In the Aftermath of the AZ Anti-Gay Bill

9/11 American Flag

V Malazarte via Compfight

After yesterday’s veto of the anti-gay bill by the Arizona governor, many are pleased and many are angry. It was interesting to read the conversations after the post on the ReKnew blog yesterday about the issue.

Today, in the aftermath, instead of thinking in either/or terms (where we battle over opinions by talking in terms of us versus them), let’s step back. Many of the battles over issues like this come about because we confuse God’s Kingdom with the kingdom of a specific nation. We must keep the kingdom of God distinct from the agenda of any nation or government. Here is a short excerpt from Greg’s Myth of a Christian Religion that talks about the need for this in the American context:

“When followers of Jesus aren’t careful to clearly distinguish the Kingdom from their own nation, we easily end up Christianizing aspects of our national culture we ought to be revolting against.

For example, America is founded on the conviction that everybody has an ‘inalienable right’ to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ Now, politically speaking, I think these rights are the greatest privileges a government could ever give its people. Politically speaking, I’m a fan of the Declaration of Independence. But as a Kingdom person, I have to be careful not to think these values are Kingdom values. Indeed, as a follower of Jesus I have to critically assess these values as things I may have to revolt against to manifest the unique beauty of the Kingdom. Let’s briefly consider each of these rights.

The Right to Life

“Americans believe we have the right to defend our lives and our rights when they’re threatened, using any means necessary. This is a noble political right. …

As Kingdom people we’re called to follow the One who surrendered his right to life in order to express God’s love for his enemies. We’re thus called to manifest the beauty of a life that no longer clings to its right to remain alive and not longer fears death, even at the hands of our enemies. …

The Right to Liberty

We Americans believe we have the right to exercise our free will however we see fit so long as no one gets hurt. And we believe we have the right to have a say in who governs us and how they govern us. These are noble political rights. …

As Kingdom people we’re called to imitate the One who never exercised his free will outside the will of the Father. We’re called to surrender our freedom and submit our will to God’s will, both as he’s revealed it in Scripture and as he directs us by his Spirit moment-by-moment. Not only this, but we’re called to live in communities in which we surrender our rights and humbly defer to one another. …

The Pursuit of Happiness

We Americans believe we have the right to do whatever we need to do to try and find happiness. Again, this is a noble political ideal. … [However] for most Americans, the pursuit of happiness—or, in starker terms, ‘hedonism’—is the ultimate lord of their lives.

As Kingdom people this is obviously something we must passionately revolt against. We are called to seek God’s will above our own happiness. …

Our ultimate allegiance cannot be to America or any other country. It cannot be to a flag, democracy, the right to defend ourselves, the right to do what we want, the right to vote, or the right to pursue happiness however we see fit. We are Kingdom people only to the extent that God alone is King of our lives, and thus only to the extent that we revolt against the temptation to make any cultural values or ideas supreme” (84-88).

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