July 12, 2014

Alignment with the Principalities: Troubling Trends

Pride Month has wrapped up for 2014, but not without two significant events hosted by the White House in the last week of June. On June 24, the White House hosted the first-ever Forum on Global LGBT Human Rights, headlined by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice. Two panels bookended Rice’s address and the forum was followed by a reception hosted by Vice President Joe Biden at his and his wife’s home.

On June 30, President Obama closed out LGBT Pride Month with a reception he and the First Lady hosted at the White House to celebrate the advances the Obama Administration has made for LGBT equality since taking office in 2009. President Obama gave an address highlighting the revocation of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act with specific protections for members of the LGBT community and encouraged “national, state, and local community leaders, business leaders, grassroots activists, elected officials, and others” to not only continue to push for gay rights but also allow that energy to overflow:

“And that means fighting for poor kids. And it means fighting for workers to get a decent wage. It means showing compassion for the undocumented worker who is contributing to our society and just wants a chance to come out of the shadows. It means fighting for equal pay for equal work. It means standing up for sexual — standing up against sexual violence wherever it occurs. It means trying to eliminate any vestige of racial or religious discrimination and anti-Semitism wherever it happens.”

President Obama also made the comparison to the Civil Rights movement, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2, by citing Dr. King’s famous quote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Interestingly enough, some noted religious folk appeared at these two events. Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson was an avid participant in the June 24 forum. Post-Evangelical author and speaker Brian McLaren appeared in the first of the two forum panels and encouraged religious leaders to move to a place where they “oppose violence and replace stigmatization with equality in the name of God and religion.”

The June 30 reception guest list included formerly defrocked United Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer and Southern Baptist pastor Danny Cortez, who have both achieved notoriety for opposing their denominations’ traditional stances on homosexuality. Cortez, pastor of New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, CA, received an invitation to the White House for himself and his son, aged fifteen, whose “coming out” finalized Cortez’ change of heart.

In addition to the invitations handed out to these four men, whose “religious voices” fit right in with other strong pro-LGBT voices, Rice’s address at the forum appear to reveal the government’s troubling desire to coerce religious groups to comply with pro-LGBT beliefs. Rice reached out to people of faith specifically:

“For the faith community, how can we reinforce to religious groups that God loves all the children of his creation equally?  For the human rights community, how can we help activists work together to advance social justice for everyone?  Because, if you care about equal rights for women or ethnic or religious minorities, you should care about LGBT human rights too.  It’s all the same.  And for the private sector, how can we make the strongest case that protecting rights is good business?  These are the questions that I hope we’ll continue to work together to answer.

“Because when I listen to my own children and to the young people I’m privileged to meet with, I am filled with hope—hope that tomorrow will indeed get better for all people of the world, whether they live in Peoria or Peshawar.  And I have no doubt that future generations will wonder why anyone ever sought to criminalize love or condemn another human for being true to him or herself.”

As a young millennial Christian, I find myself stuck in the middle of the supposed dichotomy Rice offers. This quote raises a significant question: do Christians who do not affirm homosexuality automatically reject the belief “that God loves all the children of his creation equally?” I have struggled to find a place to stand in the tension created between the teachings in Scripture about marriage and the far more numerous teachings in Scripture about love and compassion. I am taken aback by Rice’s accusation of Christians who don’t affirm homosexuality as unilaterally unloving, but I recognize that this issue does come down to loving people.

What then is love? Is the love of Christ which God calls us to reflect through the power of the Holy Spirit best represented by blanket affirmation and blind acceptance? Love of course involves affirming and accepting one another, but stopping there does a gross injustice to the love of God. Love instead calls us to be the best we can be and to fully live into the image of God found in each one of us.

Christians who step out and affirm homosexuality become popular in the eyes of our government (as evidenced by the four invitations mentioned above). Since when has acceptance from the powers and principalities of this world been a litmus test for faithful Christianity?

Soli Deo Gloria

12 Responses to Alignment with the Principalities: Troubling Trends

  1. Gabe says:

    We’ve come quite a way since the summer of 2008 when the president, then a campaigning senator, told Rick Warren that he believed that marriage should be kept to one man and one woman.

    This was a great article and I think that it hits on a key point: our culture’s inability to define what love is. As we continually march into the postmodern wilderness, where obfuscation of meaning of anything is the goal, things are only going to get stranger.

  2. Pudentiana says:

    Yes, Mr. Fuller, you are asking good questions. I hope other millenial Christians are asking questions like this. If they seek Truth, I think it will be hard to ignore the dangers of being elevated by an Administration which has done nothing to support historic Christianity or defend our brothers and sisters in the Third World. If I got an invitation to meet with these people, I would look very hard in the mirror and ask myself, “What did I do wrong?”

  3. MarcoPolo says:

    As a compassionate citizen of our fine country, and a follower of the Golden Rule (the key tenet of most religions), I find these concerns of the author to be easily reconcilable.

