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Christians should be ambassadors to LGBTQ community while embracing Scripture's authority  5 Days ago

Source:   USA Today  

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who cited his Christian faith in refusing to decorate a cake for a same-sex wedding. Two days later, a national CrossFit gym employee tweeted his support for a gym that canceled a gay Pride workout, also for religious reasons.

“As someone who personally believes celebrating ‘pride’ is a sin, I’d like to personally encourage #CrossFitInfiltrate for … refusing to host an @indypride workout,” the CrossFit employee wrote.

CrossFit’s national administration promptly fired the employee and closed the gym that had canceled the Pride workout. These are two among dozens of similar conflicts happening every week across the country –– in gyms, schools, boardrooms and family rooms. Americans are sharply divided between the rights of the faith and those of LGBTQ communities.

In a nation where seven in 10 still claim to be Christian and where 78 million believe the Bible to be God’s standard for morality, how should Bible-believing Christians respond to these conflicts around sexual morality?

This is a question I have examined for seven years. As a research journalist who is also a Christian pastor, I study social change in America, and I study how the Christian Scriptures direct believers to live today.

How then should sincere Christians respond? I suggest four ways:

First, we Christians who embrace the Bible’s moral authority must accept that our viewpoint is no longer the mainstream view of our neighbors. Living in a post-Christian culture requires a mental shift for believers, but it is a move toward the teachings of Christ, who stated, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” God’s truth is not relative, but we believers must become smarter about relating unchanging truth to a changing culture.

POLICING THE USA: A look at race, justice, media

Second, the Bible never calls believers to enforce our Christian morality onto nonbelievers. Quite the opposite, we should expect that nonbelievers will behave as, well, nonbelievers. In the context of sexual behavior, Paul the Apostle wrote, “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders.” Paul’s declaration is essential reading for Christians who cite the Bible as our moral authority in a non-Christian society.

Next, the Bible calls Christians to a posture of ambassadors toward non-Christians, not a posture of warriors in conflict. Our goal is to proclaim internal heart transformation, through Christ, not to enforce external moral conformity.

Most important, I’ve noticed three direct commands for Christians living in social conflict:

►We are called to “pray for those who persecute you.”

►We are commanded to “love your enemies.”

►We are told to “live such good lives among” our unbelieving neighbors.

As a Bible-believing Christian, I often fail to live those Scriptures toward my neighbors. Until I can look in the mirror and say I am consistently living these Bible commands, what moral authority do I have to tell a nonbeliever that he must obey the Bible’s other commands?

This is not to say Christians should never claim our legal rights, as the Colorado baker did before the Supreme Court. The Constitution protects the free exercise of our religion. We can claim this right when needed. The Bible records that Paul the Apostle claimed his legal rights as a Roman citizen when a mob demanded his arrest.

My hope is this: If we Christians will take seriously the commands to pray for our persecutors, to love our enemies, and to “live such good lives among” our unbelieving neighbors, if we will posture ourselves as ambassadors rather than warriors, then we might avoid many of the conflicts that would require the claiming of legal rights.

I do not pretend that there is any easy solution to this emerging tension in American society. Conversations around this require humility, patience and listening from all parties. And I do not pretend that following Scripture’s commands will result in easy living for believers. Christ followers do, after all, follow a man who was killed before a jeering mob.

In some social conflicts, there is no simple solution. Yet I have found that the Bible does give these clear directions listed above for Christians.

The question, for all of us who claim to take the Bible seriously, is if we will be as rigorous in holding ourselves to the Bible’s commands as we have been in holding nonbelievers to them.

 

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