No matter the specific issue, we do well to remember that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness in such matters are blessed and will be filled (Matt. 5:6).
Re-engage. There is much talk today that the American church has been removed from a privileged place in society. We are said to now live “in exile” and “at the margins.” To some degree, yes, but then there is this:
A young Burmese man came into our offices a couple of weeks ago. He’s been in the US only five months. He said where he lived in Burma, Christians were restricted from building churches and schools. The social and political hostility toward his faith became so oppressive that he fled his homeland for Indonesia. There he was jailed for seven months because he didn’t have legal papers. Thanks to the work of World Relief, he is now in the US, grappling with a new language and culture, while trying to support his family on a near-minimum wage job.
That’s exile. We in the US are far from living at the margins. We still live in a society that protects free speech and free assembly, that supports religious freedom, that permits all its citizens to participate in governing at all levels. To be sure, we see serious challenges to these rights and liberties, challenges that require vigilence and hard work in the days ahead. But as it stands, these rights and liberties prevail here as nearly nowhere else in the world. Let’s make use of them for the common good—becoming peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) as best we can as we re-engage at all levels of politics.
Reach out. Now that the issue of gay marriage is decided, we may find that we have a greater opportunity than ever to build fruitful relationships with those in the LGBT community who have been hostile to all things Christian. Up to this point, we’ve been seen as a threat to their political agenda. Now that we have lost on the issue of gay marriage, that threat is removed and it may not be long before we see more willingness to engage us as fellow human beings. We should welcome and even initiate those moments as opportunities to share—in mercy (Matt. 5:7)—the good and beautiful news of the gospel like never before.
Rejoice. Again with Paul we say, rejoice. In particular, we rejoice because of God’s call for us at this critical juncture of history. Just as the 4th-century church was given the responsibility to think through the nature of Christ, and the 16th-century church had the task of pondering afresh the relationship of faith and works, so we in our time are called to think through and respond to a host of issues surrounding human sexuality. What we teach and what we do in our time will shape the church’s thought and life for generations to come.
This is not just the call of national or church leaders, but of every Christian household. Whether we’re lobbying in the halls of Congress to check the spread of sexual trafficking or teaching our children about the precious gift of sex, we are reinforcing and shaping the church’s teaching on sexuality. With great responsibility comes great gratitude for being entrusted with so crucial a work.
And so, we step into this uncharted future not with furrowed brow or nervous heart but with humility (“Blessed are the meek…”) and confidence (“… for they shall inherit the earth” Matt. 5:5). Christ remains Lord and is leading his church. Blessed are those who know this, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mark Galli is editor of Christianity Today.
Article image by Mark Fischer.