Here’s a link that emphasizes what I have been warning about for sometime. There will be repercussions for maintaining a conservative view of gender. The first hint has been in the marketplace. Businesses that have demurred when asked to participate in certain activities that they find objectionable have been penalized for their decision. The next arena, it would appear, is education. The government, in order to be consistently non-discriminatory, will need to seek to withhold tax benefits from institutions that “discriminate,” i.e., religious colleges and universities. The result will be that students who need grants or loans in order to attend college, will have to choose a school that maintains a government approved orthodoxy.
This is intent of a bill before the California legislature. It looks like it may not pass. But the question is, how long will it be before such bills gain the support they need? The trajectory of law seems to be shifting.
In doesn’t take much imagination to see the next steps. If tax benefits can be withheld from religious colleges, are we far from similar consequences for churches who, according to developing cultural attitudes, are discriminatory? When that happens, how many churches will be able to go forward “business as usual?” When church properties join the tax rolls, how many congregations will be able to survive? When salaries of clergy are taxed at the going rate, how many will be able to continue working?
You get the idea. This is our future. I am not saying that we should rise up in outrage. I doubt it would do much good. What I am saying is we must get ready to be the church without help from Uncle Sam. To do that may require guts and creativity, but I’m betting we can expect a little help from heavenly places.
The dispute over the acceptability of the covenant offering of heterosexual marriage as distinguished from a committed partnership is similar to the dispute between Cain and Abel. One offering was acceptable to God, the other was not. Even though Cain was undoubtedly sincere and his offering carefully prepared, his offering was rejected. This aroused resentment in Cain. When he learned that his contribution was not suitable to his Creator, “Cain was very angry, and his face fell” (Genesis 4:5-8).
You Make Me Mad
The same dynamic appears to be playing out today. When we declare that a same-sex partnership cannot be a marriage, an offering pleasing to God, there is a Cain-like reaction. Knowing the final outcome of Cain’s response does little to reassure me as we reject same-sex marriage. Nevertheless, we have to continue to regard marriage as an offering clearly planned by God Himself. Anything else, no matter how sincerely and lovingly presented, simply will not do.
Like it or not, we followers of “The Way” must weigh in on same sex issues, including same sex marriage.
Admittedly, I would just as soon ignore the whole business, but cultural progressives are not inclined to rest until everyone acquiesces to the agenda, or are at least is identified as miscreants. We cannot yield, of course, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be left to it.
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision to affirm same-sex marriage, what should be the response of those of us who follow “The Nazarene?” We must graciously demur. In short, we need to be salt and light, consequences notwithstanding.
First, we must live consistently in our conviction that marriage is to be honored as an unbreakable covenant between a man and a woman. Second, if we have opportunity, we are to explain our objections without judgment and antagonism. We become a social critic without being combative. This is what is meant by being salt in the world.
Here is where certain challenges always emerge. In our synthetic culture (society’s tendency to arrive at new conclusions by combining, affirming and negating old ones) to declare an opposing view is tantamount to saying that something should not be allowed; that there ought to be a law against it. That’s not what I’m saying. Continue reading My Role as Social Critic→
The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution, is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents.
And so it is that the Supreme Court of the United States, drawing from the corpus of the constitution, interprets the will of the nation and its founders. Moreover, the voice of the people is heard in the decision of the court. If that be so, the seeds of the recent decision affirming a right to marry regardless of gender have been germinating in the constitution from the beginning. Now, the will of the people has brought those seeds to full flower. The Supreme Court says so.
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” has brought us to this. Some forward-thinkers predicted it would eventually come—Francis Schaeffer, for example. He said a culture that made decisions beyond the pale of moral absolutes, basing them, instead, on personal fulfillment and affluence, would be bound to move toward the preferences of the individual. Thus, as a free people, we are free to marry whom we please.
What should be the response of those of us who follow “The Nazarene?” We must graciously demur. Are we ready for the consequences? I doubt it.
More on the implications of recent developments in the days ahead.
This is the third in a series about the demographic called The Dones and their exploration of simple church. A version of this article appears at www.summithome.org.
Having just celebrated Pentecost, the birth of the church, I’ve been thinking about the trajectory of those early believers. Those were heady days! People being swept into the kingdom; discovering a new love for each other; sharing their goods; eating, praying, and learning from house to house and in the public spaces of the temple.
Then things got dangerous. Saul started breathing threats against the followers of this “Way.” The followers of Jesus were forced to run for their lives (Acts 8:1). The result was astonishing. Everywhere they went they started talking about the wonders they had seen in those early days in Jerusalem after Pentecost. In their enthusiasm these new believers were like dandelion seeds blowing in the wind (Acts 8:4). They may have been on the run, but their message took root wherever they landed. And so, other communities of faith sprang up all over the region; little gatherings of people eager to learn.
The Dones. “Done-delions?”
What about The Dones? Could they be like the early church scattering from Jerusalem? Maybe this apparent exodus of faithful followers from the traditional halls of the church are a new wave of the Kingdom. And why not? By all accounts these folks haven’t lost their faith, only their patience. They want their freedom. And some of them are discovering other “free-range Christians” outside the walls. They haven’t forgotten the importance of gathering with others (Hebrews 10:24-25), they are merely simplifying, meeting without the box.
I’m excited about the possibilities. I would love to hear of the adventures of The Dones. I’m hoping those of us who have been meeting simply can link arms with them. Jesus has promised to be in the midst of those who gather in His name. I think it will be better for him to be in a hundred places among ten than in one place among 1000!