As a Christian, I mourn that our nation has increasingly become secular. In fact, I think it is safe to say that the United States of America is no longer a Christian nation. In an earlier post entitled ‘From Athens to America, A War of Attrition,’ I explore this idea specifically as it relates to Paul in Acts 17 when he addresses the Aeropagus. While the Athenians had erected an altar to ‘the unknown god’ (just in case they missed one they didn’t know about), we Americans have essentially torn down our altar to the God we know, Jesus Christ, and are busy building altars to many other gods.
We have dispensed with God because we don’t think we need Him any more. As a result, truth has become an individually applicable, personal concept that is not anchored in anything or anyone greater than humanity. And since ‘truth’ changes from person to person, there is no one universal guideline for it that we embrace as a society. We seem to believe that values and ideologies are created by humans and that there is no greater authority than man himself. This has brought us to a point where the very freedom of religion which was the genesis for our country is now being challenged.
(First of all, let me begin by saying that I believe each person is made in God’s image. Therefore, every individual deserves to be treated as though they are God’s child regardless of their politics, their sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic status, etc. I also want to say that I have many friends whom I cherish from all walks of life. I have gay friends who have been more Christlike and selfless in the way they love their neighbors than I have been. They are people I could call in the middle of the night when life has hit the fan and I could rely on them. Their example has taught me an awful lot about myself and who I want to be. I’ve also been in situations where I’ve seen the church miss ‘love’ by a country mile and feel completely justified in condemning sin with which they are uncomfortable while embracing their own sin which is like a recliner: warm, inviting, and broken in. I’ve also experienced ridicule for being a Christian by atheist professors in academic environments. I suppose, as humans we are able to justify our behavior when it does not reflect our deeply held beliefs.)
When I was a child, I remember stopping in at gas stations and restaurants when my family was on a road trip. We’d roll up in our gas guzzling buick, park poorly, and pour out of the vehicle in search of fresh air and food. I remember often seeing a sticker on the door of each establishment that said, “We reserve the right to refuse anyone service.” I couldn’t wander in barefoot for a Tab cola or sport a tube top into the gas station to buy Chicklets. It seemed that businesses were granted the freedom to do business as they saw fit.
Thirty years later, we are now in a position where privately held business owners are being compelled by the government to violate their deeply held personal beliefs in order to accommodate the lifestyles of other people. Christian bakers, pizza shop owners, and more are being forced to bake and serve for events like gay marriages which they believe violate their faith in Christ Jesus. How did we get here? And, as Christians how do we respond?
I believe it is immoral and unconstitutional to ask someone to violate the tenants of their faith. I believe it is even more immoral and unconstitutional to fine them and threaten their livelihood because they resist on religious grounds. I find it fascinating that political figures who were perfectly okay dodging the draft by being ‘conscientious objectors’ will not permit people of faith to conscientiously object. Frankly, I’d be very uncomfortable even asking someone to violate their faith for my convenience whether they be Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or of another belief system.
That said, again, how do we respond? I think we must each search our hearts, pray, and ask God how He would have us respond. We must search the scriptures to know who God is and then ask Him for His guidance. And then we must act in accordance with how we feel God is leading us. There will come a time when the only person you and I answer to is God and so we must be certain that our attitude and actions do not dishonor Him in any way.
The other day, I came across this blog http://tenthousandplaces.org/2015/04/01/bake-for-them-two/ and I was fascinated by her argument. The Bible says that they will know we are Christians by our love. She had struck a beautiful tone of love in this posting. Her discussion is both compelling and valid in some regards, particularly as it pertains to our attitudes. It convicted me in many ways and I’d encourage you to consider it carefully. Are we giving our cloak and are we carrying their sword? These are questions we must honestly ask and answer even if it makes us uncomfortable. Are we following Christ’s example? How do we adhere to the truth while sharing grace?
As an aside, I think it’s important to note that the author states she does not believe homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle. I do not believe that scripture bears out her opinion and I’d direct you to Romans 1:24-32.
So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
God is the same yesterday today and forever. He does not change; he is immutable. Thus, His definition of sin has not changed either. It’s important to point out that along with sexual sin, Paul includes, “Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.” Clearly, we can all find our own sin right next to sexual sin in these passages! So we need to be careful with the truth that Christ has given us, and if we do not have mercy and we do not have love, we are failing miserably.
In closing, I want to quote my pastor Brady Boyd. He once said, “We are not called to win an argument. We are called to win souls for Christ.” We cannot expect non Christians to believe and live as though they are, but that is one of the main mistakes we as Christians make. Remember that Jesus meets us right when and where we are whether that’s in a bar, at a kegger, or in church. Also remember that the ground at the foot of the cross is level. Who are we to deny anyone else the love, grace, and mercy that He offers?