Plenty of folks were lauding Chick-Fil-A and denouncing the pro-gay community when I checked my Facebook news feed on Friday. While I agreed with those who support Chick-Fil-A’s freedom of speech and view of marriage, I thought it might be helpful to add a complementary perspective into the mix. So I posted the following remark, “I’m not a prophet, but I suspect that it will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for many who patronized Chick-Fil-A on August 1st.”
Hence, it’s not enough to be “straight” and support heterosexual marriage. Standing up for the First Amendment and morality is good and well. But what’s ultimately important is not where you stood (or stand) on “Chick-Fil-A Day” but where you’ll stand in relation to Jesus on Judgment Day.
But sometimes I wonder if our opposition to homosexuality and advocacy of Christian values doesn’t come across primarily as a misguided attempt to create a “Christian nation” rather than a humble endeavor to win our fellow non-Christian Americans to the kingdom that is “not of this world.” In the words of Joel Rainey, who actually went to Chick-Fil-A on August 3rd in an effort to reach out to gays,
When I read about Jesus’ words and actions in Scripture, I see a Savior who aggressively pursues relationships with people who are far from God, and who simultaneously displays a strong reticence toward fighting over the control of temporary kingdoms. His mission was, and is, much larger!4
I just wanted to remind folks–whether believers or non-believers–that the ultimate issue isn’t what one does with the First Amendment or marriage but what one does with Jesus and the gospel. And in doing so, I hoped to prod my fellow believers to think not only in terms of preserving the moral fiber of our country but also (and more importantly) of promoting the gospel by means of declaring the fact that, as one of my good friends puts it, “we’re all in this sinful mess together.”6
I’m not convinced that buying a sandwich from CFA on August 1st was the only way Christians could show their support for the CFA’s First Amendment rights and views on marriage. And while it may help to preserve our American liberties, I’m not sure how much it will serve to advance the cause of the gospel. In the words of the hymnwriter:
For not with swords loud clashingNor roll of stirring drumBut deeds of love and mercyThe heavenly kingdom comes.
This is the kind of smug, otherworldly pietism that I often run across in certain Reformed Baptist circles.
i) You have ministers who talk down to laymen. Even if a layman says or does something right, the minister thinks his role is to remind the layman–as if the layman needs reminding–of another “complementary” truth. The minister imagines that, unlike the layman, he brings a balanced perspective to the issue.
The effect is to relativize away whatever good the layman did. But as Bishop Butler wisely observed, we should resist the impulse to discountenance what good because it wasn’t better.
ii) Ironically, it’s the position of Gonzales that’s unbalanced. The Bible preaches law as well as gospel. Duty as well as grace. It isn’t all gospel all the time.
Some Baptists like Gonzales promote political antinomianism.
iii) God put us in this world. This is the world we must function in. This is the theater in which we must practice our faith. This is where we must live out what we profess, until we die or Jesus returns.
We're living in the here-and-now, not the hereafter. We need to be faithful to the situation God has put us in. If we're faithful in the present, the future will take care of itself.
iv) Christian men have a duty to protect and provide for their dependents. Christian political activism, or “push back,” is one of the ways we’re called upon to defend the welfare of our dependents. If, say, a totalitarian state takes control of your kids, then you can’t raise them in the faith. Then you can’t perform your parental duty as a Christian father. Likewise, if the state reserves the right to euthanize your elderly mother, you can’t perform your filial duty.
v) Sure, what “ultimately matters” is what happens to us after we die, not before we die. In that sense, if you have a toddler who wanders into a busy intersection, or a toddler who approaches a rattlesnake, it’s ultimately unimportant whether he’s run over. Ultimately unimportant whether he dies of snakebite. Yet you still have a duty to protect the toddler from harm.
If a mugger jumps your wife while the two of your are walking in the park, it’s ultimately unimportant whether or not he rapes her and murder her. Does that mean you should preach the gospel to the mugger rather than defending your wife?
If a lifeguard fished a drowning swimmer out of the water and resuscitated him through CPR, would Gonzales find fault because the lifeguard failed to evangelize the swimmer?
If a sharpshooter caps a schoolyard sniper, thereby saving the lives of innocent kindergartners, would Gonzales find fault because the policeman failed to evangelize the sniper?
vi) All goods are God’s goods. We should be thankful for every good thing. It’s more important to distinguish between good and evil than distinguish between greater and lesser goods.
vii) We’re not going to win everyone to Jesus. And the law is primarily for unbelievers, not believers (1 Tim 1:9-10).