April 2, 2015

RFRA, LGBTQ and WWJD

Can we talk?

I know. It's a terrible blog post title. But it got your attention, didn't it?

I'm not a legal expert. I'm not a political science wonk. I'm just a Christian. That's it. As such, I have a few things I'd like to say about all the chatter concerning Indiana's RFRA.

First off, read my friend Brandan Robertson's piece on the subject. He's smarter than me.

Second, let's talk about what the Bible says about all of this. Since, this Book is the "road map" for Christians like me it seems like a good place to start.

What Paul Says
When St. Paul was talking about sexual ethics, he was talking to Christians. Not the general public. Insiders. People that had opted in, participating in a local faith community–probably a house church. Baptized, confessing and–in first century Palestine–likely having made evident that they were willing to risk their life for the sake of good new of Christ's Kingdom. That's who he's talking about sex with.

There is no New Testament grounding for the ostracizing of the general public based on their sexual ethics. On the other hand, if everyone that frequents your place of business is a baptized Christian, has risked martyrdom and participates in your local church... well, if this is the case then I commend you. Your evangelistic gift is evident and you should write books and go on a speaking tour rather than run a pizzeria or barber shop or whatever it is you do... that is unless no one frequents your place of business at all. In that case, dude! don't turn any business away!

Certainly, you have a right to support this bill. But there is no basis for supporting it due to Christian conviction.

The Old Testament?

Right!

What the Old Testament Says
Well, Old Testament law does have a few things to say about homosexual activity. You're right there. And it is the law of the land... for a country led by God alone. If you live in any country on, well, planet Earth you don't live in a country run by God. You live in a country led by a government that has established their own laws. Old Testament law does not direct the laws of this country, and trust me, you should be grateful for that!

What Jesus Says
Can we go back to the New Testament again? This time let's talk about Jesus. You know, our Lord and Savior. A few things he says:
  1. He says that he came to fulfill the law of the Old Testament. Which leads me to believe that his words and example in the Gospels ought to direct our understanding of the Old Testament law. And he was really into including whomever the state and organized religion ostracized.

  2. He also says that all of the law and prophets of the Old Testament are trying to get to two central points:

    1. Love God with every fabric of your being

    2. You ought to love your neighbors as if you were loving yourself, treating them as you would want to be treated.

    So, unless you were hoping that others would exclude you from their business based upon your faith or practices I'm not sure, once again, how you draw from the Bible for that conviction.
The Growth of the Early Church
Lastly, I'd like to share a quote from Justo L. Gonzalez's wonderful book, The Story of Christianity:
“In the first century, well-paved and well-guarded roads ran to the most distant provinces. Since trade flourished, travel was constant; thus Christianity often reached a new region, not through the work of missionaries or preachers, but rather through traveling traders, slaves and others.”
I share this because I think Gonzalez is right: the marketplace was where the Christian faith spread causing the early church to see explosive growth. The early church was not known for whom they excluded but for whom they included. The early church thrived because normal people, not simply "missionaries and preachers" found the good news of Jesus compelling and couldn't resist sharing this. At work. In the marketplace.

One of the main reasons why we have St. Paul's letters is because the first century Christian community saw tremendous growth. This growth brought in loads of folks from beyond the Jewish community and culture. They were experiencing transformation through Jesus' message. Someone had to work through how to understand this new way of living when it was no longer just a fringe Jewish thing. Paul took it upon himself to do that.

If Christians were having this conversation because people groups who had historically not been a part of our communities now found themselves a part of them and we were asking ourselves, "Can you be Christian and be like that?" Well, that would be one thing. But that does not seem to be case here. Yet, that's exactly what happened in the early church. Christian ethics were in flux, evolving. And yet the Spirit of Jesus made this early faith community thrive.

That's the church I want to be a part of!

... I'm out of words. I'd love to read yours.


P.S. It just dawned on me, I had a few things to say about religious freedom and rights back in '09. You can read that here.

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