Saturday, October 20, 2007

Orange Juice and the Family Research Council

I started my day out wanting to be a super-charged Christian, so lacking the elegant dress socks, decorated with subtle crosses and ichthus, guaranteed to get my day off on the right foot, I decided to try praying instead. That would have worked rather well, but an 8:30 am soccer game (another blog entry: The Wisdom -- or stupidity-- of 8:30 am Saturday Soccer Games. You probably can guess where I stand on that issue), got in the way and it became rather rushed. After a brief prayer, I read I Corinthians 9, a section entitled "The Rights of An Apostle by my Bible's editors. Well, what ended up happening was that I have been distracted all day by my thoughts about the passage rather than resolving those thoughts during my quiet time. It must be difficult for my family.

"Mom, do you know if we have any more orange juice?"

"Yes, I do, but what I don't know is if I have anything I need to give up in order not hinder the gospel of Christ, or what, exactly, are the best things to give up -- like political involvement, blogging, political freedom, money..."

"Uh... can I have some orange juice?"

So, now is the time that I can think this through.

What I think is interesting is that I have been thinking, alot, lately about the idea of rights and the rights we have as Christians, especially as American Christians. I mean I have the right to freedom of religion, so I don't have to hide my Bibles (and I even own more than 1) or hide from family members that want me arrested for converting to Christianity (although, unbeknownst to me, I may have family members who want me arrested for other offenses). I have the right to freedom of speech, so I can easily say the name of Jesus in public, and even tell other people about my faith in Him. I live in a country that, on the whole, has decided that people with disabilities are valuable and their rights should be protected by law, so I can demand that any public organization admit my children, even if they don't want to due to their disabilities. I have a right to own a gun, even though it may not be in my best interest. I have a right to assemble meetings, even ones that criticize my own government. And, these are just a few of the rights that I have!

But what I've been thinking about lately calls upon the idea that I should be concerned with laying down my rights, just like my life. By this I don't mean that I should not participate in my civic freedom, nor act like it's not important. But, I need to evaluate just how important it is to me. I so appreciate the Christian influence that has given me so many of these freedoms --- as distorted as I think that influence has been of late, and how I believe that so many national "christian" organizations are trying to whitewash American history and paint their own version to propagate their political agendas -- but I digress (You probably just want some orange juice too). Certainly, the idea that all men are created equal, that all men are endowed with certain unalienable rights, and certainly that men should be given the right to choose to serve God (rather than being forced by a government -- thanks a lot to Constantine for coming up with that idea in the first place...of course, you could probably trace that idea back further to ancient Israel...) are tremendous blessings.


It seems like there is a movement to turn those blessings into idols. Take for instance, the Family Research Council. On their website they state the following:

The Family Research Council (FRC) champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society.

Well, that's all well and good, but is family and marriage the foundation of civilization? I mean it seems to me that Brigham Young thought that idea and utilized it to the point of polygamy! Honestly, there are probably many different, some good others not, foundations to civilizations. Isn't a better foundation and "wellspring of society" humility before Christ and a willingness to lay one's life down for Him?

You would think, by reading through the website, that the worst thing that could ever happen in our country would be for homosexuals to gain the right to marry. In fact, James Dobson, a member of the council, once referred to it as the "number one" attack against the family. How in the world could anyone think that in light of the divorce rate in this country? Divorce is having a far greater impact on our nation's children and our families! Or think about the rise in attachment disorder in children due to parents leaving them when they're too young and for too long -- all to earn money for a bigger house, a nicer car, and, quite possibly, the right to attend circus camp! I think materialism is a much greater threat to us all. Certainly these issues, if your looking at the size of the attack, impact far many more families than homosexual marriage.

Not that I'm saying these issues are not important, and that I don't agree that it's better for our society to have intact 2 parent (mom and dad) families, but I question the church's role in politically advocating for it. I can't think of a single time that Jesus advocated to change any law of the Roman Empire. I can't , for that matter, think of a time that Paul or any other disciple did (despite the groanings about taxes!).

And, at the root of all the hoopla is the fear that our freedoms that we have will be taken away. There's not concern for the person who is making the choice to live in a homosexual relationship, nor is there even a concern for their children. The concerns center around our right to free speech, our right to determine our own hiring practices, and what they're teaching our children in the schools.

Jesus lived under an oppressive, authoritative government, in a government where the highest leader deemed himself a god. Jesus got in trouble for things he said. Jesus didn't worry about having his rights taken away -- he willingly gave them up when He chose to die.

While I don't think I need to just stop participating in society, never vote or never speak out, I think that I should just be more concerned for the next person than myself and my rights, and should be showing my fellow countrymen at least some of the grace and personal choice that God has granted them. Ultimately, as a Christian, my call is the same: to obey Christ no matter what shapes the civil authority in my life.

"Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law)so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law, I became like one not having the law (Though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." I Corinthians 9: 19-23

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