Over the past 2 days, this image has been making the rounds and has become the “profile picture” on Facebook and Twitter accounts. “Equality” is the topic of the day because America’s Supreme Court is reviewing a case that would create “marriage equality” to homosexuals.
The concept of “equality” is thoughtful.
Throughout time, there have been laws written to guarantee it. Entire cultures and governments and various “-ism’s” were created to ensure that it existed. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were created with “equality” as their goals. In both cases…the reality is that “some are more equal than others.” Witness the judicial punishments of the wealthy, rich or famous in the United States when compared to those guilty of the same crime that do not have “the connections.” Or, take Hugo Chavez’s purported billions while many of the people in his “workers paradise” went without even the basics. In either case, people were “equal under the law” but they were NOT, and are NOT, equal in reality or positionally. Just because blacks were given the right to vote legally in 1869 by the 15th Amendment, did not mean that they could vote. We know by both example and our experience that the law does not make one free, or even guarantee a right. Sure, the Second Amendment guarantees the “right to bear arms” but tell that to the person living in Chicago that wants to legally own a pistol. We find the “legal right” at odds with the “positional reality.”
Why, then, do we have laws?
Laws are written to keep the baser instincts of men and women in check. We know what is “right” and what is “wrong” by what the law tells us. The law makes a distinction between the killing of another in self-defense versus murder. There are differing levels of punishment for a speeding violation; the faster you drive, the higher the penalty. While some might protest, “But these things are wrong…” the reality is, that many of us do, or not do, things because they are wrong but because we fear the consequences of our actions. Laws address the symptom, but not the root.
For example, America has an obesity problem. Why? Because we are gluttonous people that consume whatever we want and whenever we want it. We simply “Do what makes us happy” (more on this in a moment). To counter this fact, Mayor Bloomberg of New York City tried to “outlaw” drinks over 16 ounces in size. Never mind the fact that people could buy 2 drinks or there were a number of loopholes…the bottom line is this, limiting cup size will NOT fix the fact that we, frankly, are pigs.
Pastor Neil said it well this past Sunday when he said, “Many of you are too domesticated to actually commit the physical act of murder, so you do it in your hearts and minds” (where seemingly there are no consequences). But, as he continued, “These murders make us no less guilty.”
- So, I don’t actually steal something, I just think about having it all the time- Jesus equates this covetousness with stealing.
- I don’t physically cheat on my wife, but my eyes linger on another female-Jesus equates this with adultery.
- And…so on.
What makes us happy.
People want equality. We want freedom to do as we please. So, we create a law. We legislate it. We want the freedom to follow our baser instincts. We’ve told one another to “Do what makes you happy” and “Follow your heart” so often, that we’ve come to enshrine these are our “right”. And then, when our husband leaves us, or we find ourselves pregnant, or we’ve purchased a house we cannot afford and we are broke…we point the finger at others and look for a way out.
- Jesus told the Pharisees that God allowed divorce because of the hardness of man’s heart.
- God’s plan for sexuality was, and is, one man, and one woman, and their role was to be fruitful and multiply.
- Everything that we have has been given us by God, so we ought to take that into account when we enter a financial agreement.
As Jesus would say, “This is a hard teaching”: The law does not bring equality. No law does. Paul, in Galatians 7:7 writes, “Indeed I would not have known what sin was if the law had said, ‘Do not covet.'” This law, if passed, will not grant freedom or equality. Paul continues, “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life (in this case “equality”) actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded me, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.”
Here’s the translation: this law tells me that I can marry whomever I wish. “Legally” I can. And yet, Jesus is greater than the law. Just because I “can” get a divorce…should I? Like one of my favorite songwriters writes, “I (God) gave you boundaries to save you from certain death, dangling from the end of a rope.” David Bazan is not talking about a physical death, but a spiritual death.
Choosing to live in freedom apart from Christ is no freedom at all. We think we are free, but really we are in bondage. It is in Christ alone that we are TRULY free and equal. Again, Paul-
“By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise. In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.”
To be clear, I’m not advocating a “lawless” society. As noted above, these laws were written to provide boundaries, and it is plainly obvious to all that we need boundaries for what we claim is a “civil society.” What’s more, laws are written to protect rights. Why? Because it is the tendency of man, because of the heart problem, to deny and take away the rights of others. BUT…
The Cross = Real Equality
True freedom and quality is not found in any amendment or law. It’s not in what the government lets you get away with. True equality is found by those who submit their wills, hearts, minds, souls and bodies to Christ. True freedom and equality comes because God’s Son was hung on a piece of wood to win that freedom and to make us equal. So my symbol is not an equal sign. My symbol is a cross.