Family Values: Whose Family, Whose Values?
By: Bodť Adeboyejo
In times past, I have written on my concern about the involvement of the American Church in politics. Especially about her romance with the Republican Party. Iíve condemned the unashamed overt or covert endorsement of the Republican Party and Republican candidates by the American Church, all in the name of family values. See Presidential Elections: Are Moral Issues Political Issues or Church Issues? and God is Not a Republican.
As we approach another presidential election year, I think itís appropriate that I write on this issue again. But this time, I write to specifically address that favorite buzzword Ė family values Ė which Republicans and so-called Christian leaders like to throw around at election time to get Christians to vote for the Republican Party.
I thought that itís important that I write on this topic because over the years, many American Christian leaders have packaged American moral values as Christian values, to make American Christians believe that American values and Christian values are the same. Well, let me dispel that myth right here and now. American family values are NOT Christian values. Neither is the American family Godís family!
"...drumming up support to elect a particular candidate/party or appoint a judge to reverse a ruling is not Godís value. "
For something to be Christian, it would have to be CHRIST-ian i.e., Christ-centered. For something to be Christian, it would have to be what God values. And drumming up support to elect a particular candidate/party or appoint a judge to reverse a ruling is not Godís value. Rallying folks to protest against homosexuals, abortionists, gamblers, prostitutes, etc. is NOT what God values! Not even the banning of abortion, gay marriage, gambling, etc. is Godís values!
Protesting against sinners only ostracizes them, and does not bring them to Christ. It pushes them further away from the Cross, rather than to the Cross. Protesting against sinners builds spiritual walls rather than spiritual bridges. And for Godís sake the Church is NOT called to build spiritual walls, but spiritual bridges. Weíve been given the ministry of reconciliation NOT the ministry of retaliation!
Besides, protesting against sinners is a Ďholier than thou attitude,í which says, ďHow could you be whatever you are?Ē How could you be gay or lesbian, a prostitute, an abortionist, etc., forgetting that we ALL once were sinners saved by Grace! We all once used to be the same people we protest against. (Ephesians 2:1-5)
Whenever I see some Christians protesting against sinners, sometimes I wonderÖWhat if someone had protested against us while we were sinners? How many of us would be Christians today? Better yet, what if Jesus had held rallies against us rather than embrace us? Where would we be? After all, if anyone had the right to rally against sinners, it would be the sinless One. If anyone had the right to condemn, it would be the Holy One. But thank God, Jesus didnít rally against or condemn anybody.
Now, donít get me wrong, abortion is murder and a sin; homosexuality is a sin; gambling is wrong, etc. But so is killing with a gun or any other weapon. So is fornication, adultery, etc. But Iíve yet to see Christian leaders lobbying in the Congress to ban fornication, adultery, or even guns. This makes you wonder, ďHow do these Christian watch dogs decide on which sin is worse than the other?Ē My Bible says ďThou shall not kill.Ē Whether you kill an unborn baby, a baby or an adult, it is murder. Whether you kill with a surgical instrument, a gun or a knife, it is still murder.
So, why is abortion more serious than the homicides on the streets? Or why is homosexuality more sinful than fornication, adultery or other sexual sins? As passionate as some American Christians are about banning gay marriage, gambling, etc. youíd think that they would be the same way about banning divorce. After all God says in Malachi 2:16, that He hates divorce. Besides, divorce has the same effect on a family as gambling Ė it tears apart the fabric of a family.
How come these Christian groups donít have the same passion, public outcry and demonstrations against divorce, fornication, adultery, etc.? How come they are not lobbying the Congress to outlaw fornication, adultery, divorce, etc.? Or is homosexuality more sinful than fornication and adultery? Thatís not what my Bible says! Something is wrong with this picture.
But when we hear about family values the focus is often on those with an alternate lifestyle. I believe that the reason why many well-intentioned Christians have been fooled into believing that being anti-abortion, and opposed to gay marriages, gambling, etc., is having a Christian value is because these actions have a form of godliness. But having a form of godliness doesnít make these values Christian. You can be opposed to gay marriages, gambling or abortion without being a Christian. In fact, the Catholics, the Mormons, the Orthodox Jews, etc., are opposed to all these, but that doesnít make them Christians!
So, when these so-called Christian leaders try to sell us American family values as Christian values, we ought to say, ďWait a minute. ďWhose family? Whose values?Ē
As Christians, our family (and our allegiance) changed when we gave our lives to Jesus Christ. We are now a part of a new spiritual Family (Godís Family); with new values. The Bible says that we have been adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5). We are no longer a part of an American family, a Nigerian family, a Chinese or a European family. As pilgrims in the earth, our allegiance is no longer to our native countries, but to the Kingdom of God (1 Peter 2:11). Not even to our natural blood family (if they are not a part of Godís family)!
That was why when Jesus was told that His mother and brothers were outside waiting to see Him, He said, ďÖWho is My mother and who are My brothers?Ē And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, ďHere are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.Ē (Matthew 12:48-50)
Likewise, for us Christians, anyone who does the will of the Father is our brother and sister. Notice, the verse says ďanyone who does the will of my Father,Ē not the will of the pastor, the president or the country, but the will of the Father. So, before we assume that someone is our brother or sister in Christ, we need to see if they are doing the will of the Father. Not their own will or agenda.
Needless to say, a member of Godís family is ANY person (regardless of nationality, race or color), who has genuinely given his/her life to Christ, and does the will of the Father (Galatians 3:26-29). And if I may add, endorsing a political party or candidate or trying to legislate morality under the guise of Christianity is NOT doing the will of the Father!
