The Supreme Court struck down the DOMA Act today. The news is exploding with the decision, Drudge has his police light on and the Huffingtonpost has a twirling earth with the bold letters “GAY DAY.” I read it all and I shrug.
On a personal side I grieve as I recognize the long term consequences to this decision. But I grieve no more than I do with the decisions related to abortion, immigration, health care, taxation, the so-called Patriot Act, and a myriad of other decisions that has poured like the Niagara Falls from our elected officials over the last 30 decades. We are a sick nation trying to pretend we are not. We are fractured on every side captured by the three deadly sins of 1 John 2:16, a lust of the flesh, a lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.
But as a Christian should I be stunned by this? Should my worldview be shaken and my gut wrenched in every way possible as I see this unfold? My answer is no. It is the “world” in which every Christian lives and therefore wherever they live, in New York City or Atibaia, Brazil or Ndu, Cameroon the people there are controlled by these three driving forces of sin. So is it any shocking thing that every society rises and falls back in on itself eventually? I remember reading a fascinating book that described the way ancient Rome lived. Over and over I said to myself, “This is America.”
I told my congregation the last two major elections that the real reason most will vote the way they will vote is out of a love of money. Even so-called conservatives are sucking lustily at the teats of their government. Threaten to cut out the programs that each of us enjoy? Not on our watch! So too many Christians vote, not with an eye toward justice or true mercy. We do not fill up our minds with the Scripture and allow it to define our lives. We conform ourselves to the lusts of this world and then shout with dismay when we see a decision like DOMA come down and become stridently angry.
I do not agree with the decision, just like I do not agree with the bulk of the decisions coming from our governing authorities. But I do not desire to be known by these things. Consider the very blunt, pastoral words of Peter,
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
(1Pe 4:12-19 NASB)
Any suffering coming our way is not something strange in the eyes of Peter, it is to be expected. So why do we get shocked when we read of the growing number of threats against Christians in our nation? The command in the midst of these sufferings is to “keep on rejoicing” rather than becoming bitter and shrill. We are to fix our eyes on the return of Christ, where true justice will finally flow and we might truly exult for eternity. But all of this presupposes that our suffering is because of the gospel, not American Christianity. It is because you are walking in a manner that is worthy of the name of Christ (that is not the same thing as putting on a “Christian T-Shirt”) and the world hates you for it. But you suffer for being a wicked person then shame on you and you have no reason to rejoice. Note the strong extremes given here, from murderer to a meddler. It is like 1 Corinthians 6 where we have the fornicators and the covetous, neither of when can be such and rightly call themselves “saved.”
Judgment is to first start with the house of God and it begins through suffering in this world. When we are falsely accused, hated for our love of Jesus, reviled in spite of our acts of mercy and humility, then God is pleased and we will endure as we fix our eyes on the end. And part of that enduring is the fact that if God is not pleased to bring our detractors to repentance, that they too shall face judgment who cannot entrust their souls to anything that can save them.
All of this is to say, the DOMA decision is a sad thing but not a shocking thing. It fits the course of this age and for what this age lusts. The challenge for the Christian is to consider how they live within their nation in a way that reflects a different Lord and a different hope. Can the gospel still save people? Does the gospel still save people? Is God’s kingdom somehow stymied due to evil? Did Jesus really receive “all” authority? At some point every follower of Jesus will have to answer these questions in reality rather than in the abstract. And when they are answered, some who say they follow Jesus will stop because they will realize that the God of the Bible is not the god of their hearts.
What the Church must do is continue to call men and women everywhere to repent and turn to the living God. We must build up the people of God in the most holy faith. We must purify the Church through correction and discipline. We must grow in our salvation through rich, dense teaching that flows from the Word. And we must learn to “eagerly await” the return of Jesus (Hebrews 9:28).