I’ve attempted to read as much as I could about the Supreme Court sessions over the last couple of days because I am interested in how they ask their questions and attempt to make their decisions. For my generation in America, I think, the debate over marriage may be one of the top three defining issues we will face, but I’m not sure that it’s for the reason that might seem evident at first.
For the record, though few that may read this would be in confusion, I believe in the historical definition of marriage. I also believe that homosexuality is a deviation from the created order and therefore it is at best a destructive pathway, and I do understand and affirm that there are Scriptures that place homosexual practices in the category of “sin”. I do not believe that homosexuality is any greater a spiritual problem than heterosexual sex outside of marriage, pornography, or good old American lust. I do know, from reading the entire Bible (not cherry-picked verses to proof text points), that homosexuality get very little mention in the Scriptures. In fact, in the New Testament there is more mention of how women should dress than homosexuality. Jesus talks about money more than any other subject except for the Kingdom of Heaven (I’ve read that 1 of every 7 verses in the Gospel of Luke refers to money or treasure). So despite our current cultural fascination with it, this issue is dealt with but not dwelt upon in the Bible, particularly when compared to issues that we typically like to keep quiet about (generosity, commitment, persecution, etc…)
I offer those tidbits because I believe the thing missing from this discussion about the redefinition of marriage is perspective. While I agree that cases such as this are landmark issues for our nation, I believe that the greatest issue revealed through much of this process has been our lack of ability to discuss anything in a civil manner. Sandwich boards, bullhorns, group chants, and plain old shouting is hardly the recipe for nuanced, compassionate debate. If there is anything that frightens me about this entire issue it is both sides’ dedication to winning arguments not by reason but by determining who can out yell the other.
What I am not afraid of is the outcome of the Supreme Court decision. Whether it lines up with what I believe to be best or not, as a Christian I am working from a different point of origin. As much as I love America, and I do, I am only a citizen of this country after I am a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. I hold dual-citizenship in a very profound way. Though I pray regularly for God to sustain and revive our nation I am not afraid of all the “what ifs”, because ultimately my home is a place whose Architect doesn’t build things that ever fall. I fear that so much of the terror and apocalyptic fervor that seems to be forcing so many Christians into believing this to be a “do or die” moment for us all are failing to see the broad scope of history, not to mention the mighty hand and outstretched arm of the sovereign God. Without thinking hard, or googling it, I could probably think of five examples when the world was in far more chaos, far more distress, and when there was far more evil standing at the gates, and yet here we are. The church is not going to fall, the body of Christ may be pushed, bruised, ridiculed, and battered but the body has already been broken once, we celebrate that this Friday, it will not lose its life again.
For the record, because this kind of opinion is sure to raise people’s ire, I do not believe that we are allowed to abdicate our responsibility to our country. We are to do what we can to make America a good and healthy place to live; that is also in the Bible. However, Christianity has been notorious for waging war against evil in ways that don’t seem to make sense, namely prayer. I wonder how many of us have spent more than a couple of hours collectively in prayer for what’s going on this week? Anyone fasted for the country’s welfare through this troubled time? Have we gathered as groups of friends, not to bolster our own viewpoints, but to lock hands, bow our heads, and weep together? I would dare say that we have spent more time watching 24 hour cable news than we have in our closets interceding. Prayer is also something the Bible talks about much more frequently than homosexuality.
You see, for me, my roles, responsibilities, and focus isn’t altered on iota no matter what the Supreme Court decides. I am still charged to live a peaceful life, to love my enemies, to passionately pursue God, to raise and teach my children based on the ethics of Jesus and the Bible. Whether homosexuals marry or not doesn’t change my trajectory. I would ask candidly, does it change yours? And while it may, in the course of time and if other certain morally based issues arise, make my goals more difficult, it does not make them more complex. At the end of my life I am responsible for a very short list of things. If I have loved God, loved my family, lived the Gospel, taught those whom God has put under me, and contributed uniquely to the church then I’ve done my part. At that point I hope to be able to borrow Paul’s words and say that I’ve run the race and kept the faith as best I could.
So I say all of that and I reaffirm that I am not afraid. I trust God. I pray and I believe that He hears. I have felt my heart break and I believe that He is near to the broken-hearted. But let me be clear, I am not weeping or burdened for legislation or laws or Supreme Court rulings. I am driven to my knees because of people. We are fractured people, on both sides of the aisle. We are hurting people, regardless of our orientation. We are lonely people, looking for love and acceptance with a passion that can be, at times, fatal. This is the American malady that pains me most.
I’m compelled to go on but I will write more tomorrow. Today, friends, it is enough I believe to ponder a couple of things:
- God is still the same as He’s always been. He loves us and He cares for us. The Bible says that it isn’t His will that any should perish but that all would find redemption. We can trust Him with our prayers.
- There needs to be a shift in perspective, for the church and anyone who claims to wear the stripe of Christ. It seems that the majority of what people are hearing from us has to do with legislation, guidelines, and tradition. I would like to think that if Jesus had a platform in Washington DC today, If He were to make a speech that all of the protesters from both sides would here, along with everyone else in that city…I wonder if He’d mention the Supreme Court at all. I have to believe that Jesus’ approach to sin and brokenness would be the same today as it was in the 1st century….but more on that tomorrow.
One of the great Prayer Book collects asks God that we may “love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise”. That is always tough, for all of us. Much easier to ask God to command what we already love, and promise what we already desire. But much less like the challenge of the Gospel.
– NT Wright