It’s been hard to miss the discussion and debate in both the secular media and the Christian blogosphere surrounding President Obama’s support of gay marriage. I think the one thing that most stirred the pot for many evangelicals and social conservatives was how he referenced his faith and “the golden rule” as a significant factor in coming to this conclusion. I do want to be very careful not to question the sincerity of his faith- not my job to do that. At the same time, it forces me to think through how following Jesus impacts the way I engage the culture around me.
Two big factors influence my thoughts:
- As a follower of Jesus I believe the Bible is 100% true and gives us God’s direction for this life and eternity. Scripture seems to be very clear concerning sex and marriage.
- I live in a place, Burlington, Vermont, where what some consider culture wars have already been waged. Gay marriage is a state issue, and my state legislature decided to make it legal. It’s popular, it’s decided, and it’s not changing.
- Many of its residents were very socially mobile and very well off as sailors, businessmen, and government officials from all over the Roman world descended on this port city. Yet at the same time 2/3 of the population of 700,000 were slaves.
- There were several temples to pagan gods and idol worship was rampant. The most prominent religious building was the temple to Aphrodite, Greek goddess of eros love, on the acropolis 1500 ft about the city
- Every evening, Aphrodite’s 1000 temple prostitutes, would descend on the city of Corinth to help the men “worship” the goddess of erotic love.
- Corinth became known for its rampant “anything goes” sexual culture, drunken orgies, and prostitution (things are not worse today!)
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
- As I live out the mission of Jesus and the values of scripture, I need to be careful not to become the morality police for the culture around me. Even if I could impose the Ten Commandments on my neighbors, community, and culture, that would not bring them any closer to knowing Jesus. In fact, many of the people who wanted Jesus crucified were great at keeping those rules.
- I/we need to make sure we’re living out the values of Jesus in our own individual lives, families, and spiritual families (i.e. churches) but also recognize that this is impossible apart from Jesus living in and through us. Simply telling people what’s right and wrong won’t work- people need to see that God’s ways are actually better.
- We’re in need of serious accountability within our spiritual families. Scanning statistical surveys shows plenty of evidence that divorce and porn addiction are prevalent among confessing followers of Jesus. Some level of hypocrisy exists when we demand a scriptural approach to marriage and sexual relationships by our government but not from each other.
- This begins by discipling those whom God has entrusted to us to display the gospel in every arena of their lives and to befriend those who don’t yet know Jesus- no matter who they are.