As I sit at my desk with a cup of coffee on one side of my keyboard, and my iPad tuned to the CNN app on the other, my heart is heavy on the breaking news that the Supreme Court ruled this morning that parts of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA) is now unconstitutional. The court ruled this morning that in states where homosexual couples are legally married (currently 13 states and the District of Columbia), the federal government must recognize their legal marriage in respect to federal benefits.
I think it goes without saying that the American culture has been dramatically changing for some time on this issue. While the courts continue to leave the legalization of homosexual marriage in the hands of the state, most people (whether they agree or disagree) believe it inevitably will be legalized nationwide. No matter how your personal faith convictions stand, homosexuality has become an increasing forefront conversation.
On a day when gay pride reigns strong on the heels of such a historic supreme court case, I’m wrestling with how Christians ought respond? In the past the Church has voiced their opinions in every form of media outlet they can get their hands on. Pastors turn their pulpits into a literal soapbox as they rev up their congregations behind what is right and wrong. Christians have taken to the newspapers with ‘letters to the editor’. Today tags and shares from favorite conservative blogs and websites will fill your Facebook news stream. Christians will share their opinions and biblical convictions within their like-minded circles where everyone agrees; meanwhile, our culture shifts into such an unknown phenomenon that we’re the weird ones speaking out of context. What do we do?
I think we should respond like Jesus.
Here’s what I know:
Courts don’t determine biblical morality. And Christians shouldn’t stop their mission, regardless of what government does.
Culture is going to do what culture is going to do. As followers of Jesus we must realize that our job is not to shape culture. We are called to point people to the Kingdom that never ends, to the King that is above every King, to the name that is higher than any other name. All through history, culture has rejected the truth of the Gospel.
Jesus said over and over again that people will stand opposed to you because you follow Him (Matthew 5:11-12, Matthew 10:22) . Peter called us aliens in this pagan world because our home is not here (1 Peter 2:10-12). Paul called us not to “conform to this world” because of it’s sinfulness (Romans 12:2). The world is going to be worldly.
Our place as Christians is not to make this world tolerant to Christianity. Jesus didn’t attempt to shape His world to be like Him. Like Jesus, we should stand out. Like Jesus, we ought to look, think, act, believe, and behave differently than the world around us.
Our mission is to make disciples regardless of how non-Christian our world becomes.
One of the things that overwhelm me every day is how much God loves me. And I’m a sinner. The only thing that gets me through my sinfulness is JESUS. I look to Him, I learn from Him, and I just want to be like Him. When Jesus gave His followers the final job assignment (which would be the most important job assignment He would ever give), He said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus didn’t say go after people that already look like Him. He said, “Go into sinful culture, and bring sinful people to Him.”
We could win the argument; but, we will lose the relationship.
The truth has, is, and always will be that what the Bible says about sin will always stand at odds with our culture. I know what the Bible says about homosexual sin. You cannot deny what the Bible says. You cannot put a spin on any verse in the Bible that allows any type of sexual sin to be okay. And I can use the Bible to win any argument on sin every day of the week. But in the end winning the argument will destroy the relationship that I have with any sinner that could one day lead to a trusting conversation about Jesus.
How many times have you heard someone tell you, “You’re not like most Christians I know”? What they mean is: “most Christians speak without listening…believe without understanding…judge without knowing. But you, you’ve taken the time to know me, love me, and understand me, in spite of my sin. And because of that we have a relationship built upon trust and sincerity.” It’s in the context of a relationship that hope can be shared.
If we’re going to reach people far from Jesus, including those who believe same-sex marriage is not sinful, we are going to have to love all of them right where they are. Regardless of how the Supreme Court ruled today, as Christians our mission remains the same: Love people and preach the hope found in Jesus. No court ruling or election will ever change that.