As I read through my news feeds and blogs this morning I came across a Baptist press article “Foes: Gay hate crimes bill could target churches”. This article startled me a bit as I do see the coming of a day when we may lose our ability to legally speak against homosexuality from the pulpit. I have always been concerned in regard to hate crimes legislation, as judgment on those issues is completely subjective. I do not see a judge in Oklahoma enforcing hate crimes the same way a judge in California would. It is a law based on opinion. All of that said, to a large degree I believe we as Christians have made this mess, and now we must sit in the mess we have created.
To the degree that hate crimes legislation was created, we as a Christian entity have been guilty. In the Christian culture’s reaction to abortion we were more known by our hatred of abortion doctors and their patients than we were known for our compassion towards those struggling with life and death decisions. We are know by our bombing of clinics, our protests where we show dead children and our screaming than we are known by out ability to pray with expectant moms and offer help to those who feel that abortion is the only option. If judgment is by intent, there are many who claim to be Christians are guilty of hate. We are no different when it comes to homosexuality. In our reaction to growth of the homosexual movement, we as Christians have been vocal against it, and to a large degree have begun to hate the sinner along with the sin. Maybe I’m naive, but I can’t see Jesus caring a protest sign yelling at women outside of an abortion clinic. I just don’t think Jesus would get caught up in the culture war of today. Jesus brought people out of sin by loving them, not condemning them. If you want to see who Jesus condemned, it was the hypocritical religious leaders of his day. With the woman at the well, he brought her to spiritual life, and then he dealt with her sin. With the woman caught in adultery, he saved her from the mob, and then told her not to sin. With the scribes and Pharisees of his day Jesus condemned them because they sought to earn God’s favor by making morality more important than faith and compassion. The way we have approached sinners who are in culturally hot sins is condemn them before we ever love them. It’s funny how often we condemn a person in a lifestyle of homosexuality, yet excuse a person for a lifestyle of gossip. We are enraged with the sins in which we do not struggle.
I think we also created this mess also by thinking we could change America by legislating its morality. Think about how much money we as a religious right have spent supporting candidates, lobbying for morality, and trying to make our country more moral one law at a time. Having the Ten Commandments in a classroom is not going to save children. Why do we keep “in God we trust” on money, when a majority of Americans don’t believe that. On his blog Dr. Alvin Reid said- “When religion and politics mix, you end up with politics.” If we reinvested our time, energy, money away from politics, and focused them on souls, we could change America. A democracy will always mirror its population. Why is it that Abortion and Homosexuality are becoming legislatively ok? The reason is because we have put so much energy into our government that we have allowed our churches to grow stale. How do we change our country? We do it by saving the lost. We have gotten to this place because we have invited the government into the church. The church and state should be separated. When the former president started funding churches though faith based initiatives many churches lined up for support. Where the government spends its money, it is allowed control. Here is the message we communicate “Give us money, give us a voice, allow our legislation to stand, make us the center, but don’t touch us when were out of power.” If we want in during the good times, we must be willing to be out during the bad times. Here’s my opinion, we stay out of your hair, and you stay out of ours. The church and state should not be pals. We are in this mess because we as a church became political.
Right now our culture is looking to us for a response to the congressional decision yesterday. Here is what’s going to happen. Many Christians are going to grab their megaphones and scream of how unfair this is. Many will write strong toned emails, letters, and make phone calls protesting this decision. I am afraid we are going to react in hate to a hate crime bill. Here is what I hope happens. We take this as a lesson learned and move on. We will not be guilty of hate crimes if we are loving people into the kingdom of God. Instead of standing on street corners yelling condemnation on sinners, we should be building relationships with them so as to win them to Christ. The Christian gospel did not conquer Rome by politics, but instead by the message of life shared from soul to soul until it could not be ignored. For the past 50+ years we have been trying to save America through legislation and it has failed. Maybe its time to try something new, something biblical like saving the souls of men and women through the love of Christ, and watching it spread like a wild fire.