Prop 8 and the ‘persecution’ of Christians


Wedding cake topperSome of my friends have had a hard time wrapping their minds around the idea of what they are “for” as Christians. They come up with things like: 

  • I’m for … preventing people from killing unborn babies. 
  • I’m for … stopping laws that would allow gay people to marry
  • I’m for … keeping people from persecuting Christians.

I’m not going to dig into whether there aren’t things Christians might oppose, or whether we should engage politically on the grounds of our faith. We are fortunate to live in a democracy, which makes political engagement a privilege for all citizens.

 But I have to wonder a little about keeping people from persecuting Christians. Where would Christianity be if there had been a JCLU (Jerusalem Civil Liberties Union) to stop Saul from persecuting Christians before God himself called Saul on it? Minus most of the New Testament. Maybe minus the diaspora that scattered Christians across the Middle East. 

In the last week, a California court made a decision about same-sex marriage that has the potential to have a tremendous impact on many Christian organizations.

It won’t affect our faith, or our practice, but it could limit our funding. Those of us who’ve been able to fund some of our services with tax money may find it more difficult ; those of us who have received foundation grants may find fewer that accept our “irrational” commitment to male-female marriage.  Even before this decision, there were organizations that wouldn’t fund Christian organizations who refused to hire gay pastors — even if every other position was open to people of any faith, no faith, any perspective.

What will this change mean? I only know for sure what God says: a chance to be happy as God’s spirit of glory rests on God’s people.

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (1 Peter 4:14)

 God made Christians for: Being happy when others insult us because of our belief in God.

What do you expect from the California decision on same-sex marriage?

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About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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5 Responses to Prop 8 and the ‘persecution’ of Christians

  1. Lianne MacGregor says:

    Good topic, Carlene. In recent weeks I’ve been reading a biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. From my perspective as a 21st century Christian, the “Christian” climate in Germany during those pre-WW2 days was pretty hard to fathom … most Germans who identified themselves as Christian (and that was just about all of them, including many Jews) did nothing to prevent the slide into Nazi mayhem … in fact, all too often, they led the charge. As I’ve pondered this I’ve come to the conclusion that religion becomes problematic, dangerous even, when it insists on becoming entangled in politics/government. Which brings me to marriage. As someone who calls herself a Christian I’m not entirely sure where I fall on the gay issue, but I do believe this – to deny people basic civil rights because I have a need to protect what may or may not be an accurate reading of God’s intention is wrong. Marriage isn’t strictly a religious sacrament (and to some people, this aspect of marriage is a non-issue) – it’s a legal contract that separates the married from the non-married in terms of estate law, access to pensions, health insurance, end-of-life care and decision-making, social security benefits, etc. To deny people the right to participate fully in these benefits of civil society on the basis of sexual orientation is, in my opinion, unjust. As a Christian, it strikes me as profoundly unloving. As for marriage … my husband and I had two marriage ceremonies – the first was the celebration of the sacrament of Christian marriage. There was no paperwork; just the two of us, our pastor, our immediate family, vows, prayer, scripture and communion. At a later date we had a civil ceremony which made the whole thing ‘legal’. To me, given the scope of what the institution of marriage encompasses, this approach just makes sense. I realize this doesn’t address your question about the loss of funding, etc., but what does that have to do, really, with religious freedom? Perhaps we’ve gotten too comfortable with our “special standing” in the larger society. Perhaps we’ve become smug and arrogant. And perhaps in our need to protect the comfort and familiarity of the status quo we’ve failed in the most fundamental of Christ’s directives: to love one another. I’m not sure what God thinks about homosexuality – not sure at all. But I’m positive God requires me to be loving to all persons and, to this end, not only closely examine but be willing to part company with attitudes, beliefs and even convictions that get in the way of love.

  2. revjmk says:

    Thanks for visiting my site. This is an interesting post, and I really agree that we Christians should talk about what we are for, rather than what we are against. I would probably write a very different list, though:

    1. I’m for the right to marry for same-sex couples, because I believe God wants us to find ways to nurture loving, committed relationships.

    2. I’m for the rights of women to choose what happens to their body, because I believe God created our bodies and knows the pain and heartbreak when those bodies are violated.

    3. I’m for ending persecution against all people, because God’s love is for all people and the cross shows us that violence and persecution are not of God.

    We may disagree about some of these issues, but when we start to talk about what we are for, we leave room to love and care for each other within our differences, and to show the world that Christianity is diverse and multiple and growing toward God.

    Thanks for your post.

  3. Hi! perhaps a misunderstanding? the bullets weren’t my idea of what Christians are for but examples of how some people convert their “againsts” into “fors” because they don’t know what they’re for. This has bothered me enough that I’ve been scouring the Bible for examples of what God’s for: among more than 730 so far, putting a railing around a flat roof so no one will accidentally fall off. Seriously. It’s in the Bible. God cares about a lot of things that affect our lives every day.

    I know it’s challenging to apply texts written into a world of warring clans (Old Testament) and empire (New Testament) into our culture of democratic government and excessive consumption (US and global West … not most of today’s world). And yet that’s our challenge. And it does leave me with a bit of a challenge when it comes to concepts like “rights.” I can only think of one time in the New Testament when someone claims their rights: when Paul claims his right as a Roman citizen to a kind of trial that other Christians could not receive. And then of course he encourages Philemon to give up his legal right to Onesimus’ services as a slave — and says he’ll be coming for a visit soon (to check up on him?) ! So it seems like mostly we have the “right” to care for those over whom we have personal / professional / political influence. As for our own rights? Not so much.

    But I’m encouraged that we all see “as through a glass darkly,” which helps me remember a measure of humility that is not part of my native character. Best to you as you continue to work through these issues in your position of service to God.

  4. GREAT post :)…

    Im about to head overseas again on ministry (actually tomorrow – haha) and I’ve prepared a VERY similiar message for my last session at a leaders weekend… I might just re-read this post a few more times before then. haha.

    adam

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