The God of the vulnerable

Reflect deeply on the way God is revealed in both His greatness and His love for the vulnerable. (Audio version here)

“To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. …. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:14-19).

Great thoughts on this subject “The gods that the ancient world worshipped were concerned with great people — the mighty and cunning, the swift and the gorgeous. The rest of humanity served as a backdrop — bit players, foils, and inconsequential fodder for the grand plans of kings, generals, and deities. Not so with the God of the Bible. We see God’s strange interest in the people on the margins carved upon every page of Scripture. It was evident in Yahweh’s selection of a nation of slaves to be his special people. It echoed in his choice of sheep-tenders to be the first to hear news of the Incarnation. We may miss how odd it actually is because we live in a culture that is deeply shaped by Christian assumptions. Though it is often violated, to care for the weak and vulnerable remains a Western virtue. This generally wasn’t the case in the cultures that surrounded Jewish and early Christian communities. Like modern Social Darwinists, ancient societies typically saw weakness as unworthiness to live. As the Roman philosopher Seneca described Roman culture during Jesus’ time, “We drown children who at birth are weakly and abnormal. Consider then the marvel of a God who not only tolerates the feeble and lowly, but places special premium on defending and caring for them. What a contrast. We see God, the most potent and self-sufficient Power imaginable, continually expressing profound concern for the least potent and self-sufficient — the orphan in distress. The Law describes, “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow …” (Deuteronomy 10:18 NIV). The Prophets echo the same truth: “For in you the fatherless find compassion” (Hosea 14:3b). And, again, in the psalms, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families …” (Psalm 68:5-6). As we grasp this outlandish, beautiful reality, we encounter the truth of God’s father heart. It pulses not only for the orphan, but for each of us as well. He pursued us when we were destitute and alone. He adopted us as his children. He invites us to call him “Abba” and to live as his daughters and sons. Of course, we must not miss the fact that God calls his people to do the same. We are to live out “pure and faultless religion” by caring for the orphan and widow in their distress (James 1:27). As we do this, we reveal God’s heart to the world. Whether by adoption or foster care or mentoring or supporting the local Church in care for orphans around the globe, we display that astonishing reality that the Great One cares passionately for the least. And in the process, we experience God’s heart more deeply ourselves as well — a peculiar, marvelous love for the orphan. A peculiar, marvelous love for us” (Rick Warren). This is our God

  • “A father to the fatherless, a defender of   widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalms 68:5).
  • “Though my father and mother forsake me,
 the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10).

A call to be like our God

  • “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed” (Psalm 82:3).
  • “This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, …” (Jeremiah 22:3).
  • “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”                                                        (James 1:27).
  • “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (II Corinthians 1:3-4).
  • “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Steve Cornell

Supreme court case

Please pray as the Supreme Court begins to hear oral arguments in a case deciding whether the Obama Administration should be allowed to force business owners to violate their faith by paying for someone else’s abortion pills. Think about it: Imagine that Obamacare mandated provision of health insurance for the abortion procedure itself. Would you feel that companies like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties had a right to refuse to support it? Sound like a stretch? Don’t forget that abortion has been consistently framed in liberal politics as a healthcare issue for women. Why should this be a strange possibility? Beyond this case, I am personally not supportive of the role government is taking in healthcare but that’s an issue to address in the next two elections. Please pray and vote!

For thoughtful analysis

Follow the case

Live Blog: Contraception Cases at Supreme Court

Steve Cornell

Mocking the Bible

Have you ever heard someone ridicule the Bible based on strange laws from the Old Testament? How should you respond?

The mocker who does this belittles those who look to Scripture by pointing to such “obviously ridiculous requirements” found in it. But the mocker also discredits the Bible to avoid what it says against a way of life or particular behavior he or she desires.

Consistent with the way mockers are described it the book of Proverbs, these people speak and act as if they know better than others and as if they are superior. 

Mockers typically belittle laws from Old Testament books like Leviticus or Deuteronomy. They wrongly suggest that those who follow the God of Scripture today are obligated to obey these laws along with everything else in Scripture. 

