March 29, 2017

April 5, 2013

Burning Incense to Rosie O’Donnell

A facebook friend lamented the heated political posts cluttering his news feed during Holy Week.  I *sigh*ed along with him.

But I suppose that the worldly noise was unavoidable as Christ was nothing to all those who passed by on the way the the Supreme Court’s LGBTQ&c show.

Gay marriage, now morphed into “marriage equality,” is a social litmus test issue.  “Are you in favor of marriage equality?” means, “Are you a decent American?  Are you an approved citizen?  Are you a good person at all?”

Christians faced this situation from the get-go.  The Roman Empire was at best indifferent to or disdainful of the faith, and sometimes actively hostile.  Under God’s direction, the New Testament writers accepted the reality and ordered the church to pray for and show respect to those in authority, obey laws, pay taxes and win respect for the faith by good citizenship.

But the empire imposed laws and obligations that Christians simply couldn’t honor.  When the Romans declared their Emperor a god, they required people to burn a bit of incense to his statue.  Christians could not worship a false god, and accepted penalties, including death, rather than do so.

A few months ago, a friend in another state asked if I would come to celebrate his wedding.  Then, the bride-to-be contacted me with the following message:

“I think my biggest question for you is regarding LGBT rights, specifically the right to marriage equality and adoption. I would like to know where you stand on this issue. It is important to me to know since you will be marrying us.”

Obviously, I was disinvited.  Couldn’t pass the litmus test.

Christians in Western countries luck out, for now, because there’s reticence about the death penalty.  So we won’t face that but will suffer insults and indignities as “marriage equality” becomes the law of the land and likely extends beyond just same sex couples.  Jobs and even whole career fields will become unavailable to us - that’s already happening.

“Marriage equality” is in some ways a silly issue.  It is about a very small part of the population, and within that small part it is the desire of an even smaller group.  There are the Rosie O’Donells who like the public spectacle; there are some for whom it is personally meaningful, there are plenty who don’t want it even if it’s available, and there are a surprising number who have a respectful view of traditional marriage.  As one out, confidently gay man told me, “We don’t need a burlesque of marriage.”

But it is a perfect issue to absorb the attention of the emotion and media driven public, giving them a cause to engage between Kardashian updates. 

It serves the critters gorging at the DC trough, as they continue to enrich their own at the expense of the whole nation, while public officials make much noise and do nothing.

Most of all, it lets people stand on a cost-free moral high ground.  You’re a good person just for holding the opinion, saying the slogan, burning the pinch of incense.  You are an accepted member of the in group and can look down your nose at those on the outs.

That said, the argument against “marriage whatev” in the public square lacks coherence.  The straight majority doesn’t practice marriage on God’s terms, so how do we draw the line and impose a standard on LGBTQ&c or anybody (or anybodies) else?  Americans take marriage to be a provisional arrangement for personal purposes, with no transcendent value or obligation.

Which leaves it to the church to expect its members to practice marriage on God’s terms.  To be respectful of a disdainful or even hostile surrounding culture’s officials, while devoting ourselves to the Lord who sees us as his own bride. 

This is what makes the actions of the Episcopal Church so stupendously disgusting.  Pathetically, it crows about being “prophetic” while simply taking the cost-free position.  Demonically, it is a church that has defected over to a culture that despises the Word of God and his witnesses in the world.


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I think it would come as a big “shock” to many Christians that many non-Christians HATE us.  HATE OUR GUTS.  That in fact demonizing Christians is one of their favorite pastimes.  Making a mockery of “Christian” marriage makes them feel good - “look, we put one over on those Christian (fill in your favorite swear slang here)”.  But, the truth is we aren’t really fighting man, are we?

“The devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour”.  Ever bit as true today as when it was written.  Satan is attacking Christians because HE HATES US.  HATES OUR GUTS.  He will do everything in his power to mock God and His laws.  He WANTS to make us unworthy to be the BRIDE OF CHRIST.  That is why he is attacking marriage so viciously.  He wants us to be left at the altar.

[1] Posted by B. Hunter on 3-27-2013 at 04:57 PM · [top]

B. Hunter, thanks for a great exhortation! 

May we, with our crucified Lord, “despise the shame” inflicted in the kingdom of this world so that we can delight with him in the glorious kingdom he brings.

[2] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 3-27-2013 at 06:47 PM · [top]

“Stupendously disgusting” doesn’t even BEGIN to describe what TEC is doing.

[3] Posted by cennydd13 on 4-5-2013 at 06:08 PM · [top]

Tim - really outstanding.  Thank you.

[4] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 4-7-2013 at 07:48 AM · [top]

“Most of all, it lets people stand on a cost-free moral high ground.  You’re a good person just for holding the opinion, saying the slogan, burning the pinch of incense.”

I agree 100%. That is exactly how I felt seeing all those pink equal signs pop up on F.B. I was thinking of re-naming it “In your face” book.

[5] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 4-7-2013 at 04:38 PM · [top]

Timothy, thanks so much for this post.  I think that truly orthodox Christians need to realize that we have *always* been tolerated at best, despised at worst by the secular world.  We in the “Christian” West have had a bit of a pass on serious persecution for a while, but even in the USA I now see the day fast approaching when vilification and persecution will be the norm—especially if and when “marriage equality” and other aspects of the normalization of aberrant behaviors become the law of the land. 

We need to remember that discipleship has a cost.

[6] Posted by Joshua 24:15 on 4-7-2013 at 10:51 PM · [top]

Problems are very often opportunities.  The shift of the culture against us, which has been going on for decades, if not a century or more, may be a liberating event for the church.  For quite some time, with the cultural winds at our backs, the culture around us absorbed our values by osmosis, without a thought as to whys and wherefores of our values, beliefs and institutional arrangements.  That which was, was and society reaped the benefits of its acceptance.  As Christianity’s cultural dominance fades, we are being called to explain, to ourselves and to the world around us, what we think marriage is and what God’s purposes are for the one-flesh union between male and female.  To borrow the words of John Paul II, we are no longer in a position to impose, only to propose.  The good news is that our proposition is so vast, and grand and beautiful that it is quite irresistable. 

We are strangers in a strange land but God has been with and blessed his people in far worse conditions than we face right now.  Be not afraid.

[7] Posted by Clive on 4-8-2013 at 09:41 PM · [top]

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