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Your Pastor’s Perspective on TN HB 2414 and 1840

Jude 3-4 – “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

The Pope occasionally issues an encyclical and the apostle, Paul, famously wrote several epistles establishing the church’s position on matters of culture. While I am not the pope nor Paul the apostle (I am just Pete the Tackett), I do have a responsibility to establish spiritual leadership for our church family.

From the beginning of my pastorate, I have urged us according to John 1:17, to follow the example of Christ and be people of grace and truth. No where has that been more trying of late than the ongoing bullying of Christians, non-profits, and churches by those who are militantly pro homosexuality and will take nothing less than for the church to agree with them that it is normal and it is not a sin.

In the age of social media, everyone has a voice and practically no one has an editor or seems to slow down long enough to let their conscience be their guide. No where has that been more true than in the public discourse over Tennessee legislation, House Bill 2414 and House Bill 1840. The latter says no counselor or therapist shall be required to serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor, provided an appropriate referral is made.The former requires state schools and other buildings to restrict access to bathrooms based on a person’s gender at birth. I want to publicly go on record today here as I have on social media and in letters to legislators in support of both and urge all of you to contact your representatives and senators to ask them to stand with us in spite of economic threats of gloom and doom. At the end of the day, our faith and its teaching is not for sale.

I actively oppose any bullying of anyone, no matter their sexual orientation. However, there is a great difference in practicing “grace and truth” and being pushed to condone what we know to be wrong. Without truth, there can be no grace. We fail our God and our culture when we fail to stand for truth. The most unloving and unGodly thing a believer can do is know the pain that can be caused by sinful choices and not do all we can to protect our friends from that pain.

I support these and other bills before our legislature and actively oppose all legislative and judicial attempts to normalize same sex relationships for several reasons.

495 years ago tomorrow, the famed reformer, Martin Luther, at the Diet of Worms, confronted those who asked him to recant his position with these words. “Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the word
of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”

images-15Luther’s conviction then and mine now, is that the word of God must dictate the choices and beliefs of those who call themselves Christians and that we cannot bow to a council of 9 judges nor a legislature of 535 nor even a social media mob that would call us self righteous, unkind, and bigoted, words that have all been used to describe people like me by my Christian friends on social media. Romans 1 is but one teaching that reminds us that the writers of the Bible, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, considered homosexuality to be a sin and the result of a deceived mind. For us to say different is to contradict God’s word and it is neither right nor safe, so here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen.

I also hold to this position because for 225 years our government has erred on the side of religious freedom. The first amendment opens with these words “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” To tell a counselor who believes homosexual marriage is wrong that he must counsel a gay couple and more specifically, his counsel cannot be that it is wrong and that their ultimate good is served by repentance is a clear infringement on the free exercise thereof. Without the safeguard of this long held right to exercise your religion as you see fit under the leadership of your God, it is simply a matter of time until the government tells me that I cannot say the Bible teaches homosexuality to be a sin. (Parenthetically, for that same reason, I support Gov. Haslafirst-amendment-text-scroll_738902221m’s promised veto of the bill making the Bible the official book of Tennessee. I believe it crosses the establishment line.)

Finally, I take this stand for the good of the proponents of gay marriage and all things lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and whatever other initials they want to add. If my lifetime of observing history has taught me anything, it is that the winds of change blow back and forth. If the gay lobby succeeds in destroying the historic line of protection for people of faith, when the winds blow the other direction, and conservatives come back into vogue as has happened every 8-12 years for the past 60 years, there will be nothing in place to protect those who are in power today from being bullied in the future. We cannot continue to deconstruct both the Bible and the constitution and not pay a great price.

For that reason, I ask you today to contact your state legislators on behalf of Bill 2414 and to contact Governor Haslam asking him to sign it when it comes to his desk. My friend, Rep. Sheila Butt of Columbia says the governor told her almost all his constituent contacts on this bill had been against it. I am asking you to help turn the tide on that. I further ask that you determine how your legislators voted on 1840 and send a note of thanks to those who voted in favor. Finally, I ask you to educate yourself on important matters of religious freedom. A good place to start is the website Family Action Council of Tennessee.

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