more than politics.

Hey everyone!

I realize I’ve been absent from this blog for way too long- I planned on providing several excuses for why this was the case, but basically it’s a combination of (1) not managing my time well enough to write a full blog (there are about 4 unfinished drafts sitting in my documents) and (2) my recent inability to take important things happening in my life and turn them into inspirational blog posts.  My apologies.

I was originally planning on talking about how excited I am that SUMMER BREAK is finally here, but that post can wait.  Today I have seen so many Facebook statuses and Twitter updates and so on about Amendment One.  Yesterday, a statewide vote was taken on a proposed amendment to North Carolina’s constitution that would make marriage between a man and a woman the only legal union recognized by the state.  The amendment passed, with 61% in favor and 39% against (http://www.wral.com/news/political/page/10991843/).

Just to clarify, my goal in this post is not to talk about whether I am for or against Amendment One.  I continue to find myself sympathizing with supporters on both sides, as it is clearly an issue of controversy.

JD Greear, pastor of the Summit Church, wrote a blog post about this issue and stated that he would vote in support of the amendment.  He argued that this was an issue that the church needed to be vocal about “for the preservation of this institution in our society.”  Some key statements:

“One of the Creator’s most important designs was marriage, which He established as between a man and a woman. The Creator’s pattern has been perceived throughout history by nearly every religion in the world and Christian tradition has stood nearly unbroken on this, until about 40 years ago.”

“The loss of something so fundamental to human flourishing would yield devastating consequences: how we perceive God’s image; how we understand God-like love; how kids understand their own gender identity; the building block of society and statistically-proven healthiest environment for the rearing of children—all this would be affected by the loss of God’s design in marriage.”

“Nobody is arguing that homosexuals are lesser people or ought to be ostracized in our society, or that they ought not to enjoy the same freedoms or protections that the rest of us enjoy. The point is simply that you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s designs based on contemporary cultural mores. Again, marriage was not invented by government; it was merely recognized by the government. God is the designer, and God established it as the union of a man and woman in an exclusive, life-long covenant.”

“We love our community, gay members and all. We want to be good neighbors to them, not ostracize them. Jesus washed our feet; we should wash theirs. He died in our place; we should lay down our lives for theirs. My prayer is that in all things, God will help us shine the light and grace of the gospel more clearly in our community.”

I would really encourage you to read the entire blog post if you have the time, but I just wanted to provide a few key points that I took away from his message.

JD Greear also did a 4-part blog series titled “Homosexuality, Christianity, and the Gospel” that addressed how the church should address homosexuality.  I also found this helpful in understanding how the church is looking at issues such as these, and why it is taking the stance that it is.  If you’re interested in learning more about that, I would suggest reading that series as well.

On the flip side, a friend of mine posted a link to a blog by J.R. Daniel Kirk, a New Testament professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, stating his views on Amendment One.  He took the stance that as Christians we have a responsibility to love our neighbor as ourselves, as he views the amendment as “not merely about a definition of marriage, but about foundational civil liberties.”  In short, he encouraged North Carolinian Christians to vote against Amendment One.  If you don’t want to read the blog, here are a few key points:

“As Christians, we have to be able to differentiate between different spheres within which we live. As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 5: What have I to do with judging outsiders? Those who are outside God judges. But do we not judge those who are inside the church?

“When we hold positions for reasons that are clearly and fundamentally religious positions, we must take extra care not to impose these on our non-Christian neighbors–if, in fact, we would love them with our religious convictions in the same way we would have them love us with theirs.”

“If my understanding of the amendment is correct, I would suggest that Christians not only have the freedom to stand against it, but are conscience-bound to vote against it. This is about being truly treated as equal under the law, something we should be at the forefront of making sure is the case for everyone–not just people like us.”

“The challenge for us when we feel that the ‘outsider’ and ‘opposition to God’s people’ is bearing down is to be those who so love our neighbor that even the consummate ‘other’ would see us as an ally, ready to stand together against the enslaving powers that bind us all.”

But even with all of this information, I still find myself asking how I take what it means to be a Christ-follower and apply it to my political views.  In all honesty, I think one of the most frustrating things about this situation is that people allow it to easily define their peers, as if the way a person casts their ballot on this specific issue defines them as either good or bad.  I don’t think that doing so is a fair analysis at all, because a single vote can’t display the character of someone’s heart.

The saddest aspect of it all is that I fear such an issue has resulted in many people seeing Christians as bigots.   One of the main reasons I decided to write this post was because a friend of mine posted a link to JD Greear’s blog along with a comment that said he had thought about attending the Summit Church, but realized that now he never could because he could never understand the views of our pastor.  Seeing that post broke my heart because I know that the knowledge of the love and greatness of Christ is something so important that we can’t afford to have this one amendment turn people away from Christianity so easily.  On the other hand, we as Christians cannot compromise what we know as truth, which is God’s word.  The views of Christians aren’t always popular, but if we believe in Jesus and we believe in following Him wholeheartedly, we have to understand that what He tells us is truth.  It always has been, and it always will be.

So as Christians, where do we stand on Amendment One?  At this point, I’ve decided that since it has been passed, that is really not the question anymore.  Maybe the more important question is how do we show the love of Christ to people who have their backs turned to the Christian community right now?  As imperfect people, we will never be capable of showing people the absolutely perfect love that Christ showed us when He died in our place.  But if we’re so focused on following His will, that includes reaching out to people who persecute us.

My friend posted the following comment following the decision on Amendment One last night, and I think it’s incredibly accurate:

“Guys and gals, something that I’ve noticed and is quite worrying: I have seen people on both sides of the issue of Amendment One bring up scripture to support their case and they even say that this is the way Christ is calling them to vote.

This is terrifying because Christ is never against himself (“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” -Mark 3:24), so for people on both sides of the issue to say Christ would have us vote this way means that at least one side, if not both sides, aren’t actually listening to Christ but are mistaking his voice for something else!

We are called to be unified, and unfortunately this issue seems to have brought division. My fear is that we have forgotten/are beginning to forget our first love. God is love (1 John 4:8) and the LORD is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). Our God is the epitome of unity, so let’s get back to our first love.  

Deuteronomy 6:5 – Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”

I just want to encourage everyone to be in prayer about this situation, because I believe that as North Carolinians and Christians, we have been given a ripe mission field.  My ultimate prayer is that we will remember that we serve a God who is above politics and all that comes with it.  We serve a God who is above all things, and we must remember that we are Christ-followers before we are voters.

As always, I’d love to talk to you if you have questions.  I can’t promise that I have all of the answers, but I would love to hear what you have to say.

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