Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.Never be wise in your own sight.Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave itto the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14-21
We are on the front end of a season of presidential election politics here in the U.S. Our social media feeds are already filled with it. The deep division in our country between two ideologies has a way of bringing out the worst in us. We stop thinking, for the most part, for an entire season, and we start arguing over issues about which we are either completely ignorant or, in any other time of year, completely complacent.
Every issue, it seems, becomes colored by our political persuasion. Politics has hijacked some of the most important moral and ethical issues of our lifetime and has a way of disposing of them with much callous and little regard for truth or for fairness. The media outlets will be busy full time spewing out opinions that will somehow pass for journalism (at least in their minds). And, what is most disturbing about this season, virtually all other world …
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues,and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death,and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. Matthew 10:16-22
I have lost track now of how many conversations I have had over the last couple of weeks and certainly of how many social media posts I have seen lamenting the future of the church in America in the wake of the Obergefell decision on same-sex marriage. I get it. I share some of the concerns myself. I do agree we seem to be entering into a very different chapter here in the U.S. in terms of the church and its relationship to the world around us. To put it mildly, church popularity is on the decline. The fears and concerns I have seen and heard cover a broad range of “sky is falling” iterations…
“They’re going to take our tax exemptions away.”
“The church is losing its relevance to an entire generation.”
” We no longer have the protection to teach God’s Word.”
Tuesday Remix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and rerun for your consideration and comments.
In a previous post here, I addressed one group among Christians today who respond to the gay marriage issue with vocal disdain and “protests” designed to change the behavior of people outside the church; trying to get non-Christians to act more like Christians. Silly endeavor, I think.
But the mediator in me wants to be fair. There are other groups in the church which have our response to this issue equally wrong, particularly when the same-sex marriage issue pertains to people inside the church, i.e., to people who are Christians themselves and have chosen to subject themselves to the Spiritual accountability of the church. There is a group within the church who believes same-sex marriage is immoral and runs against God’s desire for humanity, but who doesn’t believe it is any of the church’s business to say so even when it involves its own members. This group would say, “Just love them…leave their decisions about their private lives to themselves…it is not our business to be their ‘moral police.'” My question is, in what kind of world does that attitude constitute love?
I’m reminded of when my daughter used to come into the house with yet another new injury. Those of you with “active learners” for children know exactly what I mean. When that would happen, there were some things which we both knew needed to happen. Neither of us wanted to do those things, but at least one of us knew they were necessary (and the other one of us would grow to figure that out eventually). This wound was going to get cleaned. It was painful (for both of us) and the process was no fun at all, …
Tuesday Remix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and rerun for your consideration.
Last year’s big vote on Proposition 8 in California raised the question (yet again) as to what, exactly, the church’s role is in the social fray surrounding the issue of alternative lifestyles and gay marriages. There seem to be several “sides” formed within the church to answer that question. One side says our role is to police the behavior (the morals, if you will) of the community we serve. Mind you, that is more than just having an opinion about what is right and what is wrong. It is actually taking action designed to change people’s behavior. And toward that end, we have some pretty ugly protests (see photo inset for example of what I mean by “ugly”) by “Christians” of the whole gay marriage thing. As a mediator, it is my habit to address one side of the conflict at a time. I’m going to pick on that side today.
How afraid, how utterly gripped with fear, must a Christian become in order to lash out with this kind of venom? I do understand a Godly concern that the moral fiber of our country is getting pretty threadbare. Moreover, I too am bothered sometimes by the political agendas of people who have a very different worldview than I have. But that is what happens in democracies. And I have no real problem with Christians taking an active role in political issues; “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Believe me, I “get” that concept (I am a lawyer after all). But what does not compute for me is the hateful, vitreous, and even vulgar language coming out of the mouths of professing followers of Jesus, the man …