Of all the spectacles we witnessed today, perhaps the one that stood out to me most is the President of the United States. Early today, he stood in the Rose Garden praising gay marriage (watch below). A few short hours later, he stood in a Christian worship service praising the grace of God (watch above). In a single day, praising Jesus in the assembly and denying him in the Rose Garden. From the same lips, a confession of life-giving truth and of soul-destroying error. This ought not be (James 3:10).
It is one thing when a secular person claiming no connection to Christ endorses gay marriage. That is not surprising and hardly worth commenting on here. But that is not the case with the spectacle we viewed today. The President claims the mantle of Christianity and has previously invoked his Christian faith as the basis of his support for gay marriage, saying,
[Michelle and I] we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I’ll be as president.
No, I’m not citing the president to make a partisan point. Nor am I pointing to him as the cause of our nation’s slide to legal gay marriage. The president is a sign of our times, not the cause of our times. He is a reflection of an American public who are more than willing to revise Christ’s teaching in order to accommodate the latest transgression of the sexual revolution.
The president may have assumed the role of syncretist-in-chief, but he is not alone in his confusion about what “Amazing Grace” really means. For every one of us who stood aghast at the President’s hypocrisy, there were probably ten more who saw no contradiction whatsoever. And that is why I believe it is worth taking a little time here to clarify things for those who may be unclear on what the grace of God really is.
The “amazing grace” of God is not a permission slip for sin. On the contrary, the grace of God “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). The “amazing grace of God” that saves us from the penalty of sin also delivers us from the power of sin. It teaches us to receive joyfully every word that proceeds from the mouth of God—including those words about marriage (Matthew 4:4). In short, the grace of God transforms us into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).
So I take no joy in the President’s rendition of the “Amazing Grace” of God today. How could I? There is no reconciling sexual immorality with following Jesus. You can have one or the other but not both—even though the President and many others of our countrymen have told us otherwise.
But what does that say about members of that church – including the leadership? That such a absolute promoter of both abortion and gay marriage (including forcing religious institutions to support gay relationships) would be invited to speak from the pulpit says more about that church than it does about President Obama. Why are so many voices in the black church silent when it comes to abortion and gay marriage? Is it because they don’t wish to be at odds with the Democrat party and inadvertently help the Republican party?
A small bit of this may have to do with partisanship, but many African Americans have come to accept that opposing civil recognition of same sex marriage is a form of discrimination that, given their history, they don’t want to be a part of. Others see more urgent issues (criminal justice, jobs, education, anti-discrimination laws, etc). When it comes to abortion most African Americans think its wrong but, again, oppose the government preventing a woman making her own decision. So, its less about the Right & Wrong of the issue, but more about the Role of Government in legislating morality. Since blacks took the brunt of the excesses of the “War on Crime” you can understand their hesitancy about involving the government in these issues.
Jesse Jackson used to be prolife. Then he reversed course. Why? Because to be a player in the Democrat party, he had to support abortion on demand. That’s the price that many black politicians are prepared to pay to have power, have upward mobility, in the Democrat party. They must sign on the dotted line of an ideological script written by white liberals.
The last polls I’ve looked at showed that black Americans are more likely to be against gay marriage than white Americans. This is even after the shift in support amongst blacks after Obama’s “evolution”. To be fair, we should be comparing levels in support amongst black social conservatives to white social conservatives as blacks are about as monolithic on contentious political issues as whites.
That’s an argument for limited gov’t. Astute blacks like Justice Thomas, Tom Sowell et al. support the principle of limited gov’t due to the black experience of state-sponsored oppression (e.g. the legal institution of slavery; Jim Crow laws). By contrast, Democrat officials espouse an all-controlling state.
Very few people in this country actually care about limited government. They only care to limit government actions they dislike. They’re all in favor of strong government action they approve of! Basically, Republicans want to limit government in the marketplace & strengthen in the bedroom. Democrats want to limit government in the bedroom & strengthen it in the marketplace. There’s no debate in this country anymore about whether or not to have a strong government: the question is: Where should it be strong?
Chris, I find your comments and justification maddening. We’ve had 50+ years of uber-liberal, progressive policies and ideas in major urban areas, and what has it produced? Most of the inner-cities have had Democrat mayors since long before I was born, and black Democrat mayors and city councils that have embraced the worse kind of identity politics. The consequences have been both tragically devastating, and predictable.
If you truly want racial reconciliation, then why is it not OK to call out black Christians for voting 95+% for a radically anti-biblical presidential candidate? Is it not idolatry to allow skin color to trump biblical values?
Hey, Brian. Do you think “calling out” black Christians is going to result in racial reconciliation? A lot of black Christians are long past tired of having their preachers “called out”. Sharpton, Jackson, and MLK were all called out. And most black Christians support Democrats because they don’t think the entirety of the Gospel message is bound up in opposing SSM. The Bible tells us to help the poor and heal the sick. Those things are every bit as important as opposing homosexuality. And most blacks think that the government is indispensable helping the poor and healing the sick. Obamacare, food stamps, welfare are considered vital national investments by the black church, but those things are vilified by conservatives. You even have some conservative Congressmen twisting scripture to justify cutting back on food stamps! In my home state you even have conservative Christians trying to keep poor kids out of swimming pools, even while cutting billions of dollars from school budgets. I’m afraid there’s a lot of distrust & I unfortunately don’t see it ending anytime soon.
You’re correct about what the Bible tells us, but there are many churches who also elevate the social justice cause above what Christ called us to do in the Great Commission.
You referenced your state cutting back on school budgets and conservatives twisting scripture to cut back on food stamps. You are aware that many churches, not the government provide food pantries at little to no cost at all, right?
