I get it.
We feel guilty.
Christians around the world, in repressive regimes and fundamentalist states are persecuted for their faith.
They are constantly confronted with belief in Jesus or sure beatings and executions.
Reject Christ, or reject life.
That’s a hard choice; it demands an almost Gethsemane like experience where the Christian must pray:
“Let this cup pass from me, but not my will but yours be done.”
It is a trip through the valley of the shadow of death where evil is very real and compromising very appealing.
Then we look at choices of Western Christians, particularly in the United States.
You either reject Christ or …
You get ridiculed?
You get ignored?
You get bullied by internet trolls?
Yeah, so what?
You can get all of that for liking the wrong sports team, voting for the wrong party, or even for wearing the wrong kind of clothes.
There is nothing that separates normal ridicule from “Christian” ridicule.
And, as I have stated before, I don’t think that the ridicule that Christians are receiving is about following Jesus.
Its for not following Jesus.
Today SCOTUS ruled in favor of same-sex marriage; the denial of civil rights for so many Americans is over.
And you would have thought the sky was falling.
Some Christians are hailing this as the “end of Western civilization” or the doorway from which the LGBT community will persecute Christians.
It is incredible to me how this decision is being linked to the end times and other apocalyptic pronouncements of judgment.
While homosexuality (or rather the acting upon it) is sin, it is not THE sin.
Now that homosexuals can marry I do not foresee the destruction of the United States (well at least not for that reason).
And I don’t think they are going to retaliate with systemic persecution.
Some more fringe groups might, but I think the majority just want the same rights as everyone else.
Gay marriage is part of this “phantom menace” of persecution.
The idea that Christians in this country are being persecuted for their faith in Christ.
And this newest crisis (especially concerning wedding cakes and photographers), has led many Christian leaders to scream persecution.
Even though the problem is that these individuals are businesses providing secular services; not religious institutions.
Still, this is seen as a violation of religious liberty because of a misapplication of vocational ministry; while we are to be Christians in the marketplace, we have to serve everyone equally and justly.
To deny someone a wedding cake just because you disapprove of their wedding is illegal; now if you. as a conservative Evangelical minister refused to officiate a gay wedding, then that is within the scope of your religious freedom (as long as you were consistent with all forms of sexual immorality).
But recently a bunch of religious leaders signed a petition saying to they would obey God rather than the law when it came to same-sex marriage.
Well, I applaud that decision…if what they are talking about is refusing to marry someone in their churches who is practicing sexual immorality.
But the legalizing of same-sex marriage does not force religious institutions to do that, at all.
The gesture by these religious leaders is melodramatic and it reminds of me of the early Christian martyr, Ignatius of Antioch.
Ignatius encouraged his followers to literally push him toward martyrdom, and he urged his followers to jump at martyrdom as well.
There was a period of time when ancient Christians were lining up to be martyred.
Now, I am fully aware of the potential consequences of believing in Christ.
But I also believe that you should not go looking to be martyred.
So, I think that these Christian leaders are perhaps invoking the spirit of Ignatius by rushing to declare their willingness to martyred (or at least fined) by refusing gay marriages.
No persecution exists, so should we volunteer to get it started?
Almost like, “Please justify our posturing and over-the-top piety by persecuting us!”
The response, much to their chagrin, will likely be a shrug of indifference…or at worst ridicule.
Because the enemy’s main strategy in the Western church has been apathy rather than outright persecution.
Can we not live our convictions out quietly and with respect to the rights of others?
Why do we have to create a “phantom menace” to make ourselves feel like we are actually standing with Jesus?
Jesus does not need us to stand with him.
Jesus wants us to love as him.
Time to let go of this fight and this posturing, and it is time to respectfully, faithfully, and quietly live out the truth and love of the Gospel.
Grace and Peace