Richard Land’s legacy in the church is one of compromise with the world, going back decades. The former head of the ERLC wrote an op ed in which he recalled advising a family to commit murder via abortion after the couple received questionable medical advice. Theoretically, the ERLC is supposed to function as a lobbying and political arm of the SBC, whereby it should reflect a Christian political ethic, but throughout its entirety, it has been theologically liberal and required no need for liberal drift, only the removal of the mask.
In 2014, Richard Land wrote an Op-Ed in the Christian Post entitled, “Gay Marriage and Religious Freedom: A Modest Proposal,” where he demonstrated a combination of his political ineptitude and his subversive nature that was evidence of moral compromise at the time. Whereas his 2022 article is terrible, his 2014 article which addresses the same issue at an earlier point in time, is more egregious.
Land begins by addressing the claims that protecting religious freedom is likened to Jim Crow and discrimination.
So, what stance should early twenty-first century Christians advocate and support?
Perhaps we should begin by saying that homosexual activity between consenting adults should not be criminalized. As much as we may understand the desire of our Ugandan Christian brothers and sisters to protect their country from the moral excesses of the West, we should counsel them not to criminalize consensual homosexual activity.
Full stop right here. This is antinomian and anti-biblical. Moreover it goes against the civil tradition of America and the English Common Law, which were based on biblical morality. Sodomy is not a right. Buggery does not benefit society, it only produces harm through disease, sexual abuse, and increased degeneracy—all of which America has seen since 2003 when the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws in Lawrence v Texas. Everything Justice Antonin Scalia predicted in his dissenting opinion became reality. Uganda has the right and duty as a nation to do this, just as Russia has done to their society and Qatar theirs.
Rather than appeal to any verse in scripture, Richard Land would embrace the liberal notion of consent-based morality pertaining to sex and that government does not have the right to restrict sexual activities based on consent. According to the Bible and the Mosaic Law, society has every right to punish immoral relations committed in private between two consenting adults. Adultery is a sin, but there is also consent and society should punish adulterers. Technically, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin all have adultery criminalization laws on the books. Most of these states consider it a fine or misdemeanor, with some jail time attached, but the precedent exists, nonetheless. If we can criminalize adultery, we can also criminalize sodomy.
It also should be noted that current laws call consensual sex “Statutory Rape” on grounds of age. It is rape because society declares it to be via a statute, even though many times these scenarios, typically with teenagers, the acts are consensual. Now, even though these laws are beneficial, Scripture does not support the notion that a sixteen year old cannot consent to sex nor is age of accountability found in Scripture. Just as we protect minors by declaring these acts to be unlawful, so to is it society’s duty to protect itself from that which leads to its decay. In this scenario, the government is defining consent. This is legislating morality. The question is, which morality becomes law?
As our sixteenth century Anabaptist forbearers testified, there should be spiritual penalties (in the church) for spiritual infractions and legal penalties (in the state) for legal infractions that harm others. Separation of church and state means among other things that the church should not use the coercive powers of the state to penalize consensual infractions it considers immoral. It also means that the state must not interfere with an individual church’s discipline of such behavior. Consequently, as a Baptist Christian I would oppose the Uganda laws there and here.
I highly doubt the Anabaptists of the sixteenth century would view sodomy as a spiritual infarction versus a legal one. Issues of doctrine and polity would fall under the former, while physical acts outside the church would fall under the latter’s sphere. Nevertheless, Land argues the non-Constitutional platitude of “Separation of Church and State” to contradict the American tradition of sodomy laws to say that he opposes what Uganda was doing in 2014.
However, as a Baptist Christian, I continue to oppose changing God’s definition of marriage to include same-sex unions. Such a redefinition goes far beyond consensual behavior between adults in its social implications for society, including its impact on children.
The problem of liberal drift is that when you compromise on the slippery slope, there is nothing to prevent further compromise. What is to stop Land from arguing civil unions in place of marriage for any two people, as Joe Carter does, or go full David French and support it as a blessings of liberty? He already compromised in stating that consent is the societal standard for sexual morality.
