Monday, June 14, 2010

The Idolatry of Autonomy

I was reading an article today by the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, an openly gay minister, in which he was arguing that "Much of the church continues to bury its head in homophobic sand." To some extent I agree with him. Much of the way evangelical Christianity has treated homosexuals deserves the disgust that it incites. I believe that homosexual practices are sinful, but that does not mean we should be committing violent acts against them or calling them derogatory names rather than reaching out in love with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know of a recent incident in which a middle school child was hit several times between classes because he is being raised by a homosexual couple at home. Regardless of how you feel about the issue, please tell me what that child did to deserve a beating. We cannot be afraid to give God's answer to anyone who asks of Him, but we must do so with gentleness and respect.

That being said, the point of this post is not to raise the issue of homosexual morality, at least not specifically. One particular comment by the Rev. Guess caught my eye. Toward the end of his article he said, "Maybe it's stubbornness or a calling on my part but, as a gay person, I refuse to let religion lay claim to naming what's holy and what's not, without insisting that I -- and those of my kind -- have some say in writing the definitions." Writing the definitions of what is holy and what is not. When exactly did we as a society move so far from the truth that we actually began to believe that this was a proper endeavor for fallen humanity? No man, woman, child or man-made "religion" defines what is holy. Only God defines what is holy.

I am convinced that this is the single largest obstacle to many people coming to faith in Christ...they want to be completely autonomous rather than acknowledge their subservience to a transcendent God. We want to be able to define for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. Of course, we do not only want to create these definitions for ourselves, but we want others to be bound by them too. After all, we expect others o live up to our sense of morality.

God told Adam and Eve that they had full reign over the Garden of Eden with one narrow exception, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Yet when the serpent promised them that eating of the tree would make them "Like God," they both partook and suffered the consequence. The chief sin from the very beginning was trying to replace God's authority with human autonomy. We want to put ourselves in place of God. That is what Adam and Eve did and it is precisely what Rev. Guess is asking to do in the realm of defining holiness.

Humility requires us to acknowledge that it is not all about us. There is a power greater than ourselves to whom we are subject. That power defines holiness, morality and truth. We must be willing to bow to that authority's determinations, even if we want something different. God bless.

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