Friday, January 13, 2023

Inconceivable. . .

Those on the outside of orthodox churches wonder at the fascination we have with same sex marriage -- indeed with all sexual things.  It is decidedly not fascination but it has become a preoccupation.  From time to time some have wondered why it is this sin and not other sexual sins that seem to get our dander up.  I have wondered something similarly.  Why was it 2009 and the acceptance of same sex marriage that proved the undoing of the ELCA's always fragile coalition?  But it was.  The same seems to be happening with the Methodists.  The ununiting of the once United Methodists is soon to play out across America and the same sex marriage (along with the other things it engendered) is the reason.

There are other sexual sins.  Why did the same Christians fail to rise up against divorce -- in particular the no fault divorce that was written into law in 1965 by then Governor Ronald Reagan.  Long before divorce became the norm it is today, adultery was a hot topic.  Both are roundly condemned in Scripture in unmistakable terms and you will find nary a word about same-sex marriage in Scripture.  Some have suggested that the reason the Bible does not mention same sex marriage is that it was and is simply inconceivable.  But is it?  Did same sex marriage take God by surprise the same way it took Christianity by surprise?  I cannot believe that God did not see it coming but I can believe that God did not desire to tell us how bad things were going to get.  It may be out of some sentiment but the reason is probably more than that.  God withholds information not to punish us but to protect us.  Even knowing at the words were etched on the tablets of stone, God knew the commandments would not prevent us from exploring things that would harm us.  After all, the warning did not prevent Eden's rebellion either.  

True enough is the assertion that same sex marriage is unlike the other sexual issues for this reason.  Because same-sex marriage is not simply about what you are for or against but who you are, it is unlike any other issue in our public life.  Even abortion and gun control, where you may suffer for being on the wrong side, is different than same sex marriage.  If you admit an opinion against same-sex marriage, it could cost you your job, your friends, your spouse, and your access to the public square. This issue could cost you your standing in the community -- if you are willing to stand against the flow.  You may find that your old friends are no longer current friends, family members may disown you, and others will treat you differently because you have the gall to question what has become the truth that dare not be challenged. Registering your dissent over gay marriage marks you as one of “them.”

Inconceivable?  No. but God would not encourage us to go where sin would lead us -- even by prohibiting the worst we could and would do.  Inconceivable would have to wait for us.  We would explore the boundaries and push them so far that even the vast and profound vision of Christ the Bridegroom and His Church the Bride would be thrown under the bus of our arrogance and self-centeredness.  Why should we not invent something, esteem it better than God's creation, and ditch what we were given to preserve for that which we have made?  We did it about nearly everything but the end is not yet and things can get worse -- and will.  Though who in their right mind is yearning to see that?

Of course, the critics are correct.  Christians have long ago betrayed marriage undone by divorce at a whim and adultery that has become normal.  We took the gift of God and made it something dirty and cheap and now we cannot figure out why we got what we want but are still not happy.  I hate the cost our sin has extracted from us and imagine you do as well, if you are honest.  But none of us are bothered enough to stop sinning.  It has become more than habit and harder than anything and everything to give up.  So God told us enough to protect us while writing the story of our salvation in the blood of His only Son.  We will not end sin or finish the cursed pursuit of its end but Christ has ended it.  That is the good news.  What we would not do if we could and could not do if we wanted, God has done.  That is our answer.  Not some silly explanation about which sexual sin pushed our button and made us rise up finally to fight it but the God who knew we would explore the inconceivable and then did an even greater work -- inconceivable to us and our imagination -- to save us.   That is the inconceivable we must cling to even as we stand against the wrongs being foisted upon us to challenge God's order and plan.

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