In advance of a decision from the Supreme Court on same sex marriage, tens of thousands of evangelical Christians have pledged to engage in civil disobedience if same sex marriage becomes the law of the land. Baptist pastor and self-described Christian political activist Rick Scarborough of Nacogdoches recently seemed to take it a step further, appearing on a podcast declaring, “We’re not going to bow, we’re not going to bend, and if necessary we will burn.” The pastor spoke today with Texas Standard host David Brown.
Scarborough said his burning quote was a reference to a song about a Bible story. “I was quoting what Christians have long been familiar with — it’s a little song that we teach our children about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.” The story, found in chapter three of the Old Testament book of Daniel, describes what happens when three Jewish men are asked to bow to a golden image of the Babylonian king. According to the text, they refuse to bow and are thrown into a furnace, but are delivered by God and emerge from the flames untouched. The contemporary song “Fourth Man” tells their story with the lyrics, “They wouldn’t bend…they wouldn’t bow…they wouldn’t burn.”
“I took the position and said this tongue-in-cheek more than in point of stated fact,” Scarborough said of his statement. However, he said would be willing to burn for his beliefs if it came to that. He also urged listeners: “There comes a time when a king or a Supreme Court or any authority — when they rule against God’s revealed law, that we have to choose God rather than man.”
Scarborough expressed a disbelief that giving marriage rights to homosexuals would leave heterosexual rights untouched. “In states where marriage has been redefined, as including same sex couples, right behind that came the full wave of the powers of the police state, to force licensing agencies, bakers, florists and others to participate and to sanction those marriages.” He cited the story of Barronelle Stutzman, a florist who refused to service a gay wedding and was subsequently sued and found guilty of violating a state anti-discrimination law.
“We know that that is the tactic,” he said, referring to the gay couple’s lawsuit against Stutzman. “Now I believe that the average homosexual who is listening to me right now and who is in this country, he is just like most Christians I know,” Scarborough said. “They want to live and let live. They’re not pushing these buttons. But there are some, on the extreme edge of the homosexual community, that have an agenda. And it’s to force Christianity to deny its faith, and they’re right now bent on forcing the silence of disagreement.”
Scarborough vowed to advocate nonviolent civil disobedience, paraphrasing Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”: “Just law by duty we should obey, but unjust law that counters God’s law, we have a duty to disobey.” He also cited oral arguments from the case over concerns that religious institutions’ tax-exempt status will be removed if they are forced to accommodate same-sex couples. “Anything that requires a license, if this becomes the new rule of law, anything that has a licensing procedure will be forced to comply with sanctioning same sex marriages,” Scarborough said. “And we are saying in advance — Supreme Court, take note, there are millions of us who cannot, because of our Christian faith, comply.”