Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Goverment and Immoral Law

So, New York has passed a law legalizing Gay Marriage.

Many opponents of Gay Marriage are quite upset, and from a political point of view, they should be. New York is a big state... and more importantly, this was an act of the Legislative branch, not merely a court decision. Americans are used to appealing court decisions, to appealing court rulings -- but as part of our political process, we are somewhat used to conceding defeat after a vote is lost. We get practice on it every 2, every 4 years.

If I had to guess (and this is me looking at politics), Gay marriage is going to be standard or at least available for half the US population is probably less than a decade -- even if nothing is done to legalize it on the federal level.

So, what does this mean? Do we need to pull out our Billy Joel albums and destroy anything that has "New York State of Mind" on it? Do we need to cancel our trip to go see Lady Liberty? Do we need to mercilessly taunt the Mets and Yankees? No (well, the third is yes, but that has nothing to do with this law).

Yes, government is a blessing. Yes, governments do pass immoral law.

It happens all the time.

I'm torn on this. I wonder if this isn't Eric the political thinker speaking, or Eric the theologian. Politically speaking, I'm a libertarian -- I don't care *what* is legal as long as my rights are protected and safe guarded. That's sort of the point and price of a free society - I don't tell you how to swing your fist, you don't tell me how to swing mine, and as long as we aren't messing with each other - great.

Thus, the relaxing of laws, or the abolition of vice laws, from a political point of view, just don't bother me. I'm not going to be swayed by arguments on secondary or tertiary effects (i.e. if we legalize X, then y will happen, and then z - and you won't like Z). There's unintended consequences for all law - and frankly, I don't like some of the unintended consequences of some of the current vice laws we have.

However - the question I have is this - this is a political argument. Does it hold water theologicalically?

Theologically speaking, gay marriage, along with all homosexual activities, is immoral. I cannot condone anyone availing themselves of it. Moreover, I do see the theological danger in giving legal sanction to something that is immoral (there is a difference between the government not passing a law against X on the one hand and validating with recognition an act on the other). We will have to be more precise and take more care in teaching our own about what marriage truly is.

And its these things that lead me not to be too worried even from a theological perspective.

Our attitude towards the government shouldn't change, even with bad Law. Paul's great section on obeying the authorities is found in Roman - is written to people who less then a few years later would be being slaughtered by the Emperor they are to pray for. In fact, Paul write so many of his letters while in chains, while suffering under unjust laws - yet still, the call to respect and pray for our leaders goes forth, and if necessary, to receive the full punishment of their unjust judgments, even if it means death. And yet, still to pray for them.

So the situation remains the same. We are civilly obedient (or if something comes us that to obey the law means we violate God's Command, we take the civil punishment that is coming to us -- going to jail because you knowingly broke a law isn't really "disobedience" -- it's showing that you understand the law and are willing to abide by its terms and punishments for violating it according to your conscience in order to make a point -- that's actually using a law for rhetorical effect in political and legal debate). We focus upon God's Word. We pray for our leaders.

And we ought to remember, even now, that God works all things for the good of His Church. Even when the Government passes immoral law.

We have the phrase - the Church was watered with the blood of the martyrs. The Roman Emperors intended it for evil, but God used it for good.

How will God use the passing of Gay Marriage for good? Because now, for the first time in a long, long while, there is a renewed focus on what marriage is, what it is for. We aren't just going to be going through the motions to try and fit some picture of the American dream - house, white picket fence, and two kids, a boy and a girl. We will have to point out, over and against not only what society says, but what the government says, what marriage truly is --> God placing a man and a woman together to that they might mutually care and support each other and raise any children which God provides for them (be it by birth or which God provides by adoption).

Not an expression of love - that's not the point of marriage. Not an expression of will. Not a chance to get out of mom and dad's place by hook or by crook. Mutual love and support, a safe place to exercise passion, and a place for the raising of children.

As Christians, we are in the world, but not of the world.

In America, we can forget this, because even we too buy into the Finney-Arminean idea that we are a "Christian Nation" -- instead we must listen to our Lord. His Kingdom is not of this world. My true citizenship is not this country -- this country is a wonderful blessing, but it's only temporary like all other blessings -- it too shall pass.

Its blessings shall pass, and its immoral and foolish law shall pass.

I'm not going to get too worked up about an immoral law that just means I have to teach more clearly instead of letting the government teach what marriage is. And even if the law is changed - even if in 20 years I lose the right to officiate at weddings because I will not solemize gay marriages (I don't think that is coming, but let's throw out work case scenarios)... oh well.

And take they our life, goods, fame, child or wife - those these all be gone, they yet have nothing won. The kingdom ours remaineth.

The government passing a bad, immoral law is sad. But we aren't even approaching a place where we'd need the bold stand of "A Mighty Fortress". As such, I'll not worry too much and just keep doing what I have been called to do -- point to the Word of God and Christ Jesus. God be merciful to this world, and keep us steadfast in Thy Word.

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