7/10/2015 1:00:00 PM
We’re starting to see some of the fallout from last month’s egregious Supreme Court decision changing the definition of marriage in the United States to include the union of same-sex couples. And it’s not pretty.
A family bakery in Oregon has been fined $135,000 and slapped with a gag order (what First Amendment?) because it declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple that the family knew, liked, and considered valuable customers. I agree with David French who noted in National Review Online
that two people who claim to suffer mental anguish because they had to use their second choice of a bakery for a wedding cake need counseling rather than damages.
In our home state of Ohio, a municipal court judge is facing calls for his impeachment because he declined to officiate a same-sex wedding. Never mind that another judge officiated their wedding – the “offending” judge must pay for his slight to the couple with his job, in the minds of some.
What you’re seeing in both of the above situations and countless others is an effort by people of faith to opt out of a situation they can’t support, and the culture imposing their views of morality on them. It’s almost exactly what the secular left has long (falsely) accused values voters of doing for many years. It’s natural for fair-minded Christian believers, and values voters of all faiths, to get angry over this turn of events.
It’s tempting to fight back. I’m not suggesting we don’t respond with efforts to preserve the rights of religious freedom the Constitution grants to us. But how
we fight makes a great deal of difference to the God we claim to know and serve. If we’re His, let’s act like it.
We claim Paul’s words to the church at Corinth readily in situations like this:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”
- 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, ESV, emphasis added
All well and good – but our response to the current warfare seems to be limited to things of the flesh – claims of First Amendment protections, advocating for state and federal laws protecting those who wish to opt out of same-sex weddings and the like. And those need to be part
of our response. The secular left has long had a strategy of advancing its agenda through offensive measures. We’ve always played defense. But perhaps we’ve limited our tactics to those of the enemy, and Paul is suggesting an alternative here.
If the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh – the type our adversaries are using against us, creating strongholds in the process – then what are they? I think the truth of the Gospel needs to be our primary weapon. The culture – and even a misguided sector of the Church – has bought the lie that sexual behavior condemned throughout God’s Word somehow became okay through the passage of the centuries. Standing firm on the Word is the first and most important thing we can do against the forces of the world we are facing on this issue.
But again, I’m struck by our need to balance grace and truth. An important book by Rob Renfroe, an evangelical United Methodist pastor in Texas, called The Trouble With the Truth
has been influential in my thinking in this area lately. Renfroe is president of a group within his denomination called Good News, which is trying to rescue the denomination from apostasy on this issue and many others.
One of his premises is that most of us are either “gracers” or “truthers,” with a natural tendency to emphasize one aspect of the Gospel over the other. But Jesus perfectly balanced grace and truth, Renfroe writes, and if we want to be Christlike, we need to do the same.
One of the most bracing statements in Renfroe’s book is, “Truth without love is a lie.” The purpose of the truth God speaks into our lives is never to condemn us. Properly understood, the truth convicts
us, so that we repent and seek His forgiveness, which He always provides. Condemnation
is something else. It’s a tool the enemy uses to shame us, defeat us and cause us to give up. “Condemnation rejoices in pointing out our sins and delights in exposing our guilt,” Refroe writes. “It has no redemptive purpose and cares little for the person it attacks.”
Like me, you’ve probably memorized Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
” (ESV), and cherished it as a promise to believers. The thing that I am starting to see is that it is also a command
to believers! How can we persuade a homosexual couple that God’s best for them is infinitely better than they have chosen for themselves if all they can sense from us is judgment and condemnation? I would suggest that they cannot.
I’m convinced we cannot change hearts and minds on this issue until we demonstrate that we’re more concerned about our adversaries’ eternities than we are about our own constitutional rights.
- July 10, 2015