Weighing in on Gay Marriage

May 28, 2009 at 11:40 am (Uncategorized)

My buddy, Drew Snyder, recently weighed in on the gay marriage debate through an email which ended up on this blog.  His perspective is intelligent and wise, though, to most Christians, a little provocative.  I wanted to share it with you, and see what you think:

I’m not sure if you remember me from the last time this conversation came up (about homosexual couples being barred from adopting in Iowa, I think), but I thought I’d offer my two cents as a committed Christian and as a minister.

One of the things that makes this debate so hard from our side is this whole myth of us living in a ‘Christian nation.’  We don’t, and we never have (we live in a religiously neutral nation that does not impede on my Christianity), but so many people try to perpetuate the myth because it’s more comfortable to do that than to do what Jesus actually called us to.  The fact is that my life’s mission is going to inherently offend you, as well as other people: Jesus has called His people to convert non-believers into faith in Him.  If that’s not stepping on people’s toes, I don’t know what is!  I’ve personally seen, though, that many Christians would rather legislate morality than make disciples, because it’s easier and it helps them sleep at night.  It’s really that simple – many feel that if this is a ‘Christian’ nation with ‘Christian’ laws, then their job is over.  Unfortunately, not only is this not even close to correct, but it works in the opposite way: this homosexual marriage business has done more to hurt the cause of Christ than anything in my lifetime (though I’m not very old – I’ll turn 25 next week). In other words, the Church has traded its mission for Washington’s, and no one ever asked us to do that.

If Jesus were here today, I firmly believe that He would have the response that I have tried to have (hence, my position): I simply don’t care what the law is.  Jesus lived in an occupied nation where the very right to live freely was taken from His people, and yet, His main motivation was not to change the laws of the land, but to bring spiritual freedom.  I believe the Bible teaches that homosexual actions (not feelings or disposition) are sexual sins, just like sex outside of marriage, lust, pornography, and a litany of other sins that good old straight people commit.  What is never brought up is that these actions are all basically brought under the term ’sexual sin,’ and that the very people pointing finger are guilty of the same sins.  That’s why we (and by we, I mean all of us – gay, straight, or otherwise) need Jesus so desperately; He loves and loved in a way that we should be striving for, and we should be reflecting.

That’s my opinion, and I’m well aware it’s nowhere near what you believe, and that’s fine – we all choose our own path, and God will sort it out in the end.  I think that at the end of the day, the truth is the truth regardless of legislation and regardless of who is misrepresenting things.  I simply don’t care whether or not two homosexuals get married or if they don’t; I care whether or not they know that God cares about them even though they are flawed just like the rest of us.  If that was our attitude, not only would you be happy (since it would undoubtedly be legal), but I think Christians would be too (since we would be doing what God wants instead of what’s easier).

I only wish more people felt the same.

So, what’s your verdict?  Agree/Disagree?  Why/Why not?  Would love to hear from you!

Advertisements

35 Comments

  1. sean mccarthy said,

    very well written and i totally agree. i’ve had this perspective for about two years now. no one is brought to Jesus through legislation… plus, oddly enough, i haven’t heard a cry out from christians trying to make co-habitation illegal? i would like to read his article about homosexuals and adoption, because i bet him and i agree on that too.

  2. william fuller said,

    Two years ago, nay just a year ago i would have thought this man and his word heretical….but now after some soul searching and my wife showing me the word and God Showing me His Heart i come to the belief that Yes we need to hate the sin, but if they want to get married let them. Their marriage will not destroy my Traditional marriage.

    Their love for each other or lust for each other will not undermine my family. What i do not like is that they are trying to justify (to God) and normalize (to us) their behavior and desires by becoming like us.

    I do not mind the laws per say but when will it stop, they get married, what happens when the divorce comes about (and it will.) What about the abuse and murders that will arise from their union (it does with heterosexual relationships and gay relationships are not perfect.)

    Will we have to write new laws to protect and to defend their rights to beat their spouse because that is how they want to live? When will it end?