Bigger question involved in your remarks regarding the government providing social issue care is- “why aren’t men being fathers and providers like they are called to in scripture? Shouldn’t men be rejecting passivity, leading courageously and investing eternally?
Chris, do you think that any of us (including Pastors) are above being rebuked? Do you think that a Christian who supports policies that enable the torture, dismemberment, and murder of children in the womb should get a pass because of some overzealous desire for racial reconciliation? Again it’s not about race, but culture and values.
I’m also truly offended that you would put MLK and Sharpton, Jackson in the same sentence. My life with my wife, and our kids would most likely not be possible without MLK and his incredible sacrifice, while Sharpton and Jackson are total charlatans (since you don’t like the terms poverty pimps, or race hustlers).
Again the idea of social justice is absurd. We should strive for justice. Blind justice, a biblical concept. You don’t fight racism by being more focused on race-based “solutions.”
Where in the Bible does it say that government is supposed to redistribute wealth to take care of the poor? It says that we as individuals are responsible! It costs me nothing to have the government tax “the wealthy” and give it to those who are in poverty. Socialism is rooted in covetousness, and is a violation of the law of God. We can also see that 50 years of the “War on Poverty” and $22 Trillion dollars later that these solutions have made the problems infinitely worse, since it has destroyed the black family and created multiple pathologies that perpetuate outright disfunction.
The OT has a workfare program for the poor. Gleaning the fields. It wasn’t welfare. It wasn’t free stuff.
In addition, the Bible doesn’t treat all poverty alike. There are people who are poor through no fault of their own (e.g. widows, young orphans), Then there are people who are poor due due to imprudent lifestyle choices (the “sluggard” in Proverbs). These are not morally equivalent categories. It’s not a Christian duty to subsidize someone else’s irresponsible behavior.
dr. james willingham
I agree with your Brian. Sharpton, especially, has left a lot to be desired. Who can forget the Twaney (sp?) Brawley case? King was a different sort than Sharpton and Jackson. While Jackson does some good, and I suppose Sharpton, too. They both added fuel to the fire of Ferguson. Quite a difference between two cities, well-summed up, by an African American from Charleston. He said: “This is Charleston – not Ferguson.” Nothing can be cast in pur black and white in this world. As I said, Jackson and Sharpton have done good things, too. However, they have also been too ready to justify governmental programs that are really detrimental to every one, Blacks as well as Whites.
He’s an unrepentant racial arsonist at best. People have died because of his inflammatory, hate-filled rhetoric.
So, a clarifying question for Dr. Burk: Do you believe that the President is not a Christian?
Roy, here’s a counter question: how would you classify someone who celebrates and encourages what God clearly and unequivocally calls sin?
Roy, I think we’re all aware that the President is theologically quite liberal. This doesn’t make him an atheist or a Muslim. What’s the point of playing gotcha?
Was not intended as a “gotcha” question. Denny stated that one cannot hold a different view on SSM and follow Jesus. The logical implication is that he believes that the President, and those who do hold different views on SSM, are not Christians. But, since he did not say such directly, I asked the question. If you believe such, why not say it?
I think the President genuinely identifies as a Christian like millions of Americans. If the President has fallen short of the tenets of his faith then he should be judged accordingly, by God and by fellow brothers in Christ.
“falling short of the tenets of his faith” is one thing, an this may be what Burk was implying, but his language suggests otherwise. I am not interested in playing semantics but I believe the kind of language we use regarding those we disagree with and what it implies, does matter. I am still waiting to hear from Burk.
He lacks a credible profession of faith. (That’s putting it generously.)
Yes, and what’s interesting to look at is how many of our presidents all the way back to George Washington called themselves a Christian but in a majority of cases either attended a universalist or universalist leaning church. The reason for this is simple – the overwhelming pressure when you’re in politics, especially something as high profile as the presidency, is to become a spiritual chameleon who learns enough lingo to convince everyone that they belong to their tribe. The dichotomy of what Obama did on Friday was in high relief because of the totally different audiences and messages, but in reality, our nation has a long history of this type of thing.
Its entirely possible to both consider homosexuality a sin and to also support the civil recognition of gay marriage. I suspect many Millenial Evangelicals have struck this precise balance. Where I grew up, Kansas, most Evangelicals supported Prohibition–even into the late ’80s ‘liquor by the drink’ was highly controversial–yet we came to support the legalization of alcohol. We still consider alcohol & tobacco to be sinful, but we think they should be legal for adults. Not every sin should be a crime.
C. M. Granger
It’s entirely possible, but it would be entirely wrong. Scripture condemns same sex relationships, and therefore, so should those who follow Christ and believe His word.
“Its entirely possible to both consider homosexuality a sin and to also support the civil recognition of gay marriage. I suspect many Millenial Evangelicals have struck this precise balance.”
I find the Biblical definition of marriage to be immutable. What secular society desires or decides is utterly irrelevant although not without consequence. The work of the gospel goes on even though the challenge is slightly more difficult now. I think its clarifying to rid ourselves of the idolatry that this is a Christian nation with Christian values.
I couldn’t agree more with you more. As Russell Moore said in his editorial in the Washington Post, oftentimes the church is at its strongest when its farthest from the dominant culture. I think the church has grown too close and too involved in the political process. We need to re-focus on personal salvation and winning souls for Christ.
What we have here is the cultural misappropriation of Christianity. It’s a Christianity of appearance without the substance. It’s the same pseudo Christianity that excused and justified slavery in this country, now misused in other ways.
dr. james willingham
It is enough to make one sick.
Woe unto those who call good evil and evil good. Can’t be any more clear or deliberate than that