I only played basketball for one year in elementary school and royally stunk at the game. Not my favorite sport. So it’s probably no surprise that I’m picking up the news feed a bit late on the media controversy of Jason Collins coming out with a gay lifestyle and the subsequent commentary of his Christian colleague, Chris Broussard. I saw the opening news frenzy and reactions yesterday but really didn’t pay too much attention. This morning however, I received an article link from a friend which is worthy of note when looking at the larger picture. There are at least two observations we can make not only from the article, but from the discussion itself.
I’ve been reminded by some friends that I’m falling behind in my Kingdomology posts and they’re right. Why the delay? Well it’s partially because I’ve had a ton of irons in the fire. But I have to admit that it’s also because I’ve just been meditating a lot on the present spiritual environment of the American culture since the presidential election last month. The root of my observation is not centered on the victory of Obama over Romney, but rather something deeper. The simple truth is that the American culture we know today is light years away from what the writers of the Mayflower Compact envisioned for this new land. Obviously America still enjoys more religious freedom than most countries on the globe especially when you think of places like China or the Middle East. But the American culture at large appears to be mirroring the Roman Empire of the first century much more than the philosophy of the Pilgrims.
Now I’m not saying that the Pilgrims were perfect nor am I suggesting that we should go back to their religious dress code or imitate their legalism. Indeed they got off track in many areas like we all do. But there was something different in their core nature that is missing today in so many camps.
I’ll be honest. This election season has been a hard one for me. It was just over four years ago while planting a church in Northern California that I made the firm decision to never run for political office. While that commitment has been relatively easy to keep, the question of debate has been quite another story. The last 2012 Presidential debate has come and gone. But many of us are still debating with our friends, enemies, and even sometimes with our own souls. Debate is a great principle in our culture. However, it seems to be a whole lot easier to simply debate than actually do something. It’s easier to debate about what the government should do than actually getting out and doing something ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not turning Amish here and as noted in a post from a while back, I do believe that sometimes folks are called into public policy molding just like someone might be called into law enforcement. The great William Wilberforce from the UK is a prime example. But as a Christ follower we are all to be Salt and Light in our world even if we are not in public service or making public policy. We are called to be his hands and feet from wherever we stand on the political debates. So while this debate could take off in innumerable directions, let me simply ask what it is that we are all going to do ourselves instead of expecting someone else to do for us. Consider these to begin with:
I have a love hate relationship with politics. Mostly hate. But yes, there are times when I get all hot and bothered and want to run for office. Then I calm down and get refocused on eternal matters. The grab for me has never been on issues like taxation or economic policies, but rather the social issue hot buttons. Today with all the comments in dissent of North Carolina voting to ban Gay Marriage coupled with President Obama’s announcement on his position of Gay Marriage is just another one of those examples. As a follower of Christ I have to remind myself that America is not my first home, the Kingdom of Heaven is. But we do live in the here and now and intersect with the world around us. Even the first Christ followers addressed social ills of their day. During the Roman Empire people would leave unwanted babies at the city dumps. Today, we abort unwanted babies. The Christians in the first century would save those babies from the trash heaps and care for them. Today Christians can work to stop the killing of infants and support women with unwanted pregnancies in ways other than abortion.
Ok, I’ve wrestled with the question of how to surf the wave of social issues on this blog for a long time. On one hand I don’t want to get distracted from our mission. On the other hand I don’t want to pretend that the Bible or Kingdom citizens don’t have anything to say on the social issues. The fact of the matter is that the Bible is very clear on these issues. The problem is that at times Christians can be “jerks for Jesus” and blow the whole discussion apart even before it is started. The real answer for followers of Christ is first to pray, and then speak the truth in love. Are there Christians who are called to run for office and attack these issues in public? Yes, I believe so. But the real answer is one of heart change and not policy development.
So with that I’ll make a few statements to consider on the present social issue of the day.