I should warn you, I’m a senior minister at an independent Christian Church, which means I’m from the same cloth as minister Joe Wright (NOT Jeremiah!) who pastored Central Christian Church in Wichita, Kansas, and Bob Russell, who pastored Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
Bob wrote a prayer once that Joe borrowed, adapted and then used to open the Kansas State House of Representatives back in 1996. It was a prayer that asked God for forgiveness involving various things, including a few hot button political issues. And while it really attacked items on both sides of the aisle, it nevertheless insinuated that certain things…
are sinful before God.
(insert large GASP here)
So OK, I KNOW I’m a radical. I get it. I believe in God, and I believe the Bible reveals God to us. And crazy as it sounds, I believe we have to come to God on His terms not ours. God judges all of us for sin, He judges nations for sin, and eventually, He’ll judge the world for sin. Me and you included.
The Bible however makes it clear that it is not God’s will to destroy us or condemn us for sin, but to forgive us and give us an abundant life -here, but especially, in eternity. Even in the Old Testament, God said stuff like this:
“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. “-Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Notice the plea. It said “Now choose life”. Without getting too deep into the spiritual/philosophical argument, let me just say that a loving God gives people like us a choice, but He obviously wants us to choose the right thing. He gives the same choice to those who will accept Him, and gives the same choice to those He knows will reject Him, because it’s His will that no one should perish but everyone come to repentance. He gives everyone the chance. It’s fair, and He loves people.
So there you go, I believe in a real God and a real judgment and a real eternal kingdom. I know, unbelievable that a minister would say that, but hey.
Anyway, that obviously means when it comes to right and wrong, the mere fact I have to answer to God someday means that certain political issues become very important to me. I’m not just going to vote a certain way or speak up for a certain thing because I feel like it, or because I get worked up about it. I’m going to speak up, stand up, vote, etc… because when I stand before God, I’ll have to answer for what I did or didn’t do with this life He gave me.
And for many Christians, especially those who believe the Bible reveals the truth about God, then often these issues aren’t just important, they actually DETERMINE how you’re going to vote. And they cause a guy like Joe Wright or Bob Russell to write prayers like this one:
(By the way, this is the actual prayer, the one circulating in the email fwd is not quite accurate)
Heavenly Father, we come before you to ask your forgiveness. We seek your direction and your guidance. We know your word says, “Woe to those who call evil good.” But that’s what we’ve done.
We’ve lost our spiritual equilibrium. We have inverted our values. We have ridiculed the absolute truth of your word in the name of moral pluralism. We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We’ve exploited the poor and called it a lottery. We’ve neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. In the name of choice, we have killed our unborn. In the name of right to life, we have killed abortionists.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it taxes. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, oh, God, and know our hearts today. Try us. Show us any wickedness within us. Cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of the State of Kansas, and that they have been ordained by you to govern this great state.
Grant them your wisdom to rule. May their decisions direct us to the center of your will. And, as we continue our prayer and as we come in out of the fog, give us clear minds to accomplish our goals as we begin this Legislature. For we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you read closely, you notice he made points against everyone, not just one party. And you might also notice the humble attitude before God throughout the prayer but especially at the end. It is a prayer of repentance which is born out of a real belief in the existence of God. A God that Joe and Bob and I and many Christians, believe we will answer to.
However, many of you reading might not quite believe any of this, or might simply disagree with what Joe or I believe the Bible teaches. I understand. It’s perfectly fine to disagree. (You can be wrong if you want to!) I’m not writing in an attempt to scream my opinion at you. I’m writing this to give you something to think about. Even if you and I disagree, it always helps to know where the other person is coming from. Not only do we need to change our mind sometimes, but even when we don’t, our own beliefs become stronger when we stack them up next to others.
So in the interest of knowledge, here is a brief look at where many Christians get the idea that the practice of homosexuality, abortion, and even gambling, -is uh…. sinful.
First, Gambling! Why not…
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs
-I Timothy 6:9-10
Here’s the thing about gambling: The Bible doesn’t condemn it specifically, but there are other issues the Bible talks about that relate to gambling. Issues such as being a steward of the money God gives you, being responsible, and warnings like the verse above about the LOVE of money being the root of all kinds of evil. So a reasonable answer about gambling isn’t so much of a condemnation, as it is a warning.
God judged nations who took advantage of the poor, and it’s awfully easy for gambling to do just that. In the 1990’s, more than half of California’s lottery ticket sales came from customers whose income was near or below the recognized poverty level. While many people compare gambling to spending money for any type of entertainment, there are others who gamble compulsively or who are desperate in their search for more money who have a real problem stopping. For them, gambling is a danger, and the Bible is clear that taking advantage of them, doesn’t impress God all that much. Not in a good way at least.
