Gay Marriage & the Missional Position

Every state in our country restricts marriage in various ways. In most of them you can’t marry 1) a family member, 2) a minor, 3) more than one person, or 4) someone of the same gender. All law is imposed morality, and we see that current marriage law imposes on anyone who would like to marry these (and other) restricted persons. For the polygamist, love won’t cut it. For the pederast, emotions are not enough. And for the homosexual, the state has never defined marriage based on the strength of affection between two (or more) people. True, some people marry for love. But we’ve never had  a love commission at any government level measuring the strength of emotional bonds between two people.

Until now. Or so you would guess from the reasons given by same sex marriage proponents. Here is Washington State Governor Gregoire saying that the state cannot tell homosexual people that their love does not qualify for marriage (see just after the 2min mark). But the state has never said anything about the love of homosexuals or the love of anyone else for that matter. The state has supported the union of one man and one woman because that union not only naturally produces children, but it has been seen as the best environment in which to raise them. This shouldn’t be controversial. As my friend Joe Backholm points out, take one million kids raised by their biological parents and one million kids raised by anyone else. Which million do you think does better? If you’re not sure, you’re not paying attention. This is not an argument against adoption or anything else. It simply makes the point, plainly for anyone to see, that kids do best, all things being equal, when raised by their biological parents. The state has historically supported the union of one man and one woman for this reason.

Gregoire also says the state cannot discriminate this way against homosexuals, and to do so is similar to the separate but equal evil of segregation. We’ve seen this is false. The state does discriminate–against homosexuals, polygamists, pederasts, and the incestuous. Now imagine, 30 minutes after two homosexuals get “married”, a guy and his two consenting fiances walk up to the county court house demanding their marriage license. They are in love, you see. And who can argue with them? Polygamy has as much historical presence as homosexuality. Probably more so. But the state can discriminate against one and not the other? Now a lot of sentimental people would never want the state to grant marriages to a dude and his wives, or a dude and his three cats, or a 9 year old boy and his 30 year old girlfriend. But if the criterion is love, and the state cannot discriminate–in the words of the governor–then there is absolutely nothing to stop that train. The president has recently said his view on marriage has evolved. Shouldn’t we expect it to continue evolving? Or is this the one place evolution stops? Of course this doesn’t mean beastiality is right around the corner. But who would have thought in the 70s that we’d be here?

Christians are required not to be sentimentalists, and to see the consequences of ideas before those consequences arrive. This is what it means to be prudent. Go back to 50’s unitarian conformity and you’re on the doorstep of the 60’s. Ah, the good ol’ days. We’re also required to resist tyranny and protect the weak. One common response to the fight over gay marriage by Christians is to say that marriage is one thing for non Christians and another for Christians. They take an oath before the state (at least sign something), we take an oath before God. Therefore, we should not withstand what they are doing. But consider, when God told Noah he would require a reckoning for murders, was he only talking about Jewish murders (Gen. 9:5)? Of course not. When Dan Savage gets a speaking spot to high schoolers on anti-bullying, and proceeds to attack his lame understanding of “the bullshit in the Bible” and the “pansy-assed” Christians who believe it, is there any wondering what this effort is about?

The irony is elephantine. In the name of not discriminating or imposing on others, elected liberals are imposing a minority view on the majority. Gay marriage has been voted down 32 out of 32 times when states actually vote on it, most recently by a landslide in North Carolina. Never has Peter Berger’s quip been truer that if India is the world’s most religious country and Sweden the most secular, America is a nation of Indians governed by Swedes. The only way gay marriage has become legal in a state is when enforced top down. It’s not as if the proponents of gay marriage are signing Referendum 74 that actually lets Washington voters choose what they want. Actually, I should qualify that. Some proponents of gay marriage probably have signed the Referendum, and hats off to them. They at least want democracy to live, stand with racial minorities in our country who overwhelmingly oppose gay marriage, and would likely never tell African American pastors who disagree with them to evolve like Chris Matthews did.

