By David Tulis
The federal deficit in October soared a F$409 billion, a near record; that’s F$3,567 per household, according to a report in cnsnews.com. That’s a lot of red ink for a month, and is allowed under the congressional compromise that ended the barely noticed government shutdown.
Now, some red ink is good.
That would be the bucketfuls used to print red-letter editions of the Bible and the parables of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Christ’s simple tales will help us evaluate the dispute over Christianity in Chattanooga and its plainspoken defense of marriage, family and local economy. In short, Christianity offers an antithetical view of the world, not a synthetical one. The unitarian and syncretistic social gospel wing of Christianity favors the welfare state and such excresences as homosexuality. In contrast, old-fashioned Christianity is responsible for and has a duty toward division, distinction, separation and conflict.
Christianity posits a system of life and thought owing to a loving Savior who died for the ungodly and the rebel, a loving redeemer who died for His lost and bedraggled children. It posits a loving God who rescues the repentant evildoer and remakes society along the lines of justice and liberty. But also — and here’s the shocker — a sovereign and just God who chastises, punishes, destroys, hates, and executes justice upon the wicked.
‘God loves everyone, and so do homosexuals’
By implication it is argued in Chattanooga that gay activists are put-upon and oppressed but virtuous in patience, grace and kindness. David Cook, a Chattanooga Times Free Press columnist, makes explicit a line of argument that declares Christian marriage supporters are noisome, hateful, despotic and uncaring.
They don’t realize that God hates no one, Mr. Cook declares in “Something wicked this way comes.” The something wicked is the Bible-oriented critic of homosexuality. He’s tells of meeting a Christian opposed to homosexual benefits paid for by tax dollars.
Our God, the god of Christians, hates homosexuality,” the man continued.
No, no, umpteen times no. The God of Christians doesn’t hate homosexuality. Or homosexuals. Or lesbians. Or transgendered people. God doesn’t hate anyone.
And you use the name of God to project your homophobia onto the world.
“I’d like to read you three verses out of the Bible this evening,” one man said.
Please don’t. Everyone has heard them, and they’re 1,000 others that totally contradict whatever you think Leviticus or St. Paul said. In fact, don’t read your Bible anymore. At all.
Mr. Cook espouses a sort of universalism in his religion in which God does not make distinctions according to his explicit ethical standard in the scriptures. God doesn’t hate homosexuality, nor homosexuals. One wonders if the God this writer loves imposes rules on other realms of human activity and ingenuity. He may not condemn homosexuality/homosexuals. Does he curse murder/murders, rape/rapists, theft/thieves, hypocrisy/hypocrites, tyrants/tyranny, kidnapping/kidnappers, inflation/inflationists, a refusal to lend and those who refuse to lend?
But by the reckoning of such people as Mr. Cook, God reserves His hatred for none of these good people, but those on the wrong side of the gay benefits issue.
Nasty words for believers
Mr. Cook may be genteel in his condemnation what is Chattanooga’s majority report on Christianity — opposition to the buggered gay agenda. But many Cook allies lack his self-restraint in condemning the biblical position that decrees homosexuality an evil and a judgment. “Any religious community based on hate and judging others is rooted in evil, not Christianity,” asserts Lana Sutton, moderator of Chattanooga News & Reviews on Facebook. “I recommend folks flee the hate groups disguised as churches as if their soul depends on it.”
A very mild-mannered local marriage cheerleader, says another, “has devolved into a genuine local nutjob.” Then this: He is a “domestic terrorist, dropping bombs of hate, hoping they take root in his little enclaves of hate mongers, ignoring reason, taking refuge in echo chambers, and generally enjoying being a dickhead.”
Mr. Cook, creditably, intends to keep open all channels of communication. Given his air of sweet acceptance and forgiveness of subchristians in the next pew, Mr. Cook perhaps is open to an outflow of red ink in the margins of his newsprint.
Christ’s parables often make a simple, single point. Many are hostile to Mr. Cook’s universalism, the muddle of warm sentiment in which God would never destroy a people’s high places, cut down their incense altars and cast their carcasses on the lifeless forms of their idols, and enjoin His soul to abhor them (see the 30th verse of Leviticus 26, a fearsome chapter).
An embarrassment of red ink
If red ink represents debt in modern ledgers of accounting, perhaps we should understand the parables as making us debtors, as well, to a simultaneously thankful and trembling frame of mind in which God hates some, but loves others.
Meet some of the people Jesus talks about:
➤ In the parable of the gardener and the fruit tree, the vineyard owner agrees to delay for a year destroying a tree that thus far has borne no fruit. (Luke 13:6-9) God is patient with sin, but will destroy the tree if digging and fertilizing by the gardener bring no figs.
➤ Wicked vinedressers kill the owner’s son because they don’t want to pay the rent and want to steal his inheritance, but “He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.” Israel, God’s chosen nation, is cast off and destroyed, and God finds a better people in the church. (Luke 20:9-19). God doesn’t play favorites, but judges based on ethics and obedience to His lawful laws.
➤ A people reject a king’s invitation to come to his son’s wedding, seizing his servants and killing them. “But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” A man who appears at the wedding without a wedding garment is bound hand and foot, taken away, and cast into outer darkness; “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:2-15). God makes distinctions, and expects compliance to invitations and edicts.
➤ Weeds are allowed to grow with the wheat. But at harvest time the wheat (“the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom”) is safely put into the God’s barn while the tares are bundled and burned (Matthew 12:24-43). God makes distinctions between His sons and “the sons of the wicked one” — the devil.
➤ A dragnet trolls the sea and draws the wealth of the ocean into a fishing vessel. Later, the fishermen sit down “and [gather] the good into vessels, but [throw] the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and so cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:47-50)
➤ A rich man in hell begs that Lazarus, a beggar gone to glory and resting in the bosom of Abraham, bring him a teeny-tiny bit of relief by dipping the tip of his finger in water and cooling his tongue. Not so, says Abraham. “’Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.” (Luke 16:19-31). Simply, hell exists, and there but for God’s undeserved grace go I.
➤ In the parable of the rich fool, Christ indicates God abhors those who think only of themselves, who eat, drink and be merry, who lay up treasure for themselves and are not “rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21). Life and belief have eternal consequences, and some people are denied a place in heaven and are rich in themselves forever.
The social gospel Christian rejects the premise of many of these parables. The world is ethical, divided between right and wrong, good and evil, holy and wicked, the blessed and the damned. David Cook, in a careless moment perhaps, might be tempted to redact the parable of the virgins and the empty oil lamps by insisting the virgins with oil share theirs and risk missing the bridegroom’s arrival for the sake of their lazy compatriots who aren’t ready (Matthew 25:1-13).
Are the Bible Christians right to oppose homosexualism?
Opponents of so-called “same-sex” benefits for city employees are not evil, bigoted, hateful or churlish in opposing a new dole on the city taxpayer’s time. They are not wrong to see that if benefits are awarded to employees as incentives, they should be awarded to those who have legitimate marital unions under Tennessee law, and families.
They are doing what God expects them to: Give witness to His holy character and laws. Christians are not be afraid to declare God’s total claim upon the world. Christianity is at war with dissolution, revolution, temptation, decadence and sin, both in the individual’s heart and in society and culture. Christ says be ready for battle:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39)
Joy. Tremblings. The scriptures encourage both.
Time is short, Christian
Please call city council to register your support for marriage. Do so today. Second reading of the ordinance is Nov. 12, and the final reading and vote is Nov. 17. Time is short
Sources: David Cook, “Something wicked this way comes,” Chattanooga Times Free Press, Nov. 5, 2013