For instance, in Missouri, we had a proposition in an election called Prop A, that wanted to remove the “loss limit” so someone who can’t stop gambline, can then be taken completely to the cleaners. (Same bill also proposed to “never” allow a loss limit to be reapplied and to not allow any more casinos to be built in Missouri. Amazing that they have the audacity to give themselves a monopoly in the State isn’t it?) For most Christians who know their God, it should have been difficult to swallow the idea of removing a loss limit because of Scriptures like this one:
This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground
To say nothing of the usual crime, prostitution and immorality that comes with an influx of gambling. There’s a reason what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Putting money ahead of God or others, pleasure ahead of loving others, building beautiful casinos from money taken from the poor, violates Scriptures like these.
Of course, so does taking kickbacks and breeding corruption in business and government. We will have to answer to God for how responsible we’ve been in these things. Or how irresponsible. Gambling is just one money issue we should consider. Unfortunately, Missouri passed the proposition I told you about.
And then of course, there’s abortion.
We are told in Luke 1:39-44 that when Mary became pregnant with Jesus, she went to see her relative Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist. When Mary came into the presence of Elizabeth, the Word says that the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped with joy over the presence of the Christ child who was yet to be born!
And yet the world says that baby in the womb is really not a person. Actually, the world is a bit contradictory on the subject. On the one hand, we’re told to read to our kids while they are in the womb because they can hear you and start learning, but in Kansas if you’d rather not read to them, you can kill them instead. So it seems it’s a child if I want it to be, and it’s not a child if I don’t want it to be? Really?
The fact Illinois tried to pass a law to force doctors and hospitals to keep a child OUTSIDE the womb ALIVE when the abortion failed and the child was born anyway (famously voted against three times by Senator Obama) indicates how callous we can become toward an infant we determine is “unwanted.”
The Bible treats these unborn and born children as human beings. For instance, God told Jeremiah
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”-Jeremiah 1:5
And David wrote:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb –Psalm 139:13
The most ominous warning of all says God “hates”:
hands that shed innocent blood –Proverbs 6:17
That’s why, for me as a Christian, one of the best things Bill Clinton did was the Family Leave Act, which tried to help guarantee mothers their job would be there if they had to miss time for pregnancy. From the Bible’s perspective, God loves the mother AND the child. We should take care of both in my opinion, or we invite the judgment of God.
And finally, the practice of homosexuality.
It was one of the sins for which the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed in Genesis 19. In fact, that’s why it was called “sodomy.” It was specifically singled out in the Mosaic Law as “an abomination” in Leviticus 18:22. The Mosaic Law prescribed the death penalty for such activity in Leviticus 20:13. But of course, some would say, oh that’s the Old Testament.
In the New Testament Paul specifically condemns homosexual activity. He says it is unrighteousness and that it will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God:
“Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” –I Corinthians 6:9
We argue over what the word means, because the Greek word is somewhat vague, but the Bible gives us an example that seems to solidify the New Testament’s condemnation of the practice of homosexuality. Paul writes:
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
So immediately you know he’s not talking about roses and puppies. Then he gets more specific:
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
But of course, some would say again, oh that’s just Paul. What about Jesus? Many people, including religious leaders, will point out that Jesus never condemned homosexuality but he did condemn adultery. That’s actually a really good point, because sin is sin, and we’re all guilty of it. We all need forgiveness and to turn to Christ.
Having said that, claiming it’s OK because Jesus didn’t condemn it, is not logical. Jesus never condemned child molestation, incest, or bestiality either. Should we approve of those? I personally have never condemned the killing of dogs from New Zealand. Does that mean I approve of it?
Jesus DID mention marriage between and man and woman as the one moral, sexual relationship:
Matthew 19:5 “”a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh”
Truth is, the Bible is clear on its opposition to the practice of homosexuality, but lots of us simply don’t agree with it. We try to dismiss the Old Testament and Paul and what was written, but in doing so, we are rejecting the Bible as the revealed Word from God. I don’t think we should do that.
The question remains: Is right and wrong whatever I decide, or what God decides? And this one: If God exists, don’t I have to come to Him on His terms, not mine?
All of us have to answer those questions for ourselves, and agree with it or not, I’m convinced because of its power, accuracy and prophecy that the Bible is indeed the revealed Word from God. You may not believe, or you may not be certain, but that’s OK right now. I’m just here to make you think a bit. Besides, in the book of I Samuel in the Old Testament, the Israelites decided they wanted a king. They had been ruled by a theocracy, but they wanted a king to rule over them. Samuel and God let them, but Samuel still had influence in the country so he said this:
As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. -I Samuel 12:23.
I think that’s what a Bible believing Christian in the United States should do. Pray for our nation, our leaders and our people -no matter who they are. And teach the way that is good and right. Some people will accept and some won’t, but if we speak up then at least people can make their own decisions between them and God.
If we remain silent, then WE sin.