There has been a great deal of talk in the last several days about what the gay marriage ruling from the Supreme Court means. For the American church, it means the beginning of something, not the end. It is the beginning of a slow, but increasing effort to push the church out of the town square.
Because the Court declared marriage a “fundamental right” and did so under the equal protection clause, it will trump the religious protections of the first amendment. That means tax exempt status for religious institutions will fall within the decade. Private, sectarian schools are going to be in line ahead of churches.
Christians will actually get to decide if they are cultural or actual Christians.
But whether a believer or not, if you disagree with the ruling, there is something you must do.
You’ve given to candidates who have failed you. You’ve supported causes that have gotten no where. You probably have a sense of helplessness in the face of a cultural tide that seems intent on dragging you out to sea and drowning you. There is something you must do.
You must build community.
Rosaria Butterfield is a college professor and former lesbian. She exposes, in fact, the lie that people are born gay. Perhaps there are some, but most are not, despite what culture tells. In a recent conversation, Rosaria Butterfield, who came to Christ by studying to oppose him, said this:
“The LGBT community is a real community,” she said. When she was a lesbian “everyone’s home in our community was open every night … an open home with a meal and friendship was what stood between you and suicide, or you and boredom, or you and alcohol.”
By contrast, she added, “often the Christian community looks very bounded and guarded, very rule driven, very inaccessible. … Quite frankly, from my perspective, it has often seemed that Christians have just grown comfortable having a starvation diet of community. It’s hard for starving people to have a meal. It just is.”
Butterfield also cited 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says that when you are tempted God will “make a way to escape” (KJV).
“What if my home is a way of escape, but I’m too busy being concerned that there’s cat hair on the couch? Right? Who cares? People are going to die of loneliness faster,” she said.
Yes! This! How often do you decide it is too much trouble to have company over? You’ve got to clean up the house. You’ve got to prepare great food.
My wife and I are like that too. And it is all nonsense.
You and I are creating impediments to community. And now more than ever we need it. We need our children to see we are not alone and that our beliefs are shared. We need ourselves to know we are not on an island.
The early Christian church, under persecution, spent as much time eating together as they did praying together. Often both were at the same time. They told stories of faith to embolden and encourage and strengthen their faiths.
It was abundantly obvious last Friday evening that much of the major news networks online and offline are deeply supportive of a life against the Christian Church and its values. One newspaper declared it would no longer take letters against gay marriage because it was the law of the land — just like gun rights. (Oh! Wait!) Popular culture is aligned against tradition values.
We will see fewer and fewer examples of tradition being appreciated. It is incumbent on people of faith to be breaking bread with fellow believers to sustain and encourage and perpetuate their values. It is necessary for those who have children to tell them the stories of faith to sustain them and encourage them in the ways of our values.
Within twenty years, the culture will move on more aggressively to homeschooling and attacking the values of faith more directly. That may seem like a lot of time, but it is not. The best way to prepare yourselves and your family is to prepare a meal and have an open door for friends of faith.
It is important to smile and take a break from the howls and fury of popular culture. It is important to pray together as a larger family of believers. It is important to laugh. The topic of conversation itself is not so important.
Your house will never be clean enough. Your food will never be three Michelin stars. But your table can be quickly cleaned and paper plates are in ready supply. And there are friends and fellow believers who need nourishing of body and of soul as the world tries to wear us out. We need each other and we need to remember that “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt 18:20)