“Christians find themselves on the wrong side of a pivotal social issue”
By Logan Laituri
Member, Church of the Crossroads
I am an evangelical Christian who attends church regularly, so I was surprised to see a worship service on the grounds of the Hawaii state capitol this past Sunday. What struck me even more was the purpose for the service itself: to attempt to prevent the state of Hawaii from granting equal civil rights to members of our society by placing conditions upon the application of such rights. This is a problem not only of basic civic literacy, by obstructing the exercise of justice and misappropriating our system of government, but also in that it attacks the very context of the Bible itself while defaming and tarnishing the character of the Church.
To be clear, the government is commissioned to administer the law of the land, not regulate the morality of its people. Furthermore, it is to ensure equity and justice for all, based primarily on the merit of citizenship. In our society, we grant certain privileges to citizens who enter into an intimate relationship. These benefits include, but are not limited to, tax incentives, hospital visitation rights, life and health insurance benefits, etc. What the government does not have the authority to do is to dictate new merits upon which to grant or deny said privileges, namely, merits based upon an aspect of human life that one does not retain positive control over, such as one’s sexual orientation. To do so would be the equivalent of rewriting our state constitution to similarly discriminate based upon race or ethnicity.
Secondly, to enter into the political landscape in order to assert a legal agenda is bad for the Church as a whole. It goes against the very message of the Bible and it reflects a faith and a god that is both selective and superficial. Christians must, as a community, repent of our own air of moral superiority and allow the universe to bend to its natural arch, which Dr. King reminds us is toward justice. For those who have succumbed to the misconception that Sodom and Gomorrah’s downfall (or any civilization’s for that matter) was or may be caused by homosexuals, I must turn your attention beyond Genesis 18 and 19 (which indicates only that ten righteous people could not be found), to Ezekiel 16:49, where we find that Sodom’s sin was actually arrogance, obesity, and lack of concern for the poor. Instead of proof-texting our beliefs, perhaps we may try walking humbly alongside our neighbors, honoring the Image within each of us regardless of their orientation. Shouldn’t we allow fellow Image-bearers to sort out their OWN salvation with fear and trembling? Must we insist on sorting it out FOR them with fear and trembling?
Finally, I found it tragically ironic that the blessed cacophony today took place beneath the Great Seal of the State of Hawai’i, in the very midst of our soon-to-be saint, Father Damien of Moloka’i. Is the modern church’s hindsight really so shortsighted so as to dismiss his very witness? It was Damien, after all, who, despite the supposed wretchedness of Kalaupapa’s “lepers,” chose to care for and sustain, and later to be counted as one with the people of the outcast colony. Apparently, we are, in fact, so blind that we fail to recognize how we have again found a section of society we label unclean, effectively ostracizing and rejecting God’s own beautiful reflection.
Too often, well-intentioned Biblical literalism has justified all kinds of evil committed by the state, not the least of which being slavery, the oppression of women, and total war. Judging by the language used by the church lately, such as comparing homosexual relationships to rape, pedophilia and bestiality, it is apparent that she has found herself on the wrong side of yet another important social issue. I do not doubt that each protester at the Capitol today was sincere, nor do I doubt the sincerity of those who decried abolitionism as working against the will of God, I only doubt their moral courage and Biblical literacy. To the impartial observer, it should be clear that civil unions restore justice to our society by providing equity under the law. It is my hope that our state legislators recognize this as well and vote accordingly, but ultimately I hope the Church is able to learn from her troubled past and move forward with contrite hearts.