Political conservatives and the “Christian right” are voicing fears that they are becoming the victims of vicious payback because they oppose gay marriage.
Those interviewed by The Daily Beast news site say that advocates of gay marriage are attacking supporters of traditional heterosexual marriage, resulting in the loss of jobs and power.
An Associated Press article quoted United Methodist Church officials as saying the denomination’s opposition to gay marriage has brought the church to the verge of schism because of the decision to defrock Frank Schaefer, who, while a Methodist minister, officiated at his son’s gay wedding.
Will the rancor die down? That’s hard to say. I remember a lot of acrimony when abortion was first made legal in America. But in those days we didn’t have the same ability to react immediately and vehemently via social media.
In Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus says, “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
The promise of heavenly reward is nice but what about what happens until you get there? Underlying all the fears voiced in these articles is an unspoken fear: What will become of us now? How will we survive?
The Christian answer is simple: Trust God. I know that sounds like a cheap sentiment in the midst of fear but it’s the truth. The difficulty is that many Christians don’t know God very well, and that’s why they cannot trust Him. In the midst of trial, the choice must always be to come closer to God, rest in Him, find peace in Him, and let Him deliver us.
The real problem is that, deep down inside, we still think we must deliver ourselves. We still don’t believe God will do it for us because those words in The Lord’s Prayer, “Deliver us from evil,” are just that – nothing more than words.
In Deuteronomy 8:2, Moses tells the Hebrews that “the Lord, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments.”
The central focus of Hebrews 3 is the line, “If today you hear God’s voice do not harden your hearts,” taken from Psalm 95, after which the author begs his audience not to repeat the mistake of the Hebrews, who bailed on God rather than keep his commandments and thus never entered His rest.
If this is a similar test for Christians, we should stand up, stand our ground and say, “Thank you God for loving me enough to give me this opportunity to trust you in the midst of adversity.”
Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, “And So Are You.” He is active in his church and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal State Los Angeles. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut.
I understand the spiritual truth behind ‘trusting God’ but in reading how you present it, it gives me the impression that you are saying action somehow reflects mistrust. Activism has been at the heart of God-trusting people for ages. How would any civil or religious rights been won if people who were oppressed were just told to ‘trust God’? Faith and works display a mature engagement with injustice anywhere. When God delivers biblically, there’s almost always been a man or woman walking out the faith action required to see that deliverance.
Thank you for the comment, Eric. The focus of this blog is on Christians who don’t know God well. It’s not a call to passivity. It’s a call to get serious about trusting the God who is real. Activism often is nothing more than our way of responding to a problem because (a) we don’t think God has a response, (b) He’s so distant that He’s not even aware of the problem, (c) we think that being Christian means we must devise our own response, (d) we think we already know God’s response, or (e) we just plain dislike His response. But WE are the ones who are unaware. We act (or react) without waiting for God to tell us how to do so because we are disconnected from Him and thus aren’t aware (i.e., we don’t believe) that He knows what’s going on far better than we do. Sometimes God would like to tell us to sit still and do nothing. If we’re unable or unwilling to hear God say that to us then we must ask Him to empower us to do so. Only when we are open to hearing God say “Do nothing” are we really open to hearing Him say “Do this or that.” Listening to God in this way is totally counter-cultural and counter-intuitive, and few Christians do it well. We are motivated by impatience (my biggest weakness), anger, self-righteousness, pride, arrogance and self-pity, among other things. God is motivated only by His goodness, which is what we are meant to experience internally and then display externally.
I’d wager “do nothing” isn’t the most consistent biblical command in the fave of the worlds needs. I think most immaturity in the church is directly tied to self-focused pietistism. Contemplative christianity empowers discerning action over navel gazing, do-goodism. An over abundance of soothing inactivity is killing bodies and souls. I think our faith communities run the constant risk of being over fed and undernourished.
Political anxiety about policies usually comes from people who are disconnected from the faces and places those issues arise. Prayerful and practicing faith that is present with people in mission tempers policy pressure. People become the point of change not the Courts.