I must admit, both as an Anglican and as member of the wider Christian community I have been struggling with my Bishop inserting his personal views into, what is ultimately a political debate; the removal of the buggery law. And not just a moral issue vis a vis a legal problem as advanced by Rev. Garnett Roper. Both of whom have gained my trust and confidence on theological matters over many years of listening to them.
The letter then, written to the editor of the Daily Gleaner which appears at the beginning, apart from accusing Bishop Gregory of being disingenuous, for that’s not the person I know, comes closest to my understanding of the issue. For if one reads widely what is posted on both mainstream and social media, you cannot ignore the reality of the political agenda of some sections of the LBGT community.
Those members of the community that I know professionally, for the most part, just want to get along with their lives without abuse and discrimination. And be loved by others! And accept that their lifestyle is not compatible with Christianity. In that regard, they display more honesty than many who are baptized yet blatantly engage in fornication.
Then they are others who we read about, make the headlines, who do not accept that homosexuality activity is ‘ sinful ‘, and are intent on ‘ revising the scriptures ‘ to accommodate their theology. And in many countries they have been successful in lobbying for the passing of laws that permit same sex marriages. This, with the help and stamp of approval of ‘ the church ‘. All of which activity is pursued within the context of ‘ human right’s, the new ‘ holy grail’ of the ‘ enlightened ‘ society’.
But the political wing of the LGBT community is not satisfied with argument and debate, and so they have successfully inserted the concept of ‘ hate speech’ into the struggle for ‘ human rights’. A label which has been very adhesively applied to anyone, especially Christians, who cite the Scriptures and declare homosexual activity to be sinful.
Further, and this is perhaps one of the reasons why the very Liberal Democrats lost the last Presidential election in the USA, they have successfully lobbied to persecute Christians who choose not to take pictures at ‘ same sex weddings ‘, or to cater for such affairs. A matter which the award winning journalist Ian Boyne has written about extensively.
So although my Bishop’s motive and reason for calling for the removal of the buggery law, may be appear, on the face of it, but to make sense, for the law is difficult to enforce, and in addition his actions appear to show Christian compassion for a hurting group of people, one cannot ignore the political reality, and possible consequence of such a move. Which is the gravamen of the arguments advanced by the letter writer and others!
Then in the middle of this conundrum a Word in the middle of the night this morning. First Samson and His wife. And the Philistines! He comits arson on a grand scale. Why? He is mad, because ‘ they gave away his wife ‘. But the Lord was with him, as one of Israel’s judges. At least until he became disobedient! So The Power of The Holy Spirit was with him to defeat the Philistines. In battle! Fast forward then from the OT story, led to read as I randomly opened my Bible last night, to the new way of waging war.
THE WORD OF GOD
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV http://bible.com/111/2co.10.3-5.NIV
And as we consider the profound message in Word from the Lord, there is one more issue to be considered in this ‘ human rights being the new holy grail’ issue. For the challenge and context is far more dangerous and much wider than the political wing of the LGBT community. Yesterday I ” happened ” up on this article and posted it on Facebook.
“It’s time for the UK to legalise some form of assisted dying. The experience and legal rules in the Benelux countries should form the basis for the discussion on reform. It is time to give people who are suffering – and not just terminally ill – the fundamental human right to control life and how to end it.”
Excerpt from a Tweet. This is part of what I mean when I quote Haggai ‘ where there is no vision the people cast off all restraint’. Just read it in a tweet sent out by the AG Marlene Malahoo. Someone is arguing that the UK should join other countries and pass laws that allow for assisted dying. And the basis for interfering with God’s Created order is the new holy grail – human rights.
The challenge for Christians is how do we respond without ‘ cutting off Malchus’ ears.
How do we wage war against immorality. Against corruption. Against Crime and Violence – the major problem in our nation. Against domestic abuse. Against political tribalism. Against poverty. Against Bernie Sanders ‘ Wall Street’ domination where the rich get richer and poor get poorer.
Here is where Bishop Gregory is on good ground. For although we ought not to be naive to the ways of Satan, and the evil powers of this world, the ultimate power behind the desire for sex between two men and two women, and the elevation of ‘ human rights’ over the Word of God, we will not win the battle with laws and traditions and defending morality. No! Evil can only be defeated by prayer which has the power to ‘ destroy strongholds’. Can only be destroyed by love and compassion and mercy. For the Word of God which came to me also this week was that:
” God has given over all men to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them.” Romans 11:32
But only the kind of prayer which flows from a relationship with Christ the Crucified One. For power to defeat evil, and rescue the captives – to homosexual activity , to murder, to corruption, to pastors having sex with the sisters – comes only from preaching Redemption and the miracle of the Resurrection. Peter, the impetuous one, drew his sword when they came to arrest Jesus.
And Jesus, very dramatically, taught him and us, a profound lesson by healing the injury to Malchus caused by Peter’s rash action. You cannot fight fire with fire. But Jesus also taught us to be wise. Not foolish. And not to be unaware of the devil’s schemes.
A final warning in this reflection. Writing about The Trap caused by the love of money, Rev. Timothy Keller the New York Times best selling author of The Reason For God, in his book Jesus The King, he had this to say:
Wherever the other great religions began, that is still their center today. …..Christianity is the exception. Jerusalem to Hellinistic Alexandra to Northern Europe and North America. In recent times the growth of the church in Latin America, Asia and Africa has been growing up to ten times the population growth rate. Compared to North America where it is barely keeping up with the growth rate and Europe where it receeded. …..In the next 50 – 70 years it is predicted that the center of Christianity will shift away from Nothr America and Europe. Why?
At the center of Christianity is the Cross….all about giving up power, pouring out resources and serving. …when Christianity is in a place of power and wealth for too long, the radical message of Sin and grace and the Cross can become muted and even lost. Then Christianity starts to transmute into a nice, safe religion, one that’s for respectable people who try to be good. And eventually it becomes virtually dormant in those places and the center moved elsewhere.”
Part of our problem in Jamaica, where Christianity still flourishes, is the infiltration of the prosperity gospel from the USA, on the one hand, and the infiltration of the ‘ age of enlightenment ‘, on the other hand. Both highly toxic to soul and nation.
May we be acutely aware of the dangers of both evils , and remain faithful to the foundations of our faith, viz, The Redemption wrought on Calvary by Christ the Crucified One. And the miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus.
The one to grant us forgiveness of our Sins. The other to grant us the power to love and forgive our enemies, to promote Justice and Righteousness, with power to preach the message of reconciliation and to grant us new and unending life with a holy God.
Otherwise we too in Jamaica may witness the loss of the vital radical message of Sin and grace, which is the ultimate goal of those pushing ” human rights ” as a god, and the aim of the political wing of the LGBT community.
Pray God that He will continue to Order our steps in His Word. Music from the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir which haunted my soul this week.