Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gay Marriage

What an awkward position the government can put the Church in. For those ways in which morality and legality can be equated, what is the Church to do with Massachusetts and California's rulings to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples?

This is not a good time to be from California.

The Church is now in the uncomfortable position of directly opposing the state. By this I mean, that a biblical definition of marriage clearly arrives at the union between two of the opposite sex. This definition simply is. It cannot be altered or amended by a court ruling. There most certainly is, according to state law, a supreme court of California. However, this court is infinitely inferior to the Word of God. As a result, the Church is charged with continuing to proclaim a definition of marriage that is sourced in God's Word, but directly opposes a ruling of the state.

The State might say, "You two (men or women) are now married," but then the Church is obligated to say, "No you're not."

I call this "awkward" because the Church wants to simultaneously demonstrate love toward people who need a Savior, but cannot compromise aspects of divine revelation that speak to constructive or destructive behavior, namely homosexuality (being the latter).

Much of the problem lies with the common confusion between "acceptance" and "endorsement." The language of acceptance may be used by one group, but it means something very different when used by another group. A Christian may speak of "accepting" people just as they are (since all need Jesus Christ for salvation from sin; some are just more obvious about it than others), but the homosexual will not believe they are accepted until their behavior is endorsed (believing that their behavior is "right" for them). A Christian may say that they "accept" the homosexual, but do not "endorse" the homosexual behavior, believing it to be destructive to the homosexual. However, because the homosexual ties their behavior to their identity, withholding endorsement of their behavior is tantamount to denying acceptance of them as a person. This is unfortunate since Christians, throughout time, have always been a people that must simultaneously maintain two complimentary beliefs: (1) sin is destructive to the human body and soul, calling for its repudiation, and (2) Christ's saving work rescues people from the curse of sin for eternity and addiction to sin in the present. This is the reality behind the often misunderstood saying, "Love the sinner - hate the sin."

If my daughter were to develop a self-destructive addiction to methamphetamine, no one would question if I still loved my daughter while I grew a fierce hatred for the drugs destroying her. If anything, people would understand that it is out of my intense love for my daughter that my hatred of methamphetamine grows. If a child of mine was on a self-destructive path, and asked me to simply "accept" them the way they are, no one would question my love of my child for withholding my endorsement of their drug addiction. I would (and you would) love the child...hate the drug. Or "love the addict - hate the addiction."

Churches that seek to remain missional, that will break out of the barriers of previous generations to the spread of the gospel, will wrestle with the issue of gay marriage. They will wrestle a great deal with this. What will the church do when a lesbian couple, with three kids, visits the church to hear the gospel? What will the church do when two gay men wander in hoping to find "acceptance." What will they find? Will they find a Christian able to explain the difference between "acceptance" and "endorsement"? Or will they find angry disgust not shown from Jesus in the Gospels?

Ministry could get real messy in a hurry. Is the church ready to stay on-mission in a largely post-Christian America? Are we ready to be "missionaries" in our own homeland?

1 comment:

Ren said...

I admire the way you have explained some of the issues at hand. Thank you.