Before We Demand That Apology
It’s been about two weeks and half since President Obama came out with his conviction regarding homosexual marriage and the firestorm continues. Most of the responses fell along predictable lines and there’s little doubt that the debate will continue right up through November’s presidential election. Of particular concern is the response and position of the ‘black’ church to the president. Will church going blacks stick with him even though they may disagree on so fundamental an issue, or will they in righteous defiance declare that the word of God is clear, it cannot be changed and thus Mr. President while we appreciate your historic accomplishment we just cannot in good conscience cast our vote for you a second time? It was already a long forgone conclusion that most white evangelicals were not going to vote for President Obama even if he had stated his unequivocal support for marriage between a man and women.
What’s of interest is how this may be the first time in a very long while that the traditional black bible believing church and the white evangelical church see a political issue eye to eye. How wonderful might it be to see these two groups who claim to believe in the same Lord, sing many of the same songs, hold to the same moral convictions finally walking arm in arm (metaphorically of course) to the polls to cast a vote for the moral values upon which America was founded. Except for one small problem.
In our rush to decry this latest attack on God, country, traditional family values and marriage we’ve forgotten that we were the first to twist the Scriptures and tribablize the living God to feed the lust of our idolatry. While we may vehemently disagree with President Obama’s stand on this issue and recoil at his (and others) use of Scripture to inform that stand, it is the bible-believing Christian church that just may have provided the foundational thinking that led to his conviction.
From its very beginning, the evangelical church in America twisted, misused and disregarded Scripture to suit our wants and pursue our own selfish agenda. For example, the incident between Noah and his grandson Canaan recorded in Genesis 9 was used to justify the perpetual enslavement of Africans for the benefit of those who enslaved them and others who profited from it. This was the case made by Prof. Robert L. Dabney D.D. in his publication A Defense of Virginia (and through Her of the South (1867). It is a weighty thing to look another human being in the eye, a man created in the image of God and for whom Christ shed His blood to redeem and tell him that the reason the enslaver can use his labor, have sex with his wife and sell his children is because God made him to be a slave. But that’s exactly what the church did when we told ourselves, those enslaved and the country that the American form of perpetual, ethnically based slavery was God’s express will and thus any argument or attempt to say otherwise or end the system was an act against the living God.
Had it ended with slavery the church might have been able to repent and investigate how we let our idolatry overrule God’s word so that it wouldn’t happen again. But it did not. Nearly one hundred years later the evangelical church that authoritatively declared that the American system of ethnically based, perpetual slavery was the unquestioned will of the living God with equal authority and conviction told ourselves, the nation and the world that strict segregation along ethnic lines which included prohibitions against inter-racial marriage was also the will of God, taught in Scripture and thus must be obeyed. Once again the church prized our own well being and privilege ahead of the truth of God’s word. And once again our decision had disastrous consequences for our witness. Having sided with the culture against the living God the evangelical church was bound to practice what they preached by refusing membership to black people which extended to barring them from participating in the Lord’s Supper. This was a striking and I must say frightening violation of Paul’s teaching on communion recorded in 1 Cor. 11. Here Paul addresses and rebukes those who fostered divisions in the church and used our sacred communion meal to do so! Once again the church followed the lead of an ungodly culture, told them it was perfectly in line with God’s will and exchanged God’s clear truth to worship the cultural idol of white supremacy.
And the beat as they say goes on. The same black church that we’re told must now rise to reject President Obama for the sake of the biblical truth about marriage has for at least a couple of decades bowed, embraced and promoted the idol of prosperity, greatness, comfort and ease all in Jesus name and all because God commands us to do so in His word. The examples of this kind of twisted theology and brazen idolatry are so numerous that I’m sure you can think of many yourselves. How can we with a straight face and clear conscience demand an apology and retraction from President Obama when for years we’ve peddled a blatant lie and will stand before God’s people this Lord’s Day to emphatically declare that the gospel we preach is a gospel of prosperity in the Name of our Lord who said ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15 NIV).
What ought we to do then? Perhaps we should begin with repentance for how we’ve misused Scripture to further the goals of our own idolatry and thus laid an example for those who seek to do the same. Whether we like it or not, there is no substantive difference between the homosexual who is certain that his sexual orientation is God’s will to that of the segregationist who was equally convinced that God’s will mandated forbidding blacks to join communion, to that of the prosperity pastor who with the same confidence declares that it is God’s express will that all of His people enjoy material prosperity.
Until and unless the church unwraps the American flag from our identity and mission and rejects the heresy of prosperity theology the world will continue to view us not as a people standing up for an objective truth that is foundational to our society but simply repeating the sins of our fathers for the sake of our own well-being.
To Him Who Loves Us…