When nonbelievers ask Christians why they expect them to act in accordance with beliefs they don’t personally espouse, I think they’re asking a reasonable question to which they don’t seem to get a satisfactory response. They must not, because they keep asking.
I encounter the inquiry essentially every time I go against my better judgment and read the comments following an article about any given controversial topic of the day. Today, it’s same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage has arrived in the state despite a majority vote to add the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman to the state constitution.
Despite majority opposition, the government was seemingly powerless – or unwilling – to stop it. Did government manage to delay its arrival? Sure. That time, however, is seemingly coming to an end.
So, as the unbelieving world waits for an answer to their question, I have several questions of my own.
Who is to blame when same-sex marriage becomes institutionalized?
In light of government’s inability and/or unwillingness to enforce God’s definition of marriage, what is plan b?
Before answering, it may be worth considering a few things.
When Jesus put on human flesh and came to earth, He didn’t depend on food stamps or government cheese to feed the multitude. Neither did He enlist Pilate’s help to enforce “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus didn’t expect the government to carry out God’s will; that is what HE came to do.
Interestingly, it was the Pharisees, not Jesus, who sought the help of the government. When the government could have asserted its power to release Jesus, it did not.
Furthermore, Jesus admonished this same group of people for being outwardly conformed absent inward transformation. He had a special name for them: “whitewashed tombs.”
And yet, isn’t that what (at least some) self-professing believers have sanctioned in the case of same–sex marriage? Government help in enforcing outward conformity?
Look, I understand the very real need for laws in society.
Yet, where have self-professing believers invested more time and effort – at the ballot box voting for outward conformity or at the throne pleading for inner transformation?
The unbelieving world wants to know.
Why do you, church, demand external conformity to beliefs we do not personally espouse?
It’s a fair question.
My guess is fear.
Fear that religious liberties will be eroded beyond repair. Fear that believers will be forced to do things that violate their personally held convictions. Fear that God will remove His blessings from our nation.
I understand fear.
I imagine that the LBGT community understands fear.
Some of these fears are being realized as members of the LBGT community attempt to force believers to do things inconsistent with their religious beliefs – perhaps partly in retaliation for themselves feeling forced.
So, yes, the fear is understandable. But what is our proper response to such fear?
We face real challenges as a nation - challenges that are, as difficult as it may seem to believe, beyond the pay grade of our governmental officials. Even the lifers.
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”
Jesus tells us that some things rightfully belong to God while other things belong to Caesar.
It is the believer’s responsibility to understand what belongs to whom in each of two kingdoms.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot successfully fight God’s battle with Caesar’s weapons.
It’s inconsistent. Hypocritical.
Like when we’re okay with the government handing out marriage licenses when certain biblical principals are violated but not others.
If we continue in this vein, we will awaken one morning to find that, despite faithful polling place attendance, we are sliding down the proverbial slippery slope.
Will that be the same morning we awaken to find that our trust was misplaced?
Will it be the same morning we realize that our fear was misguided?
Will it be the same morning we repent for any inconsistencies between what we profess to believe and our actions?
Or will we lay blame squarely on the shoulders of an unbelieving world and government ineptness, hit the snooze button, and go back to sleep?