First of all, welcome to Northern Hills church of Christ’s brand new blog page!!! (wild cheers and claps, the crowd goes wild aaaaaaaaaah!). I was tempted to add in some sounds but figured that might be a little much…maybe next time 😉
This blog will from now on be a place where the preacher for Northern Hills, at this very moment (with intent to stay this way for a long while!!!!) is Thomas Pruett (see “About Me” tab [eventually] for a quick bio on the congregation and Thomas) can write some (hopefully) very theologically stimulating posts about everything theological, or funny, or cultural, or social, or just whatever happens to be bouncing around the wide open spaces of his mind that day…don’t read into that too terribly much. Eventually the plans are to redo the website and have this accessible right from there, but one small technological step at a time 🙂
June 26th was an interesting day for the Church (notice the big C there). As nearly everyone who has access to a computer, phone, tablet, or a newspaper has most likely read by now, the Supreme Court of the United States voted 5-4 that same-sex relationships should legally be granted the rights & recognition of marriage across the country. As decisions with wide scopes & consequences have, this has been greeted to a wide mix of reactions across the board. Across the nation, many are celebrating this decision, with the Twitter & Facebook hashtag #lovewins trending, people assembling with groups of like minded people, and same-sex couples availing themselves of this new found governmental right. Those who are in opposition to this decision are just as vocal. Facebook articles of the four dissenting judges’ opinions are circulating, many are commenting on the “messed up” state of our country, and churches across the nation are, at least from my vantage point, grabbing what anchors they can and seem to be digging in for a Revelation-type persecution on the horizon.
Both “sides” thus far have been unafraid to level criticism at each other, and I’ve seen more than one article concerning the impending religion persecution that is then cancelled out by another saying that nothing will happen by simply allowing the state to recognize what is now defined in a governmental as marriage. I’ve seen some more articles guiding the church in our reaction, and just as many preachers across the nation trying to process their reactions, everything from “What do I preach Sunday?” to “Our wedding policy will be reviewed and/or restricted to protect ourselves from lawsuits.”
As a minister and the minister of a congregation, while not a shepherd of the flock preachers are among the spiritual leaders of the group of people that meet there. We are expected to be able to give guidance, advice, & sermons that are convicting, edifying, entertaining, theologically deep, understandable, relatable, applicable, current but not too progressive, admonishing but not condemning, and simple often all at the same time. While I pray many are doing their own personal studies at home during the week, I do realize that many people get the majority of their spiritual meal on Sunday morning during assembly. Because of that, the pulpit should never be used for politics or social or cultural agendas, and while it is certainly appropriate for social issues to be addressed, it should all be done in light of the Gospel, of never-changing Scripture, of The Way, The Truth, and The Life. In all honestly ALL OF LIFE should be lived in this manner, not just things from the pulpit, but that’s another post.
It is in light and view of Scripture which I ask myself how I truly feel about the SCOTUS decision of June 26th, and I firmly believe that you should too. Emotionally I was a little shocked even if I knew it was probably going to happen. Socially I wasn’t surprised as I had a pretty good fix on my Facebook friends’ opinions since before the decision. Spiritually though, I had an insight later in the day that I’ve thought & meditated on more, and I’m more and more convinced is how I truly feel about it.
I really don’t care.
Underwhelming, yes? Possibly a little shocking. “But how can you as a church of Christ preacher not care about this issue?” The truth is I do care about the issue, but the issue isn’t homosexuality or the rights that group of people feel they should or shouldn’t have. I do care about the issue, but the true issue isn’t marriage. It isn’t equality, it isn’t rights, it isn’t the Constitution, it isn’t any one of those. Those are all symptoms and consequences of the root issue, which is sin. Concerning the sin issue, I’m very much concerned, which is part of the reason I do what I do. I care about the root issue, but in truth I find myself having a hard time caring about Friday’s decision.
“Why?” you may ask, and that’s a fair question.
I don’t care because truly, nothing has changed that’s worth caring about. “BUT THE FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY…” one may begin, and another may follow “THIS WILL AFFECT YOU IN WAYS…”, or possibly even “IF YOU’RE A CHRISTIAN YOU WOULD CARE!” All those are true in their own certain ways, but not at all with the widespread application many may imply.
I don’t care because as a Christian, I’ve already won THE decision. I’ve already overcome whatever the world throws at me. I’m not really living here even though I am. Not me, you see, by my own actions or thoughts, no no no, but because I’ve died to the world, and live with and in Christ, who has already overcome the world (John 16:33). My decision to be buried into Jesus decided the ultimate decision of am I a sinner or am I a child of God, and has reorganized what I care about from looking around at the world on its level to now looking up and striving to see things from God’s perspective. Not that I do this well all the time, mind you, but by His grace I’ve been saved, which never runs out as long as I keep reaching for it.
I don’t care because the God I know has me in His grips hasn’t changed, and I know won’t change no matter how many decisions of men are made. Men & governments have been deciding things without God for centuries, millennia even, and it hasn’t affected one bit who or what God is, nor what He desires for His creation. We look at the here and now and react because often its the best we can do, and we cry out “Oh now what and what’s next?” but how long does it take for us to remember that God wasn’t shaken, or surprised, or rattled; He’s not hiding in a spiritual room going “Oh no, the SCOTUS has decided my definition of marriage isn’t right anymore…that wasn’t nice, how could they?!” I think He’s sitting there weeping, NOT because of this decision or any other singular decision, but because things are going EXACTLY how He knew they would- sinfully- and Jesus is there holding His hand saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Now hear me correctly- I do care. I realize there will be a conversations to be held about the details of how this particular decision will affect us in the future. I realize this decision will create conversations both positive and negative about the Church and Her values. I realize this, I try not to be naive, whether I succeed or not is another matter. But the point is the sin issue is nothing new. People since Adam & Eve have wanted to do what they previously weren’t allowed, good reasons or not, and it should never surprise us when this pattern goes around yet again.
God hasn’t changed, and what He says in His Word hasn’t changed (despite many attempts to make it change.) Because God hasn’t changed and His Word hasn’t changed, the Church’s mission in regards to the unchanging issue of sin hasn’t changed in the least. We’re still to be like Jesus to all sinners, and show them love to allow God’s seed to be planted, that He may work in their hearts to being them back to Himself. This includes the homosexual, the alcoholic, the addict, the liar, the thief, the adulterer. This includes people who are still struggling with sin WITHIN the Church by the way- speaking of marriage how many divorces happen among practicing Christians? How many Christian marriages are still yet full of abuse, adultery, in other words sin? This isn’t me pointing at a speck in spite of my log, its simply a fact whether we like it or not.
Sin has already ruled in its Supreme Court in favor of itself, and Satan is doing his best to ensure that judgment is carried out in the world. No court or government of men will overcome this until they are overruled by the One who is both defense attorney and jury, who has the ear of the Judge Himself. Maybe this should be the best time to remember a certain passage from Matthew. Let’s even pretend that we are standing outside the Supreme Court on June 26th when the decision was announced. The crowd cheers, and a celebration begins. We look around at our family interspersed in the crowed- Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.”
That’s why I don’t care about the decision itself. Because what I DO care about hasn’t changed. Nothing has truly changed- men still do what they will, governments give and take what they believe they are able, I’m still just as saved as I was Friday, people that aren’t saved are just as unsaved as they were Friday, the Church has Her mission, Jesus is still Lord, God is still God. The only real thing that should have changed is that we should have been doing what we can to be more like Jesus so that people will see more of Jesus when they look at us. But of course, that shouldn’t have only happened since Friday.
Grace to you.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. – 1st John 4:1-6