This is probably one of the harder things for me to write. I want to preface this with stating that I am not trying to avoid the question or justify any actions. Simply put, I want to state how it seems Jesus himself handled such situations.
I recently saw an outcry of response to an event in which a religious person refused to marry a gay couple. Honestly, I haven’t bothered much with looking into the details because I’ve stopped focusing on justifying myself by man-made laws. However, as I’ve written about before, this situation again confirms why I can’t be part of a religious institution. Many of the comments I’ve seen made come across as hateful when people “stand up for God.”
God is perfectly capable of defending himself. The manner in which we “stand up” for him only pushes people away. Notice in the gospels that Jesus didn’t take any type of political stance, especially against those we tend to label as “sinners.” Jesus went to them and loved them where they were. He even told the religious elite that the prostitutes and tax collectors were entering the kingdom ahead of them (Matthew 21:31)!
So, how does this fit with our current dilemma? How do we defend our institutions against the “onslaught of secularism?” Quite simply, we don’t. This is to say, why do we bother with man-made institutions to begin with? Are these reaching out to “sinners” or only appeasing the “righteous?” All of our efforts of outreach are hindered by our political and financial ties to our institutions. Our fear is that if we refuse the demands of the world, we will be retaliated against financially and politically. Therefore, we have to play the world’s games in order to uphold our institutions. Notice how Jesus didn’t himself establish buildings or call us to do so. He simply went to people where they were and loved them. Without our titles and buildings to defend, we are free to actually help those we would otherwise have to defend our religion against. Isn’t this what Jesus did and calls us to do? Could this be part of that freedom that Jesus wants us to live in and that we have chased all our lives but never achieved? Could we be shooting ourselves in the foot by so rigidly holding on to standards that Jesus never presented? Jesus’ comments, such as in Matthew 5, paint a broad picture that we are all riddled by sin and none are righteous by our own efforts. Why do we continue to label the “haves” and “have nots” when we are all broken and in need of a savior?
So what is my stance on this issue? None. I simply choose to follow Jesus as he changes my heart and go to those in love that he directs me to, when he directs me to. Whether this is loving a prostitute or speaking some hard truths to the religious, I will strive to live in him and by him. Jesus never drew a line in the sand; he went all the way to the cross for all of us. I can only attempt to follow him though this is a lifelong process of mind renewing that he produces from within me.