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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