What is Equality?

Yesterday, my news feed exploded with the response to the Supreme Court ruling same sex marriage as a constitutional right. This, of course led to much discussion among my fellow Christian brethren, much of which was met by the question, “Don’t you believe in equality?” Despite the fact that that question is a major ad hom and only causes division and spite, there is something more deeply wrong with that question. This question that plagues the Christian worldview is a question that is not proper, logically or morally, to ask of someone.

So, what is equality? Let’s start with the idea that equality is an objective concept. It’s not. Everyone has a vastly different idea of what equality looks like. The Christian can argue that equality means loving everyone equally enough to warn them against spiritual danger in which they are participating. Therefore, the Christian campaign against same-sex marriage on the basis that it is spiritually dangerous is actually a Christian putting their view of equality into action and then they wonder if the non-Christian believes in equality, because they allow the world to be affirmed in sin. On the other side, a non-Christian may define equality as “equal rights.” Therefore, when a Christian is not “for” what someone views as a right, the non-Christian may wonder if the Christian believes in equality. Equality is not an objective concept. It is totally determined by a person’s worldview. Which means that asking the question “Don’t you believe in equality?” is going to lead absolutely nowhere, because the real question is “Don’t you believe in my view of what equality looks like?”

Now, let’s look at the idea of equality as “equal rights.” Here, we run into the problem of what a “right” is. Rights are totally arbitrary. As a Christian, I do not view marriage as a right, but as a gift. Therefore, when a Christian is not “for” same sex marriage, they are not “against” equal rights, because they may not view marriage as a right. Truly, from a Christian mindset, the only “right” we objectively have is to death and condemnation. So, in a way, we do believe in an “equal rights” concept of equality. We all have equal rights to eternal damnation. Anything outside of that is a gift. So, then, does equality mean “equal gifts”? If so, from where does that idea come? Where anywhere are we promised equal access to gifts? Nowhere. We are granted equal access to gifts, but never promised it.

So, then, what is the most logically cohesive position on equality (let me point out that I am not saying the most objectively logical position)? I obviously have my answer that you can more than likely surmise from my writing, but I will not explicitly express it because this isn’t about my opinion, but rather a break down of how we view equality and what makes sense. But, my final word is this…

Regardless of any law or mandate, I firmly believe that the church should be allowed to ordain any marriage they choose to ordain. To me, this is not an issue of religion or politics, but rather an issue of involving religion in the definitions of the government. Really, what is marriage if it’s not ordained by a church? It is a lifelong relationship where two people are living together and maybe die together. That is a reality that will happen regardless of a piece of paper from the government. This applies to two heterosexuals that are married by law, outside of the church, this applies to two homosexuals that are married by law, outside of the church. The reality is that, by legalizing same sex unions, nothing is changing except for a piece of paper that allows them more legal rights. As long as the church is not being forced to ordain ANY marriage they do not deem appropriate for or approved by their religion (this applies to even marrying two heterosexual atheists), then this actually changes nothing. Life long same sex relationships were happening. They will continue to happen. The legality of same sex union will not change that.

So, instead of being concerned that marriage is being defiled, or something like that, be concerned that this was a sin problem prevalent enough for long enough that it became a socio-political norm. Are they wrong? That’s up to you, but I believe the Bible is clear that homosexual relations is wrong. Are we still supposed to love them? Absolutely. Let’s not get caught up on the effect when the cause is the problem. Work on your heart so you can work on the hearts of others in a proper, loving way. Repentance doesn’t result from legislature. Repentance results from love.

Training, Travel, and Trust

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” C.S. Lewis

Friendship is like art: beautiful and abstract. Friendship is like philosophy: deep and thoughtful. I am an appreciator of all three of these things, so this Lewis quote speaks to me. Friendship IS unnecessary insofar as it has no evolutionary advantage. Close, intimate relationships add little to our survival ability. Community adds, relationships subtract. This is a relatively easy concept to fall for until you actually spend time with people who share your loves and passions.

