A Failing Grace

February 23, 2014
By

bible heart

I wonder if Christ would have refused to construct furniture for a Lesbian couple or anyone else, or if He would have used the opportunity as an entrée into their lives, and they into His.  And I further wonder if He would have favored a law (He seemed so repulsed by law in general) that used His name as an excuse for the refusal of service.

The above is a comment I made on Facebook in the midst of a thread about Senate Bill 1062 in Arizona.  A bill that, if signed by the governor, will allow business owners to refuse to serve clients if that service somehow misaligns with their religious beliefs.  For example, courts in New Mexico recently required Christian photographers to pay thousands of dollars in fines because they refused to film a Lesbian commitment ceremony.  If New Mexico had a law like the proposed law in Arizona, the photographers would have been protected.

You may know that many years ago I was the Deputy Director of the Office of the Governor of Arizona.  I find this legislation shocking, especially all these years later.

I have spent most of my adult life in Uganda.  There, a bill sits on the President’s desk, awaiting signature.  This bill, if passed, will mean that gay individuals will be punished with life in prison, and people who fail to turn-in gay friends and colleagues will also be punished. The legislation was strongly supported by the international Christian community.

I am writing today not to make an argument for (or against) homosexuality.  I am writing from my heart of faith, and to challenge my fellow Christians to re-examine how our religious beliefs inform our actions and interactions with other people.

As I suggested in the above Facebook post, I believe Christ would have welcomed the Lesbian clients, and used it as an opportunity that they might come to know Him.  If we believe that we are His representatives on this earth, I believe we should feel tremendous shame if we make laws that allow us to refuse to serve.

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” –Galatians 2:21

Perhaps God sent that couple to the so-called Christian photographers so that He–through them–could be physically present during this time in their lives and in their relationship.  By refusing to serve them, the photographers did not give the couple pause or conviction.  They gave them a very wrong impression of God, and drove them further away from the grace and faith that the photographers claim to espouse and hold precious.

May we be most cautious as we dig in our heels.  May we be clear about what we believe–and why–lest we become as Pharisees and miss the whole blessed point.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  –John 13:35

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9 Responses to A Failing Grace

  1. Julia
    February 24, 2014 at 3:56 am

    Very well written. A strong reminder of why we are still here on the earth. His kingdom comes only through us, we must not forget who we are and why we are here, it’s not to accuse but to demonstrate the genuine heart of God for people. Thank you for a concise and direct word of perspective.

    • February 24, 2014 at 8:32 am

      Thanks, Julia. My heart grieves at the idea of clinging to rights and laws as we abandon heart and purpose. We have so much to do.

  2. Lynda
    February 24, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Thanks for this Nathaniel. I find myself repeatedly challenged (and often mired) in how to mirror the extravagant love of Christ without dilution of his “good news” truths. The three categories of ‘Biblical absolutes’, ‘community standards’, and ‘personal preferences’ have helped me tremendously, but some of today’s issues leave me fumbling for firm footing.

  3. Rachel
    February 24, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Nathaniel,

    When I heard on the news this morning that Uganda’s legislation passed, my heart dropped into my stomach. I appreciate your candor and thoughtful comments. It is helping me process.

    • February 24, 2014 at 10:21 am

      Thank you, Rachel. May our faith work to correct–instead of enforce–these laws. Bless you.

  4. Leah harrington
    February 24, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    The church has failed miserably in reaching the homosexual community. We were never called to judge the lost but to love them. It’s saddens me that most homosexuals view Christians as mean, judgmental, unloving creature that should be avoided. I wish that Christians would embrace the opportunity to introduce the love and grace of Christ into the lives of the lost instead of isolating and condemning them.

    • February 24, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Yes. We try to slam heaven’s door in their face. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces.” Matthew 23:13

  5. Yvonne Brown
    February 26, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Nathaniel:
    Many thanks for writing this. You gave voice to my thoughts. I will share this with many folks, especially those who tend to be judgmental.

    Yvonne

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