Should Christians Compromise to Receive Government Money?

Posted on November 14, 2013 in Public Policy, Sexuality by

Government moneyOne article has stayed with me since I first read it last week. I’m having a hard time even processing what I’ve read, much less any sort of biblical foundation for the decision.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention’s president of children services is urging the convention to change their hiring policy for Sunrise Children’s Services to allow the hiring of homosexuals. In a recent closed-door meeting the president, Bill Smithwick told trustees that “federal protection for homosexuals in the workplace as a ‘civil right’ just as race, gender, national origin, etc., is certain to become law sooner than later. Sunrise will comply or lose.”

Smithwick then presented three options to the leaders including “Follow current policy and terminate the employees. Then refuse to hire homosexuals even when doing so becomes a condition of receiving federal funding. (2) Terminate the employees according to current policy, wait until the government mandates a change, then comply. (3) Change the employment policy now.

Smithwick advocated the third option, arguing that Sunrise cannot operate without government funds and that it risks losing major secular sponsors if it fires homosexuals.

“A church or religious organization can hire all Christians and hold them to their standards…but they cannot accept state/federal monies. Sunrise cannot meet the needs of today’s abused and neglected children without public assistance.”

First of all, Mr. Smithwick is wrong about an evangelical, Christian organization not being able to receive money from the federal government for adhering to their religious views. The government cannot engage in viewpoint or religious discrimination in determining who will and will not receive grant money. Does it make it harder to get money from the government when you are a Christian organization, absolutely! Does it mean compromising biblical principles and attempting to make such compromise sound spiritual is the right answer, not at all.

What becomes clear is that Mr. Smithwick is willing to compromise biblical truth in order to receive federal money. That is the bottom line and perhaps the reason he is unwilling to meet with SBC leaders and discuss the issue.

A former trustee with the group raised a legitimate concern in that if Smithwick is willing to compromise biblical truth regarding homosexuals in order to receive federal money, what other principles will he compromise? What will he do when the government demands he teach explicit sex-education, affirm homosexuality to the children, allow people of other faiths to speak at their chapel, or help place children with homosexual couples? Will Smithwick continue to compromise and dilute the Gospel in order to appease the government and get his money?

This spirit of compromise is invading many groups around the globe as Christians increasingly seem more interested in appeasing the government – often for money – than in standing for truth. A recent article reports on an incident in the Yukon:

“The Catholic Diocese of Whitehorse has obeyed an order by the Yukon government to remove Church teaching on the sinfulness of homosexuality from its policy on pastoral care for same-sex attracted students in its publicly-funded Catholic schools.”

Yet another publicly funded “Christian” school decides to compromise rather than lose funding.

The fact is there is no end in sight to the amount of compromise Smithwick and Sunrise will be asked to accept. One compromise will only lead to further compromises that will end with Sunrise being just another government entity.

Another aspect to this tale is the fact that this man is willing to bring homosexuals in to work with children. Now, I have not been thoroughly convinced that there is a concrete link between homosexuality and pedophilia, but the idea that such a link is possible cannot be ignored. What risk to children is Smithwick allowing by advocating for homosexuals to work with the kids?

What happens when a transgender person wanting to work with the children confronts Smithwick? While he claims compromising in order to receive government money is in the best interest of the children, is surrounding kids with lifestyles contrary to biblical teaching really in their best interest?

Just recently a man living as a woman was suspended from a social club for disturbing behavior. Also, a boy that believes he is a girl has caused an uproar in a school where he has reportedly harassed the girls trying to use the bathroom. Is this the kind of behavior children should be surrounded by? Is Smithwick so naïve that he doesn’t believe he will now be targeted to further compromise in order to keep whatever government funding he currently receives? Exactly where does he draw the line?

I feel for Smithwick because of the difficult situation he is in. If he refuses to compromise it will likely mean an end to government funding; which ultimately means jobs lost and a smaller ministry. If he does compromise Sunrise will no doubt become an instrument of the state that loses any and all evangelical identity. I don’t envy him.

Albert Mohler has some words of wisdom on this issue that perhaps Smithwick and others should consider:

“The board of directors of Sunrise Children’s Services faces a hard choice, but the choice is not just between several policy alternatives. They will decide to serve God or to serve Caesar…When asked about the payment of taxes, Jesus famously responded, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’ (Mark 12:17). We dare not render to Caesar what belongs rightly and only to God.”

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