Leviticus 19 is a common portion mockers use. Since they are looking at Scripture with an agenda, they overlook the many laws in this chapter that could make any community of sinful people a better and safer place. For example, before getting to the “ridiculous” laws, we find this list from Leviticus 19:

  • 11 “Do not steal. “Do not deceive or cheat one another.
  • 12 “Do not bring shame on the name of your God by using it to swear falsely. I am the Lord.
  • 13 “Do not defraud or rob your neighbor. “Do not make your hired workers wait until the next day to receive their pay.
  • 14 “Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord.
  • 15 “Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.
  • 16 “Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people. “Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the Lord.
  • 17 “Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives. Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin.
  • 18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. (NLT)

Would you prefer to live among people who followed these laws or rejected them? Please don’t overlook the sad but honest fact about humans that we need lists of “don’ts.” Without laws like this we tend to sabotage ourselves and ruin all good and safe community. Every orderly and civil society must have such rules.

Most societies also have laws that seem unnecessary or pointless. This is how many feel about some of the laws in the rest of Leviticus 19. For example,

  • 19 “Do not mate two different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two different kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven from two different kinds of thread.
  • 27 “Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.
  • 28 “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord. (NLT)

Seven Guidelines

Seven things should be understood by those who follow Scripture and those who mock it.

  1. The laws in the Old Testament were not originally given for us to follow as God’s will for our lives. They were required of God’s people during Old Testament history to distinguish them as they lived in very dangerous and bizarre ancient near eastern cultures (see: Misreading the Bible).
  2. We don’t understand all of the reasons why God gave some of the laws but we know that those times were exceptionally evil and bizarre and the laws served a larger purpose of distinguishing God’s people from the nations around them. And God (as the law giver) was not subject to the questions or disagreements from sinful creatures about His law. 
  3. The Old Testament was never intended to be a complete or perfect expression of God’s will. It was provisionally set for a specific purpose at a set time. It pointed to and anticipated a new covenant that would be superior to and replacement of the old covenant (see: A truth we must accept).
  4. Those who follow the Bible should not quote laws directed to Israel as God’s will for people today. We should not look to detailed legislation in Leviticus to guide us as we follow Christ.
  5. We only apply Old Testament Scripture to our lives if it is affirmed and taught by Jesus and the apostles. Jesus is the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament (Matthew 5:18-20). (see: Christ is the end of the Law )
  6. Mockers speak with a degree of hypocrisy because they hold to standards (even the one they’re using to discredit Scripture) and expect everyone else to accept the reasonableness of their ethical code.
  7. The primary thing that the Old Testament law teaches us is how sinful we are and how much we need God’s grace through Christ to be forgiven and accepted by God.

Consider the strong emphasis in the book of Galatians on the inadequacy of the law for being made right with God

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  • Galatians 2:16 – “For we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” (NLT)
  • Galatians 2:21 – “For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” (NLT)
  • Galatians 3:10-11 – “But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” 11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. (NLT)
  • Galatians 3:13-14 – “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (NLT)
  • Galatians 3:23-26 – “Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. 24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. 26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)
  • Galatians 4:1-7 – “Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. 2 They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set. 3 And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world. But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.’ 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” (NLT)

Steve Cornell

Should we avoid political engagement?

 

Should Christians pull back from politics? Given the growing polarization and divisive tone of politics, I understand why Christians might want to distance themselves from the whole project. It seems that no matter how graciously we engage, we risk being misunderstood as taking sides with a “Radical Right” or a “Radical Left.”

It’s not surprising to hear the old fundamentalist line, “Just preach the gospel.” I feel for those who want to avoid what appears to be a sure way to create misunderstanding or to get people mad at you.

But is this fear itself wrongly motivated? Is backing out of political engagement a responsible option for obedient Christians? Is it possibly contradiction of our identity as salt to the earth and light to the world? 

This was the topic of a recent post by Russell Moore. I like the way he summarized evangelical engagement on pro-life concerns as a model for other areas of engagement.

“What I’m calling for in our approach to political engagement is what we’re already doing in one area: the pro-life movement. Evangelicals in the abortion debate have demonstrated convictional kindness in a holistic ethic of caring both for vulnerable unborn children and for the women who are damaged by abortion. The pro-life movement has engaged in a multi-pronged strategy that addresses, simultaneously, the need for laws to outlaw abortion, care for women in crisis pregnancies, adoption and foster care for children who need families, ministry to women (and men) who’ve been scarred by abortion, cultivating a culture that persuades others about why we ought to value human life, and the proclamation of the gospel to those whose consciences bear the guilt of abortion.”

“That’s the reason the pro-life movement continues to resonate, with growing numbers, among young Christians. It’s very clearly not a singularly ‘political’ issue, but an issue that demands political, ecclesial, and cultural reform and persuasion.”

Being maligned or falsely charged should not lead Christians to retreat but be viewed (in principle) as an opportunity in the vein of I Peter 3:14-17; 4:19 -

“… if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threat; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. ….So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.”

