“Elections have consequences” and as the majority of Minnesotans have chosen to place a single party with a distinctly leftist social policy in power in both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office we should not be surprised when those officials implement that agenda into law. Barring a miracle of sort same-sex marriage will be legal in Minnesota in the next few weeks.
Will the ground open up and swallow all of Minnesota? Probably not. To get to the point where this would even be considered let alone adopted into law has taken decades and the full effect will also take decades to become known. The immediate effect will be a resigned sadness for some and jubilation for others and then incremental changes as the new law transforms policy and practice. Time will tell. It always does.
For those of us in the observant Christian community the passage of this law will be a time of reflection. For too long we’ve sort of sat on our hands and not engaged the world around us with the beauty of our Faith and of the truth we seek to live. Now we wonder why our ideas are not taken seriously even if they do reflect thousands of years of human experience in the real world. For the most part we’ve not lived as if our “religion” matters so why should anyone else take it seriously? We have a hard road ahead of us and over time the road will get harder. Laws redefining marriage are not simply about civil rights but also about marginalizing those who dissent from the spirit of the age. We’re going to have to make hard choices. Many will wither under the increased social pressure to go along to get along. Many Christians already have.
Politics alone will not change this. We had the chance to vote on this in the last election and even people who claimed to be Orthodox Christians abandoned the clear teaching of the Church on this issue. Politics will also not succeed in redefining marriage. The law can say what it will but marriage is what it is and eventually the full ramifications of this situation will play out and the tide will once again turn. It is happening with abortion as more and more people are coming to discover the truth of what it is and the same will happen with redefining marriage. The logical consequences will work their way to the surface. Same sex marriage, is, as the saying goes the camel’s nose under the tent and its logic is simply the first step in a process by which marriage will become a free for all with any consenting adults being given the right to define marriage based on their feelings with the state being obliged to support any and all options. There will be chaos and just like the sexual revolution has actually produced less happiness and more STDs so the marriage revolution will weave its destructive path through our culture, promoted in the public life but quietly wreaking havoc among us all. We have too long trusted in princes and sons of men and we are now coming to understand the full implications of our mistake.
Yet the situation is not without hope.
First we as observant Christians need to be reminded that the Kingdom of God is the final destiny of the world. At times the world lauds us, is indifferent to us, or even hates us but ultimately history is on our side. While we should not be arrogant or triumphal about this we can be confident. Perhaps these times are a reminder to us of who we are, who we should be, and to Whom we actually belong. The faithful Church has survived and conquered much worse than this and even if the going gets rough we will survive this as well and so will our view of the world. As the Scripture says “If God is for us, who can be against us…”
Second, we need to avoid getting caught up in anger and violence. Anger is a wasted emotion producing enormous amounts of heat and next to no light. Anger keeps us locked in itself and in allowing it to rule our responses keeps us from taking actions that would actually make a difference. Violence is simply not our way. Even those who would seek to marginalize and harm us still bear within themselves the image of God. We can sooner desecrate that image then we would purposely burn down our church. Love, which is defined in the observant Christian understanding not as an indulgent emotion but rather the genuine desire for the good of the other, must prevail, must be our basic motivation.
Next we need to get very serious about our faith. The cultural veneer of Christian ideas is being stripped off at a rapid pace and we have become essentially a pagan society. We need to understand this and in understanding this realize that we need to make a choice. There is no place for people who are willing to say “I’m Christian but…” because the dividing lines between in and out in regards to the Faith will become more distinct. Cooperating with a broken world’s vision is abandonment of the Faith. Because of this our parishes will be, for a period of time, smaller as the cultural tides wash away the hangers-on and social Christians. Those who choose to stay and follow the observant Christian life will need to have that path as the central definition of who they are. They will need to learn its ways in and out. They will need to practice its values to the greatest extent possible. They will be required to live in the world as a distinct people, a Kingdom not defined by any human boundaries but rather by the very life of Jesus.
Finally, when the time comes we need to proclaim this Faith in word and deed. As the world darkens people will instinctively look for some sort of light. We need to be that light, a people committed to living and being Christian in the best sense of the world. We need to be a haven for the broken, truth for a generation that has been lied to, grace in the hostile environments that inevitably result from godless culture, and the very presence of Christ for anyone who crosses our path. Old things must be put away so that all things, in God’s time, can be made new.
Our world is changing. God remains the same. Therefore we can see the times and with the eye of faith look up and see our salvation, and the salvation of the world, because it truly is nearer to us today than ever before.