While my heart ached to see my non-believing friends rejoice at the SCOTUS same-sex marriage ruling, I did not and do not judge them because we have different standards by which we live and form our opinions.
My prayer has always been that each of my friends who does not know Christ will someday have a revelation of him as Lord and Savior.
On the contrary, when one after another of my professing Christian friends made their support for same-sex marriage known, most using the ubiquitous transparent rainbows on Facebook, my heart burned with questions from the Scriptures as to the wisdom their decision.
This post is a result of that burning:
Dear Christian With The Rainbow-Colored Profile Picture,
A. Did you know Jesus (yep, THE Jesus Christ) taught marriage was a special union of male and female?
When asked about marriage, he said, "Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?" (Matt 19:4)
Christ's teaching is clear and definitive: marriage is the result of God's desire to bring together again the two halves of the sexual spectrum, male and female, in union.
One biblical scholar who supports same-sex unions, Dr. William Loader, has some bold things to say about this passage:
1. "Jesus’ "statements clearly exclude sexual relations beyond that union. Nothing indicates that Jesus would have approached the prohibitions of Lev 18:22 and 20:13 any differently than his Jewish contemporaries."(Sexuality and the Jesus Tradition, 337).
2. For Jesus "one flesh" referred to "a singleness of being" and "reflects the idea that the male and female originally belonged together…and that sexual intercourse in some way rejoins the male and female to one" (Sexuality and the Jesus Tradition, 243).
This means by choosing to affirm same-sex marriage, you must walk in contradiction to the Lord whose name you bear.
B. Did you know other Scriptures back up Jesus' teaching, like Romans 1:25-27:
"Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."
Words as strong as these require little commentary.
However, some argue Paul would not have prohibited loving, committed same-sex relationships if he had known of them. Again, let's see what Loader has to say:
1. "Paul’s indictment in Rom 1:26-27 "included, but [was] by no means limited to exploitative pederasty," "sexual abuse of male slaves," or "same-sex acts… performed within idolatrous ritual contexts" (The New Testament on Sexuality, 325).
2. Homosexual relationships in the Greco-Roman world "could include lifelong consensual adult partnerships" (324).
3. "It is inconceivable that [Paul] would approve of any same-sex acts if, as we must assume, he affirmed the prohibitions of Lev 18:22; 20:13 as fellow Jews of his time understood them" (322).
Another scholar, this time historian and openly gay man Louis Crompton, said this:
1. "According to [one] interpretation, Paul’s words were not directed at "bona fide" homosexuals in committed relationships. But such a reading, however well-intentioned, seems strained and unhistorical.
2. Nowhere does Paul or any other Jewish writer of this period imply the least acceptance of same-sex relations under any circumstance.
3. The idea that homosexuals might be redeemed by mutual devotion would have been wholly foreign to Paul or any other Jew or early Christian" (Homosexuality and Civilization, 114).
In other words, Paul meant what Christ's Church always said he meant, and if you walk away from this teaching, you walk away from teaching authority of Scripture.
C. Did you know choosing to affirm same-sex marriage may lead your friends with same-sex attraction away from God?
I believe you when you say coming to know loving and amazing gay people sparked your change of mind.
This is why I appeal to you saying Christian love demands we stay strong in the truth (Ephesians 4:15) with the patient expectation our faithfulness will incite a hunger for God in the hearts of all who see us.
To love our neighbor is to refuse to do anything that might prevent them from being everything God wishes for them to be in His Son Jesus, whether they are gay, straight, or anything in between.
And in my life, I have been able to foster precious relationships with LGBT people on this basis.
However, we cannot accomplish this goal if we reject the teachings of Scripture in favor of feelings, cultural shifts, or personal opinions.
Is temporary acceptance really worth causing those you care about to stumble before they reach the loving arms of God?
D. Did you know defending homosexual behavior as acceptable before God harms not only those who act on same-sex inclinations, but also those supporting such action?
In Romans 1, Paul ends his blistering critique of sinful mankind with these words: "they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." (v 32.)
God's love and justice is such that even leading someone to sin is wicked and carries with it the penalty for wickedness.
Are we not to respect and fear God and His Judgment?
E. Finally, did you know supporting those we care about by opposing homosexual behavior is all about counting the cost of following Christ?
A few years back, I lost a good friend because of my beliefs on homosexual behavior.
The ordeal hurt me greatly and I repented before God of anything I said or did wrong that made my friend think I did not love or respect him because of his same-sex attraction.
I write this post knowing I may lose a friend or more and the thought grieves me.
However, even more than I desire friendship, I desire to know Christ and make him known as he is, not as I want him to be.
And I can only do that by following him and his teachings, even when it may cost me something or someone I love dearly.
Yet, I know whatever I have lost is all for the sake of the name of Christ and his glory alone.
Can you say the same thing?
Monday, June 29, 2015
Friday, June 12, 2015
How did we ever do justice before YouTube?
The latest case of caught on camera crime being tried in the court of public opinion is the McKinney pool part fiasco in which a white officer was involved in a fight with a black teen.
Hmmm, sounds vaguely familiar...
If you want a detailed report of what happened, Vice has one here.
The skinny is the officer in question tells a group of girls at the scene of the action to leave. The girls drag their feet, but eventually acquiesce, at least most of them.
