I recently started reading 50 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren Wiersbe. It’s a rich compilation of historical Christian biographies. I have really enjoyed it, especially the discovery of two common threads shared by most of these magnificent Christians: suffering and scriptural fidelity.
In case you missed it during the exuberance of Christmas parties and New Year’s celebrations, congress formally repealed the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy instigated in the 90s by President Clinton. The compromise-law allowed homosexuals to serve quietly and discreetly in the U.S. Armed Services without fear of reprisal or punishment, as long as they did not make their homosexuality known. It was a crafty political solution that appeased the homosexual community which heavily supported Mr. Clinton’s candidacy and expected an advance of their agenda upon his victory. But it also appeased conservatives and the military as it more or less maintained a perceived status quo.
Another year slips mordantly beneath the waves of that ever-consuming ocean we call time. And so this inescapable dimension carries us inevitably into yet another year that will ultimately suffer the same fate as the one before it. Albert Einstein asserted mathematically in his theory of General Relativity that time and space were essentially the same substance, introducing the concept of the space-time continuum to humanity. And although we can move in any direction spatially, time only allows its travelers to sail in one direction: forward. We cannot recover yesterday or turn back the clock no matter how much we may wish otherwise. Every one of us has a predetermined hour glass, filled and personally assigned to measure the days of our lives.
The headline results of a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in coordination with Time magazine didn't surprise me really, but it did bother me deeply. Apparently four in ten Americans now believe that the institution of marriage is becoming obsolete. The article reporting the story confessed, "Those most likely to think marriage is becoming obsolete are people who are part of the trend: 62 percent of unmarried couples who live together and have children." And perhaps just as troubling, 62 percent of the respondents also believe that homosexual couples raising children constitute a legitimate family.
If you missed the local Garden Grove news recently, Robert Schuller's mega-church, the Crystal Cathedral, has filed for bankruptcy in Southern California. Apparently their enormous ecclesiastical debt of 43 million U.S. dollars was putting a huge damper on the "positive and encouraging" message that the church had worked so hard to convey to its audience over the years.
I have always enjoyed reading and studying history. As a pastor, it's probably no surprise that I love Biblical history and everything associated with the nation of Israel, but I also have a very special place in my heart for American history. I firmly believe that the Lord had His providential hand on the founding of this nation, and that for almost 200 years, we were rightfully called a "Christian nation," or as Chaplain Louis Bowman coined, "one nation under God."
This week I'm writing from colonial Williamsburg, the old capital of historic Virginia. The city center has been beautifully preserved in the colonial era, with special emphasis on the banner year of 1776. They have faithfully kept the era of Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and that other famous Virginian, George Washington, alive and within reach of the average American. Not only are the buildings and landscape maintained in genuine colonial fashion, the town features period actors in full costume giving impassioned speeches in the street and interacting with the crowd on the events leading up to the revolution. I think it's as close as one can possibly come to experiencing the fervor and excitement of those auspicious years of America's founding.
Just recently a Presbyterian pastor, Reverend Jane Spahr (yes, Jane), was reprimanded with an official rebuke by her denomination's highest court for performing same-sex weddings just prior to California's Proposition 8, which legally banned the unions. The regional commission of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ruled 4-2 that the reverend was persisting in a "pattern or practice of disobedience" by performing the ceremonies. In the same ruling however, perhaps to lighten the sting and shame of a wordy and toothless censure, the commission went on to praise the actively lesbian pastor for her "prophetic ministry" and "faithful compassion." And then, in a schizophrenic retreat from their own finding, the panel of Presbyterian officials actually called on the broader denomination to look to her example "to re-examine our own fear and ignorance." So instead of any sting to the rebuke it actually became an endorsement (you broke the rules, but for a good cause, and we hope to follow).