04 May The Discussion Continues – 3 Observations
If you did not have opportunity to watch the #InGodsImage Live Stream, the entire replay is available right here →.
At the highest level, I came away with three observations from our guests.
1. American Christians lack a biblical foundation.
While there is no profit blaming the church, evangelicals must own their failure in teaching Scripture. Not merely teaching the old old stories and reviewing the gospel frequently, but rather teaching our people how to think biblically.
The average person in the pew (or chair) does not know how to read, understand and apply the Scripture. As a result, moral relativism has won the day.
Self-proclaimed Christians are really more self-styled Christians. Rather than firmly moored to God’s word, too many Believers are adrift in a culture that prides itself in redefining truth. In fact, there is no truth today. This one factor contributed to a massive shift in thinking as a Christian.
We need a deliberate, intentional and disciplined focus on teaching and training Christians to return a personal, devotional lifestyle rooted and grounded in the Scripture. These disciplines are not hard, but it will take a near over-emphasis on encouraging and equipping people to “get their nose in the Book” and learn from His Word, not the world.
2. Being a loving Christian does not mean accepting everything.
Somehow most Christians got to thinking we’re unloving if we call something sinful. “Judge not lest ye be judged” is ripped from context and misapplied. A cursory reading of 1 Corinthians reveals a mostly corrective letter confronting the believers in Corinth for engaging in sin, ignoring sin, and in one case endorsing the sin of others.
The instructive nature of Scripture is to help us turn from sin, to God. It calls us to “be holy as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Matt Moore was loving and clear when he called for repentance. We need to gin up a kind-courage where we lovingly confront our brothers and sisters and call them to Christ.
To let our spiritual siblings live in sin, under the fear of being called unloving or judgmental is no more loving than letting a child drink toxic waste.
Mind you, we do not play the “holier than thou” Holy Spirit in others’ lives, but we must lovingly call one another out of sin and into Christlikeness.
3. Church leaders must courageously face a difficult future.
While not a prophet nor a distant cousin of one, I sense good news is not forthcoming. If the Supreme Court allows same-sex marriage the domino will fall on the Fourteenth Amendment (see below for more). If this happens, local churches will soon be the target of same-sex couples who want a religious ceremony.
I recently posted this video on Facebook with the question, What do you think? To bake or not to bake?
The comments cover the obvious objections and positions. Believers are awash in opinion. (Of course proponents of same-sex marriage will not confront a Muslim bakery.)
But a “religious” service held in a “church” officiated by recognized ministers will be a soon coming battle.
A trial attorney friend is adamant, that is the case to fight. While I admire his tenacity, I loathe the idea of being “that church.” Yet, will we – church leaders – be willing to fight that fight when it knocks on our door? Many prominent evangelical churches already accept same-sex couples. Will they officiate weddings for the same? Will they weather lawsuits, spend thousands – even millions – of dollars and watch the pews thin?
While I am not a fatalist – the Lord God is the Sovereign King – we live in a fallen world. America, for all her celebrated history, is yet the great experiment. From a biblical perspective, she has failed. But many good men and women who love Christ, who are sinners saved by grace and fail often still press on. They want to be more like Christ. They want to grow. They want to live pleasing to the Lord. It is in the person of Jesus Christ and His church where my hope resides.
A Big Debate With Big Complications
Many are comparing Obergefell v. Hodges, popularly referred to as the “Supreme Court Gay Marriage Argument” to the “biggest case since Roe v. Wade”. In this comparison, consider that since Roe v. Wade we have far greater division than unity over abortion.
Roe v. Wade had predictable and logical consequences. It morphed into countless medical and social issues (partial birth abortion, waiting periods, parental consent, at what gestational time period can an abortion be performed, women’s rights, and perhaps most tragic, the loss of millions of lives – notably how many baby girls were aborted in the name of a woman’s right to choose?). Roe v. Wade did not settle anything other than creating a federal law for access to abortions. In fact, one could argue Roe v. Wade created an avalanche of legal fortunes at the expense of the unborn.
The landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges is a federal lawsuit arguing for the right of same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court consolidated other lawsuits which challenge a state’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriage from another state. Said simply, if a same-sex marriage occurred in, for example in California, would another state that does not conduct same-sex marriages have to recognize that couples’ status as married? This is where the Fourteenth Amendment comes into discussion.
Lest we think the impact will be simple or inconsequential, consider the language that abortions should be safe and rare. Nothing could be further from reality.
Do Personal Rights Ever Supersede A “Greater Good”?
The so-called “Gay Marriage Argument” has been brewing a long time. Aided by the notion of coming out as well as a culture bent on personal rights at the expense of the greater good, we are at a predictable crossroads.
The notion of “my personal rights” has become the idol of our day. This “little god” of what I want is more important than notions of “right or wrong,” much less the puritanical view of morality. Pity the person who asks questions, “but is it right, moral or good?” much less, “does this honor God?”
Every good and decent Christian American is pro civil rights. Yet when man-made laws infringe upon our biblical foundation, when it in fact goes against clear values and morals in the Bible, do we sit by and do nothing?
Roman believers pondered these same kinds of issues. In Paul’s letter to Rome – his most comprehensive and doctrine laden writing – he stresses in many ways the conflict between the individual and his / her sin as well as living in the context of a powerful city controlled by Rome.
In an almost catch-all kind of list, Paul writes, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18). It does not require a seminary degree to understand we work hard to be at peace with all, but sometimes it is not possible.
I’ve often wondered if Rome had any idea when the Visigoths invaded the end was so near? Rome was arguably the most powerful city in the world but in essentially three days, they were sacked and with a few years, Rome was a byword.
When a civilization worships self, personal rights or the little gods of its own making, we can only wonder why God is patient and does not turn us over to our own designs. We are citizens of two cities, we serve the King but we are to be good citizens of the city of man. When those two collide, If possible, so far as it depends on you…
Leave me your thoughts in the comments below…