As Christians we’re supposed to place God’s law above man’s, right? Absolutely, but in practical terms, what does that mean? According to the modern church in America, or at least the way we act, that means to pursue a vigorous, staunch, often demeaning and dehumanizing political campaign against anything with which we happen to disagree.
Abortion is immoral. Therefore it should be illegal in any and all circumstances, no matter what the populace has to say about the matter. Homosexuality is immoral. Therefore homosexual couples should hold a lower legal status than heterosexual couples, including a lack of access to combined health insurance, a lack of inheritance rights, a lack of power of attorney, a lack of tax breaks, etc, etc, etc. These are the two major issues right now, but certainly not the only issues.
However, what does placing God’s law above man’s law do to man’s law? In declaring abortion to be murder we effectively announce our dismissal of American law. Murder is a term that is defined by law, and American law does not define abortion as murder. Thus, when we declare that abortion is murder we remove ourselves from the conversation by declaring that American law is unimportant to us.
All in all, the church today expresses an extreme pride, self-interest, and obsession with temporal power in our political stances that puts us very close to the excesses of the medieval Roman Catholic church. It doesn’t matter what the bible actually says, what matters is that we are in control! It doesn’t matter how we treat people, as long as they do what we want! This does nothing to edify the body, or to advance the kingdom or glory of God.
“But wait!” You say, “aren’t we supposed to defend God’s law and his word?”
I challenge you, find me any place in scripture that commands us to defend God in any way? We are commanded to obey God repeatedly. Peter commands us to be ready to give an account of our faith. However, no where are we commanded to defend God. God is God and if he wants to be defended he is perfectly capable of assigning a thousand legions of angels to that defense. Our job is not to defend God or his laws by forcing others to obey.
“But wait!” You say, “doesn’t that mean that there’s no point in apologetics?”
I ask you, since when was apologetics the defense of God? There is every reason to pursue an apologetic defense of the faith. The task of apologetics is not to defend God, or his law, but to defend the rationality of Christian belief. In light of questions like: Can God be real? Is the scripture trustworthy? Did Jesus really die on the cross? We must have an apologetic response. This is a part of what Peter meant when he commanded us to be ready to give an account of our faith. To answer reasoned questions with a reasoned and thoughtful faith is very different than spewing thoughtless rhetoric and pursuing a legal divine mandate of Church rule.
In too many ways the Church resembles Senator Palpatine’s description of the Jedi in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, we have held political power in this nation for a very long time, and we are loathe to give it up. However, make no mistake, the attempts to legislate marriage, sexual conduct, the handling of pregnancy, etc is less about the rule of God and more about the fear of the church. It shows a lack of trust and an extreme cowardice.
Does this mean that there is no homosexual agenda bent on attacking the church? Of course it doesn’t, though it would be ridiculous to assume that all homosexuals are a part of this agenda. Certainly the nation is becoming more hostile towards Christianity, and persecution is coming. However, Peter does not tell us that when persecution comes we should fight for our power and rights tooth and nail, even if it means destroying the other side. Instead, Peter tells us to rejoice that we may share in the sufferings of our lord!
How much of this sharing and rejoicing do you see in the modern church? Do we gleefully welcome the coming persecution as a chance to join in the suffering of Christ and show the true heart and resilience of the Christian faith? Or are we too busy trying to make the pain stop and make everyone to agree with us, regardless of whether they actually want to?
To those Christians who can’t see past their noses, and certainly not far enough to love their neighbor and their enemy, I would say: Get the log out of your eye!
To those who would see the Christian faith persecuted, hurt, injured, and destroyed, I would say: Bring it on! Do your worst and find out just what our God is made of. Come and see the love of Christ through the blood of his people.
To those who stand somewhere in between I would say: Watch, think deeply, seek truth, and find your way. If you want to see an example of the Church righteous under all threats and enemies, look at the early church that bore many and varied persecutions in love. Look at the anabaptists who were persecuted, tortured, burned, and drowned by Catholics and Protestants alike. Look at the Christians of Nazi Germany who took Jew into their homes and hid them, despite the risk to themselves. Who spoke out against the regime in love, despite the certainty of punishment, who acted not to destroy the government, but to protect the people, and who did not flee the consequences of that action.
This is what we should be. A face of courageous love and truth that stands against hate and violence, not a face of hate and violence that seeks to oppress those who disagree. We should be better than we are.