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Gay Marriage in Illinois

Over the last few weeks, my email inbox has been flooded with messages from organizations, groups, and even local pastors concerning the debate going on in Springfield over the issue of gay marriage.  Many of them have taken ‘the sky is falling, country going to hell in a hand basket, Christians need to rise up and fight’ tone and so my response has simply been DELETE, DELETE, DELETE. 

 

However, its the conversations going back and forth between local pastors has caused me to pause.  Many, are honestly wrestling with the best way to respond to the cultural changes going on around us.  So, the following are my two cents in that continuing discussion.  As you lean in, I pray you hear the heartbeat of a pastor for other pastors, for Christ’s Church, and for our message to the broken and hurting world who desperately needs to see and hear the love of Jesus in us: 

 

I feel confident in asserting that each of us believes the Bible is God’s Word – and that week in and week out we are attempting to interpret as honestly as we can, so that we and our congregations can following it as passionately as we can. 

With that said, I think its safe to say that we believe God’s ideal for marriage is one man and one woman, in a life-long,committed relationship.  Therefore, any sexual relationship outside this life-long, committed relationship ‘misses the mark’, which is the very definition of sin (see Romans 3. 23).   

So whether we are talking about divorce, or polygamy, or turning someone as a object of lust in our minds– all these miss the mark.


But we certainty don’t want to give others the impression that sin is only found OUTSIDE the church -which I think a lot of our rhetoric does. I believe this impression has been enhanced in recent years by Christians who have the tendency to minimize those areas where we in the church ‘miss the mark’ and maximize the sin of others. This despite the fact that we are commanded against such actions in Scripture.  The Apostle Paul said:


What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside.                                                                         I Corinthians 5: 12-13
And, truth be told, there is no shortage of sin within the church itself. In fact, the #1 sin condemned in the pages of the Bible – is the sin of idolatry.  Idolatry is the human tendency to replace God at the center of life with someone or something. But how often do we as Christian leaders speak out about the worship of the god of greed in our churches?? The materialism, consumerism (bigger is better) the mad pursuit of the ‘American dream’ that’s going on week after week? And all of it  in a world where half the population lives on less than $2 a day. 
 
(In fact, some churches have even ‘Christianized’ this idolatry, turning God into a ‘cosmic vending machine’  who is just waiting for us to punch in the correct ‘faith’ code so that He can dispense His material’blessings’).
 
Or what about the idol of relationships.  The idea that I will never be happy, never be completely fulfilled and whole as a human being unless I’m in a relationship.   What about the idol of comfort, of pleasure? 
 
I could go on and on, but the question I have to ask in is this: How is it, that we in the church have gotten to the point where homosexuality (which is only mentioned 6 times in the entire Bible) outside the church is portrayed as the great colossal sin, where idolatry (which is mentioned 100’s of times) inside the church is rarely mentioned?
Now, some, no doubt, will ask at this point, “Well, wasn’t our country built on a Biblical foundation? Isn’t it our responsibility as God’s people to hold up and enforce God’s standards and values?”

What concerns me when I hear Christians talk like that is that they sound more like a member of the Taliban then a member of Jesus’ Kingdom.   I mean, when did Jesus ever talk like that?  Take me to a place in the gospels where Jesus is portrayed as ‘the condemner of sin’ and the ‘enforcer of cultural values’? Especially. . . to those who were outside God’s covenant community. 

 
There were individuals who did talk and act like that – they were called Pharisees. If that would have been the characteristics of Jesus’ life, I doubt He would have been the magnet to ‘sinners’ that He seems to have been.  No, Jesus was not in the business of judging and condemning sinners – even the very ‘sinners’ who would eventually take His life. Instead, he ‘entrusted himself to Him who judges justly’ (I Peter 2.23). In other words, Jesus refused to sit in judgment of people’s actions, He left all judgment to God. 
So, I believe, as followers of Jesus – citizens of a new and better Kingdom – it is our job to manifest the character of our King. And regardless of what votes are cast or not cast within the Empire in which we  currently reside, our task is to cast our vote for Jesus – and His values – everyday of our lives!!  We vote for Jesus, not in who we judge, but in how we love.   
How we love:
  • gay people and straight people
  • rich people and poor people
  • nice people and cruel people
  • black, brown, and white people
How we love:
  • liberals and conservatives
  • Protestants and Catholics
  • legal and illegal
  • Atheists and Mormons

To love all people, in all places, at all times – no questions asked – just as Jesus loved us and gave His life for us!   

Comment(1)

  1. Reply
    Anonymous says

    Jesus did not condemn sin but God DID. The reason why idolatry is rarely mentioned inside the church is because everyone knows and acknowledges it is a sin already. Unfortunately, there are liberal sounding pastors like yourself that seem to think being gay is okay (even though the bible says otherwise) and that don’t understand the “Hate the sin, Love the sinner” approach……. Yes it is possible to love the person (as Jesus loves), yet disagree with their lifestyle, but folks like you submit to this idea that just because I disagree with you or your lifestyle that I must somehow hate you. For example, you can love your child with all your heart, but if they get involved in bad behavior or claim to be atheists one day, you would definitely do all in your power as their father to point that out to them and provide appropriate guidance to steer them back to the light. (Before you say no you wouldn’t, really think about that). Lastly, even Jesus told the adulterous woman in John 8: 1-11 to “Go and sin no more”. In this case, he didn’t directly condemn sin, but by telling her to ‘sin no more’, it is kind of implied.

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