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Glenn Beck told his listeners to check their church websites for the words, “Social Justice,” and if they find them, to run away. Well, for the first time, they now appear on our site, as of this post, the words n…
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Michael Moore, famous for movies like Fahrenheit 9/11, has made the claim in his upcoming film, Capitalism: A Love Story, that Jesus would consider capitalism sinful. The hypocrisy of Moore’s net worth (gained from capitalism) aside, it seems worthwhile to ask the question, “What form of government does God prefer?”
In a recent Bloomberg interview, Movie Critic Rick Warner asks, “Several clergymen in the film say capitalism is anti-Christian and that Jesus would have deplored such a dog- eat-dog system. Yet you hear from the right that capitalism and Christianity go hand in hand. Are they reading different Bibles?” to which Moore responds, “The number one thing in the Bible is redemption. The number two thing is how we treat the poor. All the great religions talk about this. The right wing hijacked Jesus 30 years ago. It was all a big ruse, but people fell for it. I don’t think people are falling for it so easily now.”
Moore got the first point right, absolutely. The focus of the entire Bible is redemption: God paying for the sin of the world by sending Jesus to the cross on our behalf. The entire Old Testament lays out God’s preparation for His coming, and the entire New Testament focuses on that singular event and its repercussions.
Is Moore right about how we treat the poor? Yes. “All the great religions” may be an exaggeration if you consider the Hindu caste system, but yes, Christians all should agree that we need to help the poor as much as possible.
But the question comes down not to “whether,” but to “how.” In the United States, the Democratic Party holds essentially that we can best help the poor by giving our taxes to the government, which can then redistribute the wealth where it’s needed. The Republican Party doesn’t generally trust the government to do this properly or efficiently and prefers to encourage people to give of their own free will according to their consciences as they see need.
Of course, both systems, because they’re designed by sinners, fall short of perfection. “Wasteful government spending” is a household expression, so kudos to the Republicans. On the other hand, every time I refer someone in need to a government aid organization, I think of the Democrats. Plenty of other smaller political parties have other ideas which would be best.
So what form of governmental economy would Jesus endorse? If we were to only look at the Bible for governmental advice, we see only monarchies, but even those don’t get God’s stamp of approval. (1 Samuel 8:7-21) In fact, when Chronicles evaluates the various kings, their economic policies never enter into the equations. Rather, their faithfulness to the Living God is the sole scale by which they’re judged.
The Bible, rather than endorsing a specific form of government, focuses on hearts, not legislation. God wants us to help the poor, but out of love, faith, and gratitude, not compulsion. (2 Corinthians 9:7) We can debate about how this can best be done, but God will stay out of that discussion until the last day when He raises the dead and gives us the riches of His Kingdom because of the poverty of Christ. Meanwhile, we rejoice that He has given us the riches of His undeserved love and the promise of eternal life as we live as citizens of both heaven and earth.
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As the ELCA discusses the role or acceptance of LGBT clergy at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, it seems like a good opportunity to discuss how God uses the sin in the world, not condoning it, but twisting it back to His glory. God never ceases to amaze me as He takes the pain and suffering and evil in the world, evil with no intrinsic good, and brings good from it just as He brought the universe from nothing. Best example: the Son of God is murdered, and the world gains eternal life.
While I’m saddened by the widespread dismissal of the Word of God as He speaks to the issue of sexuality, God will use this through us, and here’s how:
When Christians talk about “gay marriage,” they usually refer either to Leviticus or Romans. While both of these texts address homosexuality, I’m convinced that the “proof text” for Christians is found in Ephesians 5, God’s definition of marriage, and I believe it’s there we need to start in our discussions with others.
God defines marriage with a simple formula: one man, one woman, married for life. The man’s role is to serve his wife, giving his life over to her needs, and the wife acknowledges his loving service and supports him in love, so they give themselves to each other in lifelong service and self-sacrifice, modeling our relationship with Christ and showing that mutual unconditional love to each other.
Our society long ago already eliminated “married for a lifetime” from the equation, so it shouldn’t surprise us when the rest of the equation gets corrupted. But that formula isn’t just God being a bully—He wants us to know His love, and He has given us marriage that we may have a taste of His love. When we change the equation, we either end up with a church with no Savior or two Christs and nobody saved or church and Christ divided from each other without His unconditional love. And even on a practical level, if we eliminate God’s equation, we open marriage up to other corruptions like polygamy and more.
So take this opportunity to discuss the issue—it’s a “water cooler” topic now! And remember these points:
† All sexual sin, including heterosexual intimacy outside marriage, is equally rebellion against God but also equally forgiven by Christ’s blood.
† Jesus died for all people, regardless what sin tempts them. Since they were worth that much to Him, who are we to not love them?
† While some may find satisfaction in a man-made corruption of God’s natural order, God wants so much more for us—He wants us to know His love and experience it through each other until the great wedding feast on the last day.
Our rebellion against God’s good and loving will for us put Jesus on the cross, but on that same cross, we find our loving Bridegroom. God give us the opportunity to share His love through this sinful action and wisdom to season our discussions with the Good News of His true love.