Data says that roughly 40% of evangelicals vote. The common line in churches is that the gospel is all about love, and politics all about power. This is true in one sense. The gospel is all about love, and when it comes to power, it primarily exercises left-handed power: sacrifice, blessing, love, influence. Politics of the usual kind is all about right-handed power: coercion, force, violence, control. What kind do you think is being used right now to redefine marriage? Do you think you’d be called to exercise some right-handed power if you saw a man raping a woman? But I digress. Whatever kind of power voting is,  it’s a privilege and a basic civil responsibility for Christians. I’ve been amazed to be at churches where people simply do not regularly vote. I’ve also been amazed at the refusal of many churches in Washington to take part in the Referendum effort. If you’re a pastor at a conservative church, you might have a few people who are over-zealous, who have not gotten the beam out of their own eye but complain about all sort of political specks out there. But you probably have a lot more people who are lazy in their civil duties, duties that affect their neighbors. You can talk about being missional and loving the city and shaloming all over the place, but if you don’t care enough to protect Johnny down the street from learning in school that marriage is a genderless institution and that we all need to explore our sexuality, then it’s time for another walk through Romans 1 with your eyes open. It’s time to remember that Jesus got murdered by political authorities because he threatened their influence. If we want to do justice and love mercy, this is the easy and first thing. Perhaps after the little, we will be entrusted with more.


The Pink Ribbon’s Black Eye

In a New York Times editorial, Ross Douthat capably points out the descrepancy between the sentiments of the nation regarding abortion and the way the media reports it:

But if you’ve followed the media frenzy surrounding the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s decision — which it backpedaled from, with an apology, after a wave of frankly brutal coverage — to discontinue about $700,000 in funding for Planned Parenthood, you would think all these millions of anti-abortion Americans simply do not exist.

From the nightly news shows to print and online media, the coverage’s tone alternated between wonder and outrage — wonder that anyone could possibly find Planned Parenthood even remotely controversial and outrage that the Komen foundation had “politicized” the cause of women’s health. …

Three truths, in particular, should be obvious to everyone reporting on the Komen-Planned Parenthood controversy. First, that the fight against breast cancer is unifying and completely uncontroversial, while the provision of abortion may be the most polarizing issue in the United States today. Second, that it’s no more “political” to disassociate oneself from the nation’s largest abortion provider than it is to associate with it in the first place. Third, that for every American who greeted Komen’s shift with “anger and outrage” (as Andrea Mitchell put it), there was probably an American who was relieved and gratified.

Indeed, that sense of relief was quantifiable: the day after the controversy broke, Komen reported that its daily donations had risen dramatically.

But of course, you wouldn’t know that from most of the media coverage. After all, the people making those donations don’t exist.

George Grant similarly summarizes recent trends in his forward to R.C. Sproul’s book Abortion:

Public-opinion polls conducted during the first year of the Obama administration found that 51 percent of Americans now call themselves “pro-life.” In addition, the number of Americans who favor making it more difficult to obtain an abortion is up six percentage points in just five years. In 2005, 59 percent of respondents agreed it would be good to reduce abortion. Today, 65 percent take this view…. Yet another poll found that 58 percent of Americans say abortion is morally wrong most of the time. Just 25 percent disagree, and the rest have no opinion. The poll found women are more strongly pro-life than men, with 64 percent of women asserting that most abortions are morally wrong, a view shared by 51 percent of men.

The reversal of the Komen Foundation’s decision to stop supporting Planned Parenthood indicates that though most Americans oppose abortion, the most influential Americans do not. Or the influential people who do oppose  abortion do not do so effectively or publicly enough yet. But as power shifts away from big government entitlementists and down to people who actually represent the views of Americans, those profitting from the abortion machine will be out of work.

2011 State Pastor’s Conference: “Understanding the Times”

This looks like a good conference, put on by friends at the Family Policy Institute of Washington in Bellevue on May 16th. One day, Wayne Grudem, and free–hard to beat. Sign up here. From the flyer:

The purpose of the conference is to help church leaders think biblically about the relationship between the church and civil government.  During the course of their ministry, every pastor is forced to deal with people in their congregations to have different opinions on controversial issues.  They are also required to make a decision about how they will deal with, or not deal with, these cultural issues.   Dr. Grudem is one of the most well-respected theologians in America today, and his knowledge and insight into scripture will provide revealing, and perhaps surprising, answers to these question.

Topics that will be discussed include:

  • Will my tax exempt status be threatened if I discuss political issues?
  • What does scripture say about civil government and the church?
  • Should I care how my church votes, or if they vote at all?
  • Should I speak to my congregation about political issues?
  • Is it biblical to say “We don’t discuss political issues”

Religious Liberty in Education

From the Family Policy Institute of WA:

Thank You, U.S. Supreme Court: A Win for Religious Liberty in Education

Supreme Court upheld the Arizona Scholarship Tax Credit legislation that provides a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions made to private tuition organizations, which in turn fund scholarships for private schools – many of which are Christian schools.

