Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Supreme Court, Marriage, and the Inescapable Hostility of America to the Gospel

Col. 1 21, “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind.” Sylvia C. Keemaat writes, “The challenge that Colossians provides to its imperial context is overwhelmingly rooted in a strong theology of creation.” Man is not in fact the measure of all things. Man, in order to understand his position accurately must understand that first and foremost, he is a creature of God. Man exists for the purpose and pleasure of God and nothing more. God brought man into being as well as all of creation for His own glory, for His own purpose, and for His own good pleasure. I like to say that I was made by God for God. If only I can remember that when faced with the temptation to have it my way, I would avoid much error and even more sin.

Carson & Moo, as well as Guthrie all point to a heresy as Paul’s occasion for addressing the Colossian Church. It is reasonable to understand that Paul’s concern had to do with a sound Christology and the influence of pagan philosophy on Colossian theology. In 1:15-19 Paul provides a hymn of the highest Christology, describing a distinctly Christian metaphysic. He states that Christ is creator of all things, that all things were created by and for Christ, and that in Christ all things are held together. One is led to believe that this distinctly Christian metaphysic had a competitive alternative in the Colossian Church. In Col. 2:8 Paul warns, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

That there was a competing philosophy in Colossae is indisputable. In addition, that this philosophy had its roots, it's foundation in pagan tradition, and perhaps Greek thought is equally difficult to dispute. The Church was being seduced to think in terms of the elementary principles of the world. Here Paul sets such thinking squarely over against the kind of thinking that Christians are obligated to engage in. This was, after all, the very kind of thinking from which they had been rescued. The pagan philosophies were clearly threatening the Colossian Church from all sides. Their promises of true knowledge and of true meaning were tantalizing much like the philosophies of our day. Paul informs the Colossian Church in 2:3, however, that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. I find it interesting that Paul uses the word “hidden.” The Greek word is apokruphos. It means something that is not able to be known and thus secret.

Paul reminds the Colossian Church that they have been redeemed from this state. They are no longer without true knowledge, a true understanding of God like they once were. In 1:21, to return to our text for this situation, Paul says that the unregenerate condition of the Colossian Church was one that involved a ἐχθροὺς τῇ διανοίᾳ, echthrous tei dianoiai. They were enemies in their intellect. Their thought process prior to knowing God was a process that set them apart as enemies of God. This compound word dianoiai means a particular manner or way of thinking, disposition, manner of thought. This description helps us understand that the unregenerate way of reasoning, their approach to rational thought is fundamentally different from how a Christian thinks about things. This is especially true in American culture, or at least it should be.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for the legalization of gay marriage in American culture. There has already been a lot said about the tragedy of this situation. As it relates to this article, I want to focus on how the Church should observe this development and perhaps how she can use it to help equip herself to be better “thinkers” than she has been in the recent past. It is best to acknowledge Paul’s statement to the Colossians as we embark on this brief lesson in meta-thinking.

The American tradition that once offered a casual tip of the hat to Christian values for so long has vanished in rapid fashion. The unregenerate mind is one that rejects God’s values, not to mention a distinctly Christian metaphysics and epistemology. American thought is radically independent. In American culture, man is the measure of all things. And when asked, “which man?” the answer is “this man.”

The U.S. Supreme Court handles things the way the typical American handles things these days. They approach the constitution, not as their sole authority for law and order. Rather, they want the order the document promises, but without the authority that comes with it. They want to turn the document into a tool that delivers the kind of order they want without the kind of authority they don’t want. As a result of this way of thinking, American judges are legislating from the bench more and more and the results range from comical to terrifying.

This very same mentality exists in most American Churches. Man is the measure of all things. The typical American Christian, professing, that is, does the very same thing with Scripture that judges do with the constitution. What is worse is that the American mind is almost entirely unregenerate minds. The unbeliever denies the biblical definition of marriage, love, right, and wrong, knowledge, God, Jesus, authority, and especially Christian. Rather than seek and love God’s truth, they seek to replace it with a truth of their own, apart from God.

Rom. 1:26-27, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”

If I understand Paul correctly in this text, He is asserting that homosexuality is the revelation of the wrath of God upon the human race because of its refusal to accept the glory of God, and the truth of God for what it is: God’s truth and glory. Instead, humans have become vain in their speculations and their minds have become darkened. This refusal to honor God as God has resulted in God cursing humanity with same-sex desires. Because humanity was filled with an assortment of wickedness, God has brought about this curse as a way in which to inflict wrath upon the human race.

This does not mean that homosexuals cannot be saved. But it does call into question the view that this sin isn’t any different from any other. A view that until recently I have held. I am now in the process of examining my position. I know of no other place in Scripture where the author affirms that a particular behavior is actually the result of God’s wrath upon other sinful behaviors. But it seems this is exactly what Paul is arguing here. Moo agrees, “Paul follows this genre by making the same connection but differs from it by attributing the connection to the act of God.” [Moo, Romans, 113]

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