2020 Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has threatened to remove the tax-exempt status for any church that does not agree with same-sex marriage. His aim is to make churches cave and forgo their Biblical conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman.
To be sure, out of fear, many churches will indeed crumble under governmental pressure and approve of homosexual marriage. In doing so, they will stand against Christ and in his eyes, cease being a church. Others will close their doors for good, liquidating their assets because of the financial burden of losing their tax-exempted status.
Yet The Church will march on because its mission is not contingent on a tax break from the government rather it is empowered by the Holy Spirit. That is why I am not shaken by Beto’s comments, in fact, there is a part of me that says, “Bring it on!”
The 501c3 tax exemption has helped the church in many ways. Instead of paying substantial sums to the IRS, those resources can be used to minister to the poor and afflicted within our community.
However, 501c3 has also been a hindrance to the church. Churches across the country are constantly anxious about crossing the line when engaging certain issues within their community for fear of suddenly having their tax-exempt status revoked. To their shame, many pastors write their sermons with the 501c3 in mind, avoiding topics like abortion, the role of government, and how to vote within a Christian worldview. They are worried that if they speak on those issues or word gets out that they taught their congregation how a Christian should navigate through the circus of politics; they will have the IRS Gestapo knocking on their door.
Just imagine, if you will, what a post-501c3 America would look like for the church. Again, church buildings may empty and to a large extent the megachurch model that has dominated for decades will fizzle out. The churches who will remain open, will either slide into irrelevancy or become apostate. Yet the true church--the one who is uncompromising on Biblical truth—will flourish. Although it may be underground, it will have an even greater impact because it and its pastors will have the chokehold removed. These small yet dynamic congregations will have even more dependency on God and more fervency of spirit because they are no longer relying on aid from the government. No during this time, the government has revealed itself as the persecutor and as Church History shows us, persecution has always strengthened the church rather than destroys it.
Think of the church’s boldness and courage if that were to happen. For you to be a church, least in the Biblical sense, you would have to make a stand and refuse to bow to the State. Furthermore, it would become very clear on which side of the line you are on and that there will be no confusion on who believes the Bible and who doesn’t.
If Beto O’Rourke (and many others) get their way and our tax-exempt status is removed because we believe in God’s Word regarding marriage and family, so be it. Our call is to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29) and we will continue to proclaim the gospel, evangelize the lost and advance the Kingdom with or without tax-exempt status. The true church will not be shaken, it has endured persecution for centuries and has always come out triumphant.
So again, bring it on Beto because Christ is building his church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18).