When God lays out the plan for a society in Christ he doesn’t stop short or go half way, he does all things, whatsoever he pleases. But various individuals and institutions stop short or turn aside to the left or to the right. For parallels, we can consider the nation of Israel, who never did drive out all the inhabitants of the promised land as they were instructed. Also, several kings of Judah earned a “passing grade” for their godly reigns but didn’t put an end to the nation’s idolatry.
Often we humans wish that God wouldn’t be so demanding, but this is our sinful natures not wanting to submit. The goodness of God is extended to us by calling us to walk according to his will in everything, not by leaving us to our own devices. If we think that God doesn’t want to be God over some category of our lives as individuals or as communities, we are deceived.
Does that mean God makes every decision for me? Not exactly. There are many categories in which we have options, but there are no categories in which we are left to ourselves. Even in the choice of breakfast cereal God has something to say. Although there are many acceptable options, Cannibal-Os are not on the menu.
It would be good to remind each other that God will be God over every category of our lives as individuals, communities and as a nation. If God left us to ourselves how would we resolve the conflicts that inevitably arise? In truth, this should be the peacemaking principle. But it may bring conflict before it brings peace. Merely admitting that God will be God over every category will introduce conflict.
And isn’t this what Jesus calls us to?
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
One of the categories in which we must submit to God, as individuals and as a nation, is marriage and sexuality. There is a lot of conflict in our nation at this time over these things. Our nation is rebelling more and more against God’s plan, although not everyone is going along willingly.
Sadly, there is a lot of friendly fire among Christians in this conflict. Some of it could be prevented with the simple acknowledgment that God will be God over every category. We shouldn’t metaphorically shoot each other for boldly proclaiming God’s plan for human sexuality. Unfortunately, we have a lot of itchy trigger-fingers. Sometimes we seem more prepared to shoot at people attempting to speak for God than at those blatantly attacking his authority. This is wrong.
I suspect that we, Christians, do this in part because we are prepared to concede, in a practical sense, categories of life to the ungodly. We are prepared to keep silent rather than to speak. We may be suspicious of those who are more prepared to speak, like the signers of the Nashville Statement.
My own response to the Nashville Statement has been that I like it more than I thought I would. That’s a sentiment echoed by other Christians with whom I’ve shared it. Any differences that I have with the Statement are much smaller than the ways in which I am thankful for it.
The signers are sure to receive plenty of condemnation from the ungodly. Let’s not add to the heat by creating a Christian friendly-fire incident!