Moore does a good job outlining the nature of the calling for engagement, 

“We engage politically because we love our neighbors, we care about human flourishing. But we do so at multiple fronts. We engage on Capitol Hill (as I do), on issues ranging from stopping the abortion industry, to protecting religious liberty, to speaking out for human rights for the persecuted overseas. We cultivate churches that see the holistic nature of the kingdom of God and who shape consciences of people to live as citizens. But we always do that with a focus that we are not prosecuting attorneys but defense attorneys. We are seeking, ultimately, to point people to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

A false argument

Some leaders use a false argument disguised as a biblical case against political engagement. They ask, “Where do you see Jesus or the apostles getting involved in politics?”

Not only is this an argument from apparent silence, it overlooks the fact that those who lived during the periods of history represented in the Bible were not part of democratic forms of government. We are simply not living in the same political situation as Jesus or the apostles. This is part of what makes our function a little more complicated. We are part of a participatory system where we have opportunity to influence the formation of laws and policies for the common good. 

It’s careless and misleading to use this kind of argument from apparent silence to negate a calling to responsible citizenship.  

So as we pursue a common good with others and each one brings his or her beliefs, morals and values to the discussion, robust and respectful debate is often necessary. We must not shy from engagement or allow others to marginalize our voice.

Yet we should not approach engagement as an effort to win culture wars. Such language (and the demeanor that often accompanies it) is not fitting to responsible Christian participation in a representative form of democracy. But neither should we become passive when called to engage.

Let’s be as informed as possible and speak the truth with boldness while being considerate and kind toward opponents.

At the end of the day (or process), some of the laws might conflict with our beliefs, morals and values. If those laws try to force us to violate our beliefs, we will find far more explicit application from Scripture on how to respond.

Steve Cornell

Faith in the Science Department

Young people attending universities should be aware of the faith-based tendency to accept science as a discipline capable of explaining almost everything.

I say “faith-based” because these young people will be tempted to believe that their professors are right when they stretch science into philosophy and suggest that it offers an evidenced-based path to a strictly material understanding of the universe.

Naive young people are vulnerable to the impression that science has conclusively proven that nothing beyond nature could have any conceivable relevance to what happens in nature.

This viewpoint wrongly suggests that the physical, material universe is all there is, was, or ever will be and that the only real world is the world of the five senses. The misleading part is that students are being taught that this view has the full backing of science.

The line goes on to suggest (often with condescending arrogance) that if you choose to believe in God or the soul or immaterial beings; if you desire to believe in transcendent values; intrinsic meaning, mystery, and a teleological spiritual vision; if you profess belief in the supernatural, the spiritual, the eternal and the unseen, you’re certainly free to believe in these things, but you’re on your own. 

You won’t have science to back you up because science has freed us of these notions much like adults no longer believe in Santa Clause.

Yet the really big problem here is that there is not one shred of verifiable scientific evidence to support such a conclusion. Why? Because it’s simply outside the function of science to resolve such matters.

Only faith could allow you to believe the theory that nothing beyond nature could have any conceivable relevance to what happens in nature. I don’t say this to imply that faith is always without evidence. But faith works off a different kind of evidence than offered in the discipline of science.

We must be aware of the difference between science and philosophy or faith so that we don’t give people the misleading impression that the science of evolution offers more than it is capable of rendering.

We have to help people understand that as beneficial as scientific research has been, there are many things that are just outside of the reach of science.

The science of evolution (for example) cannot explain ultimate origins of the universe. It can postulate on the matter based on assumptions or patterns just as the science of intelligent design can postulates based on assumptions or patterns.

Universal human longings for love and meaning are two more examples of realities beyond the reach of purely scientific conclusion. These realities are also where we find significant discontinuity between humans and animals. The science of biological evolution cannot explain this discontinuity without shifting from science to philosophy.

Furthermore, our awareness of how things “ought to be” and our longing for “something better” also testify to our nature as unique beings of dignity and design. Yet we have a dark side to our story that degrades us below the beasts in our history of cruelty and evil.

Some suggest that evil is a metaphysical necessity for finite creatures. Yet why do we so strongly oppose it and long for a world without it? Why do we cry “foul” or “unfair”? Why do we have longings for restoration of Paradise Lost? Why do we even think in terms of good and evil?

Suggesting that this all flows logically from biological evolution as scientifically verifiable  is either intentional manipulation or a faith-based recommendation that confuses science and philosophy.

