Last week, there was a decision made today in the highest court of law of the United States. I can tell, because my Facebook feed was a constant stream of posts from people in my life who are rejoicing with the news, and the people in my life opposing the decision. Before I had heard the news, my Facebook wall was flooded with people posting opinions, videos, links, and other such things.
As of last week, in all 50 United States, no matter what your sexual orientation is, you can get married. You might think this post is about why homosexuality is right or wrong or does/doesn't matter. But it's not. This post is about how, as a heterosexual Christian male, I am okay with this news. In fact, I can say I appreciate the outcome and I'm happy to hear this news. I can't help but find the timing interesting, considering that tomorrow is the day we celebrate American Freedom.
These are bold words coming from me, considering my affiliation with a Christian demonitation that views homosexuality as a sin. But make no mistake; I agree with the decision the Supreme Court has made, because my faith should not be enforced on other people with differing ideas. My reasoning is simple: I don't want the laws of another faith forced on me. If I make people who don't share my faith follow laws of my faith, then what is to stop the government from infringing on my rights to believe the things that I believe.
But apparently, many of my fellow Christians want a Christian State. They want a government that enforces their idea of what is right, and wrong. They want a government that acts solely from a place of Scripture, relying on the Bible to guide the laws of our country. And while there is nothing wrong with believing you're right, this country wasn't founded on Scripture. It was founded on freedom, including the freedom to practice whatever religion you believe is right. Does freedom really exist if only some people are free? I would say no, it doesn't.
The truth is this: this nation is not a Christian nation. It never has been. This nation was founded by deists, people who believed in "a" god, and it was founded with the principle that any person was free to practice any religion he or she wanted. As much as I might believe in Jesus, in His words and his actions, his love and his plan for humanity, I must also recognize that not all people share this faith.
When God gave Israel His laws, he told them that they were to be a light to the people around them. He gave them a way of life, and told them to live that way as a guide for those that were not. What God never did was give the law to all people everywhere. For whatever reason, God chose the Israelites as his representatives and His ambassadors.
Furthermore, Jesus gave a command to his disciples moments before he returned to heaven. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20)." And Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, says this: "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)."
We are called to be ambassadors. Now an ambassador generally has a residency in a country, and represents his or her country to the country of residence. What an ambassador does not do is rule the country he or she resides in. As ambassadors, we are not to create laws, command people, or otherwise direct their lives. Rather we are conduits through which God speaks and Jesus's love is shown. Now this applies directly to the issue of marriage equality. I do not see the Church as the ruler of the people in this country, and I do not believe that policy and law should be derived directly from Christianity.
I believe the Church has a lot to offer this world, namely the news that Jesus loves everyone, has died to save everyone, and has promised to come again and bring those who trust in him to heaven. I believe that the Church can be the conscience of the State in that we represent a better way of life, striving to model ourselves after Jesus. We fail at this many times, but it is our mission as the Church to proclaim the Gospel and serve people. We can do that without enforcing our beliefs through policy and law.
So I think it's good the Supreme Court ruled in the way it did. As a Christian, I have no right to tell the non-Christian how to live. I don't want a country where only my views or faith are enforced through law, because that means that at any moment it could turn around. The same people up in arms about how gay marriage shouldn't be legal, because the Bible says so, are the same people who would be horrified if lawmakers began using the Qur'an or Buddha's teachings as the basis for our laws. That's not freedom of religion, that's oppression under one relgion that not everyone adheres to.
And honestly, should the people outside of Chrsitianity really be held to the standards that we as God's people are expected to strive for? The only reason we as Christians even have a chance of following God's laws are because we know we can't and that Jesus died for that very reason. We are covered by the blood of Christ, and only because of that fact and with the help of the Holy Spirit can we begin to respond to God's grace with acts of obedience. If we expect those outside of that understanding of Love and Grace to act in certain ways, what exactly do we expect? That somehow they will be willing to obey God without knowing Him even while we who do know Him fail at every turn?
Even the Israelites weren't given the ten commandments before God made himself known to them through acts of love. Before He even speaks His 10 words, God says "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt." He says "I am your God, I have redeemed you and I love you: this is how I want you to live, because I want the best life for you." Knowledge of God's love comes before obedience to His laws. In the same vein, people who don't know Jesus as their savior don't need a list of things they are doing wrong. What they need is to get lost in the ocean of Grace poured out by our God. They need to get swept up in the current of Love with us, experiencing the fullness of what it means to have a God who would do anything to redeem and care for you.
The issue of marriage equality is less black and white than people want to admit. Life is grey, and murky, and complex. Just because the Bible gives us some guidance doesn't mean it holds all the answers. I firmly believe that there are things that God has chosen not to enlighten us with (for whatever reason) and we are left to trust in His Word. We act in faith, because we know that God keeps His promises and has promised to love us no matter what. We pray a lot, we fail a lot, and we point to Jesus a lot. Because at the end of the day, that's all we can really do.
My prayer is that all people in this country would come to know Christ and His ways. I hope the entire world knows Jesus before he comes again to take those who trust him home to heaven. But the reality is that not everyone is there yet. God is working on hearts, and we are Called to point out His love. But love cannot act within the Law. The Law condemns, but Grace frees, and it is here that Love flourishes. Instead of wanting to enforce our believes through legislature, perhaps our time and energy would be better spent living out our faith to the people in our lives.
You can complain about how the "world is going to Hell" or speak words of hate or intolerance for those who share different views than you. You can try to lobby your state representatives to change things, and you can even find people in the streets to condemn. Or you can focus your energy on living love and showing Jesus, and letting Him do the work of changing hearts and minds. As for me, I will keep my faith out of my politics where it is free to shine brightly, and I will continue to strive for love, letting Jesus do the hard work.