Anyone who follows church-related news in the United States is aware that there is a lot of division over homosexuality and gay marriage. The Episcopalians have seen a lot of drama in the last 15 years or so. The Lutherans saw some. The United Methodists in recent months had a lot of press after the Rev. Frank Schaefer celebrated the same-sex wedding of his son. When Schaefer handed in his ministerial credentials, the denomination’s conservatives won the day. Nonetheless, they are upset there hasn’t been heavier punishment for United Methodist ministers who have actively practiced the full inclusion of those in the LGBT community in the life of the church. On May 23, 2014, news broke that a group of United Methodist ministers have gone public suggesting the need for conservatives to split from the denomination as though a divorce over “irreconcilable differences” is in order.
I’m not here to take sides for or against homosexuality or gay marriage. I’m here to issue a call to the entire evangelical church to get it’s head out of the mire of whacked-out priorities. Gay marriage is not the most important issue the church is called to stand for. It’s not theological in nature, so the brouhaha that has flared up over something other than the Good News of Christ presents a bigger issue. It would be nice if Jesus received as much passion from evangelical Christians as homosexuality does.
I am not calling for evangelicals to weaken or become conciliatory, but I am calling them to own up to the fact that oppositional identity does not produce the Fruit of the Spirit. The obsession with sin – especially other people’s – is the bigger issue. Again, I’m not calling for weakness or permissiveness – I’m saying some of us need to tone it down and check ourselves. Our priorities are getting out of whack and this is the sin we should be worried about.
The other issue that is much bigger for the churches is how we handle Biblical interpretation. If we were to do a better job making sure Christ is our interpretive lens, we would stand with Christ looking at the New Testament through him, then looking at the Old Testament and the continuum between the two Biblical testaments through this Christ-centered lens. This secures our holding high the Centrality of Christ and the Supremacy of Christ.
When we put more focus on sin than we do on Christ, we build a doctrinal model with sin at the center and Christ in its obit. In this model, the King of Kings is peripheral and serves to solve a problem – a problem that is distracting us from the Savior himself. At least, it appears that way in the public narrative. The media have a hand in this, but they wouldn’t have cause to run stories that reflect division if Christians didn’t behave so divisively to begin with.