The SCOTUS Decision on Same-Sex Marriage

My response to the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding same-sex marriage has been published on the Lipscomb University College of Bible and Ministry page. Originally, it was two separate Facebook posts, but is now a single piece.

Because some have asked, I will offer this one comment on the SCOTUS decision yesterday. I have no intention of “debate,” and I will delete what I deem inappropriate.
I affirm GBLTQ’s civil right to have protection under the law, and I affirm their right to secure the social and political benefits of “marriage” (a social-political construct in the modern state–but what the state does says little about what Christians ought to think). I am not disturbed by the civil guarantees inherent in the SCOTUS decision, though I am concerned (but not worried) about how others might use this decision to advance other agendas (for example, to circumscribe the religious liberty of others). I don’t know how all that will play out. It is possible that some might use this decision to marginalize traditional believers or subvert institutions operated by such. So be it.
But I would hope that the nation could treat each other with respect and dignity despite whatever difference.
I have found Miroslav Volf’s “soft difference” understanding of the relationship between state (culture) and church helpful in this regard (particularly as he understands the theology of 1 Peter). “Soft” means “gentle and kind” rather than “weak.”
Our “difference” with any particular aspect of the culture in which disciples of Jesus live (where disciples of Jesus seem out of sync with their surrounding culture) is a “soft” one, that is, we seek to live in a peaceful, loving, kind relationship even though we have different understandings of any specific cultural practice or belief.
“Soft difference” is not about how the culture acts toward the church. That is sometimes hostile and harsh as in the case of 1 Peter and Revelation within the New Testament, or even hostile to Jesus himself in the Gospels. [And we must remember–and confess–that the church has often been harsh and violent toward people within cultures and especially different cultures!] Rather, “soft difference” is how disciples of Jesus respond to culture, that is, we recognize differences (and do not yield our convictions to culture) but we live softly in relation to the culture (kindness, gentleness, love). A wave of some kind of cultural marginalization (even persecution as some are predicting) may come (but maybe not)—whether it does or not, our response is a soft one. We neither revolt (as in some violent revolutionary takeover), nor assimilate (yield our convictions), nor withdraw (hide out and isolate), but we engage softly (with gentle love).
The SCOTUS decision may constitute a fearful “difference” for many where fear, anger, and distrust emerge as the primary emotions and perspectives. However, given our status as “exiles” or “resident aliens” who live out of an eschatological hope and vision based on a new birth, we do not operate out of fear, hatred, or manipulation. We neither hate nor oppress any social group. Rather, we bear witness with gentleness, kindness, and love. We model life, and we resist evil (that is, persevering courageously though opposed), but we do not revolt, assimilate, or withdraw. We engage, but we engage in love; we engage softly.
So, let us live softly out of a living hope rather than to live harshly or anxiously out of fear.

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