Today, June 26th, 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States gave its long awaited ruling in favor of marriage equality. This news comes as a huge win for the LGBTQ community who have been longing to be seen as equal citizens under the laws of this country.
When I first heard the news this morning, I cried happy tears along with so many who have been hoping for a day like today. I began reading through my Facebook newsfeed to see so many posts on the ruling with phrases such as “Love wins”, “Love finally wins!”, “Love has won!”.
But I was quickly reminded of so many civil rights laws that have come to pass throughout our country’s history and the struggles we still face today. My thoughts went to Charleston, SC, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Martin, Brown, and the list goes on and on. My thoughts went to the exploitation of women and movies such as 50 Shades of Gray that send messages that objectification of women not only is acceptable, but if you let a man use you for long enough, things might turn around. And how so many women are hindered in and outside of the Church simply because of their gender.
And I remembered that laws don’t equal love.
This is a huge day for the LGBTQ community. And I celebrate with them as they revel in the rights that have now been bestowed to them under the Federal Government. But Love hasn’t won. Not yet. I think about the future and while I hope that discrimination and prejudices will disappear, the realist in me says that there is still a lot of work to be done. And the work has very little to do with laws, petitions, and protest signs. The work has to do with how Christ followers will choose to move forward.
The issues we are struggling through as a country are not new, but because we live in this information age, online platforms have become speedy avenues for voices (and arguments) to be heard. The Church has made headlines over the last few years as she struggles, herself, to find where she stands on racism, violence, prejudice, etc. The debates over what God’s Word “really” says have been charged, controversial, polarized, and at times ugly. But here’s what I know to be true.
1. The story of the Israelites demonstrates how laws can change behavior, but have little effect on the hearts of men.
2. Every decision a Christ follower makes is somewhat (if not fully) based on their picture of God. Ask yourself this: “Who do I think God to be based on how I am living out my life?” “Who is God?” We know from many passages throughout the New Testament that God is fully revealed in Jesus Christ. Everything we see in Jesus from how He ministered, loved, befriended, to who He rebuked and why, to His willingness to go to the cross shows us the true nature of who God is. Do our lives and the decisions we make reconcile with the One we claim to follow?
3. The Kingdom is a Jesus-looking God raising up a Jesus-looking people. (Yeah, I stole that one from Greg Boyd.) Real change happens when Kingdom people get out there and shed their own agendas and put on the Kingdom agenda. And the Kingdom agenda is to live and die like Christ- loving our neighbors and enemies all the way to the point of death if necessary.
This ruling will increase the tension among Christ followers who find themselves on both sides of the debate. But Jesus prayed for unity among His followers. Church, it’s time to really get to know this Jesus-looking God. When you read about Jesus in scripture, who do you see? How did He treat those on the margins? What kind of character did He demonstrate as He preached, broke bread, laid hands on people? How do we reconcile hatred disguised by our political agendas with the person of Jesus?
I pray that this will be a turning point for the Church. I pray that the Kingdom would come and that we would love others the way Christ showed us how. He said that the Father loves like the sun shines and the rain falls. The sun and rain shine and fall on all people of all backgrounds, skin colors, sexual orientations, genders, ages, etc. The sun is always there, the rain will always fall. And Jesus said that if we love the way the father loves, we are living as true children of our Father in Heaven.
Walk in Love today.