“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man& his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
Thomas Jefferson is of course quoting a section of the First Amendment. So, why or how does the First Amendment and the Jefferson Separation of Church and State offer hope to the American Evangelical Church?
The ruling of the Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage nationwide and thus removing the rights of the individual states to determine their own laws has brought up fear within the Evangelical community concerning their right to hold to a traditional and Biblical view of human sexuality and marriage. Will the courts force the Evangelical Church and other traditionalist to honor their ruling and allow for gay marriage in their religious practice and services?
This fear is a rightful one and one I myself hold. But according Jefferson the above mentioned scenario cannot happen unless our Government takes a drastic turn away from individual freedom. According to Jefferson’s own interpretation (and his interpretation has been held up through the Courts.) the Federal Government cannot “prohibit the free exercise thereof,”. While I believe the courts overstepped their power in taking away state jurisdiction without a national vote on the matter, it does appear the Church is still free to worship and practice it’s faith as well as it’s freedom of free speech.
Now could this all change? Simply Yes. Yes it could all change but not unless the Federal Government pushes it upon the Church with force. Under the constitution as Jefferson rightly pointed out Churches are not to be forced to sanction anything that goes against its freedom of religion.
If however our Government forcefully removed the 1st Amendment we as members of the Evangelical Church and members of this country as a whole will be at a loss of freedom. But to remove the Church from their religious freedoms would also mean to remove free speech from the public square as well as peaceful protest.
We certainly may be headed in that very direction but not in the near future.
Separation of Church and State has been a matter of argument in the Church for some time but in this case it is the miracle of Divine Sovereignty the Evangelical Church needs. If the Church and traditionalist want to fight for anything in the political realm it must be for the 1st Amendment.