One girl moves away, but continues to loiter around and makes her presence known to the officer after he yells profanity at the girls who are walking away.
The officer goes to detain her, she resists, and a nasty struggle ensues in which the officer at one point draws his weapon on two teens running up on him, ending with the teen girl flat on her stomach with the officer's knees in her back.
What are we to make of all this?
On the one hand, growing up in the ghetto, I can remember the police showing up to our town's "cheap" pool more than once to cart away some unruly kids.
Maybe that's why I watched most of the video with something less than amazement.
Welp, summer in the hood.
However, the physical arrest of the young girl was truly disturbing.
Some reflection is in order.
Firstly, is any of this about race?
From the video alone, the two principal arguments for racial bias are (1.) the targeting of black teens (and converse ignoring of white teens) by the officer and (2.) the use of excessive force against the teenage girl.
On the first point, the officer explains, in view of the camera, why he sat the black kids down: they fled upon the arrival of the police, after being told to stay put.
That seems like a reasonable justification.
If the cops arrive at the scene of a problem and people run away, the runners make themselves look guilty and open themselves up to questioning by the police.
Because, as far as the video shows, no white kids ran, no white kids attracted police discipline in that manner.
Therefore, it seems the motivation of the officer in disciplining the teens was not a difference of race, but of reaction to police presence at the gathering.
What about the second proof for racism?
This is harder.
What I hope my white friends will understand is it is exceedingly difficult for some, not all, but some black people, including myself, to conceptualize or visualize what the officer did to the black girl being done to a white girl of the same age, physical stature, etc.
We don't have to imagine the reverse; we can simply watch the video.
Therefore, the leap to racially motivated injustice emerges against the backdrop of a compound, collective memory of police brutality not been experienced systemically by white people in our country.
On the other hand, perception is not necessarily reality, and I also disagree the physical altercation was racially motivated, but see it as the result of too much adrenaline and too little self-control.
The important question not being asked by those who think the tussling in the grass was about race is, not would this have happened if the kids were white, but would this have happened if the officer had stayed calm or if the girl had walked away.
The answer to the race question is totally debatable; the answer to the second and third are almost certain.
So were the officer's actions justified?
Here I defer to the McKinney police chief:
"The actions of the officer that you saw on the video, at the disturbance at the community pool are indefensible. Our policies, our training, our practice do not support his actions. He came into the call out of control and as the video shows, was out of control during the incident. I had 12 officers on the scene and 11 of them performed according to their training."
As I categorically disagree with those who have made this about race; I also disagree with those who have defended the "out of control" actions of the officer, whether it be the harried running around, the cussing, the gun pointing, or the measures used to restrain the teen girl.
Finally, what larger lessons can we draw from this?
First, these things always look worse than they are.
And by "these things", I mean the never-ending us versus them, white versus black fear mongering and hate-slinging we, the American public, have been subjected to, particularly since the Trayvon Martin killing.
Every day most us go to work, pick up our kids, do our grocery shopping, attend church, go to school, play sports, and interact with friends and family without severe incident, and any race based issues that pop up are the exception.
So when the media tries to convince us we're in an all out race war, we need to remember we are seeing a few incidents being blown up into something larger than they are.
Second, fake racist outrage brings out real racist sentiments. For example, reacting to the McKinney case and the officer's resignation, a 4th grade Texas teacher took to Facebook, suggesting we might revert to segregation. "Maybe the 50s and 60s were really on to something", she wrote.
She was, of course, fired.
Every time we kick the hornet's nest and cast an unfortunate event like the McKinney one as racial when it's not, racists still come buzzing out ready to sting, turning what was never about race into something unavoidably about race.
Third, if you as a modern black person living in America are not content with how society looks at you as a black person in America, you will always be discontented. This is because we are living in unparalleled and unprecedented liberty.
You will also be easy pickings for those profiting off black feelings of despondency and marginalization, who turn urban woes into the problem of an unassailable colossal white power structure as opposed to...well...about anything else.
No, everything is not rosy, but the idea of systemic injustice against black people needs to be seriously re-thought. I believe what we see most often is personal racism, not structural racism, and thus need to hold individuals accountable, not try to overhaul complete systems.
Third, cameras are only as good as the story they tell.
Even with seven minutes of raw, unedited video, exactly what happened in McKinney that day isn't easy to ascertain.
We also can't see that the officer who caused a good share of the hoopla reportedly responded to two suicide calls before arriving to pool incident, possibly impacting his behavior.
I am thankful for cameras, but we cannot assume because we saw it on video, we know everything that happened.
Finally, if as Christians we are more interested in taking sides than rising above the situation to minister Christ, shame on us.
Shame. On Us.
The last thing the world needs to see is a Christian reaction that looks nothing like Christ. We shouldn't want to take anyone's side unless it's his.
And that goes for me to.
As a black man, I am indignant when I hear how black people are the problem. And as the son of white parents, I am indignant when I hear how white people are the problem.
However, as a Christian, I know the problem is we live among people whose hearts have not been touched by the grace and love of Jesus Christ. Young and old, white and black--all people regardless of demographics are in desperate need of a heart transplant only God can perform and an outlook on life only He can give.
God calls us to respect all people and administer justice.
Those practices alone could fundamentally transform our communities, our relationships, and our hearts, if we let them.