Oh, did you want more than that? Let’s talk about the character of God. But first, let’s talk about the amazing events of June 26, 2015.
A crowd waited in front of the Supreme Court hoping for a ruling on the gay marriage issue which the justices had been debating for some time. News crews camped out in front of the building, expecting that a ruling could be announced around 10am. Suddenly, the interns came racing across the steps of the Supreme Court building to deliver the announcement to the assembled crowd and reporters. The court decided that states cannot restrict gay marriage and they must recognize gay marriages performed in other states. This decision has made gay marriage legal in every state.
The crowds cheered and celebrated in front of the Supreme Court all day long. Other celebrations took place all over the country. People celebrated not because the United States had rejected “traditional values” or because some people became free to flaunt their deviant lifestyles, but because people all over the United States were given the right to legally express their love for each other through public commitment and fidelity. The phrase “love wins” flooded social media in seconds. Even President Obama ended a tweet with “#LoveWins.” A friend of mine who was in DC said it was a moment about which he will be telling his grandchildren.
Facebook and Twitter exploded with expressions of gratefulness that this country has chosen compassion, equality, and love. At the same time, opponents of gay marriage were voicing their disapproval. Franklin Graham appeared on Fox News a few hours after the announcement to express his concern and said, “I believe God could bring judgment upon America.”
Ted Cruz called this day “The worst 24 hours in American history.”
These are opinions that will be echoed by conservative religious leaders throughout the coming days. Whether or not these kind of statements are sincere or they are political pandering and fear mongering does not matter. They express a cancerous theology that affects the way we understand God, the way we approach God, and the way we treat each other. A theology that has been eating away at our souls for years.
In the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus is correcting the flawed theology of his audience, he says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:44-45) Jesus is telling his hearers that God loves everyone the same and pours his blessing on all. Jesus’ hearers lived with a theology that said God blesses good people and curses bad people. Jesus’ teaching was essentially saying, “No, God is not retributive! God’s blessing is for all.”
No matter what we believe about homosexuality, abortion, divorce, or violence on television we must never believe that our behavior is incurring the wrath of God. Jesus shows us that God’s character leans toward mercy and love, not toward retribution and punishment. “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father,” Jesus says. Jesus is the fullest revelation of God. In Jesus we see grace, love, and acceptance. That means God’s character is grace, love, and acceptance. Jesus lays himself down, never retaliates, and always forgives. That means God never retaliates and always forgives. Is God poised to pour judgement upon America? No. God rejoices with those who rejoice. God loves. God forgives. God always blesses.
When we promote the idea that God is angry with certain actions that our nation has taken, behaviors of certain groups, or particular systems of belief, we are promoting a theology of violence and retribution. We are sending a message that is the very opposite of Jesus message. We are saying, “God loves you if you act right, but God hates you if you don’t measure up.” This message is not grace. It is not love. It is not the Gospel.