Monday, November 24, 2008

The Gay Community and the State of California

When the CA Supreme Court in May of this year struck down a 2000 ban on same-sex unions there was cheering in the gay community. On the other hand, those who disagreed with the Court simply went to work to put Proposition 8 on the ballot for November. The reaction from the gay community since the amendment passed had been, until only last week, vociferous, violent and intolerant.

Leaving behind any biblical argument against gay relationships and marriages, let’s consider other matters that warrant reflection. Help me with this. Does any group have the right to have the traditional meaning of marriage redefined? For example, if tomorrow three men or three ladies wanted to marry each other, should they be allowed to take the new definition of marriage, sought now by gays, one step further and allow for such marriages to be legalized? Consider this scenario. What if a group of people believed that nothing is wrong with having sex with minors, and enough of them got signatures to place the amendment on a ballot, should not the amendment be allowed so that people could enjoy their understanding of what in their opinion constitutes a marriage? Wouldn’t they be able to cry, “Equal Rights”! I think most of us would have a problem with defining “marriage” along any of the above two lines, even if those involved argued that they loved each other and should have the right to define marriage anyway they chose.

Let’s take this a step further. Taking the two illustrations above, if the traditional definition of marriage is redefined, why would anyone care to prohibit any person or any group their right to enter marriage any way they seem fit? In other words, on what basis would they declare such relationships wrong or not beneficial to society? The redefining of marriage as anything else except between one man and one woman could eventually have the above slippery slope effect on society. No one would have a moral ground upon which to stop a series of re-definitions of what constitutes marriages.

But, some might argue, “Hasn’t marriage been redefined in the past already?” If so, what’s the big deal? Yes, the redefinition of marriage to allow for recognition in the case of slaves and interracial couples did take place years ago. However, these redefinitions of marriage were based on social and ethnic distinctions, not gender. Marriage was still defined to be the union of a man and a woman, whether between slaves or among interracial couples.

If I understand the law, as it stands now in California, gay folks already enjoy legal recognition as “domestic partners” who have “the same rights, protections, and benefits” as married couples do (see California Family Code section 297.5). Why insist on changing the traditional meaning (reference) of a word which the majority of the people in a state wish not to change? Why the hostility and the violence?

At the same we are concerned about the often expressed, as well as reported on, homophobic actions of some, whether religious or not. Many have displayed inappropriate attitudes toward gay people. Those within the Christian community who have demonstrated hateful actions toward the gay community do not reflect the ways of Christ. Everyone is worthy of respect on the basis of having been created in God’s image.

Having said this, it is true that families are concerned about what it would do to parent and child relationships if gay couples do constitute legal marriages. Families of small children in elementary school, for example, are concerned that tolerant education which already exists in CA will be taken to a new level and may leave parents sitting in the dark as it pertains to attempts at re-educating children. Such examples were seen in October with “Coming Out Days” celebrated in elementary schools in the state without the knowledge of some parents, who only found out about the homosexual education through casual after school conversations with their kids.

Some now fear that the amendment will be overturned. Last week the Supreme Court of California said that they will take up the matter of the amendment in March of next year, putting into question the livelihood of the amendment. What implications would such action communicate to our country? Richard Land recently wrote, “If the California Supreme Court were to now attempt to nullify what the people have chosen to do through an expression of their sovereign will, they will have attempted to usurp the sovereignty of government “of the people, by the people and for the people” and to replace it with government “of the judges, by the judges and for the judges” (The Christian Post, Wed., Nov. 19, 2008,

How, then, should the gay community respond? First, those who believe that “marriage” is the union of one man and one woman should not be labeled bigots as if “tolerance” is a one-way street. Their beliefs should be respected. Second, those in the gay community should tolerate the traditional definition of marriage in order to be consistent with their own message of tolerance and should continue to work peacefully to persuade people to think differently. However, once the people have spoken, as they did on Nov. 4, the democratic process should be honored.

