In the wake of a July 10 ruling against traditional marriage in Colorado, a pastor from the Mile High City issued an unusual warning for Christians who uphold the Bible's teachings on sex and other moral concerns including abortion.
As much as believers should stand for their convictions on marriage and other culturally evolving issues, Christians should guard against a “spirit of religion” that points an accusing finger of blame and shame, according to the suburban Denver pastor.
“Righteousness must never include condemnation of those who fail to stand as we do, nor can it ever be allowed to lead us to withdraw love and grace from anyone,” says Pastor Loren Sandford, who believes the Biblical definition of marriage is a man and a woman.
Sandford, the charismatic pastor of New Song Fellowship, issued a prophetic bulletin “Stand Up To The Pressure” the same day two judges in different Colorado courtrooms considered same-sex marriage arguments. In it, Sandford cites biblical passages Isaiah 51:20-21 and 2nd Timothy 3:1-5.
Even as an Adams County District Court judge dismissed the state's voter-approved traditional marriage law, the Colorado Attorney General told a Boulder District Court judge that the county clerk and recorder is issuing licenses to gays in violation of state law.
Hillary Hall has issued more than 100 licenses since June 25, when a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that Utah's same-sex marriage prohibition is illegal. Hall, a Democrat, immediately began issuing licenses to gay couples.
The Boulder judge did not immediately order Hall to stop but said he will soon decide on Attorney General Attorney General John Suthers' request.
Then, on July 11, the judge denied Suthers' petition, prompting Hall and other clerks including Denver's to resume issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
Long before the LGBT community began its push for marriage rights across the country, gays and lesbians found an ally in Boulder County, where a previous clerk issued licenses to gay and lesbian couples hoping to marry.
Though the city of Boulder leans to the left politically, other cities within the county are less liberal and some citizens resent Hall's defiance.
Judges' decisions and county clerks' actions, along with growing cultural acceptance of the LGBT's goals, present a dilemma for believers who find themselves at odds with – not just the corruption of society – but with spiritual forces that have been around for thousands of years, Sandford contends.
The pastor is the author of several books on prophetic ministry, and his parents are widely recognized as pioneers in inner healing.
“In biblical times, the source of pressure bore the name 'Baal' or 'Molech,' the demons worshiped by the nations surrounding Israel that pressured the people into compromising their faith and devotion.” Sandford says.
Today the demonic influence is secular humanism, post-modernism or simply liberalism but at root it's the same deception, the same old spiritual principality that has been at work for thousands of years, warping the thinking of entire cultures, Sandford believes.
“The relentless pressure of Baal and Molech upon the minds and hearts of men and women increasingly leads believers to accept as normal what God calls an abomination,” says Sandford, who admits to feeling the pressure on his personal life and ministry.
The pastor says he will not change his views on marriage or sexuality but will temper his convictions with God the Father's heart of love for those who disagree with him.
“I carry, however, another weight of concern that I find equally heavy, a temptation just as demonic as the spirit of Baal and Molech – the spirit of religion that seduces just as powerfully.” It leads to Pharisaical treatment of people in need of mercy and grace, Sandford says.
“I cry out, therefore, for us who cling to biblical truth to stand our ground for righteousness and a pure passion for God but to do so always in thoughtfulness and the love with which Jesus treated every sinner He ever met. Only the Pharisee stood worthy of his condemnation,” Sandford says.
While judges and lawyers argue who should be legally allowed to marry – inevitably all the way to the Supreme Court – Christians shouldn't conform to decisions with which they disagree, or alienate themselves from people who applaud biblical immorality, Sandford says,
The judge who dismissed Colorado's law preventing gays and lesbians from marriage immediately stayed his ruling until the high court hears arguments for and against the state's ban.
His decision makes the state the 16th to have marriage laws dumped by state and federal judges favoring same-sex couples' wishes.
Last week, lawyers for nine couples – 18 people in all – from Denver and Adams counties argued that the state's ban violates the U.S. Constitution.