A few days ago, gay marriage became legal in all 50 States of the United ones of America. It is heralded as a victory of human rights. It is also considered by a few to be a victory against Christians, conservatives, and the like. Many Christians are indeed “outraged”, worried about the moral pulse of the nation. I have then also seen those in strong favour of marriage equality take the SCOTUS ruling as an opportunity to deride Christians in general. Seems both sides can make generalisations, can they? But this isn’t the point.
After the announcement of the ruling, and with Facebook bleeding rainbow, I began to think about my reaction to all of it. My initial reaction was one of indifference; calling neither for fire and brimstone nor a gay pride victory parade. Ashleigh, my fiancé, brought up the news when we chatted other day, giving me the first time vocalise my sentiments. Again, it was one of indifference. I do not think it is right, but I won’t stop people from it, nor raise a stink of it. It affects me in no way at all.
I further mused about how Christians should react to sweeping legalised gay marriage. I believe it is well understood and for the most part widely practiced that Christians do love and care for their gay friends, family, and general public. But it seems to me that some – not most, but certainly not least enough to not be glanced over – Christians, or conservatives to put it even more broadly, are still hung up on putting a ban on gay marriage. For them, the nine supreme justices suddenly morphed in the Nazgul, beckoning the dark ages.
This is a post for those who feel our Christian way of life is under siege. It is not so.
I will be putting aside the legal and Constitutional arguments from either point of view. Representatives of Idaho insist the Supreme Court is stepping over the toes of the states deciding what marriage is to be. On the other side, as a friend pointed out, the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment (Section I) protect the rights of the minority “from the whims of the majority,” as the friend said. A debate on the Constitutional logistics of the decision is not my focus. Also, a discussion on proposed bills on the protection of religious expressions – like ones introduced in Idaho and elsewhere to protect your local Christian florist from sprucing up a gay wedding – will not be had here. (Though, in short, I do find it fair that a Christian business should not be punished for not accepting to cater to something they don’t believe in; but then again, what a wonderful ministry opportunity it is for a Christian pizza parlour to serve a wedding they don’t agree with!)
My focus is how should Christians be acting and reacting to legalized gay marriage? Similar questions circulate around in congregations across the country/world. The easy answer is love all like Jesus loved all. The just as easy answer is to continue to live your life in Christ no matter what is going on around you.
Jesus indeed is the supreme model of unconditional and brotherly love. Jesus conducted his love without the need of grand law or legislation. I argue that Jesus makes it clear that the worship of the Lord and the practice of government and law are separate things (give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, give to God what is God’s). Therefore, as Christians, we don’t need Christian-inspired laws surrounding us to act and be and do what Christ calls us to do.
Let’s take for example the call for how slaves were to conduct themselves whilst in servitude as described in Colossian 3:22-24. Whether slaves were considered in this context to be indentured, willing servants of a master or as freedom-less humans treated like cattle, as we typically view slavery in modern terms, Jesus’ point is still the same: to do everything “with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord,” whether the master’s eyes are on them or not. This is an address on holy living, on how to inject Christ-likeness into the world.
Jesus did not come into the world to abolish the Roman Empire and establish a new government. His love and message did not evade the traitorous tax collectors of the region, nor the sick, the prostitutes, or the Romans themselves. Jesus had no need to rewrite the way of life in the harsh Roman Empire to establish the Kingdom of God.
Jesus’ call to his followers was to act like himself, express Godly love and care to everyone despite the system of governance and life they currently were in. Indeed, the hardships for the young church only got worst during Paul’s ministry when Roman emperors made it a point to find and kill Christians. Amidst the hunt for Christians, Paul and the early writers maintained the original message of Jesus: live with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. They perpetuated the address of injecting Christ-likeness into their world seeking to reject Christ.
If Jesus were to first arrive in this world today, he would not be seeking to overturn the ruling of legalized gay marriage, pot smoking, or whatever. The message would be the same: live with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. We need to inject Christ-likeness into our world today. We don’t need laws and legislations to do it.
And let’s put down the narrative that there is persecution of Christians in the United States today. We have known all along that we will be social pariahs for following Jesus. The Man himself said in John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to this world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” Go talk to Iraqi Christians about persecution.
We have nothing to complain about.
Slaves were called to act like Christ in a time of systemic slavery. Christians were called to act like Christ in a time of systemic persecution of their church. We are called to be like Christ in a time of systemic religious freedom. God’s kingdom does not need any sort of political framework.
Yay or nay with your personal views to legalized gay marriage, our call is the same:
Be a Christian through your actions, not through our legislation.