Please Note: I really appreciate your patience as I’ve been writing on the subject of the Church’s response to same sex marriage. Last Friday, though I’d planned on posting the final part of this series, time didn’t allow. Now I find, as writing what was supposed to be the third and last part, that a proper treatment of the subject requires more space than one post allows. Kindly bear with me, then, as I strong this series out into four more installments. And please stay with me as I post each one, since this is a subject requiring careful and thorough discussion. Thanks so much for being here!
Same Sex Marriage: Winning, Losing or Dropping Out? Part IV
(Links to all four parts at the end of the article)
Where Do We Go From Here?
It is a mark of great people to treat trifles as trifles, and important matters as important. – Doris Lessing
If it doesn’t matter to God, it needn’t matter to us.
There are, after all, plenty of issues to be concerned about. So in an age marred by terrorism, poverty, violence, and corruption at every level, same sex marriage may seem like a secondary matter. And even if we do see sex-related sin as something worth fighting, this one can look tame next to others. Compare homosexuality to abortion – the taking of an innocent life – or to teen pregnancy, with its tragic repercussions; or to the wounds inflicted by molestation; or to the glaring evil of forced prostitution. Next to these, a union between adults of the same sex can seem mild. Wrong, sure; un-Biblical, definitely. But worth fighting over?
Some folks sure think so, the latest case in point being the uproar over Chic-fil-A. In case you’ve missed the news, the fast food chicken restaurant chain’s owner Don Cathy went on record supporting the traditional male-female definition of marriage, and has donated sums of money to various conservative organizations sharing his views.
Protests have accordingly ignited at Chic-fil-A locations from Washington to California, many of whom are targeted for displays of gay affection during an upcoming National Same-Sex Kiss Day. Cathy was told to “Take a hike and take your intolerance with you” by Philadelphia City Councilman James Kenney, who’ll push the city council to adopt a resolution condemning the company. The city’s mayor Rahm Emanuel opined that “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values”, and Boston’s mayor Thomas Menino, claiming the chain “advocates against people’s rights”, publicly voiced his disapproval of Chic-fil-A opening a location in his town.
In response, Rev. Billy Graham chimed in supporting the company and encouraging others to patronize it. Former GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Gov. Mike Huckabee have done the same, with Huckabee declaring Wednesday August 1 to be Chic-fil-A Appreciation Day and asking people to visit their local Chic-fil-A on the 1st in show of solidarity. (Full disclosure: I’ll be there. Hope to see ya!)
Like I said, strong feelings going on here, and where’s there’s strong feeling, there’s something at stake. Like the nation’s concept of family and normality, the relevance of Christianity as it applies to our most intimate selves, and our willingness or reluctance to embark on a titanic social experiment impacting the next and all future generations. No big deal.
The trends show a tilt in public opinion towards a redefinition of marriage, (Click here for Part I of this series) a trend the Church can’t ignore without likewise ignoring Her role as salt and light (Click here for Part II of this series). Change is happening, but not all change represents positive progress. (Click here for Part III of this series) The obvious question, then, is where do we go from here? Let me offer five ideas I’ve come to feel pretty strongly about:
- More Logs, Less Motes (Let’s examine ourselves first)
- The Kids Aren’t Alright (Let’s not leave the education of this next generation to Lady Gaga)
- No Church Left Behind (Let’s equip, and let’s get equipped)
- From Apologies to Apologists (Let’s move beyond apologizing for past mistakes and move towards defending the truth)
- Buckle Up (Let’s be prepared for widespread, volatile resistance to the Biblical position and meet it with bold love)
First, More Logs, Less Motes
When Jesus noted that you can’t see clearly to correct someone else when your own vision is impaired, he compared motes to logs: “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5) The mote He referred to is a bare twig; the beam being a huge log supporting a structure.
Now, let’s not pass too quickly over this, familiar as it is. It’s so relevant to our topic. Jesus didn’t say ignore sin, in self or others. Quite the opposite – He encouraged us to note it, but in proper order, with a certain perspective. I am, per these verses, to view the sin in my life as huge, serious, worth dealing with. Having done so (and only having done so!) I should, as wisdom and circumstance dictate, point out sin in another’s life, but only with the perspective that mine is so grievous it makes yours look minor, so I can’t hope to correct your twig if my beam lies unchecked. Granted, the sin in my life may or may not seem as notable, but I should regard it that way. Only the humility of a disciple fully aware of his enormous faults will do here, because that’s the humility which, paradoxically, enhances authority. I know this to be true: a broken, self-aware man’s exhortation is heard more clearly and readily than the clanging of a self-righteous buffoon. (Just re-read I Corinthians 13 in its entirety and you’ll see what I mean)
Ditto for the church. The beam of sexual sin within the Body of Christ is made heavy by the use of porn among Christian men, a far too high divorce rate among Believers, a prevalence of unmarried Christian couples sleeping together, and scandals in our leadership comparable to the juiciest daytime dramas. Yes, Christians are imperfect and forgiven; no, Christians aren’t thereby exempted from a rather blunt command with no wiggle room: “Be ye holy, for I am holy” (I Peter 1:16) Neither are we given a pass, just because of our imperfection, from the claims of divine ownership Paul spelled out when he asked, rather indignantly: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (I Corinthians 6:19)
If we’re commanded to live holy (albeit imperfect) lives, and are expected to exercise sexual self-control, and if within our own ranks there’s been widespread failure to do so, then when we show up at Chic-fil-A expressing support for God’s design, haven’t the gay protestors every right to ask us how seriously we, ourselves, take that design?
I see a better scenario. I see the Church focusing not only on ourselves, but first on ourselves. I envision a widespread repentance, borne of the recognition that purity isn’t an elective Christian course we can take or skip. I see humility springing from that recognition, birthing a white hot zeal among the Created to please their Creator inwardly and outwardly, in both the most public and private behaviors. And from that strong cocktail of zeal and meekness, credibility, impact and influence all naturally flow.
There’s a great beginning to a new and better approach to one of the most difficult issues the Church faces. This first point calls for self-examination and correction, without which there’s no hope of addressing this effectively. Next week, let’s look at the point 2 (The Kids Aren’t All Right) and 3 (No Church Left Behind).
Hope you have a blessed, wonderful weekend.
Check Out the Entire Series, “The Gay Marriage Debate: Winning, Losing or Dropping Out?”