I had a great conversation yesterday with my good friend Pat Murdock who is now heading a project with the America Bible Society. Pat is helping to build a new Discovery Center for ABS that will document the important place the Bible had in the founding of the United States of America. The Discovery Center is planned only a short distance from where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
An even larger Bible Museum is also planned for Washington D.C., opening in 2017.
Today, we are living in a time when many are considering the Bible a relic fit for a museum. The culturally enlightened tell us we must change our thinking, especially as it relates to important cultural issues such as same-sex. They reason we have advanced beyond the antiquated thinking of the Apostle Paul and the Biblical idea that homosexuality is a sin.
We are on an intensifying cultural collision course over this issue of Same-Sex vs the Bible.
Writing in a recent New York Times article,"Bigotry, the Bible and the Lessons of Indiana,"Frank Bruni informs us on this intensification. Mr. Bruni writes about Mitchell Gold, “a prominent furniture maker and gay philanthropist, who founded an advocacy group, Faith in America, to mitigate the damage done to L.G.B.T. people by what it calls ‘religion-based bigotry.’” Bruni states, “Gold told me that church leaders must be made ‘to take homosexuality off the sin list.’”
On the Faith in America website, they post:
“The term “traditional marriage” is a term employed by anti-gay religious groups and individuals to promote bigotry, prejudice, hostility and discrimination toward gay and lesbian citizens.
The term is used to justify a social injustice both in terms of denying gay and lesbian individuals equal treatment guaranteed by our Constitution and also denying them human dignity. The use of the term is an action that promotes constitutional unfairness and human indignity and therefore one which is morally wrong.If a person of faith agrees that a practice that promotes looking upon a segment of society as inferior, unworthy and undeserving of that which we find as good in our lives, the use of the term “traditional marriage” therefore also must be sinful.”
Bruni reasons, “the New Testament, like the Old Testament, outlines bad and good behaviors that almost everyone deems archaic and irrelevant today. Why deem the descriptions of homosexual behavior any differently?” Bruni’s argument is that we should reject the Bible because it speaks about what is accepted as "bad and good behaviors," which has changed across the millennium (i.e slavery, women’s rights, etc.) and rationalizes that since understanding about the Bible has changed it is time to change again with respect to same-sex. But Bruni misses the point, as do many Christians.
The problem here is obvious. Those who would champion sex-sex, and make the arguments that Bruni, Gold and many others are making, start from a worldview that centers on humans as primary to the cosmic equation. Where we begin in our epistemology makes all the difference in the world and statements such as what “we find as good in our lives” clearly betrays where this advocacy is coming from__ defining truth as rooted in self. Of course, that is nothing new (See Genesis 3).
The challenge that needs to be acknowledged today is that “Same-sex vs the Bible” is an unwinnable ‘culture war.’ Same-sex advocates are defining truth from a position that starts with what they find acceptable and the Bible starts with God. There can be no reconciling these two worldviews rather, as we have observed for a generation, only an intensification to silence those who would start with the Bible.
What may be new for us who desire to start with God, however, is to rethink what an active, sacrificial and missional love looks like in our cultural context. The Bible speaks in unique cultural contexts far different than today but the narrative of Scripture tells us “God is love” in every context.
We won’t change the minds of those who start with self as defining truth but neither are we called to. That's not our mission. We can however think better about what it means to start with God, through Jesus Christ, in ways that make him better known for his supreme sacrifice on behalf of everyone – including the L.G.B.T. community.
Only the Holy Spirit can convict the world of sin. Our assignment is to represent him well, in a spirit of love and truth. What that looks like needs to be prayerfully recalibrated today so that we do not erect barriers for anyone toward a worldview transformation__ in Christ.
We can ask the question, “what would Jesus do about same-sex issues of the 21st Century?” and then try to argue from the Bible. But the better question to ask is “what did Jesus do?” When we begin with God we see that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). This is the epitome of sacrificial love for the purpose that the world would know and believe.
If we are focusing on our understanding of the Bible as foremost in our cultural context, and not the reconciling, redeeming and restorative love message it communicates, through Christ, we are indeed missing the mark. We must change the narrative from “Same-sex vs the Bible” to “Jesus for everyone..." for God so loved the world. Let us discover this truth as it is critical for the culture change we seek and central to the Bible's message.
I think that is what Jesus would do.How about you?