Don’t Be Upset That Our Beliefs Are Not Understood By Culture
As dual citizens, Christian’s role is to be interpreters, not antagonists.
By Carl Nelson, President/CEO of Transform Minnesota
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that all 50 states must recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex, how are we as evangelicals to respond?
We acknowledge that the beliefs we practice with our faith are in conflict with the majority of society around us, and now conflict even the rules of our country. But the Supreme Court ruling does not change what evangelicals believe about marriage. It just changes the context in which we practice our teachings.
We can no longer assume that most people believe the same as we do, or even understand why we believe what we do. And that may make us feel grief for the traditional view of marriage, confusion or even feel attacked by society at large. We may need some help navigating our feelings, but rather than getting antagonistic, defensive or upset when people outside of our faith don’t understand why we believe what we do, let us offer grace and a clarity of conscience.
As an evangelical network, Transform Minnesota holds to a Biblical understanding of marriage as between a man and a woman. While American culture – and now the courts – have changed their views and embraced same-sex marriage, as evangelicals we stand with nearly 2 billion Christians worldwide who continue to hold the historic, orthodox biblical view that God defines marriage to be a man and a woman.
We recognize that this belief puts us out of sync with popular culture. And this ruling clearly reveals that orthodox Christian beliefs are no longer in the mainstream of American society; rather ours has become a minority voice seeking to influence culture from the fringes.
Throughout history Christianity has often held beliefs that contradicted cultural practices or the ruling powers. We should not expect the world to understand us. As Christians we live according to a different standard as revealed in the Bible.
We commit to learning anew how to navigate living as dual citizens in both the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of earth. As the contrast between our earthly citizenship and our heavenly citizenship becomes more and more distinct, Christians must learn to be bi-lingual so we can speak effectively to both groups.
We need to drop all assumptions that society grasps our point of view. We need to learn to become expert communicators, examining our biblically-held beliefs about marriage and engaging in clear, calm dialogue.
While our true home and identity is the Kingdom of God, we are residents – and full participants – of this earthly realm and we are called to be interpreters. Christians cannot get upset or defensive with the world does not understand us. In a society that doesn’t share our beliefs we must become more articulate about what we believe. (Click here to read Transform Minnesota’s stance on gender, sexuality and marriage)
Gender, Sexuality & Marriage
We believe that the starting point for understanding our individual sexuality is to recognize that we are created in the image of God.
God created humans with gender. God created us with sexual desires. Each gender reflects unique aspects of the character of God and those gender characteristics are a gift from God. Just as God exists in community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as God’s image-bearers we too desire human community and relationship. The most powerful, self-revealing expression of human relationship is sexual intimacy, and because of its powerful impact on our soul and pro-creative possibilities, God wisely gives boundaries to protect humans when we engage in sexual intimacy.
Anchored to the Biblical teaching that God’s intent for full sexual expression is between a married man and woman, we teach Christians to honor those God-given boundaries and we seek to help followers of Jesus grow towards living lives characterized by sexual holiness.
We are prepared that the future will hold challenges as we teach and practice marriage according to our religious beliefs, within a society that has created a fundamentally new definition of marriage. But we forge ahead in hope based upon our nation’s constitutional commitment to religious freedom.
Religious freedom is going to be an increasingly important area of interest for evangelicals as we navigate life in a pluralistic society. We need to work to ensure that we have the proper religious freedoms protecting our rights to observe marriage according to our religious teachings. Understanding and defending religious freedom for everyone will become important now more than ever.
There will be confusion and challenges to the religious freedoms of faith-based organizations, but we remain committed to the beauty and promise that marriage flows out of God’s creation of a special bond between male and female, each reflecting unique gender characteristics of God’s image in ourselves.