Painting the Outside of the Tomb
I want to talk about a very touchy, emotional issue for a lot of people. I know this will be difficult to talk about tactfully, but I really feel like I can't hold back my opinion on this much longer. It has to do with the idea that it is the responsibility of Christians to make sure that morality is enforced by our government.
Now, I do realize that I have a couple of non-USA readers, so I want to apologize ahead of time to them for this decidedly US-centric post. But since I'm a citizen of the USA and I live here in the USA, and most of my readers...well, you get the idea.
Let me start with a little story. Last November or December, I was speaking to a Christian brother about someone we both knew who was unsaved. This third party also happened to be an admitted homosexual. The comment that my Christian brother made to me was with regard to trying to witness to this other person. He said, "How do you tell someone, 'Hey, I'd like you to worship my God, and oh, by the way, He totally disapproves of your lifestyle'?"
My response was rather simple: You don't. You witness to the Gospel, and you let the Holy Spirit do the convicting (John 16:8). Yet it seems that so many Christians in America are determined that we must make sure that sinners know that God hates their sin. And to make sure they know, we want to fight to pass legislation that makes it illegal for them to participate in their sin. And if they do choose to participate, we want to make sure that they get no civil or social benefits from their open rebellion against our God.
And this is where I fear we have missed the mark. In my opinion, legislating morality amounts to painting the outside of a tomb. It looks real nice on the outside, but it's still full of dead bones. And meanwhile, we have succeeded in telling people what we (and God) are against, without really sharing the Gospel with them to begin with.
Don't get me wrong. I believe the Bible when it says that homosexuality is unnatural behavior. But as some homosexuals have pointed out, why aren't we, as Christians, campaigning as actively to make divorce illegal as we are to make homosexual marriage permanently illegal? This is, in my opinion, a valid question.
Recently, I caught a snippet of Chuck Colson (I believe it was his Breakpoint program) commenting about the consitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, and how we need to make sure that amendment still gets pushed through. He stated that we needed to stop this "attack on marriage".
Likewise, when I was discussing my thoughts about this with some other Christians, they said, "So you think we shouldn't stop gay people from getting married? What are you going to do when they tell you that your marriage is not legal anymore because it's a heterosexual marriage?"
Well, my response to that is quite simple, too: I don't depend on the government to tell me that my marriage to Christy is legitimate. My marriage is something that is valid in the eyes of God. In the same way that I won't stop worshipping with my fellow believers if Christian worship ever becomes illegal in the United States, I do not put my trust in the government to "protect my marriage".
So what should we be doing as believers in our culture? This is not an easy question to answer, because it's not really a simple question. Recently, one of my blogging friends, Brad (aka Broken Messenger), talked about the issue of politics, and in reading some of his other thoughts, I came across an article he wrote last November about politics in the life of the Christian. In this very thought-provoking article and resulting discussion, Brad wrote:
...[I]n the wake of each of [the apostle]’s lives the face of the Roman Empire was changed without a single piece of legislation passed, a single election won, a victorious revolt or the successful expulsion of a single ruler or senator of the establishment. The apostles sought after the hearts of men for Christ by living Christ, and their legacies changed the world.Now, to be sure, Brad does make certain to point out that he's not saying we should not participate in the political process (i.e., vote based on our conscience, etc.), but makes a very true statement when he says, "No one has ever [found] or will ever find eternal life through the passing of a ballot measure."
Even more recently, Raborn Johnson wrote about the differences between the kingdoms of this world and the Kingdom of God. In his post, he concludes with a very challenging question:
Could it be that we have overestimated the power of fleshly ideas to change the hearts of people, while underestimating the power of God's love shown through believers corporately, and individually to accomplish the same purpose?I think the answer is "yes". As Christians in America, I fear we have swung so far to the side of political action, even to the point of using church services to rally people around certain legislative actions. I find this incredibly concerning.
May the Lord give us wisdom to know how to live our lives within our culture in such a way that men are drawn to the flame of the Holy Spirit burning within us. If that becomes the case, we will see true, genuine change take place in our culture in a way that no legislation could ever accomplish. Let's put our faith solidly in the power of God to change lives through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then true life will reside within those whom we attempt to reach, and we will not merely have a freshly-painted tomb.
Until next time,