One of the discussions going on within the Christian blogosphere in Australia (at least, the bits that I’m reading) is the extent to which we ought to be opposing “gay marriage” legislation, even if we’re oppose the concept in principle.
For a good example of the “live and let live” approach, here’s John Dickson at CPX, well worth watching in full (about 12 minutes):
Now there’s lots of good stuff there, not least on Jesus’ approach to others, but some parts where I part company. I fear that Dickson sets up a false dichotomy. At 8:40 he notes
I don’t see any basis in the Bible, and I don’t think anyone who takes the Bible seriously can point to Biblical passages that indicate, the Church has a right to legislate for general society.
we want to be able to persuade society … but it’s not our role to impose that on society.
Now, for the record, I agree. The big mistake that many Christians make is the failure to recognise that we are not living in a theocracy. The days when the nation was the Church are long gone ever since the nation of Israel collapsed under the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions. The paradigm for us today is not church-state but church-in-Babylon; the church in Exile. So, often we will be pointed to our description in 1 Peter 1:1 as
…God’s elect, exiles scattered…
and that we are. We are strangers in a strange land, resident but curiously alien; citizens of another place (Phil. 3:20). But I think Dickson has it wrong if he thinks that opposition to “gay marriage” (or something else) is the desire to “impose upon society”. The only people using the language of imposition are the secularists who bring out the oft-repeated mantra of “don’t force your views on the rest of us” while seeking to force their views upon us. I fear that Dickson here is in danger of playing to their paradigm and affirming it for them and, in doing so, reduces our courage to speak into the public arena.
And speak out we must, and seek to influence legislators as they decide upon this issue. That’s not “forcing” or “imposing” things – it’s simple argumentation. It’s what any interested party does and Christians are always an interested party in our society.
Because that’s what Christians in Exile do. They may be strangers in the land but they still get involved. They pray for those in authority so that there might be good order in the land (1Tim. 2:1-2) and they get stuck in:
Jeremiah 29:7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
That, I put it to you, must be a key motivator for us in this debate. We do not simply oppose “gay marriage” out of some vain moralism, in fact that’s never a reason to oppose it. We oppose it because we’re convinced it’s a bad thing for society (as I have often argued here) and, out of love, we want the best for this society in which we live in Exile. We seek the peace and prosperity of Australia because it’s in our interests and in Australia’s interests. We’re convinced this is the right and proper thing to do because, as Dickson notes, we know the Creator and we know His good design. That impels us to engage on this and other issues.
I think I understand what John is trying to do – he’s trying to move us away from our assumption that we should have things our own way and to the extent that any of us think in that manner he’s on the money. But I fear that in making his argument it appears to me he’s potentially undermined our impetus to keep campaigning politically by understating the concern that we ought to have for our nation. So let’s keep campaigning, never losing sight of John’s warning about how we present ourselves but also not losing a keen concern for this land.
That’s a key motivator friends – not simply dogged adherence to verses in Leviticus (as true as they certainly are) but compassion and concern for the land in which God has scattered us. It led men like Daniel into political involvement of the first order.