It was Passover in Jerusalem, a festive time for Jews, and one of great preparation for remembering God’s liberating Israel from bondage. There was plenty of activity and good spirits in the city, and there was likely no more festive and active place than the Temple of the Living God. However, not everyone was happy:
Periodically, the modern equivalent of the moneychangers Christ drove from the Temple set up shop in the marketplace of ideas, pushing some odd notion and finding isolated scriptures to support their point.
This past week, a trio of Iowa-based religious scholars published an op-ed, reminding readers that despite popular opinion, the Bible does not simply define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Turns out, their agenda item is to weigh in on the subject of marriage equality. While it may not expressly be the editorialists’ aim, the aim of many citing the editorial is clear: to use scripture to argue against the idea that homosexual marriage has any biblical opposition.
Part of the problem in coming to a proper response may lie in how some prefer to regard Romans 3:23, For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. I find people often tend to see their sins as one, or just a few, transgressions and that, on the whole, they are pretty good people. And some things that Jesus said can reinforce this odd notion among the self-righteous:
Government is failing; failing in its responsibilities to its citizens, and failing to take responsibility for its shortcomings. Whether the failure to safeguard (or even allow) freedoms or liberties, the failure to protect private property, or the failure to protect life and limb, government is being exposed as unable to deliver on promises it makes to those who live under its rule.
Nevertheless, mankind continues their love affair with government. Having deemed it necessary, they endure government abuses…and even pay for the “privilege”…with seemingly no concern for its costs, economic or otherwise.
What, in your view, is a sacrifice? Is it a tithe, or an offering? Is it a shout or a testimony? Is it the giving of time or talent? I have seen all these things in the church; I have done all these in my church. I can attest that any of these things can be a sacrifice; I am also a witness that none of them necessarily are sacrifices. The issue is the cost to the one who “sacrifices.”
Regarding sacrifices, the question is not “What did you give?” but rather “What did you give up?” Recall this:
I daresay this has happened to almost everyone: something God does causes a change in someone or something, and a man doesn’t see that change as God’s handiwork, especially if it goes against a purpose that man has set. Since many of God’s people believe, when they set their mind to something, that they are about their Father’s business, they conclude that opposes their efforts is the work of the devil.
The responses range from “Loose here, Satan” to other, less “spiritual” words or deeds. It is not until after they have allowed emotion, often anger, to run its course, that they see God’s hand:
As I post this, I recognize there are people doing their best against other people and circumstances whose best seem a little better than theirs. That is not just discouraging; it can be debilitating.
There is nothing more humbling than the realization that your best is simply not good enough – not good enough to obtain what you want. Perhaps not even good enough to hold on to what you have. It is even more sobering when what once “got the job done” now can’t even apply for the job.
I recently re-encountered a passage of scripture that has long interested me. This time, however, instead of just treating it as a destination, I began to see it as a door to a more comprehensive understanding, at least for me. The passage is Matthew 19:3-8.
Instead of seeing this as no more than a treatise on marriage, I began to see it as a glimpse into how God deals with human resistance to His will and rejection of His word.
Politicians and advocates, on both sides, have all had their about same-sex marriage in this election cycle. Now, they have moved on to the coming November referendum on the current administration. That battle is more economic; social issues, apart from Sandra Fluke‘s free birth control, have lost their moment in the campaign spotlight.
In the wake of the latest “debate”, there is a tattered and confused narrative regarding the bedrock institution of any society: marriage. Depending on whom you heed, either the nation is moving inexorably toward “legalizing” homosexual marriage, or 31 US states banning homosexual marriage, either by popular vote or by their legislatures (including California twice and, most recently North Carolina), tell a different story. Adding to the disparate narrative is the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, whereby Congress relieved each state from having to recognize marriages performed outside its borders.
I imagine all experience this. Anticipation of a huge moment, either of joy, of pain, or of testing, triggers the “fight or flight” response – even when there’s no one, and nothing, to fight. Many athletes may experience this before a contest, or during “crunch time.” Students may experience this before a final exam, after endless study leaves them yet feeling unprepared. Speakers may feel this as they listen to another introduce them before a keynote address.
The feeling is not restricted to athletes, academics, or public speakers. A new job, a wedding day, or planning a large family gathering can bring this feeling to anyone.