    If we’ve witnessed anything in the last one-hundred years, it has to be the understanding that we as a people, are not so different that we must segregate. If the written word of one’s religion states that those individuals ‘stranded’ in the middle of the gender spectrum should be ostracized from mainstream life, then maybe one should consider what relevance that religious text has to today’s existence.

    These biases of sexual identity will be something that our grandchildren will be ashamed of us for promulgating.

    • Dusty Herring says:

      There is no “gender spectrum”. A person is either born male or female, there is nothing in-between. True hermaphrodites are a biological aberration that are usually corrected surgically, and gender identity disorder should be treated as a mental illness.

      The Holy Bible is the infallible Word of God. What “today’s existence” thinks of that is totally irrelevant.

      • MarcoPolo says:

        There will obviously, be no further discussion about this subject with you, Dusty Herring.
        It is amazing, that one would accept such a narrow view of all things made by God…but that’s freedom of choice and that’s your choice! So bless you, and good luck!

        • Dusty Herring says:

          You’re right, no further discussion is necessary. As our Lord has said:

          “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” –Matthew 7:13-14

      • MarcoPolo says:

        How can you be so certain that there is nothing in between male and female? (Exception to the hermaphrodite)
        Just as has been discovered that there is a finite differentiation between “absolute” polarities in science, (ie: nothing is always just ON and OFF, but fluctuating to either side of it). This discovery has as much to do with physiologic existence, as it has to nano-technology.

        Please consider that you ( and/or I ), might be wrong!

        And please don’t further the stigma that anyone “in between”, is mentally ill? That’s not very Christian, or courteous.

        All praise to God’s creation!
        He makes NO mistakes!

        • Dusty Herring says:

          God makes no mistakes. Disease, mental illness, death and decay exist because of mankind’s rebellion to God’s will. The teaching of our Holy Scripture is abundantly clear that God created us male and female. There is also a secular scientific argument that multiple genders within one species would not happen because it would be counter productive to evolutionary survival. I don’t hate those that are sexually confused or suffer from sexual identity disorder, I pray for them to be healed. Transgender surgery amounts to nothing more than allowing the mutilation of their bodies to support their psychosis. There are multitudes of cases of ‘sex change regret’, but little is covered about this in the media because it isn’t politically-correct and would damage the LGBTIAQXYZ agenda.

          As Christians we are to approach all human conditions with love, kindness, sympathy, and understanding but not to accept, condone, or promote sinful behavior. As Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”

          • MarcoPolo says:

            It’s comforting to know that you “approach” all human conditions with Love. At least there’s no sense of violent retribution against those that are different than you.

            However, your very first sentence suggests that disease, mental illness, even death and decay are the results of people being in rebellion to God.
            Does that mean, even my dear departed mother, who suffered for ten years from Alzheimers disease was out of sync with God?

            I think you might have backed yourself into a corner with that statement.

            How does one explain the phenomenon of certain species sharing the burden of pregnancy, such as the male Seahorse is the gender that births their young?
            Surely Seahorses are God’s creation!

            God bless!

          • Dusty Herring says:

            Your Mother suffered from Alzheimers not because of her own individual sins but because of humankind’s fall from grace, the original sin, in the beginning. My own Mother died of cancer, and my Father suffered from Alzheimers for several years prior to his death. Bad things sometimes happen to good people and it’s most likely not Divine retribution. Whether one takes the Genesis story literally or allegorically the result is the same: In the beginning mankind rebelled to God’s will and as a result death and illness came into the World.

            We aren’t Seahorses. We were created in the image of God and were set above the animal kingdom as it’s caretakers.

          • MarcoPolo says:

            Firstly, thank you for sharing your family’s history, and my condolences to you for your loss.

            Whether we are superior, or inferior in God’s scheme, I don’t think it really matters.

            I was raised in the Methodist Church, and was a full-time participant in all the activities, but after living for nearly sixty years, I’ve become more of a Pantheist. No apologies, it just seems more omniscient, and not as elusive as say, Buddhism. Which has merit in this world, rife with conflict.

            The system of organized religion has gotten a bad rap, and I believe humans have only gotten worse regarding their selfish belief that “their” God will prevail over the other guy’s.

            If every religion decided that they all worshiped the same God, would they come to such different ideas of how to behave?

            Just as there are different languages, there will always be different religions, so if we are to hope for any semblance of peace in this world, it will probably come from a covenant between the major religions agreeing to “Live and let live.”

            I don’t dismiss your reasoning for the suffering among even the most devout, but isn’t that just another well written script that has been plagiarized before? Again, no disrespect… just trying to rationalize Life’s puzzle.

            Thanks for your exchange.

  4. John S. says:

    The problem is in the question: “that God loves all the children of his creation equally?” The short answer is, of course, no. There is no “blanket affirmation and blind acceptance”. That is unless one wants to posit universal salvation when Satan, Hitler and John sing Te Deum together in front of the throne. The true difficulty is finding the grace and humility to help and walk with fellow sinners while addressing and honoring the holiness of God.

    As a side note, parse “children of his creation” and see the errors and worldview encompassed there.

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