    • LB said,

      we need to be REALLY careful of the “slippery slope” argument (which is what you’re using at the end saying that allowing gays to marry will lead to making spouse abuse legal). it’s a logical fallacy, and it simply doesn’t hold up. i agree that changing our previous boundary of marriage will mean that our nation needs to evaluate/discuss/decide what the new boundary will be, but no one can say for sure what this one law change will or will not lead to. i don’t totally disagree with you, but this just isn’t the best way to argue the issue, i don’t think.
      🙂

  3. Helen said,

    You do not have any idea how many conversations about the Church needing to suck it up and be the Church Ive been in lately. We certainly are “living in Laodicea”!

    Well, I have to admit we are not a Christian nation….sadly. Still, we were founded on the moral Judeo-Christian law…deeply and richly…like no other nation in history other than Israel. Our founder and forefathers of this nation were deeply “religious” and even though some were a little misguided in the area of faith in Christ, some really got it. They surely acknowledged the hand of God in the development of this nation and that all we have can be attributed to His exceeding grace, mercy and favor to those who love and obey Him. They understood that the gospel of Christ would make or break the individual, the culture…the nation. I think that’s what some of us mean when we say “we are a Christian nation.” Although, we cannot hold the unconverted, unrepentant man to the same standard; we are the light of the world and that includes shining light on the darkness of this sinful society. I believe that just standing back and not revealing where society breaks God’s ‘moral code” weakens the cause of Christ…it weakens me…it weakens us all. How can we convince them to take the medicine if we can’t convince them they are sick? Sin destroys…that is part of our message. From refusing to help someone in need to judging by appearance to gossip to allowing things to take the place of God in our lives.
    It starts with us:
    Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
    Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
    Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
    Yeah, I have to call it as God does…in me, in others, and in society….. in a Christian nation or in a not so Christian nation. Nothing I’ve said denies the love we are to show all people. God’s love towards me hasn’t always been pleasant…it has sometimes been tough…I am grateful. In fact…when God got tough, I changed. I hope He continues to get tough with me and that I continue to change.

    • billyjohnsonlive said,

      Helen– I want to clarify a little: What do you mean by the “moral Judeo-Christian law.”? Thanks.

  4. Helen said,

    I guess the Biblical standard of right and wrong. The 10 commandments…do unto others as you would have done to you. I am by no means saying we have remained with the simplicity of it. Books could and have been written on it.

    • billyjohnsonlive said,

      Okay. I just want to point out that our nation was, so it seems to me, NOT founded on “Judeo-Christian” principles, but was founded on a freedom from any religion to dictate law and legislation. This includes Christianity. Our nation was founded to provided the freedom to live as we chose to live, instead of what was dictated by a tyrant king. I like Drew’s phrasing, we are (and were founded to be) a “religiously neutral” nation. (At least as far as government/legislation is concerned.) Of course, there have been periods of our history where a majority of citizens claimed Christ as Lord, but that was their choice, not dictated or legislated by government. I like where this convo is going. Thanks for your intelligent and insightful observations.

      • Helen said,

        I agree as far as the intent of the government premise haivng no influence over the functioning of the church and vice veresa. I agree that we are not a nation that “promotes” any certain religion. Still when you study the founding of the nation, the ideas and committments of those who borught about the laws…the freedom … faith is all over it! That’s what I was trying to say. The faith of those who put it all together, their reliance on God to assist their every step cannot be denied. I think that is where we get the idea that we are a Christian nation. Our system of law also is based on the 10 commandments and Biblical ideals. Or it was…

      • Thomas said,

        Hmmm…I don’t know that “religiously neutral” is quite the phrase I’d use…
        From what I understand, the Federal government, according to the Constitution, doesn’t have the authority to impose a religion on any of the states…I’d have to do a bit of work on this, but I think this might mean that the states were not prohibited from having “state religions” (at least in the original interpretations of the document). I could be wrong.

        Setting aside the proper interpretation of the establishment and free exercise clauses…

        Written into our founding documents is a profound understanding of the “natural law”. A law which comes from our “creator” and one which is found in the hearts of all human beings.
        What disturbs me about the issue of homosexual marriage is the clear departure that it makes from our nation’s natural law foundations. Really, let’s be honest, what is more clearly written into our hearts – or better, our BODIES – than the fact that some parts just don’t go together. If something as obvious as that is ignored, then why should we consider any of the rights given to us not only by our constitution but (more fundamentally) by our creator as sacrosanct? And if these are set aside…well, then what is the meaning of our nation, our founding documents, etc…

        We are a free nation, but our Founding Fathers understood well that freedom is not without guidelines and boundaries…namely the natural law. We set it aside at our peril.

