Forget the projection polls for a moment and imagine with me that, after all of the dust settles and all of the votes are tallied, it is found that Amendment One to the North Carolina State Constitution has failed to garner enough support to be ratified.
What are the ramifications of the outcome? The immediate secular ramifications seem small, but the outcome has the potential to have much larger ones in the future. For while the failure of the amendment to be ratified does not change the fact that homosexual unions are still illegal in the state of North Carolina, it does leave open the possibility that the state’s courts could rule the present law unconstitutional and effectively repeal it.
But, honestly, I am not too concerned about the secular ramifications at the present or in the future. The one thing, however, that I am concerned about and have been trying to wrap my brain around since this debate began is how the failure of this amendment to pass would affect the Church. And with all of the strong and super-passionate support for the amendment from the pulpits, from the seminaries, from congregations, and from various and sundry blogs, you would think that I would have a laundry list of negative effects of the amendment’s failure to pass upon the Church.
But I don’t.
What I have read, over and over again, are statements that biblical marriage is between a man and a woman and that homosexuality is sin. Well, yes, and I do not think many who have read the Bible honestly would argue with that. But, is it not also biblically true that salvation is of the Lord, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, Jesus was born of a virgin, and lust is the spiritual equivalent of adultery? Of course it is, but why are we not seeking legislation to affirm these things? Do you not know that the sin of unbelief is far more treacherous and immoral than the sin of homosexuality? Why are we not drawing up legislation against not believing in Jesus Christ?
The chief motivator, I believe, behind this evangelical push for the amendment’s ratification has little to do with biblical conviction or the supposed negative consequences to the Church, and much more to do with our personal desire for it to pass. We simply do not want homosexuals to be recognized by our state as married. We do not want to have to explain to our children why we believe that Mr. and Mr. Smith are living in sin, and why we believe and live differently as Christians. We do not want to live in a generation where the Family Channel’s slogan is “A New Kind of Family,” and where we can accidentally plan our dream Disney vacation during Gay Week. We simply do not want to live in a generation and a country where everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
And, honestly, I do not think that there is anything wrong with these desires. Despite the means, there is something admirable in wanting to live in a generation and a country that fears God and hallows his name. Yet, there comes a point when we as the people of God must swallow the hard pill of reality and realize that we are not living in such a generation or a country. Perhaps there was a time in the history of our country when that was true, but it is not this time, and no amount of legislation will bring it about. We who have such convictions and desires are quickly becoming the minority, and while there may be (in our eyes) a small victory with the possible ratification of Amendment One, it will be a short-lived one. For this country, for good or bad, is governed by the morality of the majority, and the passage of Amendment One today will only likely lead to a repeal in an Amendment Two.
This is not to say that the failure of the amendment to pass would not have consequences upon the Church, but those consequences are no different than those of living in a wicked society. Those consequences are inevitable. For whether or not the amendment passes, the growing, wicked world around us will always view Christians as intolerant, self-righteous, hypocritical, etc., and, with or without the passing of the amendment, it is very plausible that sermons, evangelism, and theological discussions will one day in the near future become hate speech with legal consequences.
And, unfortunately, there is little that can be done about it.
I know this because Jesus promised us that we would suffer. I know this because the apostle Paul told us that our suffering is a gift to us from Christ. And, now, despite the outcome of today’s vote, the direction our country seems determined. We may comfort ourselves today with the wall we have erected against the coming tsunami, but that wall will scarcely hold it once it has reached the shore. Our only course of action, I believe, is to pray and to become the Church we were called to be. For in that time, buildings will fall and programs will cease; choirs will not sing, and Awanas will be but a faint memory. In that time, all we will have is the Church, and that time will not be the time to figure out what the Church truly is.