Friday, June 2, 2017

God Heals Divided Hearts--then Nations

Ethnic minority rights, immigration, LGBTQ rights, abortion rights—the list of challenging issues of our day is long and troubling.  Moral and social issues that divide our nation today are issues that we are powerless to resolve without individual and corporate repentance and a calling upon God to forgive and empower us to follow His principles.  Our differences are too deeply rooted within our "heart" or "mindset." Hatred, suspicion, and misunderstandings are entrenched so deeply in our thinking that only God’s truth, mercy, and love can bring healing.  

Deeply rooted opinions about the value of human life, treatment of ethnic minorities, or our notion of what marriage and family ought to be are already being formed during pre-school years.  At the same young age, children and adolescents undergo a spiritual formation in which they succeed or fail in developing at least some understanding of a Higher Being.

Many American children and adolescents have not experienced a stable home life in which to develop a spiritually healthy foundation and faith in God.  Those who doubt or deny God’s existence also deny the authority of His inspired revelation of moral absolutes handed down in “The Bible.”  Doubters and deniers of the authority of the Bible miss out on the message of a holy God Who invites us to love and honor Him above all else and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22: 37-40). 

Without a spiritual foundation of objective Truth, many Americans are left to form opinions based on the loudest voices or the catchiest tweets.  Those who have not had a personal encounter with God as encouraged by genuine Christ-following people of faith have not experienced the love of God that pursues all people regardless of age, wealth, ethnic group, political affiliation, or sexual preference. 

LeBron James: hurt by racial epithet
One example of how a culture that largely dismisses God’s truth becomes locked in perpetual division and disrespect is the ongoing racial divide.  Many of us felt a small twinge of the deep hurt expressed by LeBron James when he saw the racial epithet spray-painted on his home in Los Angeles.  The hate and the hurts are still there in spite of decades of attempts to heal the racial divide following Martin L. King’s challenge not to judge “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” As the Apostle John writes, in 1 John 4:7-9,  God calls us to love one another with His love which is unconditional and all-inclusive (emphasis mine):

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

When the Jewish leaders asked Jesus to justify their lax policies on marriage and divorce, Jesus referred them to the Genesis 2 account of the creation of Adam and Eve and the first marriage which God Himself performed.  Jesus said (uppercase from Genesis 2: 20-25),


The objective truth of God’s supernatural creation of the first man and woman provides an indispensable foundation for understanding God’s purpose for intimate sexual relationship within marriage as taught in Scripture.  When these truths are set aside, morality becomes subjective, inconsistent, and open to increasingly depraved, frustrating, and violent behavior.  One need only remember the steady growth of the Lesbian-Gay (L-G) movement to include Bisexual, Transexual, and Questioning (together, LGBTQ) to realize the increasingly slippery slope toward “anything goes.” This moral decline is clearly described in Romans 1: 20-24 where we read that God will judge those who refuse to follow the patterns that are evident in both creation (the “natural world”) and in His Word (emphasis mine):

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.

Without God, the best our society can do is call for “tolerance.”  But, “tolerance” often comes to us with a subjective, one-sided definition; something like, “your beliefs must make room for mine; and by the way, get ready to give up your rights in favor of mine.”

Can Christ-followers show God's love to LGBTQ community?
The advent of June brings us to what is known by the LGBTQ movement as Pride Month.  Two out of our three previous presidents, Presidents Clinton and Obama, acknowledged LGBTQ Pride Month.  President Bush’s faith in God’s plan and pattern for heterosexual marriage kept him from supporting Pride Month during his administration.   The LGBTQ online news source, ThinkProgress, has criticized President Trump for his apparent unwillingness to recognize LGBTQ Pride Month.

Christ-followers must make clear that God’s love as shown through Christ and His atoning death on a Roman cross extends to all of His creation including to those who choose to deny His authority and benevolent plan for their lives.  As God loves all of our “neighbors” so Christ-followers are called to love their neighbor regardless of ethnic group, gender, political, or other preference.  But, in a free-speech society such as we are blessed with in America, those identifying with the LGBTQ movement have the right to express their views, but not the right to prohibit those who disagree from expressing theirs as well. 

Country Mill Farms--not so near East Lansing, Michigan
When Christ-followers refuse to engage in policies or behaviors that compromise their biblical faith, the one-sided nature of “tolerance” becomes evident.  Case in point—East Lansing, Michigan where Steve Tennes and his family, owners of Country Mill Farms, sell fruit and vegetables to all customers.  Steve also employs people who identify as part of the "LGBT community."   But Steve also has written on his Facebook page his faith position on marriage as between one man and one woman, and has refused to allow same-sex unions to be performed on his farm.

When city officials learned of Steve’s position on marriage, Country Mill Farms was immediately considered in violation of East Lansing's Human Relations Ordinance which makes "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" protected classes.  So, even though Steve’s farm is clearly outside of city limits, according to LifeSiteNews , “officials created a new policy that all vendors must comply with East Lansing’s nondiscrimination laws not just while they are at the Farmer’s Market but in all of their general business practices.” 

Clearly, “tolerance” appears to have a one-sided application between the LGBTQ community and a Catholic family business that will sell produce to all customers without discrimination.  It is also clear to Steve and his family that their First Amendment right to express and act upon their personal beliefs is being infringed upon.  Thankfully, on May 4, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at protecting religious liberty. At the signing ceremony, the president said, No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenants of their faith.  The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is currently defending the Tennes family.

Religious freedom has been such an important part of our nation’s fabric, having been established and defended by the lives and deaths of many thousands both before and after the establishment of the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment.  Still, in spite of numerous efforts to protect religious freedom in America, no president, no court decision, and no legislation,  no matter how clear and consistent with God’s moral and social standards, can heal our divided nation.  For example, the recent election of President Trump, while resulting already in many actions that are consistent with biblical morality, has not brought unity because the moral and social differences run deep into our hearts.  Yet, Christ-followers are praying with optimism, and hopefully living lives consistent with God’s promise in 2 Chronicles 7: 14:

And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

How About You?  Are you old enough to remember 9-11 and the first Middle East war, or even the First World War?  If so, you may remember how America responded by going to God in prayer.  Let us not be deceived now.  The threats to America both within and from without are just as great. If you have not made peace with God, please open a Bible, find a Christ-following friend that you trust, and consider the claims of Christ Who offers you forgiveness of sin and freedom from the judgment that will come to us all (Romans 3: 23; 6: 23; 8: 1; and 10: 9-17).  Then, find a Christ-centered, Bible teaching church to join so that you can grow spiritually and prepare yourself to “enjoy God forever” by following His simple command to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6: 8).

Related Articles:
Steps to Peace with God
– Your responsibility to God, and how to make peace through Christ
Life as It Ought to Be - Part 3: Set Free…to Lift Up Our Neighbor

Faith, Virtue, and Freedom—When Government Can No Longer Govern
Censoring Vocabulary, But Not Virtue
No Gun Control Without Self-Control
Individual Accountability and Spiritual Awakening

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