"Not being gay, an abortionist or a gambler does not make one a Christian. It only makes a person moral. And morality doesnít save. Only Jesus saves!"
What is the will of the Father? The will of the Father is what matters the most to the Father. The will of the Father is the purpose or the agenda of the Father. In fact, the word will (Greek -- thelema) in the passage above and the passage below means purpose or decree. So, in essence, the will of the Father is the Fatherís value Ė Godís value. Jesus made clear the will of the Father in John 6:38-40
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.Ē
In other words, the will (or value) of the Father is to seek and save the Lost (Luke 19:10).
Therefore, if Godís will is to seek and save the lost, why are many American Christians spending their Christian lives defending American traditions in the name of Christian values? Like the spiritual leaders in Jesusí days, why are they putting man-made values before Godís values?
The Scribes and Pharisees in Jesusí days put their traditions above the Law! They were more concerned about their man-made laws and traditions than they were about the people. For them it was the law over people. But for Jesus, it was people over the law. This was why they had a problem with Jesus healing on the Sabbath or hanging around sinners. Theyíd rather see someone remain sick to uphold their tradition than see the person healed.
Like the Scribes and Pharisees, many American Christian leaders put the American culture and traditions above Godís value. Like the Scribes and Pharisees, they would rather see American values upheld than see a sin-sick sinner delivered from sin! If not, they wouldnít be going through so much trouble to antagonize sinners through demonstrations, lobbying to pass laws or have certain court decisions reversed. I mean, itís a sin-sick soul that is a homosexual, an abortionist, a prostitute or a gambler.
Like the Pharisees, they are more interested in creating a moral society than seeking and saving the lost. But the Church is not called to create a moral society or make the world better. Neither are we called to be the moral police of America, or the world at that. Thatís not the job of the Church, because the world is never going to get better. Adam made sure of that when he sinned in the Garden. Thatís why God said He will create a new earth and a new heaven.
"...trying to institute laws to ban some social issues is like trying to ban sin. You canít ban sin!"
Rather, the role of the Church is to call folks out of the world (darkness) into Godís marvelous light. We are called to simply be the light and salt of the earth Ė pointing folks to Jesus Christ and making people thirst for Jesus! Even Jesus didnít make the world better in His days, but rather called people out of the world into Godís Kingdom.
When you think about it, what good is it to God to have a moral society, having banned gay marriages, abortions, or instituted prayer in schools yet still have several million moral sinners on their way to hell? Not being gay, an abortionist or a gambler does not make one a Christian. It only makes a person moral. And morality doesnít save. Only Jesus saves! God is not interested in making sinners moral. He is interested in making them holy! Heís not interested in preventing sin, but Heís interested in stopping sin through their total conversion. We are called to be holy not moral! (1 Peter 1:15-16).
Therefore, electing people in office, appointing judges in the judiciary or influencing bills in Congress to ban certain social issues or reverse certain laws have not, and will NOT change the society! Laws donít change people; ONLY God does by His Spirit! And unless we, the Christians, become true to our faith, be credible witnesses and preach the Gospel uncompromisingly, America, or any nation at that, will NEVER change. Only the uncompromising Gospel of Jesus has the power to transform a person from the inside out. Not laws or policies! Thatís why Jesus said ďEither make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.Ē (Matthew 12:33)
Besides, trying to institute laws to ban some social issues is like trying to ban sin. You canít ban sin! Laws donít ban sins, they only fuel them! The issue is deeper than that. Itís a heart condition. And no amount of legislation can change that. The spiritual problem of America, or any nation, is not a natural problem, and as such cannot be solved by natural means. Thatís like curing a mental problem with aspirin! These are deeper issues. And you solve spiritual problems with spiritual solutions.
Thatís why 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 says that ďFor though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.Ē
"God is in the reconciliation business not the retaliation business!"
Therefore, banning gay marriages does not deliver the homosexuals from being gay. Reversing Roe v. Wade does not stop the abortionists from being an abortionist. Not even instituting prayers back in schools makes students Christians! Only the efficacious power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can save and heal a sin-sick soul!
Am I saying that as Christians we should not do anything about the cultural encroachment? No! Itís alright to stand up for what is right and condemn the cultural encroachment. Like I mentioned earlier you donít have to be a Christian to do that. However, when we do we should not do so at the expense of the Gospel, or in such a way that brings shame to the name of Jesus Christ or puts Christianity in a bad light.
The world doesnít see our individual actions as our individual actions, but it ascribes our individual actions to Christianity. That is, whatever we do, good or bad (but especially bad), it thinks that thatís what Christianity is all about. For instance, some people wouldnít come to Christ today, and would rather go to hell because of what has been done to them or someone they know, by a so-called Christian all in the name of Christianity!
What am I saying? That we shouldnít portray American values as Christian values. Or portray the American family as the Christian family. They are not and will never be the same! But more importantly, as Christians, we should get our values right to get our priorities right!
How do we get our values right? By looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Iíve mentioned this before in some other articles, but I believe that it bears repeating. Jesus Christ is our ultimate Example. If we didnít see Him do it, we are not subject to it. Especially if itís something that has no eternal value.
So how do you know what is a Christian value? Ask yourself, did Jesus do a similar action or would He do a similar action? Above all, does it glorify God the Father and reconcile others to God. The reconciliation part is very important. In essence, a Christian value is something that glorifies God and reconciles others to God. God is in the reconciliation business not the retaliation business!
With that said, as Christians, letís fight the right fight with the right weapons!
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