It's been a big week for the Supreme Court, SCOTUS, DOMA, Prop 8, and churches nationwide. As I've watched profile pictures change on Facebook, hashtags trend on Twitter about #equality, and browsed online photo galleries displaying happiness and tears of joy come from couples who can finally, legally, engage in federally-recognized unions, I've been bothered by one thing: Christians who are discouraged by this societal development. We weren't promised faith without trials, and life won't be perfect until Jesus comes back. Culture has been "evolving" for quite some time now, but Scripture and God's love have been the same for thousands of years. Therefore, instead of being discouraged by this week's SCOTUS rulings on DOMA, Prop 8, and the like, I see them as a wake up call for Christians to remember what we stand for and why we're here: to love people like Jesus loved them (regardless of sexual orientation), and to take a stand for the Gospel as a body of believers (the church).
1. We're called to love like Jesus loved. Like I wrote in a blog post a couple of months ago, there are a few things individual Christians around the world need to remember when discussing homosexuality / gay marriage with people from all walks of life -- at Bible studies, coffee shops, bars, clubs, etc.:
- Gay = straight. No matter what your sexual orientation, God sees us all the same. Period. The second you think you are "superior" to someone who is attracted to members of the same sex is the second you need to go wash the plank out of your eye.
- Don't develop canned responses. It's okay to say "I don't know" to someone's questions about sexuality and Christianity. You can't save anybody, and God will ultimately be the judge of their sins. All we're called to do as believers is to intercede in prayer and love.
- Admit you yourself are a broken person. Be a doormat for others struggling by opening up first and telling people why you need Jesus. Your vulnerability and authenticity will inspire others to search and reveal their hearts as well.
- Admit your own ignorance and naivete. If you don't know anything about homosexuality, don't be afraid to admit it.
- Do not pity someone for their sexual orientation. "I'm so sorry you're gay" won't score you points with anyone.
- Get involved. As Randy Thomas says, "It's a Gay Pride Time of Year," and Andrew Marin is leading this crusade in Chicago with the following tips: head out to a gay pride parade and apologize. Offer to pray. Hug someone.
2. The separation of church and state & maintenance of religious freedom are crucial. Obama said it himself following last week's SCOTUS rulings: “maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital.” Rhode Island was the 10th state to legalize gay marriage on May 2, 2013, and the law included a religious exemption: "The law includes a provision that does not require any religious institution to facilitate ceremonies or religious leaders to officiate a same-sex wedding if it is against their convictions." This is an indicator of what's to come: Church leaders, pastors, and spokespeople are going to have to start proclaiming the Biblical definition of marriage to individuals inside and outside the church with conviction. As Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said in a recent interview with Christianity Today:
"Now we are going to seem, in many ways, freakish to the outside culture, which isn't necessarily bad news. Our position on marriage is no more freakish than a gospel that says it saves sinners and a crucified Christ who is alive . . . Congregations must be very clear on teaching about marriage. A pastor cannot simply say we ought to have healthy and happy marriages; a pastor needs to articulate what marriage is biblically and how it is rooted in the gospel mystery of Christ and his church."
There are sure to be disagreements among congregations about what exactly the Bible says on this topic--the Huffington Post already started commenting on that.
3. Prayer is underrated. We need to be praying for our leaders, pastors, authorities, and everyone with influence and power in this conversation, as well as anyone in our life asking questions about gay marriage or homosexuality. We aren't supposed to be afraid of these conversations--rather, we're supposed to have faith that God's got it all under control. ChicagoNow blogger "Being Catholic...Really" said it best in a recent post, citing "St. Coffee's Daily Pew":
Me: God, I am choosing not to be a smart-butt and antagonize people who are gloating on here and in public. It's hard to see people I love thumbing their nose at you. Forgive them. You know their hearts, as you know mine so I won't judge. I trust you. But I wanna say something so bad and...
God: Zip it, kid! I got this.
God's got this. Do we believe it? When in doubt, pray. A lot.
In my opinion, I'm glad SCOTUS and DOMA have happened, because now the church can get right to the point: your sexuality and marital status are not what matters. Your surrendered heart and walk with Jesus is.
Sign up for "A Daily Miracle" posts sent directly to your email inbox! Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.