Why I oppose Indiana’s RFRA- Part 2: The theological reasoning

In my last post I discussed my opposition to Indiana’s recent RFRA, specifically focusing on how it differs from similar legislation in a legal/practical sense.

This post will be a completely different kind of boring, as I will talk about why I as a Christian oppose this bill and the motivations behind it.  To be honest, this was and still is my primary reason for opposing this bill- and it is the reason I have spent my time researching the legal side of this in the first place.

I’d like to note that I’m able to write and post this at all in part due to existing religious freedom legislation.  The government can’t silence me because of the first amendment; and wordpress and other avenues can’t refuse me access on account of my religion- as religion is a federally protected class (unlike sexual orientation.)  None of that is at stake here.

Jesus can even use stubborn asses.

Continue reading

Why I oppose Indiana’s RFRA- Part 1: The legal reasoning

So there has been a lot of talk about Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Bill, but I’ve heard remarkably little about what the bill actually contains and how it compares to existing legislation.  First off, go read the full text of the bill, available here.

Seriously- go read it.  If you have formed an opinion about this bill, (haven’t we all?) you have no excuse not to.  It’s shorter than this blog likely will be, and not too full of ‘jargon.’  I’m not a lawyer, but I have seen far too much misinformation circulating about this bill and it has taken quite a bit of work to figure out why exactly this iteration of this type of legislation has stirred up so much controversy.  I share that research with you so that our collective dialog can be as well-informed as it has been passionate.

justice_crop

Continue reading

The Bible clearly says…

We’ve all heard it. Most of us have probably said it. I’ve personally said it, then said it again about the opposite position ten years later. It feels good to be sure, to make a stand for our faith in confidence. But is this phrase more dangerous than it sounds?

glasses

This week has been…strange. I’ve had friends write blogs about wildly different hot topics in the church, from widely different perspectives. Church yesterday blew everyone’s mind to one degree or another (podcast available here for anybody interested). And then a popular blogger posted an article about millennials in the church that was posted on facebook by pretty much everyone I know. (Also I don’t think I’ve ever been labeled a millennial outside of these surveys and studies… It’s an odd word and spell-check agrees.)

All of these combined have prompted a flurry of conversations, both online and face-to-face, unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. And believe it or not, almost all of them have been… refreshing. A group of us at our house last night covered pretty much every “forbidden” topic of conversation within a couple of hours: war, pacifism, celibacy, charismatic churches, homosexuality, slavery, evolution, and even slavery in the bible. We touched on all of these in one way or another and we all parted ways as friends. I didn’t kick anybody out of my house for intolerance and nobody threatened to excommunicate me for heresy. We didn’t solve all the world’s problems. I don’t think we reached a consensus on a single topic (except slavery- it was our anti-human trafficking group after all) and I think that is okay.

But unfortunately, according to my experience, this is far from commonplace. One of the blogs mentioned above prompted a facebook discussion that displayed this all too well. By the time the dust cleared there had been personal attacks, CAPITAL LETTERS, bible verses about swords, claims of persecution, contrived hypothetical questions, and of course Hitler made an appearance.

What was the difference between these two conversations? They were both with mostly real-life friends who I know love Jesus. The people in both conversations care about each other and want people to agree with them. I believe the difference is the presence of the phrase, “The Bible clearly says…” I don’t remember anybody saying that last night, but it was present on both “sides” of the facebook debate.

Now don’t get me wrong- I think there are moral absolutes and some doctrines are essential to the Christian faith. Sometimes the bible does say things clearly. But normally when this phrase is brought up it is on a topic that is far from clear- thus the debate. The blog partially focused on the assertion that “Jesus is clearly this thing” (an assertion I personally agree with); while most of the comments centered on the argument that “Jesus is clearly not that thing” which I summarily do not agree with. If it was truly clear wouldn’t there be some level of agreement? What seems clear to me may not be clear to another christian, even if they are just as committed to and/or educated about following Jesus. (Oftentimes even more so.)

But the problem isn’t the truth of the phrase, it’s that it is a dismissal. It kills discussion instead of inviting it. (Bringing up Hitler doesn’t help either…) We have to be honest that while there are some things that are not negotiable, a lot of our most heated discussions focus on non-essentials and sometimes people we love will disagree with us. I’m more interested in disagreeing well than converting people to my “side.” Well, at least that’s what I tell myself…

But just because the non-essentials aren’t, well, essential- that doesn’t mean they are not important. As RHE’s article shows, these discussions are having an effect on the church and our witness. I would say that it is not so much the conclusions we reach that drive people away, but the way that we discuss these topics. When our conversations show a lack of humility and grace, and an overabundance of confidence and judgment- we are doing it wrong.

Consider cutting this phrase out of your vocabulary, if it seems right to the holy spirit and you.

Sports?

Image

If you would have asked me what I would write about first if I ever started a blog- professional athletes would have been at the bottom of the list. I know I’m way behind on this whole “throwing-my-opinions-at-the-internet” thing, but the last time I followed a team sport Dennis Rodman was known for rebounds- not for “diplomacy.” But here we go.

Tebow

I’m sure by now you have all heard about Jason Collins coming out of the closet. I don’t see how that really counts as news- but it’s the attached picture and others like it that have really annoyed me the last couple days.

For anybody who has been miraculously spared of this phenomenon- here’s the overall premise presented: Tebow is a Christian and gets no media publicity, but Collins comes out of the closet and is a media darling. This is a clear case of persecution against christians by the gay agenda.

The problem is that’s just not true. Let’s look at what these two guys have in common. They are both middle-of-the-pack professional athletes who are also Christians. That’s right- Collins is a Christian too. That kind of muddies the waters doesn’t it?

The claim that we just ignore poor Tim because he’s a Christian just doesn’t hold water. This is evidenced by the fact that even though I don’t follow sports or watch ESPN, not only do I know who Tim Tebow is, I know that he has recently been released by the Jets and what all of his options are going forward.

Now the big news is that Jason Collins is openly gay. He has been openly Christian for his entire career, but we never heard about that. Christianity Today hasn’t ever run a story on him and his faith. MSNBC and Fox haven’t followed every detail of his career. Focus on the Family hasn’t featured him in a big-budget commercial (and now likely never will.) You can speculate as to why this is the case.

Is it because he doesn’t have a trademark pose? Is it because he closes the door behind him when he prays to God? Is it because he doesn’t write John 3:16 on his face?

Or is it because most americans and likely, by extension, most athletes in america identify as Christians? Does being a part of the majority make Tim Tebow worthy of our praise and attention? I think he seems like a nice, fairly humble guy who loves Jesus but I don’t like football so I don’t care to hear about it every time he gets traded to a new team.

As I said before I don’t think either story is particularly news-worthy, but the claim that this proves a media bias is, I think, mistaken. But to claim that this amounts to the persecution of Christians is outright ludicrous. There are places in the world where Christians are persecuted for their faith- ostracized, beaten, or killed for their beliefs. But America isn’t one of those places. In America it is Jason Collins who is the outsider. The other.

And irrespective of your views on homosexuality, Christ calls us to stand in solidarity with the other. So join me in throwing away divisive rhetoric and poorly drawn facebook comics, to welcome everybody into God’s ongoing creation.

What do you think?
Am I just ignorant of modern sports? (Yes)
Am I on the right track, but just an awful writer?
Am I brainwashed by the liberal media?