Training

I have been blessed with the opportunity to minister to teens this summer through a missions camp. I am the program leader, aka the “Words Guy.” Essentially, two other young adults and I run an entire camp for the whole summer. As one could imagine, this is not a simple task, nor is it one to be taken lightly. Therefore, we had to undergo some training…

Sunny Colorado. I arrived a day early to sightsee in Denver. I fell in love with that state. It is beautiful and full of cool sights to see. After a day in Denver (and two visits to the Snooze A.M. Eatery), I headed back to the Denver International Airport to… Meet new people. As a guy who has two people that he hangs out with regularly, one of whom is an agnostic sociopath, and the other is a Reformed introvert, I was nervous to venture into a group of religious people that I assumed would be mostly outgoing. I was absolutely right.

I got to the airport before most people — a few stray people beat me — and, eventually, the airport filled with young adults who were excited to meet each other. I was a little overwhelmed. Finally, we headed to the training facility, where I remained overwhelmed by these big personalities. I did not think I was going to like it at all. But then something strange happened…

Living with a group of 50 people for two weeks has this strange ability of drawing you all together. We became a family. One body of different personalities, denominations, gifts, etc. Working together for a common end goal: the glory of Christ through our lives. I was taken aback by my own attachment to these people. I even almost teared up when we all left each other. We developed a bond that could not be created artificially. It was a bond that could only be created by God.

Travel

Then, comes travel week: where a minivan became home for about 30 hours. Where you look out the windows at beautiful landscapes of trees and mountains and fields. Where you have an anxiety attack driving the interstates in Atlanta, GA. Where you try to stop at a Chick-fil-a on a Sunday. But, most importantly, where it becomes real.

The reality of what we are about to embark on hits like the Titanic on an iceberg (that seems irreverent, but it’s actually a reference to our super-dope lip sync battle). Wow. We three are in charge of positioning kids for a life change this summer. God is going to be using me to do things that I didn’t think I would be doing at 21. How am I supposed to do this?

This is absolutely stressful for my outgoing, introverted mind. I have to talk to people most of my days? I just want to read my books and listen to/play my music. I am not equipped for new people EVERY. WEEK. I am not ready to do paperwork and keep track of expenses. I am not ready to council kids. Why am I doing this? What should I do?

Trust

Then, I remember…

God put me here. God is sovereign and providential. I would not be here if I couldn’t do this somehow. But, how? Well, by trusting God, of course.

In his book, Jesus the King, Tim Keller discusses the idea that the Trinity is a “dance.” Meaning that God is perpetually joyful because all three Persons of the Trinity exist together in continuous glorification of each other. Meaning that God did not create man to worship Him, since He is always receiving glory, but rather created man to join into that Joy. In His great love, God saw that this Joy was to be shared. Therefore, God created man to join into the dance of Joy.

This leads us to John Piper’s Christian hedonism: “God is most glorified by us when we are most satisfied in Him.” How does this become a reality, though? How does one become fully satisfied in God? The answer is trust.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13, ESV)

We are given the Holy Spirit. That’s why Jesus left after His resurrection. The Holy Spirit is God WITHIN us. Through the Spirit, we are given the ability to trust in God. He allows us to do the things that go against our nature. When He is in us, we can trust in God. In fact, we have no excuse not to trust Him. When we are regenerated and given the Spirit, we become without excuse to do the things God want us to do. Now, we are still sinful and will continue to mess up, but the fact remains that we can do it. We can trust God.

We should never be discouraged and perpetuate the false philosophy that we can’t trust God, because we can. He has given us that ability. We just have to put our own selfish motives aside. Self motive gets in the way of Spirit motive. We often forget that God’s plan is going to be so much greater than our own, wherever He takes us. But, we can find satisfaction in Him and Him alone. We can trust Him and give our lives to Him fully, no matter where we are, because we have Him within us.