Today I decided to sign the Manhattan Declaration. The time has come for Christians to speak out strongly in unison about these values that are essential without clouding the picture with denominational exclusives and sub-culture preferences. I was very drawn also to the way the declaration’s preamble linked the causes we are speaking out about today to some of the high moments in the history of Christianity. Indeed, when I sign it, I do have a sense that I am standing in the greatest strands of Christian tradition.
I signed, first of all, because the three causes are ones with which I wholeheartedly agree.
- Every human life is a creation of God from conception and is to be respected as such. As the Psalmist writes, “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Ps 139:13-14 NIV). Every day God gives us until our natural death is a gift of God, and comes to us with “good works prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). This is the Christian way and has nothing to do with country or politics. Its truth stands prophetically opposed to any government at any time in history that covers its hands in violence and bloodshed, whether obviously or more silently by implication.
- Marriage is defined as a covenant union of one man and one woman for life. It cannot be defined otherwise and be the same product. It began in the Garden of Eden. It was blessed by Jesus with his own presence in Cana. It is a covenant that God uses to illustrate the relationship of Christ to the church (Eph. 5:25-32). It has been under assault for years and now is in critical danger of official redefinition. I believe that Christians need to stand together in the way they live, and pray about and stand up for the Bible’s idea of marriage.
- Lastly, religious freedom is a precious gift that came to us in our country because so many from so many different faiths were part of our fledging nation in its beginning. They recognized that freedom of conscience was a divinely assumed parameter of Scripture. So they made it a pillar of our system of government. Today it is under direct attack by the “politically correct” crew. What is not being made clear in our country today is that our Christian faith is the only safe foundation for our freedom. Other great world faiths have not resulted in the potential for tolerance of diverse faiths that American Christianity has. We need to recognize that preserving our Christian heritage is essential to the continuing of our freedom of religion.
These three causes truly need our support today.
I do not need to repeat the work of the declaration. But let me add that in my work as a minister of the gospel, I have seen the decline of marriage from several angles. It is frightening. Divorce is more frequent. Promiscuity is a way of life especially among many twenty-something’s. More and more children are born outside of marriage. The number of marriages I have personally been asked to perform has fallen steadily over my years of ministry. Today, many want to teach an outright falsehood by suggesting that somehow homosexual unions are the same as heterosexual. If they were, why do homosexuals often imitate the heterosexual pair? If they were, why don’t statistics concerning happiness come out equally well? And today, we are in danger as pastors of not being able to say how we feel about that subject and others as has already happened in Canada. This is just one reason why we need to speak out in defense of religious liberty.
The success of these causes will require a unity across all brands of Christian faith.
It is high time that we became more creative in answering Jesus’ prayer for our unity. “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (Jn 17:23 NIV). I think all of us recognize that part of the reason for the powerlessness of the church in today’s world is its divisions. To take one small example, if a media person wanted to call someone to represent the church on a given issue in a given city, who would they call? The truth is, we couldn’t even advise the media what to do ourselves. There are probably three ministerial associations at least; and the largest churches are often not even represented in them. No wonder we have so little voice. So the Manhattan Declaration gives Christ’s Church a chance to come together across all those artificial lines and speak out with one voice. I want to be part of that.
You can speak out too.
If you have been impressed to check up on the Manhattan Declaration with a view to joining in yourself—and I hope you have—I have added the website to my blog roll. The sign-in process is simple. You do not have to join the community to sign the declaration. Let’s work together to stand up for truth!