An opinion piece appeared yesterday in the Washington Post that deserves our attention.
It is penned by David von Drehle: a columnist for The Washington Post, where he writes about national affairs and politics. So he’s out of his lane here, opining about the recent action of more than 100 Roman Catholic churches in Germany extending what Catholics regard as a sacrament of marriage to same sex couples. Drehle acknowledges the action of these priests is in open defiance of Pope Francis who personally signed a Vatican dubium in March expressly forbidding same sex blessing ceremonies.
Drehle picks up on the words of the Curia which states, God “cannot bless sin.”
It is an age-old temptation for popes and their bureaucracies to edge across the line between interpreting God and playing God. The Almighty is so darned aloof, so circumspect — who can blame humans for speaking on God’s behalf?
But here’s what it means to believe in a force of infinite scope and power, a self-defining Creator who makes all things and knows all things: God can do whatever God feels like doing. A God contained in a book, or a system, or an orthodoxy, is but a force harnessed by humans — no God at all. God cannot be harnessed; that’s built into the definition. Humans, even exalted humans in magnificent palaces shaped by the glory of Michelangelo, see through a glass darkly, while God sees face to face.
An implication of this unharnessed truth is that God is free to go in new directions, or in directions that seem new only to us, while being entirely consistent. Here’s God speaking to the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?”
I don’t know if God is doing a new thing and those German priests have gotten the message, or if the Vatican is correct about what God wants. But I’m pretty sure the statement “God cannot [fill in the blank]” is just the sort of thing a powerful group of humans might say before God cuts them down to size. A humbler Christian, the apostle Paul, was more cautious when he observed of God: “How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”
Do you see what’s going on here? This writer appeals to the Bible to make the argument that the Bible cannot be trusted to lead us to Truth about God’s character or will. Specifically, he appeals to the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 11, who – in Romans 1 – clearly condemns the variety of sexual expression being blessed in same sex ceremonies. Either Drehle does not know that or he’s confident that the readers of the Washington Post do not know that and would not bother to investigate.
Yes, God is fully free to be and do whatever God wants to do. But God has revealed both His character and His will in the Word – the Bible – and the Word made flesh, Jesus, who exegetes the Father for us.
And while it is true that we do not yet fully know God, we DO know Him in part. Both through the general revelation and through the specific revelation of the Bible. The general revelation of human creation and procreation reveal a lot about God’s ordering of human life. The specific revelation of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, not only affirms God’s ordering of human life for flourishing through male/female marriage but also affirms marriage as God’s chosen way of having us experience here in part what it will be like to be in union with Christ as part of the Bride of Christ forever in heaven.
Ask yourself: Can God be trusted?
Can God be trust to be who He is?
Consistently over time?
If not, if God is not predictably consistent in character, then the Greeks were right and we live in a universe of chaotic mayhem subject to the arbitrary whims of a God we cannot reasonably know or predict.
Is that what the Bible leads us to believe about God?
Why ask that question of the Bible if the Bible is not the Word of God and if the Bible is the Word of God, why not believe and follow it as such?
And if God cannot be known, how then shall we live? How shall we right from wrong, good from evil, truth from falsehood?
If you begin to engage Drehle’s line of thought, it is easily dismantled. But how many people simply read his piece with nodding heads of agreement?
I’d like to say to Mr. Drehle that God is certainly free to be God but God has, by grace, demonstrated and revealed who He is, His character, His nature, Himself. In the words of Francis Schaeffer, “God is there, and He is not silent.”
To what, to whom is your hope anchored?
Mine is anchored to Jesus. And Jesus exegetes the Father – Jesus makes God known in ways that we can comprehend and apprehend.
So what did Jesus say about marriage and God’s creation of men and women and God’s calling upon those who would lead His church?
Not ours. Not the Catholics nor the Protestants nor the Blacks or the Whites nor the Evangelicals nor the Progressives nor the gays nor the straights. Christ’s Church. His Body. His Bride. His living witness. His, not ours. Not my church and not your church. His Church. Built by Him and for Him.
Returning for a moment to the apostle Paul, whom Drehle’s commends in his piece, let us read from Colossians 2 beginning at verse 6:
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.