Steve Cornell

See also: Theophobia: Fear of religion in the Academy

We Serve No Sovereign Here

The story is told of an Englishman who came to this country in the decade of the sixties, and upon arrival spent his first week in Philadelphia becoming acquainted with historic landmarks, such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. In order to familiarize himself with American culture, he visited several antique stores that specialized in colonial and revolutionary memorabilia.

In one such shop he saw several posters and signboards that contained the slogans of the revolution, such as No Taxation Without Representation, and Don’t Tread on Me. One signboard attracted his attention more than the rest. In bold letters the sign proclaimed: WE SERVE NO SOVEREIGN HERE. As he mused on this sign, he wondered how people steeped in such an anti-monarchical culture could come to grips with the notion of the kingdom of God and the sovereignty that belongs to the Lord (source: R. C. Sproul, Following Christ).

David B. Hart summarized where we stand now at the end of modernity.

“… each of us who is true to the times stands facing not God, or the gods, or the Good beyond beings, but an abyss, over which presides the empty, inviolable authority of the individual will, whose impulses and decisions are their own moral index.”

“This is not to say that – sentimental barbarians that we are – we do not still invite moral and religious constraints upon our actions; none but the most demonic, demented, or adolescent among us genuinely desires to live in a world purged of visible boundaries and hospitable shelters.”

“Thus this man may elect not to buy a particular vehicle because he considers himself an environmentalist; or this woman may choose not to have an abortion midway through her second trimester, because the fetus, at that point in its gestation, seems to her too fully formed, and she–personally – would feel wrong about terminating ‘it.’ But this merely illustrates my point: we take as given the individual’s right not merely to obey or defy the moral law, but to choose which moral standards to adopt, which values to uphold, which fashion of piety to wear and with what accessories.”

“Even our ethics are achievements of will. And the same is true of those custom-fitted spiritualities – ‘New Age,’ occult, pantheist, ‘Wiccan,’ or what have you – by which many of us now divert ourselves from the quotidien dreariness of our lives.”

“These gods of the boutique can come from anywhere – native North American religion, the Indian subcontinent, some Pre-Raphaelite grove shrouded in Celtic twilight, cunning purveyors of otherwise worthless quartz, pages drawn at random from Robert Graves, Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, or that redoubtable old Aryan, Joseph Campbell – but where such gods inevitably come to rest are not so much divine hierarchies as ornamental étagères, where their principal office is to provide symbolic representations of the dreamier sides of their votaries’ personalities.”

“The triviality of this sort of devotion, its want of dogma or discipline, its tendency to find its divinities not in glades and grottoes but in gift shops make it obvious that this is no reversion to pre-Christian polytheism. It is, rather, a thoroughly modern religion, whose burlesque gods command neither reverence, nor dread, nor love, nor belief; they are no more than the masks worn by that same spontaneity of will that is the one unrivalled demiurge who rules this age and alone bids its spirits come and go” (First Things, David B. Hart, 2000).

R. C. Sproul noted that, “The concept of lordship invested in one individual is repugnant to the American tradition, yet this is the boldness of the claim of the New Testament for Jesus, that absolute sovereign authority and imperial power are vested in Christ” (Following Christ).

Without such sovereign authority, we are never truly free. Jesus said it this way, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Our well-being is at risk on every side if we choose a kind of freedom that refuses to serve the only true sovereign of the universe. 

But this Sovereign One, unlike all would-be Sovereigns, 

“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges, he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

Before leaving this world, the Sovereign One said, 

“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Living in freedom under sovereign Lordship,

Steve Cornell

Is there a better way to resolve the gay marriage debate?

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Gay rights advocates have used civil rights language to defend their desire for same-sex marriage for the past several decades. Slowly (by constant repetition of the argument) a growing percentage of society has bought into the comparison between the kind of sex people desire and unchangeable realities like race and gender.

Beyond the logical problems with this comparison, the strategy has actually turned gay rights into a divisive and polarizing debate that is threatening the very acceptance desired by homosexuals.

Why can’t we find a better way to resolve this matter without portraying those who disagree as hateful bigots who discriminate against a minority? I realize that the assumption that gay is equal with race and gender is essential to the radical homosexual agenda, but I think it’s bad for the nation to buy into this agenda. 

A few words of clarification

First, I realize that sexual desire is one of the most powerful passions of human beings. We would cease to exist without sexual desire. Yet both heterosexual and homosexual desires have been behind some of the most horrific crimes against humanity. Because we are corrupt beings, our sexuality, like every other part of our existence, requires laws to restrain it, and to punish abuses of our passions.

