Just Give Up

I had a dual experience today.

The first was when I was driving this morning. The local NPR station was airing a show on illegal immigration, and of course they had guests that were for blockading the Mexican border, those for eliminating it altogether, and several perspectives in between.

Whatever you may think on the issue, the argument for making illegal immigration legal was absolutely ludicrous. Basically it goes like this: this law is just too difficult to enforce, so let’s just do away with it.

My goodness.

I guess it doesn’t really surprise me, but the lack of logic in it astounds me. Sooooo, we can’t keep illegal immigration under control; therefore instead of redoubling our efforts in order to extend benefits to citizens and those who are here through legal channels, we should simply give up. Right.

The second was a conversation with a homosexual who tapped me to tell them that the church would not have a problem with their homosexuality. It was a lengthy conversation. In a nutshell I told them the church cannot give its blessing to unrepentant sin, of which this clearly is a case. It was another instance of, “I don’t like the rules. Just make an exception for me, will you?” Just give up on this one. As if I have the authority.

It’s harder work both to maintain civil laws and to stand against sin in the face of societal permissiveness. But it is the loving thing to do, for the sake of the citizenry and for the sake of God’s people.

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6 Responses to Just Give Up

  1. Joe Fremer says:

    The fact that the “just give in” logic gets to weigh in on otherwise reasoned debate is a sad commentary about the morbidity of reason in the public forum. Thanks for your thoughts, OSC. I’m going to refer to this post in my next blog entry.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad you won. I didn’t think they had pistols at dawn out there. (Du-el… du-el… oh…)

    I think I’m having a hard time with this, as I’ve kept thinking about it over the past couple days, because you try to draw a parallel between civic stuff and Godly stuff. The Godly stuff is being asked to get kicked to the curb because it is too difficult to enforce as is illegal immigration.

    Of course, there are other ways to get at this. Homosexuals are just as much entitled to God through Jesus as say heterosexuals. While we were still sinners Christ died for us, the Godly for the ungodly. Not like I’m bringing anything particularly new to you, but the greater homosexual person question is: Will you treat me like that? Will you treat me like you? Sure, they might come to ask you to take back the last 2000 years of Christianity, but, you obviously can’t do that. So what is your response OTHER than to call them stupid (sorry, illogical)? Stand against them, stand against them and… what?

    As to hispanics coming into America illegally and because we can’t enforce it we should drop it, let me tell you, as surely as you already know, we don’t want to have it stopped. Not really. As you know from Germania (obligitory Simpsons reference) the people liked having their own slave class to do the menial labor, until there weren’t enough jobs for them. America is the same. The issue of legality, of seeking food, water, shelter, clothing that is workable and sustainable for your family, that’s a big thing for, oohhhh, I don’t know, a lot of people in the world. The question with this and with homosexuality tend be – what happens when they actually show up at my door? Shall I put up a wall and stand against them, stand against them, stand against them or is there another option for us?

    What does it mean to stand against sin and criminality and actively engage in the worship of the biggest sinner to ever live? (Read LW 26:278 or so to 290 something). I eschew standing against sin as a silver bullet that excuses us. But I still love you. It is the loving thing to do. 🙂

  3. OSC says:

    I’m not sure you get me, anonymous, or perhaps I didn’t make my point “getable”. My point was not that we ought to somehow stand against people, but against a position. Simply, “it’s too hard” is just not good theology. Especially in the spiritual realm, Ezekiel 3:18 ought to be brought to bear. In the contemporary context, though, to make a judgment call about sin is perceived as standing in personal self-righteous judgment of the sinner. That’s just not the case. Your suggestion that one “Stand against them” makes the point. At no point did I say anything about “standing against” people.

    Will I treat you like that? In a word, yes. Will I, knowing you to be in overt and unrepentant sin, bring it to your attention in conversation, rather than brushing it under the carpet with a wink and a nudge so as to allow the germ to grow until it chokes out your faith? Yes.

    Will I bar you from church? No. Do I ever have that kind of authority? No. Even in a case of excommunication it’s not a person or even a church barring the sinner from the church. Rather, it’s the church acting according to what God has already done (Whatever you bind on earth shall already have been bound in heaven). It’s not a personal affront to the sinner. Yet overt, unrepentant sin is certainly an affront to God, as all sin is.

    The church does have the burden to aggressively pursue the unrepentant sinner, to win the brother back. And the hope is, as always, that the Law will have it’s effect in the sinner and bring them to repentance so that the comfort of the Gospel of Christ may also be theirs. But take away the proclamation of the Law and you run the risk of hamstringing the proclamation of the Gospel.

    As to the immigration thing, my treatment of it was not as complete as it might have, or should have, been. It also included the outsourcing of jobs to foreign nations. It was an intriguing argument, the whole of which does not necessarily hit me right. It’s certainly not just about Hispanics.

    What do I do when they show up at my door? Historically I’ve treated them well. I’ve had plenty of illegal neighbors in places I’ve lived. I worked with ESL in congregations, primarily with illegal aliens from several nations (not all of them Hispanic peoples), assisting them in their pursuit of life’s needs even here in this nation.

    My point was and is simply that doing away with a law because it’s just too hard to enforce is spineless. If you acted like this you wouldn’t be challenging my words here. You’re asking me to take a look at the issue because it is harder than my post might originally have suggested. The issues you raise are all important considerations, and a harder critique of the society.

    And at the same time, I eschew letting social convention trump legality, in both the realm of the Left and the Right.

    “What does it mean to stand against sin and criminality and actively engage in the worship of the biggest sinner to ever live?” It’s a good and fair question. My quick and dirty answer is that it means forgiveness reigns. But forgiveness does not equal permissiveness.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yeah. I think I intentionally misinterpreted you for a reason. As I’ve thought about this some more, the “stand against them” refrain is purposeful. To them it is against them. Ardent Republicans and Democrats feel this. Lutherans, Catholics, Muslims. Identity challenges – not that the challenge is bad – attain two results, a change in identity or an entrenchment. Most often it seems to end up in entrenchment, which makes me question that as a spiritual tactic. The Law accuses (but does not only accuse) and in terror people, bound to sin, choose to entrench. The Gospel of Jesus which frees has entrenchment only in its rejection (choosing to live under the law, which terrorizes, so really, choosing to live under your own law). To that end, while your argument is about the faulty logic of it all, it makes me think that the Gospel may not have been applied (and I do not, regardless of how that looks, mean that poorly). In the civil realm, yeah, we might get away not applying the Gospel, but in the Spiritual realm we struggle when we do not. My chief argument, I hope, is not Gospel reductionism, but the sense that the Gospel is offered as a free gift to all those sin and struggle with sin, that in Jesus there is a better life (though more suffering) and a better hope (the resurrection versus heaven or nothingness). To offer the Gospel to “them” in “their” standpoint, while not giving permission, is an art. I think what I’m trying to say is that the bringing about of terror is nice, but we may be negating the free gift part of Jesus by making our terror a precondition of gift reception.

    I do most certainly agree that forgiveness = permission is a dangerous thing. Yet the danger of it is that no forgiveness will be heard, no sense that Christ became the biggest homosexual to ever live to put to death the sin of homosexuality. Simply saying we, the church, do not endorse your lifestyle and therefore we can not accept you as a human (think illocutionary force). Your words might not mean that you are going to hate them, but it is what is heard, so to be extra super dooper careful in saying them.

    And I know you do, and I’m picking on you because you’re picky about words too. I do realize that in some sense the give in because its too hard to enforce is a bad argument, but it is not the one that we as Christians are most capable of making. We point to God giving in because the hearts of humans were wicked from birth and even though all people may hear Jesus and many not believe, he still dies for all. Giving in to incarnation, giving into death. Giving resurrection. Giving life.

    And I just wanted to debate with someone for awhile.

  5. OSC says:

    “…the Gospel is offered as a free gift to all those sin and struggle with sin, that in Jesus there is a better life (though more suffering) and a better hope (the resurrection versus heaven or nothingness).”

    Yes.

    I think you’re still missing a point here. The conversation began with a line something like, “I’m gay, here’s my partner, and I want to make sure this isn’t going to be a problem for anyone in the church.” Nutshell: Approve of my lifestyle choice–I once was straight but now I’m gay–or I’m out of here. I don’t see anything wrong with homosexuality. In fact, if you do, then you have the problem, not me. Even so, I don’t want people in the church to talk about it or look down on me for it or in any other way take issue with it, since it’s my choice.

    Yes, the Gospel is for everyone. Would you call it efficacious for everyone? How would you use it here?

    I’ll expand upon what I said, as far as I remember it. When asked plainly about the church’s stance on it, I didn’t beat around the bush. Homosexual activities are sinful. The church cannot condone activities that are potentially injurious to faith. I’d hate to see that happen.

    It was a longer conversation than this, but you get the idea.

    I’ve got serious misgivings about the identity issue. That’s for another conversation, perhaps. But I wonder if this would be a different debate if we were talking about something more universally accepted as sinful and damaging–like serial drunk driving or the like. That’s an identity issue–the guy’s a thoughtless drunk. It’s a sin issue. My guess is that one wouldn’t think twice about proclaiming the law to such a person. Or do you give him the Gospel first? “You know, Jesus became the sloppiest, craziest drunk ever, and he took out more minivans than you could shake a stick at. He did that for you.”?

    I don’t know that anything I said could be construed to imply that the Gospel isn’t for homosexuals. But I guess I have a hard time speaking speaking comfort to one who could give a flip. Help me understand?

  6. Anonymous says:

    What I think could be more helpful is instead of the hyperbolic drunk driver/minivan analogy is something less over the top, a choice that people make that isn’t socially stigmatized but has good/bad possibilities. I don’t know what that is right now, but I’m sure its there. Of course we’re not going to disagree about the drunk driver guy. Nor will the lesbian, I think.

    I also might ask what your opinion of homosexuality is – from birth, a choice, an orientation, what? I think that would greatly influence whether the Gospel is for homosexuals.

    In discussing choice this morning with the 7th graders (always a sharp audience), I was reminded of how in spiritual matters (which this is) how we are ones of bound choice. From binding to freedom, how? More rope? I am not advocating the church saying hey, yah, that there is a great activity, eh. Be gay. But I have found in my own attempts at ministry that neither law or gospel seem to have much of an impact – time for a new paradigm? (Three Kinds of Righteousness).

    Mostly I’m thinking out loud, as I said. Glad you have had the conversation.

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