Sunday, June 28, 2015

Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Marriage Legal Nationwide: My Thoughts.

The White House, illuminated with multiple colored lights, celebrated
the Supreme Court's ruling.
Last Friday (06/26/2015), the Supreme Court of the United States rendered the most controversial ruling in all of American History. By a 5-to-4 majority, it ruled that state-level bans on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, and with one sweeping motion, state-sanction of same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide.

And it ignited a firestorm on social media, whose embers were still glowing over the recent Confederate Battle Flag controversy.

I have always wondered how the Churches (to clarify, the Evangelical Churches, not the Liturgical Churches, whose reaction is constrained to the reaction of their respective pontiffs) would react to such a sweeping action of government. And for pure entertainment, similar to the entertainment of watching a drunk man attempting to juggle goslings, they haven't disappointed. But, in every other way imaginable, I couldn't be more disappointed.

Of course, there are the hyper-fundamentalists, firing Bible verses and citing God's holy law as given to and enforced by the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament. Being a fundamentalist myself, I can see their error with 20-20 vision. They simply believe that God's moral codes should be integrated and enforced as national or state laws. And, as is typical, they love to pick their "pet" sins when doing so, forgetting all the other "abominations", like heterosexual activity outside the bond of marriage, adultery, drunkeness, covetousness, etc, etc, ad nauseum (1st Corinthians 6:9-10 & Galatians 5:19-21), all of which are perfectly legal, and as disgusting in the eyes of God as homosexual behavior. Some are even claiming this will be the final straw that brings God's judgment.

On the flipside, you have "tolerant" Christians who suggest that you cannot love the sinner UNLESS you tolerate the sin. And by not doing so, you presumably become a bigot or a hypocrite, since no one is perfect, and we all have sin in our lives.

And we have all the non-Christians, doing their best to cite Scriptures and present theological and philosophical views supporting same-sex marriage. Many of which are asinine to the point of hilarious. But as any seasoned Christian knows, the Scripture wasn't written for non-Christians, making their interpretation suspect. Until one has the Spirit of Christ indwelling them, they will never be able to "rightly divide" God's Word. So the only message a non-Christian can hear and understand is the raw Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is pointless to debate Christian theology with a non-Christian. Jesus even went as far as comparing such fruitless efforts to giving precious jewels to pigs and dogs (Matthew 7:6).

Being a libertarian and a Christian gives me a multi-dimensional, stereographic view of the issue that few Christians (and almost no non-Christians) are able to comprehend.

First of all, let me start by saying that the ruling given by SCOTUS, as it stands, does NOT make it legally compulsory for any Church, or any minister, to accommodate requests for same-sex weddings.

That may change. In all honesty, I fully expect it to. It has already happened. (LINK) It has always seemed to me that with the militant homosexual agenda, enough is never enough.

From the start, I find that I am amazed at the level of misunderstanding. Same-Sex Marriage has never been the issue. Here in Tennessee, where it wasn't "legal" before this ruling, homosexuals were still exchanging vows, exchanging rings, pledging eternal fidelity, the whole song and dance. Only their marriages were simply not recognized by the State.

The issue is STATE-SANCTIONED Same-Sex Marriage. Now, for years, I have been telling the Church that what should happen BEFORE Same-Sex Marriage gains universal acceptance, is for the Churches to tell Christians to withdraw from seeking State licenses for their marriage. I have blogged about my views on this already, and you can read them here and here. The Church allowed the institution of marriage to be taken over by the Government, in exchange for 501(c)(3), and they complain when our Babylonian Governmental System doesn't treat it with the respect and reverence it deserves. God is not mocked. The Church is reaping what it has sown by allowing the State to usurp our marriages. If you throw your child in a den of hungry lions, don't complain when they devour your child. Strictly speaking, what happened Friday is the Church's fault. Is it any wonder judgment is destined to begin at the "House of God"?

The State doesn't actually see marriage as a holy covenant between two individuals, where two become one. the way a Christian would. To them, it is, at best, a social convention they can exploit to their own purposes, and at worst, a simple contract between two consenting individuals. That is why I'd be concerned if they'd ruled the other way. It would have been precedent for them to over-regulate contract law. Being a libertarian, I am always suspicious of laws that hold potential precedent for government to regulate aspects of our lives that should be free of government intrusion, like our ability to enter into private contracts with other individuals and, for that matter, our marriages.

