Domestic Partnerships

In The News: Today, May 31, 2007, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch signed into law “Domestic Partnerships,” a bill allowing gay couples to join in civil unions with the same status as heterosexual married couples.

Benchmarking Normalcy
Christian groups, of which I am a part of, will, and must, log their concerns against these kinds of laws that endorse an aberrant lifestyle. Some may argue that homosexuality has existed for eons and should be tolerated as another expression of human relationships. Egyptian hieroglyphics, Greek pottery and later Roman art depict this lifestyle, but archeology is not the benchmark of normalcy. The practice of a small minority does not qualify homosexuality as something to be applauded and enshrined in law. Consider social attitudes toward suicide. A person is able to take his own life, but we don’t pass laws to cheer the suicidal person on. People are free to walk the path of homosexuality, but to pass laws that legalize same-sex relationships into the social foundation of marriage implies to the public that the majority of Americans are represented and that this is normal and acceptable. After all, isn’t this a democratic society where the majority rules?

Nothing could be further from the truth!

The problem lies, however, not with the legislature of New Hampshire but with Christians. Walk with me for a few moments as I explain.

Whenever we see laws such as this one passed, Christians may picket and pronounce their displeasure, but these unwelcome laws might be a symptom of a deeper crisis at the root.

Morality does not start with lawmakers. It begins with us as Christians.

Homosexuals being granted the benefits reserved for marriage is the result of something abandoned. Christians see the results of the breakdown of values and become troubled; but there is more to this than meets the eye.

Before we put the magnifying glass on the state legislature, let’s first put the Church under the microscope. Christians are called to be the “pillar and support of the truth.”

Recently, I was in Sri Lanka doing some relief work after the ravages of the tsunami. Thousands of houses were swept out to sea, but most of the hotels built along the coastlines remained. When I inquired why, I was shown how the houses scraped away leaving only bare earth behind. Meanwhile the hotels left behind concrete pylons that were easily rebuilt upon as the pillars of a new building. Pillars and supports must remain firm and stalwart for there to be longevity and dependability in storms.

Compromised Truth
The pillars of society crumble because the church has not held firm to truth. When the supports give way, the structure is immediately compromised, and if the structures are constantly being compromised, laws will be passed in order to find other supports that society can depend on for security.

When the Church which once held the truth is compromised, people look elsewhere. When the world ignores us, we, as Christians, can resort to grumbling – but we have no one besides ourselves to blame.

The Church has been given centuries to prove herself as a support of the truth and final arbiter of right and wrong. However, we have not stewarded this responsibility well. The Church has compromised biblical values, corrupted truth, embraced greed, and tolerated ignorance in some eras of history.

So where do we begin to repair this breach?

Improvement begins with ruthless honesty. Society is as it is because the church has not been what it has been called to be. We must move into genuine repentance resulting in a transformed lifestyle as we graciously hold one another accountable. This heart devoted to truth must be then sustained over several decades in order to re-gain trust.

Often, we will see a pattern in the physical world of what has already taken place in the spiritual. For example, when a husband’s heart for his spouse is renewed before God, he will begin to see the benefits surfacing over time in his home. When prayer is offered on behalf of souls in a community, committed churches will begin to see an increase of people’s lives coming to Christ in the ensuing years.

Conversely, the same will (unfortunately) be true in the church if we fail to do the things God requires. Watch when Christians tolerate offenses in the house of God. Soon to follow will be an increasing divorce rate and need for anger management among “God fearing” people. When Christians allow immorality among themselves, immorality will soon follow in society; not just in actions, but it will even be endorsed in the code of law.

The Assignment
God has given the authority to the Church as the barometer of the world. “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan.” The Church was entrusted with a gargantuan assignment by God… one that must be stewarded well. Our societies are depending on us to stand strong. The Church is indeed the hope of the world, and if we fumble the world suffers. We cannot loose our footing regardless of the storms that rage. The Scriptures tell us that in the last days there will be many who will fall away from the basic tenets of our faith, and this will cause confusion and increase our susceptibility to deception.

This is not a call to legalism but to balance and biblical leadership… in our families and in our churches. When Christians embrace the truth and live it out then we will see wholeness increase in our government and in our communities.

New Hampshire’s action is a wake up call to the Church, a morning alarm to beckon us back to living what we believe without compromise. The best way to honor God is to be the Bride – pure and loyal, wise and prudent, and untainted by the world.

It comes back to the Church or the assignment will be given away. It happened with Israel, and it can happen with America.

A Secular Revolution towards Righteousness
So what is the way ahead for the church?

Paul said, “Respect what is right in the sight of all men.”

There are basic principles that are “right in the sight of all men.” Helping the poor, investing in children’s education, protecting families, and revering the dignity of humanity, and moral respect. You don’t have to be a Christian to believe in these. It is inherent in the hearts of good citizens.

The Church has been assigned this task to make a difference in these areas and uphold the values of the same. This is God’s will, God’s call, God’s heart. To violate these basic values will move men toward anarchy and utter deception.

But what if the Church refuses? What if Christians ignore this?

It was Mordecai in the story of Esther who counsels us as to what God will do. When the Queen was challenged to make a difference and use her calling to stop the potential annihilation of the Jews, she balked. Mordecai’s response was penetrating: “‘For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?'”

Focus your attention on this phrase: “if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place.” In other words, God’s will was that relief and deliverance would arise. He would see to it that their prayers and cries for help would be answered! He would not let their pleas go unheeded by heaven. Esther was being given the opportunity to be the vessel through which that relief would be given, but if she refused, God would find another source, but relief would be delivered in answer to their cries! It was a mandate of heaven to assure relief.

The Church has been given the same opportunity that Esther was given, but if we choose to not participate, God’s call will swing to others who are listening. On Palm Sunday when He rode into Jerusalem, Jesus reminded us that if the children of God won’t respond in worship, respond to His entrance, He can cause even the “rocks to cry out.” If the Church does not live out and speak out truth then God will find others to do His work.

Yielding to the World
Recently, I attended a concert in a stadium pulsing with over 50,000 fans of the band U2 and its lead vocalist Bono. His passion is to end world hunger and to help those who suffer especially in Africa. His movement of “One” has swept the world and raised multi-millions of dollars for the relief effort.

I had the privilege to be on a raised platform with a bird’s eye view of the stage and swaying throngs. I think I spent more time watching the ticket holders than I did the stage. I was stunned. People had their arms raised, one lady was crying, and others had their eyes closed. It was the closest thing to a worship concert that I had been to since our weekend services at church.

For me, it was a moment of awakening. I too began to weep as I saw God raising up “stones” to bring relief to the hungry. Oprah Winfrey has just spent over 40 million dollars for education among young women in Africa. Angelina Jolie adopting orphans. Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, and many more many not be obviously Christian endeavors, but their work among the poor and suffering is incredible. I wonder if we have lost a bit of the big picture in exchange for remodeling our churches with better lighting and more efficient air conditioners.

Oh nothing wrong with those, but it would be if it is in exclusion of helping those who are crying to God for relief.

This is a defining moment for the Church, a beckoning back to living what we believe without compromise.

And maybe… just maybe God has raised us up for such a time as this.

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