Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Remain Calm!

For a lot of Christians this week is designated "Holy Week", the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. I have little interest in liturgical calendars and deeming one week "Holy" as opposed to others, Jesus will still be risen the third week in July so that makes it as holy as this week but many Christians appreciate the rhythms of a religious calender and the world also is especially focused on "Easter". This is a big event in the liturgical calender for much of the Christian world.

So what is much of the church obsessed about this week? The teachings of Jesus? The Last Supper (a Supper, i.e. a meal, not a cracker and thimble of grape juice I might add)? His night in Gethsemane? His suffering before and on the cross? His resurrection on that glorious morning?

Nope.

A lot of the church is obsessed over nine men and women wearing silly black robes who are likely to decide that somehow the United States Constitution contains a "right" for homosexuals to "marry", just as a similar group discovered a "right" to murder a child in the womb. The outrage! The horror! Marriage itself is on trial!

Well no, not really.

A few years ago I would have been in sackcloth and ashes over this but not now. Not because I think that homosexual "marriage" is more legitimate but rather because I have come to the conclusion that the church has lost our ability to speak with much authority on this issue because we have entered into an unholy union with Caesar on the issue of marriage (and many other issues). In return for acting as an agent of the state in providing marriage services the church enjoys preferential tax treatment and the marriages we solemnize also enjoy legal and financial benefits. Little wonder that we find ourselves in this pickle. We have ignored 2 Corinthians 6:14 and jumped in the sack with Caesar only to get all outraged when the ungodly secular government seems poised to recognize ungodly unions as being on par with "traditional marriage". What did we expect?

One of the most important lesson missed by Christians is that the church has no business being yoked to the state because at the most fundamental level the state is ungodly. Not necessarily anti-God but certain operating independently of God. Even the Reformers were all too willing to use the power of the state, especially the sword, when it was convenient. In spite all of the talk of religious liberty and freedom, America has long been a nation that has had an unhealthy and unnatural partnership between the church and Caesar and after centuries of enjoying favorable treatment by the state we suddenly find at breakneck speed that the state has always been ungodly and is mostly interested in keeping the people in line and perpetuating itself, just like any institution. Like a jilted lover we are left bewildered wondering where Caesar has gone.

The state doesn't get to decide when life begins or what constitutes a marriage or how to practice faith or which wars are "just" or how the church should carry out our mandate to aid the poor. Christians on the left, right and everywhere in-between need to stop looking to Washington, D.C. for the answers. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of "traditional marriage", marriage will not have been "saved". If the Supreme Court decides once again to create a right where none exists and mandate recognition of homosexual unions, marriage will not be "destroyed".

Biblical marriage is defined by God as a witness to the world and a refuge and support for His people. Nine men and women in silly black robes don't get to define it one way or the other. In some ways it might be a wake up call for the church, maybe when we see Caesar blessing homosexual unions we will be compelled to stop acting as Caesar's agent. That would be a positive for the church in many ways. I doubt that will happen, there are too many "ministries" with a loud voice and a lot of money that will use this to raise funds and perpetuate themselves but a fella can have hope anyway.

We should stop obsessing over this. If the state prevents a couple of guys from "marrying" one another it won't make those men more holy. If the state gives them the official Caesar stamp of approval to start a wedding registry at Bed, Bath and Beyond in all 50 states it doesn't impact my marriage in the least. We have done a pretty poor job of portraying marriage as a witness to the world so maybe we should worry more about that than what Caesar is up to.

Enjoy "Holy Week". Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Serve your neighbor, love your family, praise your Lord. Let Caesar do what Caesar does and never let him dictate who we are.

2 comments:

co_heir said...

One of the biggest things the Resurrection means is that Christ has triumphed over the kingdoms of this world and the one behind those kingdoms. Jesus is King! Not the courts or any other government official, therefore what they do or don't do doesn't matter so much as what Christ calls us to do.

Aussie John said...

Arthur,

What a blessing it is to read your article. I have despaired of finding Christians who understand that their battle isn't against governments and the deliberations of men/women.

Sin will find its reward no matter whether the sinner is a judge, congressman, parliamentarian, king, or queen.