  5. Helen said,

    maybe law was a poor choice of words…perhaps “worldview” may have been more what I intended.

  6. LB said,

    this is EXACTLY how i think/feel on the matter! you phrased it so well that i don’t really have anything else to add. i think Jesus simply doesn’t care what is or isn’t legal because our mission is not government, it’s people. the thing is, there’s a BIG difference between a nation that willingly follows God as a whole and a group of Christians legally (or any other way) bullying people into acting a certain way because the bible says so. following the rules with no heart or faith and commitment in God is SO missing the point.

    thanks for sharing.
    🙂

  7. Misty said,

    I have long believed that America is not a “Christian nation.” Although I have been quite hesitant to actually verbalize that to most people because of the reaction I usually get. And I have also been very disturbed watching those often called “the religious right” try to legislate morality. I believe it has seriously hurt our (the church’s) influence in our world. I keep asking why we are spending our time picketing, protesting, signing petitions and the like. What is that doing to win people to Christ? Why aren’t we loving people like Jesus did? Why aren’t we taking them where they are and showing them the Truth? Are we really representing the heart of God?

    With all that said, I am still not pro gay marriage. Not because I believe we are a Christian nation that should legislate morality, but because I love my country and see this as a step in the wrong direction. I think the traditional family is the foundation of our society. It is already in such shambles, I hate to see it further broken down by changing the definition of marriage. But you will not see me protesting or signing any petitions.

  8. billyjohnsonlive said,

    Thanks for the convo so far. I appreciate everyone keeping it respectful and intelligent. I also have a feeling that when Drew gets out of bed (ha ha ha) he might just join us here!

  9. Drew said,

    Wow Bilbo, it seems like you’ve got quite the following around here.

    I’ll add one thought: I think the church should filter everything they do through one question: ‘does this help advance the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth?’ We’re pretty good, as a church, at considering consequences, but it seems like most of the time, we don’t consider the right one. We’ve been given one job and one job only – to lead people to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Period.

    So, does gay marriage being illegal help that cause? I can’t see how it does. When Christians are referred to as ‘bigots,’ and this is turning into the second Civil Rights Era, the writing’s on the wall: we look silly, and our position isn’t opening doors for us to share the hope that we have in Christ. In fact, I believe it’s shutting them tightly. And there is no compromise here: just because something is legal in no way makes it less sinful. Co-habitation, adultery, pre-marital sex, homosexual sex and divorce are all legal (by the way, if this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, why is every type of sexual immorality legal?), and yet, we still teach and preach that they are sinful. That seems to me how to treat this issue as well.

    Therefore, I simply don’t care whether gay marriage is legal or not. I care whether or not we’re preaching a message of love and forgiveness for people who have sinned sexually, regardless of what type of sexual sin it is.

    Our mission and calling is so much greater than that of Washington’s – it is ours to preach freedom to spiritual captives! It is ours to show people who are dead in their sins how to have new life! It is ours to lead people to eternal life, from darkness to light!

    That’s a big enough job, I don’t need to take on Washington’s as well!

    • billyjohnsonlive said,

      dang it, drew. i love you. you are officially being invited to be a guest contributor @ The Kid Preacher. amen & amen.

  10. amandajowhitney said,

    I agree wholeheartedly that we are not a “Christian nation” and that legislation is absolutely not the church’s job. I don’t think I can come up with a single instance in which Jesus concerned Himself with such things. With that said, this is my own opinion on the topic.

    In a strictly political sense, I don’t think that there is any reason to prevent homosexual marriage. There’s nothing in the Constitution that would prevent it. There is absolutely nothing in there that prevents immoral actions of any kind from becoming legal. I don’t see that there is any basis for any court to deem legalized homosexual marriage as unconstitutional. There just is no legal basis for it that I can see.

