Two Ministers are Charged in Gay Nuptials
Let me make it crystal clear before I begin, simply because I don’t want to have to fill my blog with parenthetical asides to keep justifying myself:
1. I do not believe that Unitarians in any way hold beliefs that are consistent with Scripture or Orthodoxy. Pick either one…and it is easy to see that Unitarians are not people who believe and follow the Jesus of Scripture and history.
2. I think that homosexuality is against the grain of God’s design for humanity and therefore sinful. I’ve referenced the unambiguous Scripture references in a previous blog, so I won’t do it again here. While same-sex marriage can be declared legitimate before the eyes of the state, it will never be so in the eyes of God.
3. God loves the world, and that means he loves you and me, regardless of whether we lust or engage sexually with people of the same sex or not. God’s declarations will not make everyone feel good or happy…it may even offend, but his love for the world remains just as strong.
Alright. That’s a good place to begin.
A story came out recently about a two Unitarian ministers who are being charged with marrying same-sex couples without sanction from the state.
As I have been reflecting on the gospel of Jesus, I have been growing in increasing awareness that Jesus did not simply come to bring a private spiritual reality into the lives of people. This is a myth that has been perpetuated by our modern society…that “religion” is supposed to be separated from the state because one is private and should only affect the people who believe, and the other is public and affects everyone no matter what.
As godly as the Bill Bright’s and Billy Graham’s have been, they have proclaimed a gospel, frankly, that has only perpetuated this private/public myth. They have taught a that the good news is that Jesus wants to have a personal relationship with us, individually. That is good news. That is great news. But that’s not all the news.
Nowhere in Scripture will you find the gospel proclaimed in this fashion. In fact, you will strain to find the phrase “gospel of Jesus” in the Gospels. The good news of Jesus is really the good news about his kingdom. And this kingdom is not a private kingdom that is real only in the hearts of those who believe. This kingdom is a political reality.
The reason why I draw attention to the story about the Unitarian ministers is that their act of civil disobedience is commendable because they recognized that the state is not their ultimate boss…and they are getting in trouble with the state for not recognizing who’s the boss. Now, for Unitarians, I have no clue who they think is boss. Furthermore, I think that civil disobedience can be sorely misused (remember, I went to Berkeley). But if we truly understand that Jesus has called us into a new political reality, then we need to recognize that we hold no allegiance to the state.
Of course, we are strongly encouraged over and over again to keep peace with the authority. This is where I feel that my colleagues at Berkeley go awry. Civil disobedience became the only way they knew how to interact with the University government. Civil disobedience simply became the primary means of communicating with the authority. I don’t think that this is what Jesus or the Apostle Paul envisioned. They promoted peace.
However, I think that it is offensive and sinful for churches to display state flags anywhere…period….but especially in places of worship. I am beginning to wonder if Christians have any business reciting the pledge of allegiance, “I pledge allegiance…” not to Jesus, not to his kingdom, but, “to the flag of the United States of America.”
Early Christians were wildly unpopular with their governments because the authorities rightly understood that the Christians did not recognize the government as the ultimate authority. The Church, instead, was a proclamation of the greatest government, the greatest kingdom…the kingdom of God. Jesus is the King, not George W. Bush, not Bill Clinton, not Abraham Lincoln, not Stalin, not Caesar, not Winston Churchill…none of these people.
Sadly, I believe that many of us Christians think that we’ve got this understanding right, but we’ve totally missed the point. Many American Christians have come to believe that the way to exert the politics of the kingdom, we must “take back America for Jesus.” This is funny to me, because America was never a Christian nation…but I don’t want to go into that, because that is a tired debate. My point is that many of us Christians think that in order to proclaim Jesus as king, then we have to take over the government. So we start the Moral Majority (as if Jesus came to proclaim good news about morals??), the Christian Right (as if Jesus can neatly be fit into a category of either right- or left-wing??), the Christian Coalition (would Jesus join such a coalition??), Focus on the Family (I thought we’re supposed to focus on the kingdom…and didn’t Jesus come to destroy families??). We also have many lesser known leftist Christian factions who, quite frankly, do the exact same thing in politics as the right-wing Christians do, simply with different issues. Please let me emphasize that point: “leftist” Christians are no different in form from their right-wing counterparts.
The force of the kingdom is not in taking over governments, it is not in assuming the most powerful nation of the entire world, if not history, it is not taking over the news outlets, radio stations, or movie theaters…it is not any of that stuff. If we are serious about shoving the reign of the kingdom down everyone’s throat, this is how we do it: turn our other cheek, walk the extra mile, refrain from lust and hate, keep our word, stop worrying about basic necessities…
Let’s shove that down people’s throats.