Pastor’s Corner – On Equality
The so-called Equality Act is at the forefront of our nation’s conscience this Spring. Like many other headlines and soundbites in recent history have attempted to do, the “Equality Act” attempts to make people who disagree with its contents feel unamerican or worse, unchristian.
As Christians, and as Americans, we should be at the forefront of defending freedom and equality for ALL people. When we get accused of, or falsely depicted as being unloving it hurts and, as a result, our Godly nature desires to change that perception and attempt to be more “loving and accepting.” This is a false dichotomy.
The false dichotomy is that because we believe God created Male and Female that this belief and our efforts to support it is somehow discriminating to those who don’t. There could be nothing further from the truth. As God’s people, we are fully capable of loving ALL people and, at the same time, standing up for what is true.
Let’s start where we always need to start, repentance. We must first start with our own failures to “Love our Neighbor as ourselves.” We have all looked down on someone or lacked compassion. We have all gotten defensive when our “rights” have been threatened and we have overreacted with fear instead of love. We have also failed to truly love others by enabling people in their sin and failed to lovingly call them to repentance.
Part of repentance and love is not saying “I’m sorry” when it isn’t warranted. Apologizing where sin doesn’t exist can be as hurtful and harmful as the sin itself. When we feel guilt and try to apologize for someone else’s sin, we enable the sinner in their ways and deny them the necessary honest reflection of God’s truth in their life that may lead them to repentance. When we are led to feel guilty because of the blessings or privileges we have received, we rob God of the thanks and praise He deserves from us because of the blessings He has honored us with. We also are more likely to use those blessings in a way that dishonors the one who blessed us in an effort to lessen our guilt instead of stewarding or managing the gift.
From this perspective of true repentance and forgiveness, and only from this perspective, are we able to have true compassion for other’s perspectives and lovingly share ours. We have an amazing God who loves us and blesses us abundantly. He blesses us so greatly that we are able to and called to sacrifice those blessings in order to truly bless others. The only true blessing is when we are lovingly shown truth and shown compassion as we wrestle with our own sin.
With regards to the so-called Equality Act, in its current form, it isn’t about equality. In its current form it is written to undermine the ability of Christ-followers to live out Christian truths. It specifically exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed in 1993. Why does it do this if it isn’t attempting to discriminate against people of faith? People who are saying this law won’t discriminate against faith-based organizations are flat out lying, or at best, uninformed.
We have already seen this happen in Illinois. The Christian faith has historically led the way for adoption and foster care. In the state of Illinois, Christian adoption foster care leaders have either closed or been forced to abandon our Christian belief that a child is best cared for when placed into a married Christian household (to be clear, a Christian marriage is one man and one woman who repent and forgive). This truth is not a discrimination nor is it hateful. It also isn’t a statement that other homes can’t raise a child. It is our current cultural and political climate that demands us to pick a side. As human beings, we can simultaneously believe the biblical truth and the mountains of research that show a child in a two-parent household is more successful and better adjusted than in other environments and, at the same, time lovingly support ALL households. To demand approval and placement in households that don’t meet the standards of faith and research these long-standing organizations have established is to demand contradictory standards. To be clear, there are other organizations that can accommodate those desires; why force the church out of Christian adoption and care for families in crisis?
Also, at Cross, we are much more limited in our ability to provide Christian support for new marriages. Historically, marriage is a time where people who have drifted away from God look to reconnect with Him and His church. Cross frequently has people approach us that reach out in such a desire to be married at Cross. Under current state law we must be very careful when dealing with people who are currently part of the “public” and not currently “members.” If we are “open to the public” for heterosexual marriages we must also be open to state-recognized, same-sex marriages. Again, there are organizations that can provide those services. To require the Church to endorse other people’s beliefs, that directly contradict what God teaches us to be true, is faith-based discrimination. There are many more realities, but these two are the simplest to explain.
So how do we move forward? We must be open, honest and loving. We cannot fall into the trap of false guilt which leads to us giving up, or lash out defensively, which causes us to reinforce the false stereotypes. When we first confess our sin and accept God’s forgiveness, we can then effectively help others trapped in their sins. God gives us wisdom and insight we never thought possible. Please stay informed, contact your state, local and national officials, and at the same, time remain in the presence of Christ in this world. Christ loves us all; each of us, right where we are, in the midst of our sin and at the same time, calls us to repentance and to live a life transformed in Him! The Devil is constantly attacking; we don’t need to get angry, but we do need to fight against sin, death and the Devil with the grace and mercy that Christ alone can provide in His Gospel truth.
“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8