Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched! That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Rome was not built in a day! There are plenty more fish in the sea. Clichés are such an interesting part of our culture. They are often comparisons or metaphors over used and therefore void of any significant meaning. Having that said, we are living in an incredibly beautiful time. To quote the immortal Louis Armstrong, “I see trees of green, red roses too I see them bloom for me and you and I think to myself, what a wonderful world. The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people going by I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ “How do you do?” They’re really saying “I love you”.” This world is an incredible place. From the pyramids of Egypt to the breathtaking skyline of NYC we see beauty, creativity, and love. But, and here is where the cliché comes in, every rose has its thorns. This paper is going to examine the thorns on the rose of earth by looking at poverty, smoking, abortion, and homosexuality.
There is no denying that poverty is an issue, not just in our country, but our entire world. There is not a country in the world where you would not be able to find members of its society living in poverty stricken situations. However, let us not forget that there is “nothing new under the sun”. Poverty is not something ushered in with the 20th century, in fact, God has been dealing with and talking about poverty for a quite a while now. Remember when his people were in bondage in Egypt? What did he say about the impoverish? Deut. 26:5-9 says “The Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us. Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders; and He has brought us to… this land flowing with milk and honey.” God saw these broken people and had compassion on them. But his goodness did not stop there. It is easy to look at a distressing situation and feel pity, but that is not enough. God then did something about the tragedy he saw, something very extreme. Since that is how God responded, is that how we too should respond? Well, that question is answered very bluntly in Deut. 15:7. “If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.” I think we are accustomed to hardening our hearts and closing our hands instead.
We have made hundreds of varying excuses why these verses do not apply to us. From “it is their own fault”, “they are lazy”, to just “give once a year”, or “if you feel led”, we have lied to ourselves about the seriousness of this commandment. The bible talks of a generous, nearly reckless way of living and giving, whilst most of us only give out of our abundance. Looking into scripture on this topic has really shown me how wrong I’ve been in my giving. I’ve never given till it hurts. I’ve never really had to trust God with my money. I’ve never sold anything of mine in order to be able to help someone less fortunate than I. This is something in my life, I need to address and edit. Safe to say, many of my brothers and sisters in America need to do the same evaluation.
An old-time American gangster lights his cigarette with a crooked smile on his face and his posy by his side. That same cigarette is lit years later, this time by a scraggily young lady in a big coat standing by the curbside waiting for her latest scumbag boyfriend to pick her up. Smoking once was relaxing thing of class, and now, with recent laws passed to confine it more and more, it’s beginning to take on a new face. The sex-appeal of smoking is gone and very much associated with sinners, curses, and the like. How should the church respond to something like smoking?
First let’s remember what 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” This is a great reminder that there is not a great dichotomy between your physical being and your spiritual being, that those two things are actually connected in a very real way. Since much research on tobacco has been done and we know how harmful the effect of smoking is, we must balance judgment and wisdom when deciding if its something that should be put into ones body. But also remember Christians, before you jump down someone’s throat for smoking, ask yourself what you’ve put in your body that is of no profit. Maybe not harmful, but did that double chocolate mousse cake have any nutritional value? Smoking is a difficult addiction to stop and believes should be both understanding and loving to those struggling with the habit.
The next social issue I will be examining is the topic of abortion. The video we watched on class on this issue, 180, was absolutely phenomenal. It reminded me of a question proposed in my philosophy class here at LBC this summer. We, through scriptures like Jeremiah 1:4-5 which says “Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” and came to the logical conclusion that fetus is in fact a human, and therefore abortion is murder. Now if we truly believed that, would not we be doing something radical about it? My professor gave the following example: What if you found out was is a man in your neighborhood who was deceiving young mothers into believing that their toddler is not a human and that if the child is whining and misbehaving and you want nothing to do with it, just bring the child over to his house and he will kill it for you. He has a few different methods. He might drown the toddler, or maybe have him some sort of poison, or perhaps he will just suffocate the baby. What a disturbing thought! How horrid! If that we to happen I would call the authorities immediately! I would make sure that man was locked up in prison and put away so as to never deceive and kill anyone ever again! What if the government would not take action? Would you simply sit back and just wait for them to change their minds? Or would take matters into your own hands? Would you talk to the mothers? Rescue the children? Kill the man doing the killing? All these seem like the right answers. Is not this the reality of what is happening in abortion clinics all across America? Should not our reaction for equally as severe? But, come, come now, we cannot actually kill everyone offering abortion services! That, of course, is not what I am proposing. I am simply proposing that we are not so passive about this issue. I have found myself responding very nonchalant manner in issues of abortion. In a sort of defeatist, it doesn’t matter, reaction, I am telling the world that abortion is not a big deal. If I truly understand what is at stake, I cannot be so submissive about this issue. I know it seems like it has been a long battle, but it is worth the fight!
The last issue I will be addressing in homosexuality. In an attempt to be in the world AND of the word, there are many professing Christians who are trying to manipulate Scripture to say that homosexuality is not wrong. Let me assure you that homosexuality is undeniably a sin that is an abomination to the LORD. Romans 1:26-27 says “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Yes, it is a horrible sin, a sin that angers God. But far too often, the church has somehow elevated this sin above other sins! As if sinning with the “right gender” wins you brownie points in heaven, or stealing isn’t as “wrong” as a man lusting after another man. It’s been elevated to the point where Christians are judgmental, hateful, and full of spite to the entire gay community.
As a performer I have a lot of interaction with the gays. They are wonderful people who need the love of Christ just as much as I do. They are hurting people too. I remember one particular community theatre show I was in talking to one of the guys in the green room during intermission. Somehow the question came up, “if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?” without missing a beat he responded, “I wish I wasn’t gay. It is terrible. I wish I could look at a woman and think, I want that. But I can’t. My family shuns me, a lot of my friends shun me, I would never show my face in a church-though I’d might like to one day, it is a lonely life. I would change it in a minute.” This was the first time God really pulled my heartstrings for the gays in my life. A few months later I stumbled upon this verse that I’ve clung to and shared with many Christina friends of mine. 1 Corinthians 5:9-14 says “When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” This scripture made so much sense to me! I felt freed from the claws of judgment and condescension and embraced by the inexhaustible grace of truth of the gospel. I was reminded of the old saying, “but by the grace of God, there goeth I”. The church needs to be reminded that we are not suppose to clean up ourselves, get as pretty as possible and then approach the throne of grace, we are to come as we are filthy, bruised, and confused, and Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit will change us. So let the prostitutes, and the gays, and the outcasts of society in our churches, and let God change their hearts!
When addressing society about these, or any other social issues, we must remember a few things. One, we must be strong as an ox, willing to take a stand, even when it’s uncomfortable or will cost you something. We must be stubborn as a mule, unwavering when truths are being distorted to find the “easy way out”. We must be as wise as an owl, being discerning and knowing when to speak and how to say things in humility, knowing that one day God will bring all things to fruition. And lastly, we must work like a dog, knowing that we are responsible for what work we do here on earth, and there is much to be done!