Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bathrooms, Bakers, and...Bigots?

Who would have thought that we would have knock down, drag out cultural debates about whether a biological male or female ought to be able to go into the restroom of "their choice"?! Below is a comment I made in reply to a comment on my original comment to a Yahoo! news story about Ringo Star cancelling his concert in NC as a protest against their "restroom law". My original comment received over 800 likes and over 600 comments/replies. One common type of comment to which I responded was with the explanation below because it gave an opportunity to correct a common misunderstanding AND more importantly an opportunity to share the Gospel. Keep in mind, for those who choose to engage in online witnessing/apologetics we typically aren't expecting to convince hardcore "opponents" although we recognize God can change anyone's mind! Primarily we are trying to give a good answer so those who are "on the fence" and watching the back and forth will be positively influenced to the truth. So this might be helpful for someone else to think through this specific issue and objection to be better prepared for the next time it comes up...
The below response to Catherine was in response to her "question" of why don't Christians object to participating in weddings (to cater or photograph for instance) of adulterers, or child molesters or people who've had sex prior to marriage since all those things are considered sin by Christians.
"Catherine Gauthier This is a common rebuttal that I hear. But here is the difference and it is a massive difference. Christianity is at essence God coming to man, in the person of Jesus, to provide forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God. It is not man getting to God because man is utterly sinful and broken and cannot be good enough to "earn" forgiveness or reconciliation to God. We are ALL sinners and not just because we do those bad things you listed but because we don't love God above all else and honor Him in everything we are and do. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with your whole being...we ALL fail at that and so we need God's grace to forgive us and set us right with Himself. He does that through Jesus alone. SO, of course Christians don't refuse to relate to and work with sinners because we're all sinners! The homosexual sinner is no worse than I am in God's eyes. And the adulterer who is getting married is simply a sinner getting married.
Now, many Pastors will not marry people for a variety of religious/biblical reasons because the Pastor is actually solemnizing the marriage and will not put his blessing on something unbiblical. But for caterers etc there is a significant difference. The adulterer doesn't come into the bakery and say, “oh by the way, I am an adulterer and I would like you to bake a cake for my wedding and have it say, ‘adultery is beautiful and now we’re going to make it official by this marriage’, ok?” No, that never happens. If it did, those same Christian caterers and photographers would undoubtedly refuse.
What happens with a gay wedding is that the gay couple comes in for such wedding services and the ENTIRE point is that they are going to have a wedding to celebrate the union of two people of the same sex which is fundamentally a rejection of God’s definition of marriage and a fundamental rejection of God’s created order for male and female humans. This is in essence an utter rejection of God’s purpose for humanity in every sense and thus SIN and cannot under any circumstances be embraced and celebrated by Christians. If the adulterer or person who had premarital sex were getting married in such a way that was celebrating that sin it could not be embraced. But that’s not what they do, they are actually embracing God’s design for human relationship by entering into a covenant with one another to have a monogamous relationship between one man and one woman. In a very real sense they are turning away from those previous sins (adultery or premarital sex) by entering into a marriage.  So again, this is a completely different scenario from two people of the same sex entering into "marriage" - such a thing is a complete rejection and aberration of the biblical design and definition of marriage. 
So the difference between those scenarios could not be more clear…"

Significance of a Christian Marriage

There are few things more important to the married Christian's walk with Christ than how we relate with our spouses. As I approach my 32nd year of marriage to my beautiful wife and God's greatest gift to me (outside of the gift of Himself in Christ) I've been thinking a lot about this.
We're told in Eph 5 that marriage is wrapped up in a great mystery that reflects the great mystery of God in Christ and how He relates to the Church. In that passage Paul links it back to Genesis 2 and the original mandate from God for the husband and wife, two individuals, to become so united to become as "one flesh". How do we achieve that incredible oneness? Paul says that the husband, as head of the wife, is likened to Christ who is Head of the Church, and so like Christ should love His wife. And the wife, like the Church, should submit to His leadership and respect her husband. That's the process. Since I'm a husband, I've been reflecting on my part of that process...
As Christ loves the Church and gave Himself for her so the husband should love his wife in a self-sacrificial way. That provides us some definition of "love", being self-sacrificial, but still leaves it rather abstract. But God's word elsewhere provides ample definition of what Paul means here.
In 1Pe 3, Peter gives similar instructions to husbands and wives and tells the husband to live with his wife in an understanding way and in a way so as to honor her. So love is further defined here as understanding and honoring. And Peter also connects it to the spiritual saying that she is a fellow heir of God's grace such that if husbands don't live with their wives in an understanding and honoring way, their relationship with God will be hindered!
Then Paul provides perhaps the most complete and beautiful detailed definition of what he meant when he instructed husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. He does this in 1Cor 13. In that passage Paul tells us what actual, day to day love looks like, how it sounds, how it behaves. If your "love" for your wife doesn't look and sound and "feel" like this then it doesn't meet the high bar of Christian love. Paul says that love is, "patient and kind; does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or bears all things, believes all, hopes all things, endures all things".
Wow, I know I fail at loving Terri that way all the time but the fact of my failure does not diminish God's word and its authority for my life. No, it simply means I'm sinful, in need of a savior and must fight against the flesh so that I CAN love her that way more often than not. And if I do, if Christian men do, I'm quite certain that more often than not our wives will respond with the respect and honor and love we crave. But here is the truth - even if they DON'T - we are STILL to love them that way. For after all, is that not what Christ does for us?