    In a spiritual sense, I think it is a sin. But as Drew has pointed out, we all have sinned, and we need to be loving people where they are and showing them Christ instead of being cruel about the fact that they have sinned. (i.e., “God hates fags” = FAIL)

    But on a personal level, I don’t really care for the idea that homosexual marriage might be legalized, if for no other reason that it can (and probably will) create a much greater acceptance of homosexuality as a viable lifestyle choice. I think it can make my job as a mother a little more difficult when trying to teach my children the right way to live. But I am more than prepared to rise to the challenge! I also think that as a part of this country, I have a right (NOT an obligation) to voice my personal opinion through voting on any possible laws if I so choose. I would personally prefer that my children not grow up in a country that recognizes homosexuality as morally permissible, but I suspect that I would have to lock them in a closet to accomplish that no matter the laws are!

    So do I really want homosexual marriage to be legalized? Not so much. But that’s strictly a personal thing. I believe that if disagreeing is all I do, then I’m really not doing my job as a Christian. And I also don’t think that my viewpoint has a leg to stand on legally. So I expect that eventually it will probably be legalized, and I will continue to follow Christ, love people no matter what their sins may be, and raise my children to do the same.

  11. Stan said,

    Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that we are focused on the wrong issue entirely. Scripture teaches that there is nothing new under the sun. This would mean that what we look at and call “sin” or things that we as Christians perceive to be against God’s will, have always been around. We have simply picked one sin to go after. But if we’re going to go after homosexuality the way we are, shouldn’t we also legislate gossip, slander, gluttony, hatred, an unforgiving spirit, bitterness and lust.

    I do not agree with homosexual marriage, but what influence do I have with them for the cause of Christ if I hold up a sign that God hates them and they’re going to hell? Wouldn’t it be better if I focused on what I’m supposed to be focused on? And that is? I’m supposed to be focused on me. My role in Christ is not to sit around and prod at every speck I see, but it is to pull my own log out of my eye. That is my first responsibility. Then, when I am seeing clearly, I can love people the way Jesus did. I can be the reflection of Jesus that I’m supposed to be.

    Government is corrupt, people are corrupt, the world is corrupt and Christians are in the world. Why do we somehow think that we are above that? We need to focus on getting ourselves right first, then loving people the way Jesus did. By our love for each other, all men will know that we are legit (my paraphrase) disciples of Jesus Christ.

  12. Thomas said,

    I guess the question coming to my mind is this: If legislation doesn’t matter on this issue, then, really, what does the Constitution matter at all? Is it worthwhile to enshrine any laws that might be found in the natural law written on the human heart? I ask this not merely rhetorically but as a REAL question. Does government matter at all to the Christian? If not, why not? If yes, then why not in the instance of LGBT marriage?

    • Drew said,

      Ah, Thomas has arrived at the natural concluding question to this whole conversation – ‘Does goverment matter at all to the Christian?’ Truth be told, the answer to this question has helped me determine my position on the original (the gay marriage one).

      To that question, I say absolutely not, and I personally believe that the first century Christians would be completely and utterly appalled at our level of involvement with the government. They saw the government as an extension of the world they were set apart from and called to make a difference within.

      Of course, they didn’t live in a nation which protected their right to be who they were. The problem with us is that we live in, quite literally, the greatest nation on the planet. Because of that, it’s easy to romanticize how good we actually have it, instead of realistically saying, ‘Sure, we live in a great country… but it’s still a part of the system and kingdom of the world, NOT the system and kingdom of God.’

      The question we have to ask ourselves is very simple: is the charge given to us by Jesus the same if we live in freedom or oppression? Or does the environment we live in dictate part of what we do? That’s a tough question, but I personally believe that my job is the same, regardless of the fact that I live in a free nation.

    • amandajowhitney said,

      I don’t know if I would go as far as to say that government doesn’t matter at all. If that were the case, I doubt that Romans 13 would direct us to “be in subjection to the governing authorities” while calling to our attention that those who govern have been placed in authority by God Himself.

      However, I would say that perhaps government shouldn’t be quite so important to us. We needn’t concern ourselves with MAKING laws and trying to create a government more moral than the people who run it. Our government should matter to us because God allowed it to be over us. We should therefore concern ourselves with following those laws that do not oppose what we know to be good and true and right.

      If we try to claim that government doesn’t matter at all, then Christians would become anarchists with no fear of authority whatsoever. Would be be more able to show the love of Christ in such a way?

