Sunday, June 28, 2015

Statement to Valley Christian regarding the recent Supreme Court decision concerning Gay Marriage (How are we to respond?):

If you are like me you have been reading and watching all the responses to the recent Supreme Court decision over the weekend, even among Christians. In my lifetime, I have never seen any event that has splintered Christianity like this one. From rainbow pictures on their Facebook page to quoting verses of damnation on Instragram, Christ-followers are either celebrating today or mourning.

As I read these responses to the Supreme Court decision, I can’t help but compare these comments of Christ- followers I see online to the three factions of Judaism when Jesus walked the earth.

The Zealots:
There are some within the Christian community that are looking at this moment as “a call to arms.” That the Supreme Court decision mandates some form of protest if not civil disobedience. That culture and government forces have gone to far and the people of God need to pull them back into God’s will and desire. We see that same mindset in First Century Zealots who protested Roman oppression, even with force. These are the folks on the front lines during the Fall of Jerusalem and the siege at Masada.

The Essenes:
There are also some within the Christian ranks that look at this decision as another reason we need to pull of out society and protect ourselves from further cultural compromises and relational agendas. The group has little hope in this world and its systems and believes that personal holiness trumps evangelistic endeavors. Fear of negative influences causes them “to pull out and pull back”. We see this same mindset in the First Century Essenes. They fled the cities and population centers of Holy Land and went into the wilderness to create isolated communities where they can control the influence of the outside world.

The Pharisees and Sadducees:
There are also some within the Christian ranks who believe some alliance with the governing authorities, while occasionally problematic and compromising, is necessary – that partnerships with “Rome” can help propagate our beliefs and practices. While they never trusted their Gentile overlords, they consorted with them to maintain and advance their religious understanding of what pleased God.

All of these groups share three common characteristics.

1. They ALL responded to the political and cultural challenges of the day.
2. They ALL believed wholeheartedly that they were pleasing God by following the Scriptures.
3. They ALL were all rebuked by Jesus when He walked on the earth.

The Pattern of Jesus:

Jesus came into this chaotic world emphasizing God’s kingdom, while almost ignoring the political and cultural hotspots of His day. In this sense, He may be the most political figure in human history speaking not of human governments and kings, but of spiritual governments and the only true King.

While His teachings are so profound that people still quote Him today, what is fascinating is how little He spoke on the social ills of slavery, abortion, right to a fair trial, women’s rights, the evils of dictators and yes, homosexuality. All of these issues were alive and well in His day. Yet, almost nothing we have in the Gospels speak directly to these issues. His strongest words are reserved for the religious sectors of the day who used the Scriptures to shun, hate and even kill in the name of God. On the other hand, His most tender moments are His interactions with those broken, battered and abandoned in this world – especially those rejected, shunned and mocked by people of faith.

What we see in Jesus is a person…

1. Who goes to the Samaritan woman at the well, a refugee of her own cultural sexual revolution, and offer’s her Living Water (John 4:10, 13-14).

2. Who stands between the religious accusers and the woman found in adultery, and makes sure that no response is given to her unless everybody’s sins are on the table (John 8:7).

3. Who allows a prostitute, a woman who makes a living selling her body for the pleasure of men, to anoint His feet with perfume and tears while the religious leaders scorn and mock her (Luke 7:44-47).

4. Who does define marriage as between “a man and a woman” (Matt. 19:4-6) and yet in the same breath rebukes the people of faith in their day for their lax standards of divorce (Matt. 19:7-9).

Jesus never expected the pagan culture to act like Christians, but He did expect the religious culture “to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly before our God” (Micah 6:8).

Pastoral Advice:

Some Christians today believe wrongly that it is my job to tell you the truth and then distance myself from your choices. That unless you change and come about to my way of thinking, I cannot associate with you. They often tell people, “I’ll pray for you,” meaning that “I will pray you see the light and change to my way of thinking. And until you do, I will stand over here.”

Jesus did not see things that way. He truly is “a faithful passenger” in each of our lives. Let me ask you a series of questions:

When we were wayward,
When we were rebellious and had gone our own way,
Where you compromised rather than open the promptings of the Spirit,

Where was Jesus?

Did He disappear from our lives?
Did He disconnect His phone line or turn His back on us?
Did He stop inviting us over?
Did He take us off his prayer list?
Did He unfriend us from FaceBook?


In the pit I created for myself,
In the cave I found myself,
In the prison cell I deserved to find myself,

He was there to offer me a rope,
give me the light to find my way
or offer me a key to unlock me from my cell.

Amazingly, He was always right there.

I believe Friday’s decision is a wake up call indeed. Not to protest or run or partner with the government for some religious agenda. It is a call to love people like Jesus did. We all know we are supposed to love our neighbor, but today we vow to love deeper. It is a call to walk with people wherever that takes us, especially the families and friends we love so dear. That we will be “a faithful passenger” in people’s car wherever they drive us. It will be one of life’s most difficult challenges, but it will also be the Gospel’s finest moment.