This past week in California we saw a classic example of Christians organizing, uniting, and fighting for a cause they thought was important while at the same time ignoring a cause that is probably closer to the heart of God.
On the ballot we had a state-wide measure called Proposition 8 that amends the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. While I agree that the Biblical design for marriage is only between a man and a woman I am disheartened by the message Christians sent around this issue. Here are a few of my concerns:
1) The campaign ads surrounding this issue were more about "homophobia" than about defining marriage. This tactic may have proved effective in getting this proposition to pass but it was also effective in driving a further wedge between Christians and those in the homosexual community.
2) Churches and pastors spent much time on organizing and rallying their people to pass this proposition. This seems okay on the surface but to be qualified as a tax-exempt organization, we agree to not attempt to influence legislation. We can share opinions and scripture that relates to a subject but telling people to vote one particular way actually violates the law and puts the integrity of these churches on the line.
3) 80 million dollars was raised and spent for this cause meanwhile relatively nothing was done to support the proposition that requires teenagers to get parental permission to have an abortion. Our kids cannot pierce their ears and they cannot take asprin from the school nurse without the parents knowing but they can have a surgical procedure performed to end the life of an unborn child.
Here is where I have the biggest problem with this year's election. Christians think that if they don't pass a law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman (which will only be overturned by the government), then God will be angry with California and unleash His judgement. Meanwhile we give no attention to a law that will protect the lives of unborn children who have no voice. Those who have no voice are continually listed in the Bible as the ones for whom we should fight. The poor, the oppressed, the orphans, and the widows are just a few that God repeatedly admonishes his people to care for. The unborn are included along with these who cannot fight for themselves.
So why is it that we consistently get worked up over the wrong issues and further alienate the very people we claim to want to reach with the love of Jesus and at the same time fail to fight for a cause that is one of the easiest things to vote for on the entire ballot? I think it is because the reality is that many religious people still fear and sometimes hate those that they are uncomfortable around. I think it is just easier for religious people to feel like they are fighting for their god by fighting against a known "enemy" and it is not so easy to have a consistent theology of caring for the "least of these".