There is not a person on the earth who can claim innocence with regard to sexuality. Jesus exposed this truth to hypocritical religious leaders when he said, “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

Secondly, Whether one claims heterosexual or homosexual orientation, the desires and actions associated with orientation must be treated as willful choices capable of restraint. Otherwise one cannot speak of sexual actions (like adultery, rape or incest) as culpable moral behaviors.

While we cannot tell a person of race to restrain or stop being Asian or African-American, we must require people of both heterosexual and homosexual orientation to restrain and control their sexual behavior — under threat of punishment for wrongful expressions of it. If a society makes laws regarding sexual actions, sexuality (whatever orientation one claims) must be treated as chosen behavior.

Finally, My final clarification is to firmly reject unlawful and evil treatment of those who identify themselves as oriented toward homosexual behavior. We have sadly witnessed far too much cruelty toward people based on differences. This is where there are some legitimate comparisons between the way homosexuals and people of certain races have been wrongly treated.

But why can’t these matters be addressed without making an area of behavior comparable with one’s unchangeable nature?

Overreaching on gay rights

When gay rights advocates attached their cause to civil rights language, they went too far with the comparisons and invited disagreement from those who simply observed the illogical inconsistencies. But when advocates went to the level of coercion and manipulation by demonizing anyone who disagrees, they’ve engaged in the very intolerance that has been wrongly aimed at them.

Supreme court confusion

Despite their gifted intellects, it appears that five Supreme Court justices carelessly accept the emotionally charged and counter productive false comparisons. The court stopped short of making gay marriage a constitutional right and chose to leave in place state laws banning same-sex marriage, the recent 5-4 decision used inflammatory civil rights language to pave the way to a constitutional civil right for gay marriage. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy slandered those who disagree by implying that they “disparage and injure” the “personhood and dignity” of gays and stand in “violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

On this way of reasoning, evidently one is not capable of treating homosexual couples with respect if he chooses to view marriage as an institution divinely intended for heterosexual unions.

  • Do we really want a society where people are not free to believe this way about marriage without facing accusations of being hateful, discriminating bigots?
  • Will coercion on gay marriage support tolerance and respect for those who choose a homosexual relationship?
  • Can we find a more rational and less divisive way to secure legally shared benefits and experiences for homosexual couples?

Stop and think about the unnecessary and polarizing ways radical homosexual activists are using to force society to conform to their lifestyles. Consider how it produces some of the very behaviors once opposed by gays and actually creates new victims of discrimination.

In his dissent, Justice Scalia wrote, “By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition,”

Presidential deception

It appears that President Obama also bought into the false and inflammatory comparison. He called DOMA “discrimination enshrined in law.” Of the court’s decision, Obama said, “when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.” Implication? Anyone who sees things differently on gay marriage is guilty of discrimination. This is a manipulative and divisive way to frame a needed conversation.

Conclusion

Wouldn’t it be better to avoid the civil rights language and look for ways for the state to offer more equitable treatment? Is it possible to find a way to address core concerns without polarizing the public and denigrating those who have different views. Does it really help to characterize those who do not support gay marriage on religious or moral grounds as people of hatred, bigotry and irrational phobias?

Although I do not believe in gay marriage, I am neither hateful nor fearful of those who choose a gay lifestyle. In opposing a change to marriage to include homosexual unions, I have no intention or motivation to portray homosexuals as evil people or to support wrongful treatment of them. In my worldview, we are all sinners in desperate need of the grace of God. We are clearly going in the wrong direction with this debate by seeking freedoms for one group by denying freedoms for another.

The path currently sought by radical homosexual activists is to force all of society to see things their way or face severe legal consequences. They are already attacking the religious and moral freedoms of Americans with this agenda and we are only seeing the beginning. Anyone who tells you that this approach will never threaten religious liberty is lying to you. If this becomes a matter of civil rights with the full force of federal law behind it, churches throughout this nation will be attacked with the strong-arm of law if they fail to offer full endorsement of gay marriage.

The Supreme Court carelessly and recklessly sent an implied mandate to lawmakers to conform to gay marriage or be numbered among the hateful bigots. I hope that lawmakers will not cave to the manipulation and false comparisons, but will expose the agenda as a means to silence and coerce Americans against their moral and religious convictions.

I think we can find a better way to have this discussion so that States can offer equitable treatment without sharply dividing people against one another and threatening the freedoms of fellow citizens.

Steve Cornell