But, my advice went unheard and/or unheeded. And now, the Churches are faced with the prospect of the Gay Agenda poised to expand to the point of becoming intrusive into our religious institutions.

Some Churches are incorporating, adopting by-laws and policies they believe will exempt them when this comes knocking on their door. As a perpetual student of the Civil War, I have learned that any attempt to claim immunity over Federal laws is a one way ticket to the modern equivalent of William Tecumseh Sherman performing a no-knock invasion in your home. Government could care-less for your "by-laws" when they are not in keeping with their principles.

Others have, rather presumptuously, stated that they'd walk away from their ministry and padlock the church doors before performing a same-sex wedding.

But my prescription stands. Let's take our marriages OUT of the hands of the State. When Jim and Fred knock on our Church doors asking for marriage, look at how much trouble it would save if the deacons and elders told them, "We don't perform any state licensed weddings. Only baptized members of our church may marry here."

The irony is, some States already seem to be taking my advice. Funny how that works. The State has always been smarter than, and one step ahead of, the Church, in both the making of good and bad laws. Alabama and Mississippi have both voted to stop marriage licensing in their State altogether. Interesting... Now why didn't the Church think of that?! Cognitive dissonance to the prospect of doing it differently than it has always been done, I suppose.

Now, since I know my prescription will once again fall upon the ears of the auditory impaired and the cognitively dysfunctional, I humbly suggest to Christians is simply a sign of the times. Scripture says, "In your patience, possess your souls" (Luke 21:19). We should be patient and in prayer about this. And certainly not let it distract us from our primary mandate of making disciples.

I don't know if this signals the end for America, a blatant herald of the Lord's return. I'd be more inclined to believe that the Church, at large, embracing homosexual lifestyles as consistent with God's moral code would be better evidence of our Prince's return, or a herald of impending judgment, Certainly more than any action of the State. Governments are inherently evil. Evil entities doing evil things are hardly signals of Christ's return. But when the Bride Herself starts showing signs of infidelity to Her coming King, that is another matter.

That is why almost all my focus over the next few weeks will be on the Church's further reactions to this. I am not as concerned with the State at this point. I know what to expect from them. But this is a prime opportunity for the Church to hit their knees and get clear, precise directions from God on how to handle this situation. Where sin abounds, grace abounds (Romans 5:20). But grace isn't grace when it is shoved down sinners' throats via State prohibitive legislation.

And keep praying, "Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!" (The Revelation 22:20)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Christianity and Judgment

The ongoing war that is occurring right now between believing, fundamental, Christians and the unbelieving world is an interesting cultural nuance. It reflects the changing social paradigm within the country from Christian to post-Christian. And while the nuances are almost too numerous to mention, it does bring up an interesting concept that I think the Church ought to take into consideration.

Where is the fuzzy, fine line between being non-judgmental, and calling sin out. Let me give you an example.

Now we all know that when a Christian says we shouldn't judge, they mean one thing entirely. And that is because we are all sinners, with no right to judge. First, we need to understand the usage and meaning of the word "judge" in its Scriptural usage.

The Greek word used in the New Testament is κρίνω, which transliterates into krinō. The definition everyone seems concerned with is the definition that defines "judge" as "to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong". Christians understand that judging is wrong in the sense of declaring moral superiority. The relevant Scriptures are Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37, John 7:24, and 1st Corinthians 4:3. The John reference brings clarity to the command. After telling them to refrain from judging, he then urges them to "righteous judgment", or "right judgement", according to the ESV translation. What is that? It is the ability... seemingly extinct ability... to call out sin while under the full knowledge and realization that everyone is under judgment. As a side, this is an area where it would pay for any Christian to invest serious study time in, in order to get in its proper scope.

