Depending on your world view and / or geographical context, the SCOTUS ruling that legalizes gay marriage in all these 50 united states has garnered a wide verity of responses. Some are happy that there are now equal rights for all people and there is no longer a societal distinction or discrimination towards those who are gay and would like to be married. Some are disheartened because they feel like the bottom has dropped out of a worldview that they have built their life and faith around.
But no matter how you are emotionally feeling about the ruling, it is the law of the land. And this means that this is a good time for the Church and for Christians to shy away from knee-jerk responses on both sides. There is no need for fear mongering on the political right or self-righteousness on the political left
No matter where you land on the political spectrum, or even on the theological spectrum, this ruling is a game changer for our country, and will be a game changer for the church. This ruling puts the death knell in 3 main tenants of the heretical theology that many in the Church fully embrace.
1) This ruling puts to death the theology of being saved by behaving appropriately. If I hear one more time from a Christian or worse someone who has bumped into a Christian and declare that homosexuals are going to burn in hell, I am going to go CRAZY! Heaven or Hell has nothing, NOTHING, to do with what we do or don't do. What matters is who we are, not what we do. Our identity is beginning and ending of our value. The issue for us in the Church is to have our identities more and more wrapped up in Christ and inviting others to do the same.
For as long as the Church has had some political power they have used it to correct people into behaving a certain way. If you behave one way, then you are good and can be in leadership. If you behave poorly, then you are on the outs, and deserving of guilt, shame, and threats of eternal fire.
The behavior of our friends and neighbors should have little concern for those of us in the church. At least in the traditional sense. The behaviors of those around us who are engaged in whatever lifestyle choices they decide have to be ok with us. We cannot control people, we can't even control ourselves. And every time we attempt, we only come across as hypocrites.
The behaviors we should try to curb are where the poor, oppressed and ostracized are demonized and taken advantage. We should work hard to be the ones who are giving them the dignity that is afforded them because they are made in the image of God. It is the people of God who should actively be their defenders.
2) This ruling puts to death the theology of a behavior management version of discipleship. For the church, we have a few rules. If you are successful in these rules, then you are esteemed in the church and in our culture. Don't drink, don't cuss, don't sleep around, don't be gay, have a morning quite time, listen to KLove, vote Republican, and show up at church. If your life is characterized by this list (your church may have a different list, but let's be honest that we all have a list) then you are in good standing within the Church and therefore in good standing with God.
This pathetic version of discipleship has been part of the Church for as long as I can remember. What this means is that only people in currently stable marriages, oh, and who's lives look really close to mine, have any chance at good standing.
Rather than make all people have to conform to some mythological, 1950's mid-western version of decency, maybe we could be dead to make the benchmark of discipleship socializing people to be simply like us. Instead, maybe we could allow space for people all over the spectrum to have space to explore what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Because our culture is actually quite diverse, this means that this process will be even more diverse. Do we have the chops for this?
The discipleship process starts and ends with picking up our cross and following Jesus. It is us dying to ourselves, dying to our own wants and desires, dying to our own selfish and prideful worldview. This is a life long death, but one we are invited to do daily. We do not stand on our own rights, but continue to reflect and allow space for Jesus to search us and know us and reveal any offensive way in us, then lead us along the path of everlasting life.
3) This ruling puts to death the theology that the Church has power. The Church has no power. In fact, we are to continue to give up our power. We follow the model of Jesus who submitted fully to the will of the Father, even unto death. This is the call of the Christian.
We are not to be worked up over the shifting cultural mores that occur. What doesn't bother us, would freak our parents out and cause our grandparents to roll over in their grave Culture always changes, the values and ethics that are always embraced change. This is of little concern for us in the Church. This is what it is like for all Christians for all time to be in the world, but not of it.
The religious right tried to leverage its power in the 80's and 90's and has become anathema to our larger culture. Now the religious left is enjoying their moment in the political power sunlight. But as soon as the religious left doesn't help move the ball forward for those who truly have the power, they will be just as quickly be kicked to the curb as the religious right was.
Politics is not the natural home for Christians. Submitting our hearts and wills to the sovereign Lord Jesus is the call of Christians. The American Church has been heretical for too long. This ruling is the death knell. But it is up to us whether or not this is the death knell for your church, or the death knell for some poor theology that has infiltrated our theology.
May God continue to be gracious to us as we seek to be faithful followers of Jesus in an increasingly complex, pluralistic context. May we follow the example of Jesus and seek to be salt and light to the world that is in desperate need of both. And may we realize that Jesus really is good news and boldly proclaim that in word and deed!
PS: The foundational assumption is that we are not living in a "Christian" nation and that the laws of the land are not necessarily synonymous with the biblical law. (i.e. Legalization of maijuana.) With that assumption here is a good news way forward. #pickyourhills.