Responding to Our Challenges
How are we to respond to our challenges related to homosexuality, same gender marriage, and religious liberty? These are not philosophical issues. They are issues real to people. That is the beginning point: As Christians we treat our conversations and actions with others and about others with respect. Being respectful of others does not mean agreeing with their ideas or lifestyles.
Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice not a God created or blessed gender condition. Several passages in Scripture disapprove of homosexuality (Gen. 19:1-13; Judges 19:22; Lev. 18:21-22; Lev. 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:8-10) There are no verses in the Bible that approve of it. We should not voluntarily provide encouragement enabling it any more than we would buy an alcoholic a drink, drive a bank robber to a bank, give an obese person fattening food, or fail to be critical of adulterous behavior. Being an enabler is not the loving thing to do. The person engaging in any of these, and other destructive behaviors still deserves respect in our attitudes and actions. A follow up to our well used quote in John 3:16 is found by reading John 3:17; “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him”
Our role in the world is not to pronounce judgement on others but to relate to persons in a manner that will give us an opportunity to introduce them to Jesus as the Christ through whom they can begin to regain their full humanity.
Same gender marriage is a natural result from the acceptance of homosexuality. We are not only individuals we are social creatures. It is a natural desire to want emotionally satisfying relationships with other humans. “Marriage” is a civil designation. Civil authorities recognize marriages performed by clergy as legally valid. The process of having a legally recognized relationship called marriage begins with securing a license from civil authority, making certain promises before a recognized official, and returning the properly signed license to the civil authority.
The Christian concern needs to address “God blessed unions”. Ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as His representatives, need to keep their participation within Scriptural bounds. Biblically blessed unions are commitments between a male and female made to God and each other. They are lifetime commitments of love for each other and God.
In the United States issues of homosexuality and same gender rights involve religious liberty issues. Behaviors previously permissible by voluntary choice of conscience are now made mandatory with interpretation and enforcement administered by local, state or federal authority.
One recent example of this involved a family bakery declining to bake a cake for a same gender wedding. The husband and wife owners were, by reports, cordial and respectful of the homosexual couple. The respect was not reciprocated and resulted in them being heavily fined to the point of losing the business. It is a reminder that while we are called upon to be respectful of those who oppose us the respect may not be returned. Instead it may result in hostility and persecution.
In addition to this story involving religious liberty it also points to a concern for fundamental American values. An integral part of our economic free enterprise system is in question. Much progress has been made in our past by enterprising individuals “building a better mousetrap”. Progress in transportation, communication, and medicine are examples of someone having or improving on an idea in existence at the time. The American enterprise answer to a group not being served by an existing baker is to start their own bakery! Or, do business with and tell your friends about another baker who will make your kind of cake. Economic advancement requires individual liberty.
The clerk of a county court in Kentucky is a different story. Because of her Christian convictions she refuses to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples. She refuses to sign her name on a certificate and issue it. The state of Kentucky and the county she serves as clerk accepts the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court recognizing homosexual marriages as valid. She is a sworn officer of the county. In this situation she is an employee of a civil jurisdiction. Her name is entered on a documents, not as an individual, but as a representative of the civil authority that is her employer. As long as the employer is not asking her to commit a civil crime she should either fulfill her elected responsibility or resign her position. She needs to respect her employer. Being a media martyr will serve no useful purpose. As a private citizen she can follow her religious conviction and have nothing to do with homosexual marriages. Except she will still need to go fish and pay taxes to the civil government.