Inasmuch as I’m still on vacation, and still not able to get any sort of access to the internet, I figured I’d keep putting up posts on how God’s desire to bless the whole world might mean that Christians should participate in such blessing without requiring, first, that people act like us. The God who causes the rain to fall and the sun to shine on the evil and good alike, I’m arguing, wants us to work toward extension of God’s blessing to all around us–even when we believe they are acting outside of and even against the will and work of God.
In other words, the New Testament itself demands of us that we not only assess what we are supposed to do as God’s obedient and faithful people, but that we not require of others that they so act before they receive God’s blessings from our hand (or God’s). (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.)
In short, the argument has been that if we want to know how we who believe homosexual activity is sinful should treat our gay neighbors, we can do little better than looking at how Jesus treats Gentiles and other outsiders. Jesus enacted, and proclaimed, the love of God that brings rain and sun on the evil and the good alike–without demanding, first, that the evil become good. And he calls us to do the same: to be children of our heavenly Father who so showers His blessings.
A recurring apprehension I hear when I suggest that this applies to advocating gay marriage in the state is that it undermines our responsibility to uphold the standards of God. Is it not our duty to shine our light by living differently and calling people to something different rather than blessing their sin?
There will be no mercy in judgment for anyone who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy overrules judgment. My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!” ? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? (James 2:13-17, CEB)
What is the faith that God will approve? It is a faith that puts belief into action by caring for the people who are around us. While we are tempted to spiritualize this, deferring to “taking care” of people by calling them to repentance, the NT consistently looks at material provision, caring for people as they are embodied and part of the social world around us, as the means by which such care is to be extended.
These passages, altogether, frighten me a bit. They tell me that the very things we are most prone to look to as indicating and expressing our faithfulness to God are the things that are most strongly preventing us from exercising the law of love that shows us to be children of our Father in heaven.
Why would I rather approve of homosexual marriage in the state than enforce a Christian heterosexual standard? Because I would rather be found guilty of extending the blessings of divine provision for human flourishing (marriage, stability, comfort, healthcare, inheritance) beyond their proper bounds than of hoarding them for the people of God alone to enjoy. These passages together suggest to me that such indiscriminate dissemination is what it means to be a child of the one true God.