(’76 Contributor) “The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience,” released last month, impressed me as a profound statement by a large number of Christian leaders taking a stand for the foundations of civilization, the family, and the sanctity of human life. People of faith have to work together to preserve and protect the fundamental principles of morality from those who seek to destroy them. This declaration brings together numerous Catholic bishops, Orthodox clergy, and Evangelical leaders—and as an evangelical Christian I will gladly partner with other types of Christians on the common concepts that form the backbone of Christianity. Here are the opening lines from ManhattanDeclaration.org:
Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family. We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and theLife.
Even now the whispers of “hate speech,” “ignorance,” “bigotry,” “intolerance,” and “insensitivity” await those who now champion the sanctity of life or who fail to cheerlead homosexuality and sexual deviancy. Some have even gone so far as to label the Manhattan Declaration “hateful” or a call for civil disobedience. They are wrong. The manifesto is not about judging or excusing. If anything, it is in fact a rather benign, formal declaration of what a great many believe. It is also a clear warning shot across the bow of the U.S.S. liberal agenda that Christians will not compromise their fundamental religious beliefs no matter what the state may attempt to dictate.
Those seeking to mock, disparage, and even persecute any of us who fail to march lockstep with the agenda of secular humanism need to understand that a line has been drawn in the sand and a wide spectrum of the Christian community is joining together in a common cause to proclaim God’s truth, as they understand it, as outlined in the Bible. These are clear cut and unambiguous issues for Bible-believing people of faith and compromise is not an option when it comes to these basic principles.
The suspension of judgment and the concept that there is no true right or wrong is a devious lie and one that often fools even otherwise educated and intelligent people. If you are willing to suspend judgment and the concept of right and wrong, then you will eventually accept anything. The “if-it-feels-good-do-it” mindset produces only heartache and disaster in the end. It is the wise man who rejects such childlike idiocy and expects adults to think and act like adults. With maturity should come responsibility, self-restraint, discernment, and wisdom. It stands in stark contrast to an ideology of dependency, irresponsibility, the inability to practice self-restraint and accept the consequences of one’s actions, and the continued childlike dependency on others to fix one’s own mistakes.
Popular culture may sneer at such ideas as morals and values, sexual restraint, and personal responsibility, at patriotism and good citizenship, and at honesty, decency, and respect. Those are the failings of secularists and liberals. They should not be of Christians and conservatives. Part and parcel of both Christianity and conservatism is the simple concept that actions have consequences. The concept of the prohibition of sin was not to somehow squash your “fun” but to warn one about the repercussions of certain actions. It was to protect us, not to be “mean” to us.
There may come a time when a declaration like this is labeled “hate speech” or contrary to the public good and banned from dissemination. One may think that is far-fetched but we currently stand at the edge of the abyss when it comes to thought-control, censorship, and even the persecution of those that don’t march lock step with the powers-that-be and the dictates of a corrupt, popular culture.
As our society and culture embraces decadence and earnestly seeks to fulfill the Prophet Isaiah’s warning that “good shall be called evil, and evil good” it is increasingly important for people of faith to stand up and be counted. It is time to draw a stark distinction between those who have sold out to situational morality and don’t believe in right or wrong, only “different.” Eleven of the twelve disciples achieved martyrdom by refusing to heed those who sought to silence them. It is incumbent upon Christians to stand up for what is right, no matter the cost. It is an essential element of the faith, and at the core of the teachings of Christ. To not call sin “sin” is to be dishonest and contrary to the teachings of the gospels.
The last paragraph of the Declaration reads: ”Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.”
There is something noble and honorable about standing for truth, as uncomfortable or inconvenient that may be for some on occasion. You can join the over 300,000 people of faith who have followed the example and lead of the initial 170 leaders of the Christian community who presented the world with the Manhattan Declaration. Dare to take a stand. Join what has gone far beyond a mere statement in defense of faith and principle, and is now becoming a movement of people of conscience taking a stand for the whole world to see.
Start the New Year by recommitting yourself to what is right and true. The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience can be read in its entirity at www.ManhattanDeclaration.org. I signed this powerful declaration and so should you. I like the spectrum and caliber of the signers and am proud to join my smallest of voices with theirs.The goal is for one million Christians to sign the declaration. Will you join me in doing so?
For more information on the thinking behind the Manhattan Declaration I would suggest the article by Dr. Timothy George, Dean of the Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, senior editor of Christianity Today, and one of the original architects of The Manhattan Declaration: The Manhattan Declaration: A Growing, Grassroots Movement of the Spirit (http://www.colsoncenter.org/the-center/columns/call-response)
David Huntwork is a conservative activist and freelance columnist in Northern Colorado where he lives with his wife and three young daughters. He is the author of the book No Apologies: In Defense of Common Sense and the Conservative Ideology which can be purchased at http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=3576295.
Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions at DaveHuntwork@juno.com.
You may also view his bio and past columns at: http://DavidHuntwork.tripod.com.