When California’s governor and legislature attempted to gut open meeting and freedom of information laws there was an immediate uprising on left and right. The government backed down. One can only wonder what would happen if left and right were equally horrified by the lawlessness of the state’s secular authorities and the Ninth Circuit Court in pushing forward gay marriages when they have neither the authority nor the jurisdiction to do so. As things stand the issue is no longer homosexual marriage, but rather elected and unelected officials acting contrary to law because they can. That should send chills of both fear and outrage up the spines of freedom loving people regardless of their opinions on gay marriage. What government can do to gore the ox of one faction it can do to the ox of another on another day.
That fear and outrage is not manifesting at this moment. It is left for people of faith and common sense to stand or fall because – as Jackson Senyonga famously said in California – The condition of society is the report card of the Church. The implication of the biblical story of the paralyzed man healed after his friends lower him through the roof to lie at Jesus’ feet stands. Until he stands and walks – testing the new muscles he has received – he is not really and fully healed.
My last post mentioned how prophets of Bible times confronted kings with their wrongdoing from David to Ahab and Herod. Daniel confronted the emperor of Babylon. They risked their lives each time they confronted rulers; yet they were convinced that life was not worth living outside of service to the God who had given them real freedom and real life. In fact, as three of Daniel’s friends prepared to be thrown into a super-heated furnace they declared that – although they expected God’s rescue – they would not change their decision to serve Him in truth even if he did not deliver them from evil. When the disciples are hopelessly confused by Jesus’ hard statements and some begin to walk away the Lord asks Peter if he too will go. Peter asks, “Where would I go? You have the words of life.” What have such stories to do with ordinary Christians in California in the face of governors and attorneys general who refuse their duty to defend state law – and defy the courts when they don’t get what they want?
We can excuse ourselves all day long by saying we are not Elijah and we are not John the Baptist. Or we can repent – re-focus on God as our life source and life model – and reflect that since the first Pentecost we of the Body are a prophetic community. We need not make the Nathans in our midst the surrogates for what we ought to do – and are enabled to do. The good news of the Supreme Court decisions and the lawless response to them is that we can finally know – I hope – that putting our trust in men and institutions to do the right thing is a fool’s bargain. Trusting in and following God wherever He leads is the only game in tow. But what ought we do?
We ought as the Body of Christ to enter into a serious season of repentance – re-focus on God – with practical consequences as direct and visible as that man walking in a village in Judea two thousand years ago. That means we respond to Jesus’ statement in Matthew 10 that He will acknowledge us before His Father only if we acknowledge Him before men. It means we call, e-mail and speak – throughout the state – demanding that government officials obey the law and perform only their lawful duties while we obey only their lawful orders. This is an act of supreme repentance for those of us who have remained silent and imagined our faith a private matter.
Even more we ought to pray as never before for government leaders, for leadership in our churches, and for those with whom we disagree on the values and shaping of marriage. We pray a Damascus Road experience for all leaders – beginning with ourselves – in which we like Paul are confronted with the overwhelming love of God on Whom we have turned our backs even while imagining we served Him. We ought to pray every day that leaders would fall in love with the limitations placed on their power in the Constitution and in the Word of God which inspired it. I can guarantee our grades will rise on our next report card – for all concerned – if we do as we ought.
James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships and The Holy Spirit and the End Times – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at