Saturday, June 27, 2015

Rights, Laws and God's Holy Will: A response to the new same-sex marriage law in the USA

For the record, I believe in Jesus Christ, in his Father who is also known as Yahweh and in the Holy Spirit.  I have chosen to be his disciple, follower, and obedient servant.  He calls such people “Friend,” which I consider a great, undeserved honour.  I believe in what God says about himself, the world and people both in general and in specifics.  I believe in what God, in the Bible, says about righteousness and sin.  I believe that God loves everyone on earth and longs to have us all embrace the life he offers through Jesus Christ.  I believe that God commands his followers to love those he loves and not to judge another person or group of people unless we’re willing to be judged by God with the same measuring stick we use.

I believe that worshipping idols or any God besides Yahweh, is sin.  I believe immorality is sin.  At the same time, I am not in favour of legislating laws that forbid Hindus or Buddhists or other religious minorities to worship as they choose.  God has given us free-will and he respects our choices.  To be true, we will eventually reap the consequences of our choices, for good or evil, but God still gives us freedom to make our choice to follow him or to follow another way.

In the same way, God gives us free choice in matters of morality.  We are free to marry whom we choose, to divorce, to remarry, to live promiscuously or to live in life-long monogamy.  These are God-given rights that the state cannot take away. 

Can the state legislate morality?  Yes.  It can decide that murder, stealing, divorce and spiritual expression of its choosing are legal or illegal.  We still have the right to choose whether we will obey or disobey those laws and we have no right to harass or degrade those who choose differently from us (though we also have an obligation to defend against oppression and injustice such as in the time of the Holocaust).  We also must be willing to accept the consequences of our decisions whether they are meted by the state or by God. 

I think of Christians living in countries or regions hostile to Christianity.  As a Christian, I would like those countries to protect the rights of Christians to be Christian and to be and do all Jesus calls them to.  Many Muslims, however, consider it an affront to and an offense against Allah to allow Christians freedom of belief and behaviour.  Do the rights of Christians trump the rights of Muslims?  Do the rights of Muslim countries to decide their own repressive laws trump the rights of Christians?  No.  God still gives us free will.  As a Christian in a repressive country, I would do all I could to fight for my rights as a Christian but if I chose to remain in that country, I would also have to accept the consequences of disobeying even repressive, unjust laws that try to limit my freedom.  There are many examples of people in the Bible who have spoken out for what is righteous and just, knowing and accepting the cost of doing so.

So what about us Christians in non-repressive countries?  Do we recognise man’s right to make his or her own choices?  Do we want to be like the Muslims who are so concerned about the holiness of Allah that anything that doesn’t fit into their understanding of his will is made illegal?  Isn’t that what many of us want for homosexuals?  Yes, God has made it clear (though some interpret what is written differently) that sex between two men is abhorrent to him.  But God has also made it clear that worshipping idols is abhorrent.  We want to limit the choices of homosexuals yet have no problem granting free choice to Hindus to worship as they please.  Why the difference?  Why do we want to legislate against one and not the other?  Why are we quite comfortable with and honour the choice of one and not the other?  Why do we try to do to homosexuals what we do not want Somalia or Iran or Saudi Arabia to do to Christians? 

We must be careful, for the judgment we heap on one class of people may turn out to be the judgment heaped upon us with the same logic and measure.  

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