Thanks again to everyone who took the time and effort to engage with my overly-long post from last night. I’m rather overwhelmed by the amount of attention that post received, but at the risk of belaboring the issue, I’d like to offer one final response to Erick’s most recent thoughts in this discussion. I’ll try to keep it brief (though if you read my initial post, you know that’s a struggle for me).
I need to begin with an apology. In my first post, in a reaction to my position being characterized as idolatrous, I wrote:
Erick juxtaposes this issue with the occurrence of Holy Week. But I would have you commemorate Holy Week by sitting down, as Christ did, to share your life with those He came to save . . . those He called you to love.
Erick would have you commemorate Holy Week by casting the first stone at them.
As several commenters and friends have pointed out, this was unfair to Erick, as he advocated no such thing. Erick, please forgive me for overreacting.
Homosexuality and Sin
Forget, for a moment, that we’re talking about homosexuality. Insert any sin in its place. Adultery, Prostitution, Gluttony, Thievery . . . Murder . . .
Erick asks, “How are you loving your neighbor as yourself if you’re cool with him going to hell?”
I don’t believe anybody ever went to hell for homosexual behavior . . . or for adultery, prostitution, gluttony, thievery, murder, etc. Matthew 5 is pretty clear that it’s the attitudes in our hearts, not our external actions, that put us at risk of eternal separation from God.
I believe that we are all, prior to Christ’s intervention, separated from Him (and therefore bound for hell, by default) because we are broken beings with a fallen nature. That – our fallen nature . . . our separation from God from the moment we enter the world – is what causes us to live a lifestyle characterized by things like committing adultery, stealing, engaging in gluttony and all the rest.
And that . . . the fallen nature . . . the deep gulf between us and God . . . is what I want to speak to when I tell someone about Christ. It’s not about their lifestyle choices. It’s about Christ. If I can share with my neighbor Christ’s saving work – His bridging of that impossible chasm to reach into my heart and transform it – and if that sharing causes them to open their own heart to Him, the individual external actions will take care of themselves. Until they have met Christ, nothing else matters. That is why I do not care.
Am I “ok with people going to hell”? Ten thousand times, no! But trying to talk to them about individual activities misses the point of why Christ really came – to mend the brokenness of fallen and failed humanity.
That’s part 1. But while in many ways it’s The Whole Point, as Erick said, it’s only a sideshow to the real topic of this particular discussion.
Made to Care
The title of Erick’s latest response: “You Will Be Made to Care” saddens me greatly. It saddens me because if we truly believe that, then we have already lost something irreplaceable.
Nobody can make you care about something.
Let me say again: Nobody can make you care about something.
Let me stipulate, as I noted in my original post, that Erick is 100% exactly right about where the next fight lies. It lies with those who would wield the coercive power of government to compel actions thought by most believers to be immoral, in the name of “tolerance” or “equal protection.”
In that fight, you will not find me on the fence. Just as I believe in the right of two individuals to freely contract in whatever form they see fit. I believe in the right of any individual to serve – or deny service to – anybody he or she chooses.
But that still is not the point.
The point is that Peter’s course of action in Acts 5:29 is always open to us. “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
Anyone who says he or she can compel you to think a certain way, or care about a certain thing, is lying. Your mind can be influenced by others, of course, but you alone can control it. You alone can determine what you think – what you care about.
If we’ve lost sight of that, we’ve lost sight of everything. We on the right are the party of personal accountability and individual responsibility – but on this issue we are happy to take responsibility for the decisions of others, and to abdicate accountability for our own decisions by saying things like “They will make you care.” Modern-day heroes like Elane Huguenin (of Elane Photography v. Willock) and Ryan Rotela (of the despicable “Jesus Stomp” incident) have proven that nobody could compel them to do anything . . . much less compel them to think it.
So no. They will not make me care. They will not distract me from caring and sharing about what really matters – not the US Code’s definition of “marriage,” nor whether my gay friends are sinning when they close their doors at night, but whether they’ve yet been introduced to the saving work of Jesus Christ.
Yes, the church is entering – Correction: has entered – a time of increased persecution. Powerline noted last month that for the first time in millenia, Christianity is officially the most persecuted religion in the world.
Erick’s post already identified the next front in this war, at least in this country. It’s already being fought by people like Elane Huguenen, Ryan Rotela, and others. So like I said in my original post: Fight them there! We on the right don’t believe in banning alcohol because someone might use it to drive drunk and kill someone. We don’t believe in banning guns because someone might use them to shoot someone. How is that consistent with banning same-sex marriage because someone might use it to persecute the church??
Erick says “We are not using the state to enforce the commands of Scripture. We are using the state to protect our ability to preach the scripture under the first amendment.”
If only that were true . . . but the Defense of Marriage Act does precisely what Erick says he does not want to do: It enshrines the conservative right’s interpretation of the “Biblical Definition of Marriage” into the U.S. Code.
But if DOMA really was the key tool to protect freedom of conscience as Erick claims, Elane Photography v. Willock would never have happened. We’re hanging our hopes for religious freedom on the perpetuation of DOMA . . . but it has already proven inadequate for what Erick says is its intended purpose.
[UPDATE: Erick has commented to note that, like me, he believes DOMA to be unconstitutional. That being the case, I’ll have to engage more to figure out how he reconciles that belief with the assertion “we are not using the state to enforce the commands of Scripture.” I apologize to Erick and to readers for misunderstanding and misstating his position.]
Yes, this is happening. Erick is absolutely right about that. It is happening now, and it is happening completely independently of whether we change our federal laws to define same sex couples as “married.” As Erick notes in his own posts, the left has already moved on to the next fight(s).
As the right does in so very many areas, we’re still stuck fighting the last one, which not only misses the point, but which is already lost.