So yesterday, the Supreme Court in the U.S.A. ruled 5-4 that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and my Facebook friends are now changing their profile pictures en masse. In fact, as I type in the WordPress site, a rainbow-themed banner beams at me from the top of my screen.
I’m not sure how things in the U.S. will progress from here on, especially with all the religious liberty issues — think bakers, Christian societies in universities, florists, photographers, tax-exempt status. I also wonder how Singapore, its culture, its politics, etc. will be affected. More importantly, I pray and hope that the Singapore church will stay firm on God’s Word instead of being affected by shifting winds. 1 John 2:17.
12 years ago, the Episcopalian church in the U.S. (ECUSA) confirmed its first actively gay bishop, Gene Robinson. When the ECUSA later wanted to send a delegation to Uganda to provide financial assistance to those who desperately needed it, the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo, responded thus:
If we fall silent about what you have done —promoting unbiblical sexual immorality— and we overturn or ignore the decision to declare a severing of relationship with ECUSA, poor displaced persons will receive aid. Here is our response: The gospel of Jesus Christ is not for sale, even among the poorest of us who have no money. Eternal life, obedience to Jesus Christ, and conforming to His Word are more important.
The Word of God is clear that you have chosen a course of separation that leads to spiritual destruction. Because we love you, we cannot let that go unanswered… As a result, any delegation you send cannot be welcomed, received or seated. Neither can we share fellowship nor even receive desperately needed resources. If, however, you repent and return to the Lord, it would be an occasion of great joy.
(quoted by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, ‘Why We’re Not Emergent’)
That all of us would stand as firm in integrity and faithfulness if/when things get truly difficult.
This reminds me of one of John Piper’s articles, that I come back to often, on exile, brokenhearted joy, and cultural influence. It was also written 12 years ago, but is more relevant and relatable every time I re-read it —
But Christian exiles are not passive. We do not smirk at the misery or the merrymaking of immoral culture. We weep. Or we should. This is my main point: being exiles does not mean being cynical. It does not mean being indifferent or uninvolved. The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat. Where it can, it saves and seasons. And where it can’t, it weeps. And the light of the world does not withdraw, saying “good riddance” to godless darkness. It labors to illuminate. But not dominate.
The greatness of Christian exiles is not success but service. Whether we win or lose, we witness to the way of truth and beauty and joy. We don’t own culture, and we don’t rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy, for the good of man and the glory of Jesus Christ.
Not success, but service. Praying for that to be true in all our lives.