The Kingdom and the Supreme Court

Supreme Court Gay Marriage

Many have asked my thoughts on the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. I hesitated to answer in the midst of much anger, animosity, vitriol and confusion that was seen in abundance on social media. In fact, I took a three day break from most social media. I preferred to take time to seek a quiet and contemplative approach to a a very emotional issue.

I’m going to share my thoughts. I’m not claiming to be correct. I am sure that some may find my viewpoint insensitive, hateful or, even, unbiblical. These are thoughts I’ve gathered from a nearly thirty year history as a Christ follower and nearly thirty six year history as a conservative (yes, I was a conservative most of my years living a gay life).

I remember the formation and growth of The Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell in 1979.  Before that time, most churches stayed out of the political realm for the most part. This movement gained significant steam and sought to “take back” Washington DC, the states and cities for the cause of Christ. Elections were won and lost by the backing or lack of backing by organizations like The Moral Majority. This season changed the landscape of Christianity in a significant way.

I came out of the closet to myself and quite a few of my friends in 1980. I was a fiscal conservative and didn’t much care what the government thought about people’s sexuality. I didn’t feel the government should have too strong in saying what two consenting adults did the bedroom. Many of my other gay friends were Republicans at the time. We understood conservative fiscal policies to be good for the prosperity of our nation, which would flow down to every man and woman. But as the Moral Majority gained steam, more and more gay men and women began to leave the conservative flock. The prevailing view was that the Church and conservatism was a direct threat to the gay man and gay woman. I remained steadfast in my conservatism because the prosperity of the USA was more important to me than laws dealing with my sexuality.

In 1986 I met Christ in a profound way and began a journey that led me to step away from my former life as a gay man and to pursue a life following Christ that, I believed, was in keeping with a biblical Christian ethic. I still believe that to be true today. Not too long after, I met a woman who had lived as a lesbian in her past and our friendship turned to love and we’ve been married for 27 years and have four incredible adult children. I also remained a steadfast conservative.

My conservatism was marked by the social issues of our nation. I truly felt that it was our civic duty to ensure voting for candidates that aligned with my conservative social stands. Since that time I have voted for and advocated for those principles in government.

The decision on June 26, 2015 has, for me, brought about a realization that the last 35 years of fighting social issues in order to transform our society has not worked. Our society has not become more moral and the battles most conservative Christians have fought for have been lost. I no longer believe that the war on social issues is effective in bringing about any lasting change. In fact, it has probably caused more harm than good. We’ve (conservative Christians) become more known for what we stand against than for what we hold dearest to our hearts. We need to take this opportunity and allow it to transform our hearts and minds.

I’ve been reading the Gospels a lot lately. I’ve been asking the Holy Spirit to help me see the life of Christ in a fresh new way. I’ve heard many say that Jesus was a radical. And to that I mostly agree. He did shake up things. He did rattle those in the religious institution of that day. But He didn’t allow others to bring him into the current political and social debates. In fact, he rarely answered most of their questions.  He was radical in the way he loved, served and cared for those around him. He met them where they were at, met their needs and instructed them with tenderness and affection. He preached the good news and instructed his followers to do the same. Those that followed Jesus turned the known world upside down. They didn’t do it by taking control of governments, they did it by sharing Christ with any who would hear. They cared for widows and orphans. They healed the sick and cared for the dying. The lived in regular community, eating together and sharing the learning journey together.

I believe we need a grass-roots movement of love and communal care. We need to stop spending our money, time and energy on trying to transform our culture through the political realm and start being Jesus to our neighbor.  We cannot resort to pulling up the drawbridge, filling the moat and closing out the world. We have to do the opposite. You know what is really scary? Most of us don’t even know our neighbor. I’m talking the people that live next door to you. You’re actual neighbors.

Jesus says in John 13:35 that “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  Let’s start loving each other, caring for one another and reaching out to the lost and hurting out of the abundance of love we have received from Christ and from our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s get off of our couches and out of our pews and start being about our Father’s business; seeing people transformed by the good news of God’s love for them.

Jesus also said in John 18:36, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”  If his Kingdom isn’t of this world, then neither is ours. We are to bring his invisible Kingdom to this world through our love and by sharing the good news of the Gospel.

About the author

Tom Cole

Tom Cole and his wife, Donna, currently live in Greenville, South Carolina and together direct Pure Heart Ministries International and Hope Grows Farm and Restoration Center. Tom is an avid foodie, a certified cheesemaker, an amateur cured meat maker, a lover of all things social and political, a voracious reader and a lover of growing and making food in a natural way!

7 Comments

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  • I truly believe you are right Tom………loving people no matter what…..sharing the heart of Jesus………praying for them…..I have known you guys for many years and can say this for sure….YOU AND DONNA ARE THE MOST KIND, COMPASSIONATE, LOVING , GIVING, STEADFAST PEOPLE I HAVE EVER KNOWN…….JUST KNOWING YOU GUYS HAS MADE MY LIFE SO MUCH BETTER….SEEING YOUR FACES ON FACEBOOK MAKES ME SMILE….AND YOUR AWESOME KIDS……THANK YOU FOR YOUR FAITHFULNESS AND TRUTH….I LOVE YOU BOTH MUCH…:)

  • Could not agree more. My view is that by becoming political Christians have taken their eyes off the prize. We are spending more energy trying to change the government instead of trying to have Christ change us. We are spreading conflict where we should be sharing love. Countries come and go in the big scheme of things. Governments change, and they rise and fall but His Word will remain. I believe we should expend the Christian effort into spreading it, sharing the Love of God rather than having it legislated. The great commission said nothing about a political agenda.

  • Yes we are to love. A lot of times love is to speak up and say something especially when something is not right. Jesus did this. Parents know sometimes loving our kids is painful and we often have to say no. So let us really learn and be courageous to love especially when it is not easy.

    I ask officials to continue to allow people like myself who have come out of transgender thinking to continue to have the freedom to say our story and not be bullied to silence. the church has to know that while Gay Rights is going forward things are happening to people like myself. WAKE UP CHURCH!

  • Hi Tom, hey I responded to your article via face book post by Bradi Cottle, see what you think.
    Sincerely
    Dan

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