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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Turnabout May Not Be Fair Play

I've been trying to figure this out lately, and I'm not getting anywhere. Maybe you can help.

I'm a Christian. By that I mean that I am a follower of Christ. This Christ whom I follow is the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God. As such, the Bible is His Word, so it is incumbent on me, as a follower of Christ -- a Christian -- to follow His Word, the Bible. Okay? Clear so far? Great!

Now, my Bible says without ambiguity that Behavior X is in violation of God's direct commands. Pick an "X". Maybe it's premarital sex. Maybe it's homosexual sex. Maybe it's murdering babies in the womb. Whatever floats your boat. There are a lot of them that are 1) in clear and direct opposition to God's Word and 2) in vogue in our world today. So, I come to a crossroads here. For whatever Behavior X you happen to wish to discuss, I am forced by my prior commitment to Christ to conclude that this behavior is sin while much of the world around me is content to embrace the behavior and even encourage it in others.

Now comes the rub. If I hold that this behavior is sin, I'm a hater, a narrow-minded bigot, intolerant and judgmental. I've got to change my views with the times. I've got to come into the 21st century, get on board with the culture. It is never possible, it seems, that those who argue that Behavior X is not a sin are haters, narrow-minded bigots, intolerant and judgmental, in need of changing to align themselves with the Word of God (the synonym for which, by the way, would be "truth"). Why is that? Why is it never that "Perhaps I need to change my view, not you, Christian"? Or even, "Well, we clearly disagree; let's move on"? No. It is always "You hateful and intolerant Christians need to change ... and we don't!"

But wait! It gets worse. You see, I'm not a big fan of "legislating morality". No, no, I am not confused. I understand that all laws are legislation of what a society is deeming moral or not. That is "legislating morality" no matter what anyone says, and it is unavoidable -- a function of the nature of laws. But I don't believe that by passing good laws we can make good people. I can't pass good laws and make people good-hearted, moral, better. No, those without Christ are, by my understanding of Scripture, sinners, opposed to God, inclined only to evil, and all that. So while I think it might be of some benefit to stem the tide of sin by passing good laws, I don't really think that good laws will ultimately make good people, and I'm in favor of changed hearts which cannot come from good laws. All this to say that, while I may favor laws that make murdering babies in the womb illegal or that protect the longstanding, historical, traditional definition of marriage, for instance, I don't put a lot of trust in them solving society's problems. So I'm not counting on laws to stop you from sinning. When I say, then, that premarital sex is a sin or homosexual behavior is a sin or that marriage is the union of a man and a woman and ought to be respected as such or that it is a sin to murder a child in the womb, I am not saying, "And I'm willing to go to court to put you in jail for it." No. I'm saying, "So, you ought not do it." And how would I recommend you avoid it? "You ought to avoid sin by meeting Jesus on a personal level and having a change of heart." Because, as I said, laws aren't going to do it.

The other side, however, doesn't see it my way. I don't mean they disagree with my position -- obviously they do. I mean they disagree with my approach. They would like to pass laws to make my view illegal. They would like to go to court to force me to change my core beliefs. Oh, sure, at first it would be, "You can have those beliefs in private, but not in public." That, of course, won't hold water for very long. So "private" becomes a shrinking realm until it is nearly nonexistent and certainly ineffective. So they would like to pass laws to outlaw my beliefs. They would like to go to my workplace and get me fired for my beliefs. They would like to go to my community and get me ostracized for my beliefs. The idea is not "You have your views and we have ours." It is "You had better come to agree with us or you will certainly pay!"

And I'm the hater, the intolerant one, the judgmental one, the narrow-minded one.

I've been trying to figure this out lately, and I'm not getting anywhere. Maybe you can help.

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