Despite the loud voices of a few disgruntled individuals, complaining that the law was a violation of church and state, the court ruled that a legitimate claim did not exist.

In many other states, similar legislation is being considered. As a result of this tax credit, funding for private and religious education may increase, allowing parents to more easily afford a private or religious education for their children.

The Family Policy Institute of Washington gladly supports the U.S. Supreme Court for its commitment to Parent’s Rights and Religious Liberty in Education.

U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision

Arizona’s Private School Tax Credit Law

Freeing the Public Mind

In 1924 in a speech at the unveiling of the Equestrian Statue of Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury, President Coolidge remarked on the generation that secured the United States’ independence:

It is of a great deal of significance that the generation which fought the American Revolution had seen a very extensive religious revival. They had heard the preaching of Jonathan Edwards. They had seen the great revival meetings that were inspired by the preaching of Whitefield. The religious experiences of those days made a profound impression upon the great body of the people. They made new thoughts and created new interests. They freed the public mind, through a deeper knowledge and more serious contemplation of the truth. By calling the people to righteousness they were a direct preparation for self-government. It was for a continuation of this work that Francis Asbury was raised up.

The religious movement he represented was distinctly a movement to reach the great body of the people. Just as our Delcaraationof Independence asserts that all men are created free, so it seems to me the founders of this movement were inspred by the thought that all men were worthy to hear the Word, worthy to be sought out and brought to salvation. It is this motive that took their preachers among the poor and neglected, even to criminals in the jails. As our ideal has been to bring all men to freedom, so their ideal was to bring all men to salvation. [emphases mine]

The connection between salvation and freedom, in that order, is foundational. Free societies are made up of free men in Christ, and this was publicly recognized by a President less than a century ago! Is it any wonder that this republic was founded by men like Washington, Adams and Madison, and not like Bush, Clinton, and Obama? Could there be a greater contrast between the way Obama’s rose to political power voting “Present” in the Illinois Senate and the risk of life and fortune our founding fathers endured in the American Revolution? George Whitefield has been called “a second GW” for good reason because he, by God’s grace, helped create and shape a people with an understanding and desire for freedom. It’s certainly possible for unconverted people to enjoy the freedoms of a Christian society (or what’s left of one in our case), but that’s not how such societies are created (n.b. Middle East meddlers). For this we need a great company of preachers with the hammer of the word of God. Every Tea Party and political mama-bear grizzly needs to know this. We don’t return to Constitutional sanity without first returning to biblical bedrock.

People Don’t Stop Crimes, Guns do

“People’s reaction to the horrific events displayed on TV such as the Minnesota attack are understandable, but the more than two million times each year that Americans use guns defensively are never discussed — even though this is five times as often as the 450,000 times that guns are used to commit crimes over the last couple of years. Seldom do cases make the news where public shootings are stopped or mothers use guns to prevent their children from being kidnapped. Few would know that a quarter of the public-school shootings were stopped by citizens with guns before uniformed police could arrive.” John R. Lott Jr. has made the case that responsible people use guns to prevent crimes that otherwise increase when guns are banned.

The Federalism of Abortion

Here is a quotation from an excellent article regarding the unconstitutional nature of Roe v. Wade.  The entire article is well worth a few minutes.

From a constitutional perspective, moral arguments are irrelevant.  Properly understood, the abortion question is a matter of federalism.  Our Constitution lays out a governmental framework that is really quite simple.  The powers of the national government are enumerated in Article 1, Sec. 8.  The Tenth Amendment then tells us that any power not enumerated as a federal power (or prohibited by the Bill of Rights) is reserved for the states.  This includes a wide range of state regulatory powers (known as “police powers”) which include authority over many moral and social issues.  For example, the Constitution does not mention prostitution; therefore, it is a question for the states to decide according to their own local morals.  The state of Nevada has chosen to legalize prostitution; forty-nine other states have chosen to outlaw it.

The same logic should be applicable to abortion — and it was, prior to Roe.  By 1973, four states had legalized abortion, and forty-six others had restricted it.  But the Supreme Court decided that it was going to ram abortion down the nation’s throat, whether it had constitutional justification to do so or not.  The end result was a train wreck of an opinion.  Conservatives who oppose Roe ought not speak about it in hushed moral tones, but rather with derisive hoots, jeers, and catcalls.  The decision is intellectually fraudulent, and anyone who takes it seriously reveals his own intellectual insolvency.”