From Philip Yancey's The Jesus I Never Knew. which is just amazing me right now:
The more I get to know Jesus, the more impressed I am with what Ivan Karamazov called 'the miracle of restraint.' The miracles Satan suggested, the signs and wonders the Pharisees demanded, the final proofs I yearn for-these would offer no serious obstacle to an omnipotent God. More amazing is his refusal to perform and overwhelm. God's terrible insistence on human freedon is so absolute that he granted us the power to live as though he did not exist, to spit in his face, to crucify him....
I believe God insists on such restraint because no pyrotechnic displays of omnipotence will achieve the response he desires. Although power can force obedience, only love can summon a response of love, which is the one thing God wants from us and the reson he created us.....
....As I survey the rest of Jesus' life, I see that the pattern of restraint established in the desert [during the Temptation] persisted throughout his life. I never sense Jesus twisting a person's arm. Rather, he stated the consequences of a choice, then threw the decision back to the other party. He answered a wealthy man's question with uncompromising words and then let him walk away. Mark pointedly adds this comment: 'Jesus looked at him and loved him.' Jesus had a realistic view of how the world would respond to him: 'Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.'
....In short, Jesus showed an incredible respect for human freedom."
I can't hear a sermon, read a Christian book, or listen to a Christian song these days without thinking somewhere in the back of my mind: "And where does all this tie in with what I'm sifting through? What does God REALLY think about homosexuality and all the issues tied in with it?"
And I still don't know.
But this passage in particular had me thinking about gay marriage rights.
Would God come down and MANDATE, make into LAW, something that would take away the choice and freedoms that all people should have? After reading that passage above, I'm thinking not. Maybe He disapproves of gay marriage. Or maybe He's shaking His head over the fact that we could still be so cruel as to not grant gay marriage rights. Like I said, I don't know, and I haven't gotten any clear resolution on the subject yet. But the issue here is CHOICE. If you're looking at it from a religious standpoint, a Christian standpoint, God has never taken away our ablity to CHOOSE what we do with our lives. He's honest with us. He shows us what will be good and what will be bad for us. But He never FORCES us.
So why would Christians, who are supposed to represent Him, decide to forcibly take someone's rights away? Isn't that displaying an attitude that's directly oppositional to God's character?
To be honest, this whole idea of God not forcing us to do things is kind of a new one to me. It shouldn't be, but it is. Yancey describes the church he grew up in as being one that very much forced issues, and I can most definitely relate. It's refreshing to be seeing things differently.