The Prescient Relevance of the Manhattan Declaration in an Age of Caustic Division

The public square is a hostile environment of competing identity politics. However, not all identities are treated equally. Those adhering to Christian orthodoxy do not enjoy the same respect, dignity, tolerance, or acceptance as other identities, despite the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty. Indeed, what happens in the bedroom of two consenting adults is nobody’s business. Unfortunately, LGBTQ advocates make it everyone’s business, literally and figuratively. They demand that everyone, young and old, endorse, embrace, and celebrate their private lifestyles. They openly vilify anyone who disagrees, and they pursue aggressive law suits against businesses that choose not to celebrate same-sex “marriages.” All in the name of open-minded tolerance and loving acceptance.

Many traditional Christians have been caught unawares, claiming not to have seen this coming. However, other Christian scholars and thinkers anticipated it several decades ago. For example, in the early 1990s, David Ayers, professor of sociology and dean of the School of Arts and Letters at Grove City College, wrote a prescient article titled “The Inevitability of Failure: The Assumptions and Implications of Modern Feminism.” Ayers foresaw the social, moral, and logical consequences of denying clearly established biological differences between the sexes.

Today, LGBTQ advocacy likewise denies the empirical reality of sex-specific differences found in biology, immunology, and neurology. Michael Brown, senior contributor to The Stream, also foresaw this day in which ideology ignores biological reality. The consequences for not agreeing with this anti-science denial is public humiliation, legal punishment, and career devastation. As Rolling Stone reports, Tom Gill, the megadonor pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into LGBTQ advocacy, wants to punish all who disagree with this nature-averse, science-denying sexual agenda.

Traditional Christians speaking out against LGBTQ advocacy and standing up to the public bullying and legal threats are not paranoid and cannot be dismissed as mere alarmists. The threat is real. Just ask Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Melissa and Aaron Klein of Cakes by Melissa, Randy McGath of 111 Cakery, or Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers. LGBTQ advocates are also targeting Christian institutions of higher learning, non-profit Christian charities, and parachurch organizations.

What are those who see capitulation as apostasy to do? Cohesive unity is needed to preserve Christian faith in the face of cultural, political, and legal threats. Thankfully, a rather prescient document drafted back in 2009 seeks such solidarity—The Manhattan Declaration. Concise and direct, yet loving in its language, the Manhattan Declaration rallies traditional Christians to solidarity. This declaration also provides clear guidelines for proclaiming the truth of Christ, boldly and peacefully, to a culture who cares not for Truth and cares even less for Christ and his followers.

Affirming that all people are made in the image of God, the Manhattan Declaration proclaims the life right of all humans regardless of their stage of development. The statement also affirms the historic definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman. This definition is grounded in human history, biblical truth, Natural Law, biology, and common sense. Moreover, the statement proclaims religious liberty to be a universal human right rooted in the very character of God.

These three universal claims should unite all believers who follow traditional Christian orthodoxy. This proclamation of solidarity is quite daring: “We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.” Such a bold pledge should be encouraging to believers today who face governmental tyranny and legal intimidation in the public sphere. These cultural forces of oppression confuse tolerant acceptance with celebratory permissiveness, transforming emancipatory liberty into enslaving libertinism.

The Manhattan Declaration provides traditional Christians a cogent pledge that expresses an ecumenical and unifying vision grounded in Scripture, consistent with Natural Law, and compatible with rational common sense. Moreover, this statement is unflinchingly bold yet marked by true love—desiring the good for humanity and seeking true human flourishing as intended by our Creator.

Many traditional Christians wonder what to do in the face of such powerful cultural and political forces seeking to punish them for their beliefs. In addition to praying for godly wisdom, remaining in the Word, and building traditional Christian community at home and in church, one might consider reading and signing the Manhattan Declaration. Such proaction achieves wider unification of fellow believers around faith in Christian orthodoxy. It also encourages collective civil disobedience in the face of social intimidation and political oppression.