Yesterday was a historic day no matter how you look at it. The ruling of a lower court saying that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional was upheld by the SCOTUS. The Defense of Marriage Act which was overwhelmingly passed and signed into law during the Clinton years was effectively dismantled. So where does this leave Christians in the United States? For decades, Christians have enjoyed at least a facade of cultural Christianity that was occasionally acknowledged in Washington D.C. by the passing of laws that lined up with Biblical standards. That is no longer the case. The culture at large is running as fast as possible in a direction that is increasingly at odds with the beliefs of Christianity.
So how do we respond to this? In years past, the general Southern Baptist response has been to pass resolutions and even encourage the occasional boycott. These were very public actions that generated a lot of national press and made sure the culture already knew the obvious. The truth is, those actions did nothing to help us in our mission to share the Gospel with a lost world. Perhaps our response will be to cut ourselves off from the culture even more. We could make our churches little (or large) fortresses with a flourishing Christian subculture. We could make sure that only those who meet a strict criteria be allowed entrance to our fortresses. The culture at large might be living in the dark but our fortresses could make sure we aren’t exposed to all the nitty gritty of the world. We could then sit around in the comfort of our fortresses and pine for the “good old days” when people at least paid lip service to “Christian values.” Who cares if most of them weren’t really Christians!
Are those really Biblical responses? I think the answer is a resounding, “No!” We must fight against the urge to further cut ourselves off from the culture and live in little Christian bubbles where we boycott and pass resolutions and then sit around smugly thinking we are making any impact on the world with the message of Jesus. A Biblical response would be to look at the example of the Apostle Paul. He did not shut himself off from the culture but engaged it head on. He went to Mars Hill in Acts 17 which was at the cultural heart of Athens. He engaged the best and brightest of that community with the truth of the Gospel. He did the exact opposite of build a fortress to keep the culture out. He went to where the lost were. Does this mean they all welcomed him and his teachings with open arms? No. In verse 32 it says that some of them mocked him for his teachings. They thought he was stupid, backwards, and that the words he spoke did not line up with their beliefs and culture. Paul was scorned for his teaching and yet he engaged the culture anyway. Verse 34 tells us that even though many dismissed his teachings, there were some who believed. Imagine if Paul had stayed in his fortress and never gone out to engage the culture where they were at? Would those people on the hill in Athens have come to him?
Ultimately, we need to be a people who shows grace. Let it be known that we will not waver in our convictions but that we also will not fail to show grace to all sinners. Why? Because we have been shown grace ourselves. So rather than cutting ourselves off from the culture let us reach out. Instead of the church being known as a place where we shoot our wounded, let us follow the instructions of Jesus that the world know us by our love for one another. Instead of hoping the world will show up at the doorsteps of our fortress, we take the conviction and grace of the Gospel to them wherever they are at.
You know what this means from a very practical perspective? Christian brothers and sisters, it means we build relationships with those who are in homosexual relationships. Let them see that you genuinely care about them as people. Pray for them fervently. Sew the seed and trust that the Holy Spirit will move and convict and draw. Be loving and show grace. Like Paul, you might find yourself rejected many times when you engage the culture where it is at but trust that God will work and some will believe. Our command to take the Gospel to every corner and culture of the world does not change when man-made laws change. Our command to love our neighbors as ourselves does not change when the culture shifts either.