Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Christians Changing Culture
Tomorrow the Supreme Court is expected to rule on California's Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, These rulings could dramatically affect gay rights and the definition of marriage. To the gay community it could mean a) the sanctioning of the marriage union by society, b) the ability to access the legal benefits which are currently afforded to those who are married over those who are not married, in a common law marriage or in a civil union, and c) having the 14th amendment upheld for US citizens who are gay and lesbian. To the evangelical community it could mean a) the breakdown or the upholding of their moral view of marriage being only between a man and a woman, b) the loss or the upholding of the 1st Amendment allowing places of worship to practice their interpretation of their holy text without legal penalty, and c) the legal protection for private citizens, companies and corporations to conduct business and issue benefits guided by their moral conscience and beliefs without penalty. It is a battleground pitting two sides with drastically different views who are likely never to concede firmly held convictions. The ruling will be a win for one side and a loss for the other with the war ever continuing to wage.
I believe if anything is going to change in this ever escalating war, the change must occur within the Christian community. I agree with Andrew Marin who said, "Evangelicals, and conservative Christians in general, need to let go of the same-sex marriage fight and invest in figuring out how to love like Jesus regardless of what system is in place." Jesus and his early followers did not change society or culture by fighting a political war against the laws and rulers of the day. Rather they brought about change by loving those around them. Christians know they cannot change themselves on the inside. They believe that in order to change, they must first yield to Jesus in an unconditional surrender thus allowing Jesus to make changes to their hearts. It is hypocritical to think the change can be brought to society and culture through law without surrender to Jesus. It is time to stop fighting society and laws and start fighting for the change of souls by loving others and leading them to surrender their lives to Jesus. This surrender is not brought about by coercion or argument. It is brought about by loving as Jesus loved, by being a witness and example. It is brought about by sharing the truth of God's word and his love expressed to all in his word. God is calling all to be reconciled to himself through a loving relationship with Jesus. This includes those within the gay community.
Jesus believes in absolute moral law. He wrote the law. Christians need not give up convictions nor belief in the perfect law of love. Christians need to live by that law of love. Christians are called to love and serve society around them. Christians are to be both an example of God's moral law of love and a voice calling others to yield to that law of love by first surrendering to God not by changing hearts nor behavior first. Changing of hearts begins by surrendering to God's unconditional love. Change of behavior follows a change of heart. To dictate or demand change in society through law, coercion or force is backwards to the way in which Jesus brings change and will ultimately fail.
Christians have realized their own moral failure and know they stand under condemnation. They understand the only way to be saved from condemnation and wrath is to accept the full payment of the penalty offered by Jesus. In doing so, they are morally purified by God and set on a course for change. Christians desire to love as God loves them, but understand they are incapable of such love. Christians yield to God to allow God's love to permeate their hearts and pour out to God and others. Christians should not, therefore, demand change in others that they know themselves to be incapable of doing.
If Christians desire to uphold the sanctity of marriage it cannot be done by fighting society's definition of marriage. It must be done by strengthening and valuing their own marriage. Christians need to focus on their own family. Christians need to love their spouse and children well. Christians need to endure difficulties in their own marriage, yield to God, and allow God to change and improve their own hearts and marriage. A Christian marriage is one in which both partners yield to Jesus, help each other conform to his image, and love each other well putting the needs of the other ahead of their own. Christians do need to redefine marriage. The definition of marriage is not a means to individual happiness where a partner is meeting the individual's needs. The definition of marriage is a covenant promise to God to sacrifice an individual's needs and desires for the betterment of the spouse so both with grow in love for God and each other. A marriage is a picture of the union of Jesus to his bride, the church. Jesus united with his bride by sacrificing his life for his spouse. He did not seek his own happiness and pleasure but rather the needs of his spouse. The sanctity of marriage will be upheld as Christians sacrifice their own desires for the betterment of their spouse. The sanctity of marriage will be upheld as Christians yield to and grow in the love of God. The sanctity of marriage will be upheld as Christians love their spouse and children well.