  13. Drew said,

    Amanda,

    I would recommend (I know you’re a mom and have little to no time) the book called ‘Jesus for President’ by Shane Claiborne. The discussion on Romans 13 (and actually this entire conversation about Christians and Government) is way too big to be done here, but in his book, he pretty much presents the case much better than I could.

    I will say, however, that the term ‘subject’ there is not a good phrase. It denotes fear, and one way to take the passage in Romans 13 is ‘don’t rebel against government because they have the ability, given to them by God, to punish you.’ In other words our motivation to keep the law of the land isn’t out of fear of God, but fear of the government itself.

    Regardless, the point is the same: my job as a Christian, in religiously free America is the same as my job in religously oppressive China (or anywhere else you might choose).

  14. Helen said,

    Here’s my bottom line. I think God is very concerned with the perversion of an “institution” or “sacrament” that He intended to be a picture, a foretaste of Christ and His Bride. And yes, homosexuality is not the only thing that perverts the intention the sexual relationship and marriage. It doesn’t matter what the government says or peoples opinion (all of which I feel are valid and awesomely thought out here), it matters what God thinks. Jesus loved people…chilled with sinners…loved them and died for them; yet He never failed to call it what it is…”sin” and He never failed to say go and sin no more. I guess the real issue is do we as Christians support attempts to make gay marriage illegal? Im not sure…but I know God would want us to reveal it for the perversion it is. He would also not want us to say “it’s ok”. Im sure of it.

  15. dps said,

    Two great books to read, “Myths America Lives By” – Richard T. Hughes, and “The Democratization of American Christianity” – Nathan O. Hatch. This is an ongoing conversation that I have been a part of and have been listening to for about four years now. I agree with most of what has been expressed here (and truth be told, the rest is probably just semantics), except for the “Jesus has called his people to convert non-believers”… in that Jesus did not even do that. In fact, other than eleven of the apostles (well twelve if you count Paul, and thirteen if you count Matthias – and we only hear about him at the beginning of Acts) we really have no idea if any of the individuals who approached Christ converted or remained faithful until death. We assume this, and probably rightly so… but I’m off topic here.

    The key here is our example and whether or not we have surrendered/submitted to God. The Christ Hymn in Philippians 2 is crucial here, in that Jesus gave up all forms of human power (money, social standing, politics, education, etc.) over others, and in doing so God lifted him up above it all – including us. Even in this, it is not certain or probable that those around us will be impacted by that example, yet this is what God/Christ has called us to. Not too convert the world, but to transform it through submitting to God and those in it – thus the Romans 13 call by Paul to those who thought they were above the law, even Christ was not above it (Ok, he was, but he submitted to it regardless). I know longer have a say over my life. The question that goes before that is, “How much freedom is there in Total Submission?” It is a paradox, in that the liminality of that life is total freedom in total submission. Free, but not yet! Saved, but not yet. Redeemed, but not yet.

    Many of the rights we hold onto in our Americanized Christianity are actually privileges that have given us power over those we rarely agree with, with ever increasing fervor. It is the Old Testament cycle of God blessing (a word we have totally lost the context and meaning of) his people in order to bless those around them. When that did not happen, God removed the blessing and gave the power to those his people were oppressing, avoiding, enslaving, etc. I think if we take a hard look at how our belief/faith is being lived out in our churches and in our lives, we realize we have done more to make ourselves comfortable than redeeming the world around us. We’ve spent too much time avoiding and suppressing those we disagree with by using any power made available to us, that I think God is removing that power and placing it in the hands of those we have not treated like we ought to be treating and now we have to face them – with them holding all the tools we used against them.

    That’s my two cents…

    blessings

  16. Misty said,

    I have a difficult time with the idea that government doesn’t/shouldn’t matter at all to the Christian. I enjoy (immensely) politics, government, history, etc… and I feel that they are all tools we can use for the cause of Christ. As I said in my earlier comment, I do not think we (the church) should try to legislate morality. (I’m always asking why we expect those who do not follow Christ to act like Christians…) However, I feel that as an American I have a right and even an obligation to my country to care about our government and to take part in the political process. If I can do that in a way that honors God and grows His kingdom, then why not? I am a Christian first…but I am also an American. I’m not ashamed to say that I have political opinions and that I vote anytime I have the chance. Anytime people who are truly in love with Jesus get involved in something, it makes a positive impact. Not because they protested, picketed and screamed…but because they defended the weak, sought justice for the oppressed and showed mercy to the broken. So I guess my point is that we don’t need to go overboard here–there is a proper way to be involved in our government…a way that is still God honoring.

