Watchman, What of the Night?

“The burden against Dumah.  He calls to me out of Seir, “Watchman, what of the night?  Watchman, what of the night?” The watchman said, “The morning comes, and also the night.  If you will inquire, inquire; Return! Come back!” (Isaiah 21:11-12).

Watchman_SwordWhen I first began writing this article, I, like most writers, was trying to release some of my own tension and frustration by expressing a personal point of view.  I’m not standing on a soapbox screaming or shouting to be heard.  The blogosphere I am certain is noisy and vociferous with angry comments and opinions about the most recent Supreme Court decisions.  As James D. Hunter argued, “Public discourse is largely a discourse of elites”(Hunter).  However, I just needed a place to speak, if only to be heard by only one person—me.

I believe we are in a crisis of cultures and I further believe the Church presently is ill prepared to handle the challenges and changes that lie ahead.  The current climate in our nation and communities is one filled with mixed emotions of fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, confusion, and uncertainty.  For me it began when the Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, followed by remanding the affirmative action case of Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, back to the lower courts to re-examine whether or not “racial diversity qualifies as a compelling government objective justifying preferential treatment,” and lastly reaching its decision, the Court found DOMA unconstitutional, and in the case regarding California’s Proposition 8, it made no ruling thus giving gays the right to marry in California.

Those decisions reached by the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage left many in the Church in a state of quandary about how to respond and what to do next.  There was dancing and cheers in the streets, at City Hall, and other public places where gays, public officials and their supporters gathered to celebrate.  Christians and the Church went into hiding and mourning like the early church hid in caves out of fear of persecution by ancient Rome.

Many conservative and evangelical Christians were shocked and dismayed at the Court’s decision (considering how many thought the majority of the Justices to be overwhelmingly conservative).  However, a large majority of Americans and Christians (72 percent), according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, was not surprised at all by Court’s decision (Morello), felt same-sex marriage was inevitable.  So what does all this mean to the Church and to Christians that believe the Bible defines marriage as a sacred institution between one man and one woman?

The world around us is constantly changing and that frightens many of us.  The morals and Christian values we once believed were the bedrock of our nation and society are shifting.  Our families and communities are changing.  Christian leaders we once looked to and depended upon to lead us can no longer be trusted to defend the biblical values and doctrinal truths of God’s Word.  There is a core feeling that many of today’s prophets have failed and have misrepresented the faith once delivered to the saints.

There is a cry from within the body of Christ for new prophets and a new generation of leaders—unsullied by cultural trends, or influenced by political forces, or enticed and seduced by a secular world—who will call the nation to repent and return to God.  The burden is great.  Is there a watchman on the wall?  There is no sound of the trumpet to alert the saints to battle?

In an article written by Ed Stetzer (Christianity Today) encouraged me to refocus my attention on my call and mission.  Stetzer wrote, “. . . courts don’t determine biblical morality, and regardless of what government does, churches shouldn’t stop their mission” (Stetzer).  Stetzer continues to write,

“. . . we should not panic.  It does not help to speak in ways that do not honor Christ.  The sky is not falling.  Jesus is still King and God is still sovereign.  We cling to the cross, stand on the rock, and remain steadfast in the hope only in Christ.  For we alone have that hope.  And it is that hope which we are commanded to share with the world, whether Christianity is the cultural norm or not.”

Immediately that settled and calmed my spirit.  I began to redirect my energy towards prayerfully seeking God for answers, and for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom.  Like many of my friends and colleagues (Christian and non-Christian), I had lots of unanswered questions.  What does all of this mean?  The answer was right in front of me and has been for centuries.  If I truly understand what Jesus meant in the Gospels concerning the end of times it shouldn’t be a surprise to me or anyone what the events of the past few weeks tell us:  our Lord is soon to return.

Instead of me wasting my energy on being angry at the world, I am called to love it as Jesus did and preach the gospel of the Kingdom, which is good news.  Stetzer stated, “The Court decides what is legal and appropriate for a secular, civil government,” and Jesus will decide what is right and just in His kingdom.  He will take care of all that matters when He returns.  Until then I am to “do business until He comes” (see Luke 19:11-27).

Now the question of religious freedom becomes an issue for the Church and Christian leaders.  Many church leaders and pastors are afraid to voice an opinion, or even preach from the Scripture what the Bible teaches on marriage, family, and human sexuality.  Their fear is any view or discussion outside of todays widely accepted view by society could mean the end of a church, ministry, Christian non-profit, school, or agency. In my view, one need not fear speaking out and openly about marriage, family, and human sexuality if it is done in love while still holding true to one’s conviction about what he or she believes the Bible says.  This will not always be easy considering society’s view about sexuality.

The popular common opinion towards most Christians and Christianity who hold to traditional views of marriage, family, and human sexuality is largely negative.  The language and terms used by secular society define the Church and Christians as homophobic, haters, ignorant, and being on the wrong side of history.  However, Ted Olsen states, “The apocalyptic Christians are right.  The “right side of history” on marriage is a history that begins with one man and one woman in a garden and ends with the wedding supper of the Lamb.  That is the historical view that all Christian discussions of marriage must proceed from” (Christianity Today, June 27, 2013).

When I was first asked what I thought about the Supreme Court’s decisions my response was no response.  Not because I didn’t have an opinion but I knew given the present atmosphere, particularly here, in the Bay Area, it really didn’t matter.  It wasn’t going to change the Supreme Court’s decisions or the opinions of Americans and Christians who believed that same-sex marriage was inevitable.  To be honest, I was one of those Christians that saw it coming.

At the coffee café I frequent, a gay barista yelled out, “We’re queer, we’re here!” after the Supreme Court’s announcement.  He gleefully told a gay supporter, “We’re really out now.  They can’t stop us!”  Bold and embolden by the Supreme Court’s decision there was an “in-your-face” attitude like an NBA basketball player’s slam dunk in the face of an opponent.

I have no predictions regarding the legal outcome and wrangling of recent day’s decisions, but I suspect there will be future fights, opinions, ongoing legal challenges and maneuvers.  Given the climate in Washington, the Church would be wise not to expect any support from our government.  As one writer stated, “. . . the rulings are a good reminder for Christians not to place their faith in the government to uphold Christian standards.”  I personally have very little faith in government, politicians, politics, and any of their ilks.

Finally, in another article written by Russell Moore (Christianity Today, June 26, 2013), asked, “But what has changed for us, for our churches, and our witness to the gospel?”  His answer is encouraging and inspirational.  Moore states, “In one sense, nothing.  Jesus of Nazareth is still alive.  He is calling the cosmos toward his kingdom, and he will ultimately be Lord indeed.”

I encourage Christians everywhere who believe in the transformative power of the risen Savior to proclaim it loudly, “He is Lord!”  If you’re not ready, get ready.  There is hope.  There is forgiveness.  There is redemption.

Endnotes

Hunter, James Davison. Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. New York: Basic Books, 1991.

Morello, Carol. “Poll: Three in Four Americans Say Legalization of Same-Sex Marriages Is Inevitable.” Survey. The Washington Post June 6 2013, National ed.

Stetzer, Ed. Prop 8, Doma, and the Christian Response: What Should We Do Now?  June 26, 2013 2013. Available: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2013/june/prop-8-doma-and-christian-response.html?utm_source=ctdirect-html&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=9823536&utm_content=187505018&utm_campaign=2013. June 26, 2013 2013.

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