Ok, it is a little late to be commenting on the same-sex marriage decision. In terms of internet time, two weeks is comparable to one decade. Yet, I have been out-of-town for a couple of weeks due to sabbatical so I have been delayed in commenting on this topic. However, it is better late than never.
At this point, you have probably heard every imaginable opinion on the subject. There has been debate over the constitutionality of the decision. Some have championed the decision while others have expressed deep sadness over the trajectory of our country. Christians have raised concern over its implications for religious freedom, namely the church’s autonomy from the state, e.g. will this eventually require ministers to perform same-sex marriage? Relevant to me, there has been renewed soul-searching as to how the church is to respond. As a pastor, I would like to take a few moments to comment on this last issue.
First, we should find time to lament. We live in a country with a Christian heritage. While I dispute that we were founded on Christian principles (a subject for another day), I do recognize our country has a long history of commitment to Christian faith and morality. When we see fractures to this heritage it saddens those that embrace such a value system. We see society adrift. We grow nervous. We become anxious. We want to shake society and say “don’t forget our roots.” We look into the future and we become deeply concerned if not agitated. Underlying these emotions is a deep sadness over how far we have swayed from a Christian worldview. Unfortunately, this sadness is projected into judgment towards society rather than lament to God. Scriptures calls us to bring our requests to God which includes sadness, anger, and fear. Rather than point fingers, we should recommit our nation to God through prayer, with humility and honest lament.
Second, we should remember the church is called to be counter-cultural. Christ was counter-cultural. He esteemed the poor when society discarded them. He elevated women from a second-tier status to one of dignity and calling. He humbly yet truthfully challenged Pilate on matters of truth. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. He is the light; the darkness does not understand it. The truth was powerfully displayed because it was countercultural not because it reflected the culture. There is a similar opportunity for the church today – to be countercultural in truth. Yet, it is only countercultural when truth is accompanied with grace otherwise it simply becomes arrogance. We should affirm our convictions but in a way that makes it attractive. It is what Christ did; it is what we should do.
Third, we should remember that our lives are not dictated by the government. Does the same-sex decision impact our lives? Yes. Does it dictate our lives? Absolutely not. Our emotions should be steadied with the knowledge that God is as sovereign today as He was three weeks ago. Circumstances change; God does not change. Societal standards of marriage change but God does not change. If this is true, our emotions should remain calm. Our posture towards the future should remain hopeful. Our faith should remain resolute. The mission of Christ was not derailed by Pilate’s decision to execute him (in fact it accelerated it). Nor does the mission of the church get squashed by a change in law. If anything, it highlights its urgency.
Lastly, our love should grow bolder. It is in moments such as this that our love should be radical and unconditional. We should be accepting without being accommodating. Our lives should boldly proclaim that it is possible to hold to a different view of sexuality than many people while fully accepting them as persons. We should be ok with honest debates with coworkers, family members, and neighbors without feeling threatened. It is in these moments that we can show a quiet faith that embraces transcendent truths in a spirit of love.
Christ stated that this is not our home. Recent events remind me of this truth. Yet, as long as I am in this body, I am to be part of this world without being like the world. I am to engage in society – fully, honestly, and lovingly, yet in a way that reflects the convictions and character of someone simply passing through.