?  Let them know how much you appreciate the stand they have taken and what they have attempted to accomplish.  Tell them that you agree with their sentiment.  Affirm them in this decision.  Don’t try to blame them or condemn them if they are forced to reverse the decision.


Having considered this situation, the question we are left with is where is the line in the sand?  Where is the line that we are called to stand on when it comes to issues like this.  For many of us, we struggle to know the difference between what the Bible says is our responsibility and the American religious freedoms we have always enjoyed and where they intersect or diverge.  How do we know if we are fighting for religious freedom constitutionally or biblically?  How do we know if we are fighting for a preference or a biblical mandate?  How do we know if we have entered into the “We must obey God rather than men” area of Acts 5 or if we are simply fighting for the preferences we have been taught to value as Americans?  Where is the line?  Pray that God would show you the answer and then stand on His direction.


[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.



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