Sunday, March 29, 2009
Spiritual Violence? "We who have gone through the day of sadness shall enjoy together the day of gladness"
I live in California, where in my own city I have seen people harassed because they helped to pass Proposition 8, I think I have a small understanding of what the future may hold for all who are orthodox, Evangelical and Reformed. Michael Adee, Executive Director & Field Organizer of More Light Presbyterians, confirmed some of my thoughts with his words.
He thinks that defending marriage as between a man and woman only is ‘an act of spiritual violence and civil injustice.’
He tried to reinforce his word with an essay he has posted on the More Light Web site. The article, “The Religious Violence of ‘Defending Marriage’ by Jon Pahl, is taken from the Martin Marty Center for the study of Religions at the University Of Chicago Divinity School. It is one of those articles that can be defended or debated point by point.
For instance one point # 2 is “DOMA [Defense of Marriage acts] Laws elevate heterosexual marriage to idolatrous status. In some communities of faith, defending "marriage" has become all but an item of confessional status (it is absent from any historic Christian Confessions). This arrogates to a majority - heterosexuals - special privileges (economic, social, and spiritual) not available to sexual minorities.”
Now if one wants to argue about rights that is one subject. But to add the idea that the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman only is ‘idolatrous’ for those who adhere to Confessions attacks the Reformed faith with a vengeance.
The reason this is an attack is that the term idolatrous within a faith community implies that something or someone is being worshiped above God. But if a community holds to Confessions which state that the Bible is the word of God then their Confession of that truth must be their guide. For example The Second Helvetic Confession states:
“We believe and confess the canonical Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles of both Testaments to be the true Word of God, and to have sufficient authority of themselves, not of men. For God himself spoke to the Fathers, prophets, apostles, and still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures.
And in this Holy Scripture, the universal church of Christ has the most complete exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a life acceptable to God; and in this respect it is expressly commanded by God that nothing be either added to or taken from the same.” (5.001-5.002)
The word of God, as it shows how to frame “a life acceptable to God,” insists that marriage is between a man and a woman. Therefore insistence on forming marriages of same sex couples is itself idolatry. And the one who attempts to do this has put same sex marriage above God.
And each point in Pahl’s article could be debated in such a manner. But that is not what I intend to do here. I think others will and have already written on each one of these points from a faithful orthodox position.
But as I said above, I live in California, where in my own city I have seen people harassed because they helped to pass Proposition 8. I think I have a small understanding of what the future may hold for those, who are orthodox, Evangelical and Reformed. I think I understand a little of what the Church must prepare for. If you and I are dubbed violent now for defending marriage between a man and a woman, the future, humanly speaking, is speeding toward one dark storm.
So this is not about how points are right or wrong, but about drawing close to the Lord of the Church and to each other. This is about embracing brothers and sisters who have not and well not give way to the sexually sick culture of the day. This is about staying one under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The Reformed writer Richard Baxter in his wonderful book The Saints Everlasting Rest, writes about the rest that belongs to the children of God:
“But though this rest be peculiar to the saints, yet it is common to all the saints; for it is an association of blessed spirits, both saints and angels—a corporation of perfected saints whereof Christ is the head—the communion of saints completed. As we have been together in the labor, duty, danger, and distress, so shall we be in the great recompense and deliverance. As we have been scorned and despised, so shall we be owned and honored together. We who have gone through the day of sadness shall enjoy together the day of gladness. Those who have been with us in persecution and in prison shall be with us also in that palace of consolation. How oft have our groans made, as it were, one sound, our tears one stream, and our desires one prayer. But now all our praises shall make up one melody, all our churches one church, and all ourselves one body; for we shall be one in Christ, even as he and the Father are one.” (61)
Take courage brothers and sisters who love Jesus.