Over the last few months I have been following a number of issues very closely and trying to understand the facts, people’s opinions, and seeking biblical wisdom. I’m pretty active on social media and enjoy learning about current events in our country. Three topics that I have recently been thinking through more are immigration reform, gay marriage, and race.
First, in regards to immigration reform I have been praying that the government would work towards a solution that provides security for our borders, a better process to get people on the pathway to becoming an American citizen once they get here, and protecting the dignity of undocumented workers in our country. I believe that it is important for the current citizens to know and feel that the government is doing everything to protect our borders on issues ranging from drugs and terrorism to sex trafficking and gang activity. I also believe that immigration is a bedrock value that our country has been built upon. Allowing people to continue to take up residence in our country is important, especially if we desire to be living by Scripture. I spent multiple posts thinking through what the Bible had to say about immigration earlier this year. My third thought, about protecting the dignity of undocumented workers or residents in our country has to do with the fact that not all undocumented workers or residents make the choice for themselves to come to the United States. Some are forced to because their parents bring them, some are brought in as part of the sex industry, and still others have had to flee their homeland because it was unsafe for them to remain there. The way that families are broken up, people are devalued, and the anger pointed at many immigrants is an indication of cracks in the system that we should desire to see changed. As Christians we must do our best to truly be pro-family and hospitable to others, even to immigrants- documented and undocumented.
Second, since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in June and the fact that I did a series on homosexuality in our high school Sunday school class I have been very careful to engage the issue of gay marriage in a way that desires to be a good loser. I think that Christians, especially Evangelicals who disagree with gay marriage, tend to take a very poor approach to their gay neighbors by thinking that the majority of gay people want to take away the right to express your religion, that gays shouldn’t be welcome in their church until they stop sinning, and that you can’t be Christian and be gay. While it would be naive to think that gay opposition to Christians could not have any impact on churches or ministries in our country I don’t believe that religious freedom is everything that we crack it up to be. I think the way that gay marriage was voted on in Washington state was not a bad model for how our country could go about voting on this issue at the state level. Here is how Referendum 74 provides protection to clergy:
This measure provides that clergy are not required to perform or recognize any marriage ceremony. No religious organization, or religiously-affiliated educational institution, would be required to provide accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the performance of a marriage. Clergy, religious organizations, and religiously-affiliated educational institutions would be immune from any civil claim or cause of action, including a claim or cause of action based on the Washington Law Against Discrimination, based on a refusal to perform or recognize any marriage, or to provide facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the performance of a marriage.
While I may not agree with someone in the homosexual lifestyle, after reading Romans 1- a classic conservative defense on the immorality of homosexuality- I realized that Paul wasn’t only focusing on homosexuality as an offense to the character of God, but he was also arguing against envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice, slanderers, God-haters, insolence, arrogance and boastful, disobedient children and those who have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, and no mercy. Fortunately, for all of us, Paul also writes (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit), “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Our message to homosexuals should be filled with the love, hope, and grace of Jesus that has filled their life and can fill their life even in the midst of brokenness. The cross of Christ doesn’t require you to be changed before you commit your life to Jesus- the Holy Spirit brings that motivation. I do not believe that if a gay person becomes a Christian that they suddenly stop being a homosexual, just as I don’t think that if a porn-addict comes to Christ that they suddenly stop being addicted to porn. The truth is, there may always be a struggle but that is why the church needs to be a community of hope to those struggling in any area of sexuality.
Lastly, in dealing with the issue of race, and more specifically the Trayvon Martin case that concluded this last week, there are a lot of angry social media users. People have taken to the streets, courthouses, and freeways to protest the outcome of this case. It is definitely an unfortunate event, and admittedly there are lots of wounds as a result of the event and the feelings of the verdict. One of the things that we must do as Christians is recognize that every person in the multi-ethnic body of Christ has to live in solidarity with one another and others who are suffering. Minority communities in our country that have been effected by violence need to see the church rise up as a partner in solidarity to lament, refuse to accept any forms of violence that result from racial division, and seek justice. Our call to the ministry of reconciliation is not just about individual salvation, but putting Christians in places of influence to be a part of redeeming the structures of our world by working for the common good as a Christ-follower.
George Zimmerman may never spend time behind bars for killing Trayvon Martin, but he will probably never have the same life after the length and publicity of the event. We need to be careful to be so angry about a case that for the most part does not effect our regular lives. What I wish we were more angry for was when we see this happening because of gang shootings and racial conflict in our own cities. This is what one event in Detroit did just that(Check out the Huffington Post article about it). Anger is not enough, constructive action that seeks justice and rests every result under the sovereignty of God’s ultimate judgment is where we need to start. As Paul Louis Metzger writes, “We need to develop a theology of life that brings to an end a culture of violence and death across the board in view of Jesus who swallowed up death and violence in his once-for-all sacrifice and in his resurrection from the dead.”
Thanks for letting me take the time to share about these three very important issues.