It is not as if the LGBT community will have any difficulty finding Americans willing to provide any and all of these wedding services. Why would they want to coerce and trample the religious convictions and liberties of their fellow Americans? Such coercion will not lead to greater affirmation of same-sex marriage, only greater resentment, backlash, and incivility.
In finishing his 2014 article, Land’s blindness to the slippery slope is pervasive. Why would they…? Maybe because they rationalize their sinful behaviors by demanding that society validate their transgression. After the fall, Adam and Eve covered their shame. The Rainbow Jihad would force it upon everyone, just as they have since the ratification of gay “marriage” by SCOTUS. It was never about tolerance and acceptance, but celebration and participation. Through legalization and normalization, the Rainbow Jihad has increasingly targeted our children to where 20.8% of Gen Z identifies as part of the rainbow, a trend that has doubled with each generation. One can only wonder why Russia would be so harsh.
Fast forward to 2022, where Land follows up with his latest Op-Ed, “Religious convictions vs. gay rights: A modest proposal” in which the central issue is the 303 Creative v. Elenis being argued before the Supreme Court, where a Christian web designer is imperiled by the Rainbow Jihad over her refusal to service gay wedding websites. Land appears obtuse to the notion that many Supreme Court cases are shopped, whereby activists purposely target Christians.
[Chai Feldblum] believes that in such conflicts it is a “zero-sum” game in which one side must always surrender their rights to the other.
This mindset guarantees such conflicts are elevated to a fever pitch with a belief that there will always be winners and losers.
What would happen if this zero-sum game assumption was not true?
Land would go on to cite a legal scholar he quoted in the 2014 column, but the zero-sum game is reality. Politics is zero-sum. There are winners and losers. Every moral action as a nation either brings us closer to God, or farther apart to where we are nearer to judgment as a nation. If we look at nations that adopted gay “marriage,” they then began prosecuting dissidents of the Rainbow Jihad, including those who quote Scripture on the streets in the UK, or those who use derogatory language online in Greece, those refuse “pronoun hospitality,” and service providers in the US. Certainly, these people, who are numerous around the world, were aversely impacted by this zero sum game.
Given that this was written in 2022, Land’s compromise has only worsened that he fails to see the reality that Drag Queen Story Hour as a rising trend, sponsored by corporate America. Moreover, child mutilation factories have sprouted across America and the transgender issue, which while existent in 2015, was secondary to the minds of Americans.
Land proceeds to cite Tish Harrison Warren, referring to her as an Anglican Priest, who wrote an Op Ed in the New York Times which articulated that “Christians Have a Duty to Defend and Uphold Same-Sex Marriage.” The fact that he dignifies her as a priest is another compromise for this supposed Southern Baptist.
The answer both Warren and I would agree is a resounding “no.” Instead, “We must find ways to protect the civil rights of gay people while allowing religious people who adhere to historic teachings on sex and marriage to freely practice their faith.” (Warren)
We have zero duty from God that we are obligated to protect the right of butt-sex or those who perform buggery from civil prosecution. None. Any extension of rights or leeway is a concession, and we have suffered the results of these incremental compromises. To any other generation of Christians, this would be inconceivable.
Historically, pluralism has been one of America’s highest and most noble ideals. The unofficial motto of such sentiments might as well be, “I disagree with everything you say, and I defend to the death your right to say it!”
While protecting LGBT rights, our society’s goal should remain one of achieving a society where the rights of all are protected.
The ending of Land’s 2022 column is one where pluralism is the highest American virtue. There is a difference between defending the right of Joe Rogan to host a podcast under legitimate Free Speech than the right of dudes wearing sexually clad dresses and performing strip shows in front of children, all so their parents can indulge their idolatry. Neither pornography nor sexual obscenity is free speech, nor is adultery free expression. That is not worth defending, nor is a nation which permits such degeneracies worth serving.
Richard Land was compromised on marriage in 2014, as he already embraced a demonstrably inconsistent consent-based morality pertaining to sex within the civil sphere. Richard Land might not affirm gay “marriage” personally, he is David Frenchism driving the speed limit.