One emotion overtook me on Friday, the Supreme Court’s gay-marriage landmark decision day: no emotion. Well, not entirely true. Confusion. I was mostly confused. I know what Christians are supposed to believe. I know what the Bible teaches. But my mind is racked with so many questions, and they aren’t new ones. But why…? But what about…? But is this fair…?
While nearly every religious person I knew was turning red with fury and blue with despair, my own feelings remained white with neutrality. Apathetic, I watched everyone’s reactions through glazed-over eyes. I did not feel the outrage. I did not feel the sadness or the lamentation. I did not stagger at the realization of what a great offense and violation this was against the word of God.
And now… I am being humbly reminded. Several months ago I read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. I was struck by their responses toward the sin of their people:
As soon as I [Nehemiah] heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. —Why?— We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses (Neh 1:4, 7).
As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled, fasting… “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God.” —Why?— For our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. For we have forsaken your commandments (Ez 9:3, 6, 10).
“Ezra and Nehemiah responded to sin in an EXTREME way – mourning, fasting, tearing clothing, plucking hair, weeping. The sin that warranted this response was the unfaithfulness of the people by turning away from God’s law. This tells me that turning away from God’s law, even in the slightest sense, is a HUGE offense, one that should incite in me sorrow and lamentation. The fact that I do not mourn over my lawlessness, even now, after being saved, must mean I do not have a clear view of God, the law, the gravity of my sin.”
Do I trust God? Absolutely. With my entire life. He has proven himself far more to me than is needed to trust him for eternity. My inability, therefore, to honor and believe his law, to see the way he does, to think the way he does, reflects a defect in my heart that can only be corrected by him.
Yesterday I read an article about a federal district judge who convicts criminals with sentences he often feels are unfair – but they are congressionally mandated. He has no choice. Despite the way he feels and his personal sense of ethics, he must uphold the law because it is the law.
I empathize with this man a great deal. But I don’t want to become like him. I don’t want to abide by God’s law simply because it’s his law. As the stickers plastered inside DC metro cars tout: “It is unlawful to eat, drink, or smoke in the Metro system. It’s the law… for good reason!” I want to know God’s good reason. I want to believe his law. I want to understand it and feel the way he does about it. I want to trust it to the extent of passionately advocating for it. I want it to shape my opinions and my feelings. I want it to sensitize me and orient me. I want it do this in me: “You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. But that is not the way you learned Christ! Put off your old self, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (Eph 4:17-24).
This desensitization is not the only defect in my heart. There are a lot of other little punctures that cause his goodness to leak out, prohibiting me from experiencing his full weight within me. I suppose this is the purpose of the longevity of our lifetime here – to be renewed of these defects so that when we get to heaven, we can fully behold him and worship him as he deserves: with pure and undefiled hearts. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2:13) – and this “bringing near” is a continual thing, an ongoing process leading us closer and closer until we are literally and physically so close we will want to explode from the heat of his presence.
I am indifferent about things I should be indignant about. But I have hope that Jesus can change me – to not only obey and submit to his law, but to rejoice and glory in it. Because his law is a reflection of who he is – and if I truly knew him, it would only be natural for me to rejoice and glory in all that he is, does, says, and decrees.