    • dps said,

      Your last two sentences are crucial within this dialogue. I applaud your interest and desire to seek a God honoring way to be involved within the fractured structure that is humanity and our own government. There is a disconnect even within our conversation here in that we are pointing out the brokenness, the faults, even the theologies of those concerned. Just as our own faith is often times compartmentalized, so often is our dialogue concerning everything else. Kingdoms, governments, hierarchies, etc. were all developed and put in place (and allowed by God) as humanity sought what they deemed to be a better or more prudent way of power outside of what God had already set in place – yet under the very God we all at some level run away from and cling to the structures of our own making. Government of any shape, form, or context has the potential to be the very best humanity has to offer the world, yet at the same time was and still is an attempt to replace our trust and dependency in God – if only for a moment or for a fraction of what we believe we need.

      The role of defending the weak, seeking justice for the oppressed and showing mercy to the broken lies within the daily being of self within the context of a community of faith, and if government is a part of this – it’s role is to merely provide safety for those individuals in the face of those others who would deny the weak, the oppressed, and the broken.

  17. Drew said,

    DPS,

    I think much of your first paragraph is exactly why Christians must be careful about involvement with any sort of government. The first government we know of – at Babel, under the charismatic leader Nimrod, was a replacement for God’s will. God desired that humanity spread over the face of the earth, and humanity gathered together, governed themselves, and severed their relationship with God in the process.

    Personally, I applaud people who are able to balance their faith with their political ideals (like Misty), if for no other reason than so many people cannot. The vast majority of my personal experience is when people get heavily into politics, their political views color their faith, as opposed to the other way around. This has been a common thread throughout what we know of human history, dating back to the history of Israel (in their asking for a ‘replacement’ king for God), the church’s deal with Rome in the 4th century, and the ‘Christian nation’ that is America. Mixing politics and faith in God is, as a general rule, a toxic combination.

    Because of that, I have acted with a (perhaps unhealthy) distrust for government and politics altogether. I will, however, freely admit that this is more than likely a weakness in me!

  18. Richard Koffarnus said,

    Several observations:

    First, while the Constitution (particularly the First Amendment) was intended to be neutral toward religion, that was done primarily to prevent the government from either interfering in the free exercise of religion or trying to establish a tax-supported state church, as routinely happened in Europe. Most of the Founding Fathers were Christians who simply wanted to protect their religious freedom, not create a religionless state. Even Deists, such as Franklin and Jefferson, generally had high regard for Christian morality and its positive effect on society, though they denied the faith itself. Modern day secularists want to marginalize Christianity to minimize its influence on the culture and government precisely because Christianity stands for absolute moral truth, which is incompatible with the secularists’ relativistic morality. How else can secularists who hated homosexuals 25 years ago now be champions of the gay rights movement?

    Second, a key difference between 1st century Rome and 21st century America is that the early Christians had little or no voice in their government. The only influence early Christians had on the state was the power of the gospel. Hence, Peter and Paul command them to obey their rulers and pay their taxes, so they could preach unimpeded. Today, every American Christian adult has both the power and the moral obligation to influence our government by voting and by participating in the governing process. If we simply concede the public square to the secularists, we will soon lose the religious freedom we now take for granted. Just today, the city of San Diego told a Christian home Bible study group to stop meeting unless they buy an expensive permit from the city. So much for the First Amendment. I believe that, while no church should be involved in politics, every Christian has an obligation to at least excercise his right to vote on issues of moral importance.

