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Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Proposition 8 and the Value of Marriage, Part 2

I am uncertain whether the same-sex marriage debate is a battle that the church should be fighting, I know it is not my fight. This is why, as delineated in my previous post, my fear is not equal rights given to same-sex couples but the loss of rights taken from church and individual. I want to make it clear that I have always been quick to admit that 1) the church has mishandled the issue of homosexuality both inside and outside the church (see blog "The Charges Against Christians") and 2) there are rights being withheld from same-sex couples on the state and national level that they should have.

However, the implications of current proposed legislation permitting same-sex marriage poses one of the greatest threats to a Christian's freedom of religion and freedom of speech we have seen in our lifetime. The threat is not in the rights given, but the rights taken away if there is nothing written into said proposed legislation protecting the freedom of churches and individuals. What follows was my primary motive in the first blog.

At the risk of passing myself off as prophetic, this debate will continue to rage even as same-sex couples are given not just equal but more rights and privileges beyond those of heterosexual married couples. The debate will continue because what they are fighting for is not equal rights, but equal value in the minds of Americans. This will only be established when they have changed how our children are taught and even what our churches can preach. If you disagree, consider the following:

1) Any school that teaches or even talks about marriage would have to change their content. This was a big factor in the Yes on 8 Campaign, because anyone with kids in the public school would be effected, without a say in the matter. Every state entity would be teaching a counter morality (and therefore inherently religious) subject which seems to encroach on the First Amendment and the establishment of religion.

2) Any person or organization who speaks out against same-sex marriage would see their thoughts and words criminalized as 'hate-speech'. We have already seen this take place in Canada, where one is not allowed to speak or preach on homosexuality and same-sex marriage or refer to the Bible's stance on it. We would most certainly see the same from the state in a hindrance of freedom of speech and an interference in the beliefs and teachings of the church.

3) If same-sex marriage is sanctioned by the state, any church refusing to marry a same-sex couple will be seen as taking a political stance and thus be threatened with losing tax exemption status (this has already taken place in Massachusetts). Similar consequences loom for churches refusing to ordain a homosexual in a same-sex marriage.

These are not examples of rights being withheld from same-sex couples. These are examples of attacks being made on our minds and what we are allowed to value, teach, and even think. If same-sex marriage could be allowed without the infringement of our freedom of speech and religion, perhaps I would consider it. But, from the examples we have already seen, this doesn't seem the likely scenario. As it stands, I cannot rescind on my earlier post but renew my defense of state's current definition of marriage.

I doubt those fighting for same-sex marriage and campaigning on a platform of rights, freedoms, and liberty would defend a parent's right to keep their child from being taught that same-sex marriage is OK and morally equal to heterosexual marriage. Or defend a preacher's freedom to teach what he believes is permissible for his congregation. Or defend a church's liberty to refuse to perform a wedding that they cannot morally endorse.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Piss Christ and Our Sin

Back in 1989, American photographer Andres Serrano stirred up a firestorm of controversy when he used $15,000 of taxpayer funds from the National Endowment for the Arts to create "Piss Christ". The photograph depicted a plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's urine. I do not know what the artist's intent was with the piece (I hate to imagine) but I do remember what my reaction was the first time I heard of it as a boy growing up in a Christian home. I was angry, shocked and a little scared at what our society was coming to.

And I am now curious what your reaction was (or is) upon hearing of this piece of "art". Perhaps you are angry at the seeming intended insult tossed at Christ and/or his followers. Maybe you are upset that public funds are being used to produce art such as this in our postmodern climate. Maybe you even resent a government and public that seems to support freedom of speech when it's anti-Christian but squash it when it's pro-Christian.

But I want to turn the finger back at you and at me. 1 Corinthinans 6:15-20 outlines for us the fact that, as believers, our bodies are joined with Christ. It goes so far as to say that our bodies are members of Christ himself, and when we willfully and deliberately sin, we are doing something much worse than what Andres Sorrano did. We are not joining a plastic image of Christ with physical bodily refuse. We are joining Christ and His temple (our bodies) with a spiritual refuse.

We can too easily become comfortable with our pet sins, our vices that we think no one knows of. I hope your heart, as mine does, rises up and cries "NO! This should not be!". Oh, that we could hate our sin that much, that we could comprehend the utter vileness of it. There should be nothing of the old man that we tolerate, nothing that we hang on to, nothing that we hold back. We must be in a constant process of mortification; death to our old self so the new creation may thrive.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Proposition 8 and the Value of Marriage

Under California law, “domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits” as married spouses. (Family Code § 297.5.) There is not a single thing under California state law that same-sex couples have been denied except (by the passage of Proposition 8) a declaration of law that their relationships are exactly the same as heterosexual relationships. Yet in the wake of Prop. 8 we have seen nation-wide protests (including reports of vandalism, harassment, intimidation, and coercion).

Why? Because this is no longer (and perhaps never has been) a fight about rights but rather values. Same-sex couples can already have happy, committed relationships that have meaning, significance, and permanence without a piece of paper. However, the homosexual community wants their unions to be valued by society just as much as we value our own marriages and those of our parents. This is not a battle for rights, but for the minds and beliefs of the American people.

Please note, this has nothing to do with the value of the individual. Every homosexual is just as valuable as any other person in virtue of their humanity and inherent dignity. But I do not esteem a homosexual relationship as equal to a heterosexual marriage. (There is nothing wrong with this distinction. I do not esteem my relationship with my sister as equally valuable as that between my parents, but this does not mean I value her as a person any less than either of my parents.)

Consider my prediction and see if it doesn't hold true: this battle will continue to rage until our government, churches, organizations, and society at large value the homosexual union equally to heterosexual marriage. The fight begins with government because government has the ability to force churches and organizations to recognize what it recognizes (or shut them down if they refuse). And through our churches and organizations, they can begin to change the way our communities (and society as a whole) think and talk about marriage.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Christian and Science

I begin today with a quote from R.C. Sproul that I've been chewing on for a while:

"It's very possible for science to correct theology. It is impossible for science to correct the Word of God. But it is possible for science to correct the word of the theologians. And a judicious theologian is careful to examine that body of knowledge that comes to us from nature as well as that body that comes from grace . . . The Christian should be the most passionate scientist of all - the one who is most rigorously open to truth where ever he finds it - not being afraid that a new discovery of truth is going to destroy his foundation for truth. Because if our foundation of truth is true, all other truth can only enhance it and support it." - R.C. Sproul

This quote has it's most well-known historical example in Galileo and his proposition that the sun was the center of our solar system rather than the Earth. The condemnation of his idea stated "The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures".

Today we see potential parallels in the area of Young Earth creationism (YEC) and other ideas that appear to fly in the face of popular science. While I am not suggesting that one should accept every new idea science rolls out without scepticism, neither should we discount it simply because of our own interpretation of the Bible. If our foundation of truth is true, all other truth can only enhance it and support it.