I’m the type who turns on the TV to watch a football game, not an awards show, but I did hear about the mass wedding at the Grammys last night.
Here’s a recap: actress and rapper Queen Latifah officiated a marriage ceremony for 33 same-sex and straight couples. The ceremony was part of a performance of the song “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
“Same Love” came to prominence during Washington’s Referendum 74 campaign, which ultimately legalized same-sex marriage in the state. The song and its music video are telling – as Christian thinker and commentator Gabe Lyons reflected in a tweet last night, it represents “the heartbreaking reality of how our culture views love, sex, hope, marriage and the church.”
Same Love’s first stanza tries to take down faith-based views on same-sex relationships in bold and blunt fashion:
The right-wing conservatives think it's a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don't know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don't know
So, what to make of all this?
As a believer in Christianity, it’s tempting to ignore it. But if you have children who like music and are inevitably or eventually going to be drawn into the debate, or if you’re a fan yourself, I don’t think it’s wise to turn a deaf ear to it all. When modern culture collides with our faith, which it does on a regular basis, it’s important for us to remember that God’s heart breaks for those who don’t know Him. And so how do we, as Christians, respond when His Word is mocked and ridiculed? How do we express His love with grace and truth in a culture that’s seemingly not at all interested it?
Here are three things to remember:
1. Even many of the most ardent detractors of tradition recognize its legitimacy.
These progressive artists seem to still desire the very Christian principles of commitment and sacrificial love. At some level, this shows an innate understanding of natural law – what Romans 2 describes as having “the law written on their hearts.”
It’s the Christian’s job to explain that, ultimately, this yearning for what’s good and right and to be fully loved can only be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
2. Christians must engage the culture creatively.
You may have heard the quote by Scottish writer and politician Andrew Fletcher who once said, “Let me write the songs of a nation. I don’t care who writes its laws.” He was arguing that the real power to persuade and impact society lies with those who can capture a culture’s imagination.
I agree with him – to a point. I think marriage defender Ryan Anderson has an even better take on this tension. I’ll quote from his public remarks on whether law is downstream from culture:
The upstream/downstream metaphor can be misleading. Culture shapes law, but so too does law shape culture. The law both reflects our values and teaches values – especially to younger generations. The better metaphor, I think, is that of two coasts connected by a tide, that comes in and out, that picks up and drops off on the shorelines. Law and culture reinforce each other, either for or against human dignity and human flourishing.
… we need to encourage Christians to develop good art, good music, good film and television.
It’s not that we need fewer natural law philosophers, or appellate litigators; it’s that we need more of everything.
Christians should be at the forefront of every sphere of human life, embodying excellence in all that they do, bringing glory to God in every domain.
In short, there’s work for everyone, for artists and musicians, for pastors and theologians, for statesmen and lawyers, for scholars and activists.
3. Our engagement must reflect God’s heart.
The day will come when God will test our works, revealing what each of us has done. I pray that, on that day, it will be shown that the foundation of our good works was Jesus Christ. This means we must be as concerned about the real men and women behind the societal ills we face as we are about the “issues.”
How we engage testifies our faith. As I wrote in my book ReFocus, “The ongoing challenge for Christians in an ever-changing culture is this: how do we express a Christian ethos in a way that draws people into the discussion? How can we always be ready to serve as a witness to the love of Jesus? We are believers called by Jesus Christ to spread His good news. While we cannot compromise our principles and doctrine, we must also be compassionate and considerate and not expect the people of the world to act like Christians. By the same token, we don’t want to start acting like those who live according to the principles of this world. It requires a delicate and thoughtful approach to life.”
Last night served as a reminder to us to promote what we believe and show the beauty of God’s plan with our unique talents and abilities. Our faith compels us to speak and engage the culture.
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