By Daniel Darling, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
The Supreme Court of the United States just heard oral arguments on gay marriage. If they rule, as most court observers expect, to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states, pastors and church leaders will face a new reality.
Two wrong approaches to culture
As discussion and debate on gay marriage has played out in the larger culture and in the church, there are two equally wrong approaches among Christians. First is the retreat from biblical orthodoxy, either explicitly through hermeneutical gymnastics or explicitly by pretending that if we offer a nicer, easier Christianity, our conflicts would melt away.
Secondly, there is an equally wrong approach that frames the issue solely in terms of “taking our country back from the elites,” as if this is simply a matter of winning a few elections and rolling back the progress gay rights advocates have made in the last decade. I’m a believer in good government and think Christians should be active at all levels, both working and voting for good leaders.
But neither retreat nor recovery reflect an honest view of culture as it is today. What’s more, I’m afraid pastors who adopt one of these two attitudes are failing their people.
Developing an exile theology
This reality has become more acute to me in the last few years, especially as I’ve been engaged in focused study on the New Testament and church history. I’m particularly arrested by the book of 1 Peter. Here the Apostle, sensing a cultural shift that (history tells us) eventually led to increased marginalization, persecution, and even death for Christians, prepares his people for living as exiles or sojourners.
I wonder if Christians are ready for this kind of reality.
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