But when a prominent, cultural, non-Christian, personality stands up and presumes to remind Christians about our mandate to abstain from judgment, what they mean is tolerance and acceptance. In other words, to allow cultural and social paradigms supercede Biblical definitions and mandates. And that abstaining from judgment entails the cultural acceptance of the sin. In other words, anything less than absolute silence on the sin issue is "unloving" and "judgmental".

How does the Church continue to spread the knowledge that God hates sin, while at the same time not being perceived as "judgmental" by the post-Christian culture we find ourselves in? I know all about the "hate the sin, love the sinner" maxim. But anyone who has had dealings with people knows that the unregenerate world does not make that distinction. All too often, people come to allow their sin to become the defining aspect of their lives. We Christians know this is due to the consuming nature of sin. But non-Christians would hardly call it sin at all. They just see it as part of themselves. An extension, if you will. So if you say, "Hey man, I love you, but your drug habit is bad news.", they will likely grow very defensive, as they don't see it as wrong at all. And if you love them, you have to love and appreciate their sin as well, for it is a part of them, from their point of view.

For example, let's take western Christianity's favorite "pet" sin, homosexual behavior.

This is especially true of homosexuality. One thing about homosexuality is that being homosexual becomes the defining attribute of their whole life. And if you attempt to befriend a homosexual (most I know are quite friendly, in fact), you will soon find that refusing to sanction their lifestyle is no less than a slap in their face, in their opinion. And, guess what. If you don't sanction their sin, you're being "judgmental" and they react as if you already tied them to the burning post.

So, how is this accomplished? How do you refuse to sanction the sin, while not appearing judgmental? And while I am 100% against the idea of incorporating biblical prohibitions against sin into law, it is the Church's responsibility to define what is and isn't sin to the world. It is through the preacher's pulpit, not the congressman's podium, that the world will be changed. The first step in evangelism is to make one aware of their need to be reconciled with God, and that cannot happen until they come to realize their own sinful state. The Church must identify and define what is sin in order for this to happen. When the Church stops doing that, they might as well close up shop and go home.

Here is my prediction as to how this will go. And most of you will be able to see the beginnings of this happening already. The Church will split, yet again. Only this time, the split will be along moral codes, and be most emphatic. On one hand, you will have a Church that is politically correct, that refuses to teach or preach against sin. On the other hand, you will have a Church that maintains some sense of moral integrity. It will not be long before the State steps in, and denounces Christian Fundamentalism and being incongruous with the principles of the nation. It will actually be the Fundamentalists that exacerbate the problem by continuing their asinine quest to infiltrate government with Christian ideals. The ignorance of Fundamentalists has always been their downfall.

The ultimate end will be a Church similar to that in China. Where the true Church is driven underground, meeting in basements and caves, and holding baptism under cover of darkness. There will be a visible Christian Church, one who has compromised principles by agreeing not to teach or preach anything against the State, in exchange for the State's sanction and permission to be allowed to exist.

In fact, this is already happening in the United States, in a de-facto sense. 501(c)(3) status comes with strings. Technically, to be 501(c)(3), the Church has implicitly agreed to not be critical of the State. But let me be perfectly clear when I say this. Most pastors and deacons (or elders) are too ignorant to recognize this. And to suggest that not all is as it seems will only create cognitive dissonance. 

And, as the State becomes increasingly tolerant of aberrant behavior, railing on sin will soon be perceived no differently than railing on the State itself.

It is my opinion that the Church will soon be constrained to make a decision. They can choose to compromise on their beliefs in order to maintain the status quo of meeting in their steepled building and singing their hymns and doing it like they've always done, absent the moral and ethical integrity and preaching against sin that is essential in the propagation of the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. Or, they will shut the doors of their Churches, break into smaller groups, and starting meeting for corporate worship in homes. It happened in Nazi Germany, with the State-Sanctioned Reichskirche who agreed to not say anything against Hitler or the Nazi Regime, and the Confessing Church that Bonhoeffer was part of. It is happening in China, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia as we speak. It will soon be happening in the UK, as they are actually ahead of us in their slide toward political correctness. And eventually, it will be here. We will have to choose. Babylon, or the Kingdom of God? 

The sooner we get out of Babylon (the world with its systems and mechanisms... Revelation 18, Matthew 24:21), the better the Church will fare.