I recently watched a debate between two prominent individuals on whether homosexual unions are beneficial to society. No it wasn’t Carter and Ford but the pictured worker well and thankfully it was a friendly enough debate. Imagine that? A friendly debate over hot a social issue, I hope this continues to be possible in our country. The purpose was, if homosexual unions have benefits to a society then what are they and if not, then what are those? As interesting as it was I have to admit that the conservative Christian largely lost the debate. The problem as I believe is that as a Christian we do not defend God’s views on human behavior based on how they benefit a society or not? That is not really how a Christian gets to play it. Christianity isn’t true because it is utilitarian.
I personally do not hold that a secular government shouldn’t be involved with this particular decision, think about it, we obviously would love the government to have upheld and defended traditional marriage. Government involvement is always good when it benefits you. A true democratic society is always going to reason after its own passions. They are after all, free to do so. But being a democracy it shouldn’t really have just ruled in one way or the other on its own, but it already has. I also don’t necessarily see that the government should oppose it from a secular societal standpoint. To them marriage is a political institution; to whom the government grants sin will be sinful indeed.
Ideologies and tautologies are buzzwords that everyone is using in these debates. You have an ideology and that is why you are wrong? Because you have an ideology you argue with a tautology and thus you are wrong! For a Christian unfortunately at the end of the day he may very well be resting simply on an ideology and our arguments really will be a tautology. What’s wrong with having a belief based in something? Honestly the debate did not come around until the closing remarks that brought this point up. If God created then he gets to set the rules. This is why Christians say and act the way they do: Because God. The question for us really is do we listen or not? But then this begs the question of the debate well why should we? Does it benefit a society?
The argument typically goes along the lines of down river sins, which I believe is true but is that a great argument, to point to something else? I have to agree that the slippery slope can sound like a weak argument. If our reason is “what could happen next!?” is the best we do, well, no wonder we lost? But still ask yourself, are hypothetical problems really not points of contention? Let’s look at another hypothetical to get the point. We could simply believe Iran that they will do no evil in the future after obtaining nuclear power, but everybody in that debate is entirely fueled by the potential outcomes down the road. The run-off from the consequences do matter.
So how do Christians speak into a society that is increasingly becoming like Sodom? How do we address a sin issue through legislation? Do we? For example wouldn’t legalizing marijuana make all that drug enforcement a lot easier? Well it would but I still don’t want a society where being stones off your guff is a normal thing for the average person on the street. A matter of opinion for sure, again which I pray are allowed to continue to be held, but it begs the question why speak ancient morals into a society that largely doesn’t want them? Why waste breath trying to tell people what God says when they don’t care anymore? Worse yet why try to return to a version of Americana that doesn’t even exist anymore? The society has thrown off God and they have realized they can get by just fine without him. So why?
Failing to answer this for so long is why the question has gotten us to the point of simply a census; We desire to know the benefits to society? We create a pros and cons list. But when you are to that point you have already come extremely far down the path of acceptance and are pulling into the parking lot of acquiescence. Coming to terms in some way with the proposal is just around the corner. This is why the Government went ahead and decided this for us.When you have a majority on your side a tautology is just fine reasoning after all? Since the tides have changed, this is reality now. So answer dear Christian why should anyone care what your Bible says?
This is what the debate was about but because it was approached as utilitarian it was lost.
The prophets teach us the answer, it should be two cities: Sodom and Nineveh. In one God could find little reason to refuse judgment on and one where God found all the reason in the world to turn from its promised calamity.
The real question is does it or does it not benefit a society to listen to God?
The point of Sodom was not to say homosexuals are the worst kind of people, but that a people who throws off the constraints of God’s laws will always spiral, and downward is the direction. This is taught in Romans 1 . This will always be judged even if it is eventual. This story stands throughout the scriptures as a testament about how God is serious about sin and repentance. Jude 7 (Deut 29:23, Isa 3:9, 13:19, Jer 23:14, Lam 4:6, Ezekiel 16:44-58, Amos 4:11, Matt 10:15, 11:23-24, Luke 17:29, 2 Peter 2:6-9) In fact God was so serious about it that he sent his Son to prevent further duplication. God doesn’t want societies of sin, he wants people to accept his offer of forgiveness.
Nineveh is an example of what God wants from a city steeped in evil. He is more than happy to relent and show mercy. In fact God desires to show mercy, and Nineveh was shown it through their repentance. Sodom was destroyed for their lack of it.
So the next question could be, are judgment and destruction good for a society?
Now this puts us back into the place of “if our society doesn’t believe in God then who cares what he says?” Well I would say neither Sodom nor Nineveh believed at first either, but the outcome was still the Lord’s.
This is the gospel pure and simple. If the church does not return to calling the people back to God because he says so, then we are left with reasons and opinions that are simply debatable and ignore-able. I do not argue for less sin in a society because of personal gain, even though there are obvious side benefits. I do not argue for less sin in a society because I can foresee all the possible pitfalls. I do not argue against sin because I can describe a better version of utopia than you can. I say return to God because he is calling for all of us to repent and be welcomed into the merciful loving arms of God. What we need are prophets not necessarily better debaters. Prophets were hated for their message of repentance just as Jesus said his disciples would be hated for his.
I will probably not win a debate about why society will be better off with or without a particular sin. All a Christian can do is be the messenger that God calls in us. A prophet always says return to the Lord. A prophet puts the problem where it should be: between man and God. When we are debaters the problems remains simply opinions among men. So I say return to the Lord, when you ask why? I say let’s look at the history, but not just the history but the very real potential of two different futures. Where things lead is entirely the point.
John 3:16 speaks of both an eternal life and a perishing that we need to consider. But don’t worry there is good news. The invitation from God is an open one, come or do not, that is the great thing about being free to respond. But a pastor’s job is always to say come, and never that there is no a need to. It is to your benefit to come.
Come let us return unto the Lord.