It was a strange coincidence that I learned about the Supreme Court’s decision on Gay Marriage while distributing this month’s Covenant Spotlight magazine. Part of the focus of this month’s issue is “Church and State.” Talk about good timing.
Let me begin by saying that, as a lawyer and as a Christian, I believe the decision is legally wrong. The reasons are many and others are better than I at articulating them. I’d like to offer something else. I’m hoping and praying that this decision will shake up the Christian community and maybe not in the way you might expect.
Move on. I think in many ways some of us Christians need to move on. The whole “gay rights” thing has occupied a ton of “Christian” energy and focus. It has distorted the view of many in the church as well as the view of many on the outside about the church. I understand the concern about societal changes. I understand all about sin. I am way too personally familiar with sin. I’m not saying there are not important issues here. I am saying these are not the only issues. These issues deserve some, but not all, of our focus and energy.
The Founding Fathers are all dead. I’m tired of hearing about the “Founding Fathers” and whether they were Christians and what role they intended for God in the new nation. History is very important and we should make every effort to make sure that it is passed on accurately. America in 2015 is not the same country that Washington and Jefferson knew. In some ways, it’s a better place, but not in every way. Get over it. We need to deal with the reality that most of our fellow citizens are not followers of Christ. We are not helping to change that by our ranting and raving. Jesus had a plan. We should stick to it. Hint: It doesn’t involve courts, politicians or police.
Read the Book. We need to read the book. It all turns out great in the end, but there is much high adventure, persecution, and, yes, tribulation, before the hero rides in, literally, on His white horse. Rejoice when you suffer. Better get use to it. Suffering is ahead. “10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5
Focus on the right Kingdom. Jesus was all about the Kingdom of Heaven; he left earthly kingdoms to their own devices. Of course Christians should be involved in politics. They shouldn’t, however, be foolish enough to think that’s how the world will be changed. Jesus’ plan was to change one heart at a time, by spiritual transformation, not political persuasion. Historically, the church has been least effective when it’s been the most political.
Look in the mirror. I think we need to spend a lot more time considering our own sin than we spend on the sins of others. Pointing out “public” sins is a cheap way of making ourselves feel better about the darkness in our own souls. Let’s just cut that out. Conviction is helpful and self focused. Judgment. . .not so much. Everyone has sinned and fallen short. It’s not helpful to try to rank our sins compared with others. It’s way too subjective a standard. Sin looks a lot bigger at a distance.
Let’s really separate Church and State. I have a brother who I love like crazy. I am happy for him this morning that his partnership with someone whom he has been with for almost as long as I’ve been with my wife, will now be legally recognized nationwide. He didn’t ask me to perform a ceremony. He knows where I stand. I can separate what the “state” recognizes as marriage from what I think God recognizes. We can agree to disagree. There are lots of people I don’t think should be married and only a few of them are same-sex.
“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16 It’s time to be smart. It’s time to prepare our organizations to deal with the many legal challenges they will face in a Post-Christian nation. There, I’ve said it. Christians and Christian organizations need to be ready to work in a society that doesn’t support our goals, understand our theology, or love us. We need to prayerfully consider exactly where we stand on these issues. Not all of us will stand on exactly the same spot. Then we need to be ready to defend out spot. Finally, we need to make sure we are more focused on following Jesus than we are at defending spots, or frowning at others.
Time is short. Resources are limited. Our mission should be focused. Let’s make sure we are spending resources wisely. If I failed to upset you, hang around, there’s always tomorrow.
Agree with this, or better yet disagree? I love to speak to small groups about the things I post. I can talk to your entire church or small group, your breakfast or supper club (do we still have those?). No charge of course, except the one I get out of doing it. However, if food is involved I will stay later. Email me, I dare you.
Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com