    • LB said,

      mr. k-
      i think you already know i have the utmost respect for you and you’re definately one of my favorite people. that said, i’m not sure i entirely agree with you here.
      you make a good point about the fact that (unlike rome) we have the privelege of taking part of the democratic process in this nation. i agree that as citizens we should take not only interest but a part in shaping our nation because that’s what our nation is about.
      i also agree that our country is probably heading toward a point when our faith will not be so well tolerated and protected.
      but…. i’m not sure we can logically make the argument that letting gay marriage become legal will impede our religious freedom. in order for that to be true, wouldn’t it have to be equally probable that preventing gay marriage will protect our faith from future persecution? i can understand that Christians stepping completely out of politics means our interests are no longer represented there, but i don’t think we can say that every moral-legal issue is something that determines whether we soon won’t be able to assemble peacefully or pray when, where, and to Whom we please.
      also, i think american Christians do, as you say, take our religious freedom for granted. and that’s a problem. Jesus never promised we’d be living in a peaceful society which allows us to practice faith without interference. and the church has often grown most in times of persecution as opposed to times of serenity. i’m not by any means saying we should hurry this process along or anything, but i think we need to realize that even if our nation becomes a place where Christians are threatened, persecuted, or worse, our God is the same God and our mission is the same mission.
      my main problem here, i think, is that i hate seeing Christians act as though the laws of this country are seriously the most important thing they have to worry about in regards to their faith. if Christianity is truly timeless it can take place anywhere and under any cirumstances.
      i’m not at all trying to argue with you, and i realize you are unquestionably more knowledgable and well versed on these matters than i. mainly i’m enjoying the dialogue.
      🙂

  19. dps said,

    Drew,

    I am with you in that I have at many levels washed my hands of the political system we all find ourselves under. If frustration is considered a weakness, then by all means it is my greatest with regards to our government past and present.

    Richard,

    I agree that comparing today’s christian involvement level with the first century is like comparing apples to death stars. However, I would imagine Peter and Paul would have given anything to have lived in an environment where they or anyone could have preached the gospel unimpeded. 4th and 5th century Rome had a majority Christian voice (Ok, not really, but it did become the Empire’s official religion) and at some level has held a major hold on some facet of most major governing bodies to the present. I imagine the San Diego thing will get blown up way out of proportion and disappear just as quickly.

    The crux is the use of power. How do christians use it? Are we to use it? How did Jesus and the disciples use it? We spend so much time trying to convince the world that Jesus is God. Jesus is the one. Christ almighty! Yet if we approached the world with the narrative of God choosing to live as one of us in an act of redemption, again, as one of us – we might even approach how we live our lives differently. If God chose to live his life as a human, with all the power and the glory that is his, how would he live his life? The way Jesus lived his… The answer has always been there. Yes, individuals during the first century had very little influence or ability to influence governments – but the very one who gave the first century government its very ability to govern the people in whatever way they chose, himself chose not to have ties to that government in any way, shape, or form. Again, that may be apples and death stars, but it should remind us of the submission to the Father that Jesus gave in the ultimate act of worship – death to self, death to stuff, death to his own will…

    When the Amish community was brutally attacked several years ago by the individual who shot all those children in the Amish school, what where the news agencies, communities, and even our own government more shocked about? The fact that the very community that was targeted surrounded the wife and children of the man who murdered those children and teachers. Grace and forgiveness at what seems to be a divine level. The same divine level of grace and forgiveness that will redeem and sanctify those who have rejected any involvement in our government system (other than paying taxes, not a good idea to stop doing that) to those who use every government means available to do what they see or believe to be the very will of God. It is when we become content and comfortable with ourselves, our communities of faith, and yes… even our government that we have missed the point.

    I do believe that government serves a purpose, but it should be and needs to be the last thing a person of faith, or a community of faith turns to, in hopes of the weak, seeking justice for the oppressed and showing mercy to the broken. To turn to the government first is to give up on God, others, and even one’s self. God changed the world through human weakness and divine strength. Governments use strength to try and change a world who thinks God is weak – or who believe God is a respecter of persons and those people have power over those who God does not respect.

    • Richard Koffarnus said,

      If Romans 12-13 means anything, it is that God has a specific plan to establish both mercy and justice in His world. Offering mercy via the person and message of Christ is the specific mission of the church. Seeking justice for the oppressed is the mission of the government. The two missions are complementary, but distinct. You may recall that John Newton, the former slave ship captain, used the power of the gospel to lead William Wilberforce to Christ, then Wilberforce used his political power in Parliament to get slavery outlawed in the British Empire.

