To so many of my Christian brothers and sisters who disagree with today’s SCOTUS decision:
Please stop. Stop saying things out of hate, defeat, fear, and, in many cases, a need to be right more than a need to be loving.
I’m not asking you to agree with people.
I’m not even asking you to say nothing at all.
I am asking you to be civil, to be loving. To speak only when you also have a sense of compassion and empathy. To remember that Jesus took on life in the midst of a sinful world and had compassion. Notably: He did not blame the downfall and coming judgement of his own nation on the sinning woman caught in adultery, but on the self-designated religious leaders and spokespersons for God, who thought they could somehow delay or turn-away God’s judgement by doing the biblical thing and stoning her to death.
In regard to that above scenario, it should also be noted that in some cases it may be better to be silent than to pass judgement.
In whatever case, especially since so much of what is being said today is being said as if it is what God would say, please don’t say anything without seeking God’s voice first, and then seek it again. Let it be established in you by “two or three witnesses” before you speak, and if you do speak, let your words be born out of one thing: love.
Also speak with knowledge and self-inspection. Some leaders within certain circles have made statements that “today is the beginning of God’s judgement on America.” I guess if that’s the case, then 1) putting other things we worship before God, 2) creating things we worship other than God, 3) using God’s name for self-interested power rather than reverence, 4) not keeping the Sabbath, 5) not honoring and obeying parents, 6) the taking of innocent life, 7) cheating on spouses, 8) stealing property that doesn’t belong to us, 9) falsely accusing people of things that aren’t true, and 10) wanting what doesn’t belong to us, weren’t issues at all.
In regard to this list, God’s judgement might be coming on the U.S. because of status updates on Facebook, where unverified and untruthful claims are made regularly about disliked politicians (#9); or maybe God’s judgement is coming because during periods of time in my life I’ve gone for weeks without a day off (#4). Or maybe it has been coming ever since we stole life and land from those who lived here first (#6, #8, and #10).
But here’s the thing: In the United States, we don’t really think that the government should make laws that force those types of things on us (things on that list of 10 above)—even if we think these provide the framework for the right, godly, or biblical way to behave. We don’t expect our government to be the source, provider, or prop of our faith or anyone else’s. We don’t have laws that enforce the Sabbath, or laws that police what I covet (although the NSA may be getting close). Nor do we send people to jail for saying “God bless you” without meaning it. Murder and stealing (numbers 6 and 8) are a bit different because when these take place they clearly infringe and rob rights of life and property from others.
Let me be more direct if all the above doesn’t make sense: in the United States we don’t enforce the 10 Commandments (yes, that’s the list of 10 above), the 613 total Torah commands, or the short list of instructions to Gentile believers in Acts 15. We don’t have laws ensuring that no business man is greedy, or that no guy is having sex with his girlfriend without her father’s consent (a couple of biblical injunctions). We also don’t federally enforce the Methodist Book of Discipline, Catholic doctrine, or any other Christian creed. We don’t enforce Sharia, and we don’t enforce the 8-fold Path of Buddhism. And for all of this I am grateful for multiple reasons, but an important one is because I really think Jesus’ story can do quite well in the free market of ideas (but that’s another topic).
Rather than enforcing religious morality, what we expect is for our government to adhere to its Constitution, especially as it relates to dealing fairly with its citizens and protecting individual and corporate rights for the sake of personal freedom and common welfare, no matter what a person’s color, creed, social or economic status, or political affiliation. Unfortunately, we haven’t been consistent in this goal, and the most tragic aspects of our history are the periods we have not fully sought or fought for equality and fairness for everyone. We’ve made great advances and have had great defeats in our integrity related to our founding ideals and documents. At our best we have provided freedom, and at our worst we did not. Hopefully we are still moving forward, but we are not there yet.
Foreigners and Guests
Whatever the case and whatever our position on today’s decision (whichever way it fell), if we are Christians then (biblically) we are foreigners and guests in whatever city, land, or nation in which we dwell. We are like the Judeans in Babylon, where the “ways of the world” are always foreign to us. We are always outsiders. We are always a remnant. Sometimes we are accepted and sometimes we are not. Yet we are always praying for the welfare of this foreign and bizarre place where we live. We are always bearing that pain-full cross of love that Jesus bore for this world “that God so loves”. (And I want to be clear: If you are a Christian this is true for you whether you disagree with the SCOTUS decision today or not. If you have been longing for today’s decision, you, too, are still a foreigner here. That doesn’t go away, because we are citizens of another system of government: the Rule of God.)
So be humble. Take care of logs in your eyes first. Admit and address the consequences of your own faithfulness or unfaithfulness first. Speak grace-full words of love. Speak words of peace. Speak Jesus to one another and pray for each other and for the world around you. Not with self-interested prayers, but prayers for the sake of the other.