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For the Week of June 29, 2015
by Rubel Shelly
Anybody out there old enough to remember the story of Chicken Little? And her friends such as Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Henny Penny?
A panicked Chicken Little spread the word – after being hit on the head by a falling acorn – that all was lost. “The sky is falling!” she cried. “The sky is falling!” At the end of the story, all was indeed lost. Chicken Little and all her freaked-out pals landed in the den of the cunning Foxy Loxy, never to be heard from again.
Last week’s five-to-four decision by the United States Supreme Court that effectively legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states should not turn Christians into some doom-laden version of Chicken Little. Some pulpits will likely ring with anathemas of the court, the president, and the country for several Sundays to come. That the church has lost its privileged place in society is a known fact. It may turn out to be a good thing. It might return the church to its original mission.
The earliest Christians were not caught up in “culture wars” to the degree their contemporary American heirs have been. They were more like Christians in China, Afghanistan, North Korea, or Saudi Arabia today. They saw themselves as resident aliens in structures they neither controlled nor supported on a variety of points. They longed for and attempted to create alternate communities of the Kingdom of God. Those communities were called “churches.”
It seems that Christians in ancient Ephesus and modern Pyongyang knew the things they regarded as virtuous were generally ignored and things from which they abstained were widely embraced by the majority. They also knew that some in their own number still vacillated on their involvement with things ranging from eating meat sacrificed at pagan shrines to homosexuality to alcohol.
For Christians who mourn a lost battle in the culture wars, I pray they will not scream, lash out, or otherwise betray the Jesus style of dealing with people in respectful and kind ways. Let’s clean up our own houses of worship from racism, gossip, divorce, and hypocrisy. Let’s deal with sexual predators and the I-need-a-jet-for-my-ministry pastors before damning the high court. Let’s be communities of light to which sensitive people from all backgrounds can turn in dark times.
When either a gay or straight couple feels the need to seek God, I would like for a Christ-honoring, Bible-preaching church to be available. And I would like for either couple to feel positive about showing up. That church has established itself in the community as people who value both truth and love.
The sky has not fallen. God is still on his throne and sovereign over human history. Eventual judgment and reward belong to him alone. In the meanwhile, each of us must live with integrity within his or her understanding of God’s will.
This much is certain: Just as Foxy Loxy exploited the panicked Chicken Little to her destruction and that of her friends, Satan would love to discredit Christian faith even more by seeing homophobic hatred spew from pulpits and presses.
Truth without love may be malice, and love without truth mere sentimentality.