"The Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas stands for the proposition that the government has no business regulating relationships between two consenting adults in the privacy of their own home," Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement.As a churchman, this caught my eye because of the explicit condemnation of moral and biblical reasoning. If, as Ms. Rudinger put it, such laws "in this day and age defies logic and common sense" then the great mass of moral and religious people are by definition relics and misfits to say the least. This dismissive disdain for religious reasoning in the public square appeared prominently in the Vermont and Massachussets court rulings that established so-called domestic partnerships and gay marriage, respectively. Barack Obama's approach is certainly more "respectful" and smooth sounding, but it is essentially the same position.
She added that "the idea that the government would criminalize people's choice to live together out of wedlock in this day and age defies logic and common sense."
Preaching against certain sins falls under hate speech bans in a handful of countries that disdain biblical morality. I wonder how long before that's the explicit effort in this country, which prides itself on free speech (except when it topples the personal and "private" baals of sexual immorality)? Given a recent statement by a group of 250 radical pro-homosexual activists, the attempt may be just around the corner.
But this post isn't meant to be a lament of political and judicial current events. I'm interested in the state of the church--not so much in terms of its mobilization against the ruling in NC or others like it. Rather, I'm interested to know whether the American church is sufficiently prepared to suffer for righteousness' sake.
Perhaps the greatest defect in American theology is its rather anemic understanding of suffering. The church is comfortable materially and generally on easy terms with the world. She will count suffering for doing something stupid a real cross, but will she rejoice at being counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus, for doing good, for living godly in Christ Jesus? Will she preach the truth even when the tide of public opinion and jurisprudence turns swiftly against her?
For now, such a turn seems a remote possibility. But when the prophets of our age say "peace, peace," perhaps we should beware of the sudden travail likely to befall us. Jennifer Rudinger, like many people these days, justifies her position with one vague reason: "this day and age." Well, that's not really a reason. It's an ad hominem paint ball designed to splatter all those who aren't cool enough to get with the times. To enter the era with the rest of the enlightened.
Insert the phrase "this day and age" into any argument against the Scriptures, Jesus and the church and voila! Most of us in most of our churches find ourselves on the dark side of a rhetorical mountain, exiled to the land of antiquated ideas with people who have no real societal contribution to make even if we could somehow scale the linguistic cliff the phrase is used to erect. We're contained, marginalized, and dismissed with one meager phrase.
We could use better apologetic skills in the public square. We certainly need more godly men and women serving in positions of public stewardship and influence. And we should exercise every appropriate right of citizenship. But should those things fail and Christians are branded public enemy #1, will we stand and suffer whatever befalls us?
Peter boasted that he would not deny the Lord even if it meant his death. He denied the Lord three times before the rooster crowed. Peter's life is recorded for our instruction. We should not think more highly of ourselves than is warranted. We're far more like Peter than we think. Wouldn't it be wise for us to pray now, before we're in a pinch, that the Lord would give us grace to stand even when its unpopular, illegal, and deadly?