Biblically, there are many arguments that can be established for rejecting a homosexual lifestyle. However, individual homosexuals should not be rejected. While many of us believe that the clamor of the gay community is really a plea for special rights, both sides of the issue are free to use the democratic process to advance their own agenda. What we ask of both sides is that the manner of persuasion adopted be peaceful and tolerant of individuals, and follow the chains of democracy our country has in place.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The World God Has Opened Up

I began reading a book the other day which asked a simple but penetrating question: “How do we see the world immediately around us? Do we see it as a place of mission which God is already opening up for us or do we see it as a place of immense threat – as the enemy to be overcome?” (Robinson & Smith, Invading Secular Space, 34). As in many areas of life this question brings out our perspective on sharing Christ into the forefront.

Jesus told his disciples to open their eyes (wake up) and see the fields that were ripe for harvest (John 4:35). Instead of hesitating to start spiritual conversations, or to take risks to enter into friendships, to speak about God, to speak of what God is doing, or of the people of God, or of activities concerning God in which we’re involved, why not open our mouths and let the words fall where they may. If it is true that God opened the heart of Lydia so she would believe (Acts 16:14), that those who were appointed to eternal life came to faith (Acts 13:48), that God added daily to the church those who were to be saved (Acts 2:47), if Paul knew that God through the grace of prayer would lead him to share (explain) with boldness the gospel (Eph. 6:19), why then are we not more bold, more open, more risk-taking, more believing, more willing to simply trust, obey and follow the path set before us?

Think with me. Is not society yearning for something to believe in? (In spite of the attacks from the New Atheism.) Are not many of the shelves at Barnes & Nobles filled with books on spirituality? Has not the skeptic, atheist world of modernity been “swallowed” up by the belief in one, belief in all, belief in anything, something, world of Postmodernity? Are not college and university Religion 101 and Philosophy 101 classes full with students searching, asking, questioning, rejecting, seeking, longing?

So, what’s the problem? Could it be we think the world is shut up in unbelief? That people will not respond to our spiritual probing? Is it fear? Could it be that we believe that the enemy can keep shut the hearts of those whose heart God wants to open? Furthermore, do we ignore that people are longing for acceptance and for community, or as some would say, for the opportunity “to belong before” they “believe”?

So, again, what’s the problem? I think that our perspective on spiritual reality is off track. Jesus died to bring sinners into a right relationship with God and to grant them eternal life. According to the verses quoted above God is actively calling people to himself (see John 6:65). If this is true, then what are needed are believers who understand and embrace their DNA, uh, that is, their mDNA, or their missionary DNA (core purpose, task). The church, if it is anything, must be a missionary church, or missional (if you want to be edgy) in its perspective on people. It must be willing to seek the lost (sorry if you don’t like the word), invade secular space, get in the mire, and enter darkness so that the light of the gospel has an opportunity to beam into the lostness.

God has gone before us. He doesn’t want anyone to perish, but desires that all come to salvation, deliverance, spiritual health, fullness of life. If this is what he wants, then this means that he is going ahead of us (you) preparing the hearts of your friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, fellow students, enemies, skeptics, atheists, deists, spiritualists, cultural opposites, etc. The final question is: will we believe the empty threat of the enemy, or will we believe the purposes of God to involve us in missions? Will we obey, enter, and stand in awe of the world God has opened up for us?
Por Su Gracia y Poder

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Presidential Elections of 2008

"All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing" (Edmund Burke). I hope that each of you who can vote will do so tomorrow. The elections of this year may very well be the most important of our life time. We will vote to put into the Office of President either Barack Obama or John McCain. There are obvious differences among the two, and there is a sea of experience that divides them, among many other constrasts that could be listed. Each of us will vote our conscious on Tuesday morning and play the part of a good citizen. Whoever is president Wednesday morning (if this in fact is determined) will govern our great country for the next 4 years. May we find peace in the result of the election - whatever this may be - and never forget the One in whom we are to trust and the One who alone knows the end from the beginning - the Lord Almighty. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God" (Pslam 20:7).