      Sometimes Christians want the church to be an instrument of justice and the government to be an instrument of mercy. When that happens, the church becomes sidetracked from its mission and the government becomes ineffective.

      • dps said,

        Tremendous observation… However, the context of this passage is that Paul never conceived a Christian Government (one in which Christians played any significant role within it). What we read in Romans 13 are two very distinct and separate wherein to be a part of one is to be separate from the other. To join one is to leave the other. The Didache points to this in that when a soldier became a Christian – he no longer was a soldier and removed himself from that service.

        The lines between christianity and government are severely blurred. As we see even here on this dialogue, with individuals who are able to actually have a calm and thoughtful discussion about this – it is still complicated. Perhaps, this is why we see topics like the one being discussed here coming up in history over and over again. I really do appreciate your comments…

  20. Drew said,

    dps,

    While I’m not sure America and Rome are as far apart as apples and death stars, I’m pretty sure that if the church had lived out the type of faith you’re talking about, we wouldn’t even have this conversation. If we loved and lived the way Jesus did, then perhaps the homosexual could find acceptance and redemption within the community that is the church, instead of seeking legislation for their lifestyle that separates them from God.

    I think THAT’S the greatest failure here: if the church would be the church, we would never need to approach the government for anything, whether it’s this topic or anything else.

    • dps said,

      … agreed

      Yet another disconnect we find ourselves in, in that words are always easier than simply being. Perhaps (now I’m stepping into dangerous territory here, but) if we would spend less time quoting the Bible (and our various interpretations of it) and simply lived out the faith it suggests (including the wrestling and the mystery it presents) then the world might see a difference and possibly ask us what the difference is in our lives… in our being.

  21. Friday Fun-Day « The Kid Preacher said,

    […] Yesterday,(and actually still happening) we had the best and most controversial conversation ever here on the Kid Preacher.  From Roman Catholic priests to Bible College Professors, everyone had a few […]

  22. David Fincher said,

    As you might expect, there are many thoughts that come into my mind after reading these posts. In fact, I pointed Mr. Koffarnus this direction, because I thought he would have something to add, and am glad that he did so.

    Here’s what I would like to share: Is it relevant to notice that Romans 14, discussing the issues of individual Christian conscience on the topic of Sabbath keeping and meat eating closely follows Romans 13 (discussing the government and the Christian’s recognition of / submission to it)?

    I think I could make the case that the Christian’s involvement in government, both as an informed participant in the democratic process, to a willingness to be a candidate or serve in the halls of government as an employee, is part of his or her personal conscience under Christ, not subject to the judgment of fellow Christians.

    I’m with Mr. K – churches shouldn’t be involved, Christians should be. It is the individual’s conscience that decides to what level. We answer to the Lord for the level of involvement we make and the goals that we have there, especially if it damages our Christian credibility.

    Think about John Ashcroft, one of my favorite Christian politicians. He made it clear that as Governor, Senator, and Attorney General, it was his responsibility to uphold the law, not to impose his Christianity on society. Now, the media pillaged him for his work, but when it came down to it, this was his persecution as a Christian. His willingness to serve as a Christian and enforce the law came from his Christian convictions. While I couldn’t imagine my Christian convictions leading me as far as it did him, I cannot judge him for that if we are to have liberty in Christ. Neither can I judge the person who wants to withdraw from political involvement on any level and simply focus on ministry. I may have an opinion of what that will lead to, but if that is your conviction in Christ, it is not mine to judge you for it.

    It’s amazing how many places the issue of Christian liberty as expressed in Romans 14:10-12 would help Christians live with each other in an understanding way, despite their differences.

    As for the argument about gay marriage, a rather convincing case against it can be made without reference to Scripture or Christians. Christianity is not the only religion opposed to gay marriage, and even secular humanists, if they were honest, would realize the dangers it provides to society and humanity. But I’ll leave that argument to be made by others. The real problem is Christians who can only make an argument about something based on one reason: the Bible says so. While I don’t disagree with appealing to Scripture, it’s pretty hard to convince someone who doesn’t value the Bible simply by appealing to the Bible.

    Thanks for the conversation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: