It's no secret that many Christians are discouraged and saddened by the recent Supreme Court rulings on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, as they appear to open the door quite wide for same-sex marriage to eventually—and easily—become the law of the land. A related question of religious freedom has now come into play. When Christians who continue to affirm and espouse the biblical teaching of marriage as a committed, exclusive relationship between one man and one woman are viewed legally as discriminatory and hateful, the Church will suffer consequences. Suffice it to say, it has not been a good week in the public square for Christianity.
Or has it?
My daily Bible reading in the last few days has taken me through the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. Permit me a little bit of reader-response criticism on his story and how it aligns with our own. If there was ever a person who loved God and the things of God but was stuck in the midst of a culture which didn't accept his values, Joseph was the guy. His problems in Egypt started with sex: His stance for sexual purity as an expression of his religious belief landed him in jail, totally marginalized and unable to affect any positive change for God. Because of his faith, his culture shut him up.
But we all know the totally unexpected things God did in response:
God worked through Joseph to interpret the dreams of the cupbearer, the baker, and ultimately Pharaoh. God brought Joseph to a position of power which enabled him to save many lives and do great good. God ultimately arranged circumstances so Joseph could be reunited with his brothers, who had betrayed him. In short, God worked as he willed in Joseph, and the Egyptian culture which had shut Joseph up could not stop God from doing his work.
The Church, in light of the recent Supreme Court rulings, must remember our place. We serve the living God, who is not surprised or caught off guard by any events of this last week. He will work as he wills to build his Church. Let us be like Joseph and remain faithful, accepting persecution when it comes but rising to the occasion when God gives us a chance to bless others in his name.