Friday, March 26, 2010

When Faith and the First Amendment Conflict

An interesting storm is brewing in Texas.  And we know what kind of dust and mud can be kicked up down there........

A college in Stephenville (SW of Ft Worth), is planning a performance of the 1998 play, 'Corpus Christi' which portrays Jesus and many of His disciples as gay.  You can read about it by clicking here.  In the play, Jesus and Judas share a passionate kiss and Jesus performs a gay wedding for two of his followers.  Ultimately, Jesus is crucified under a banner that reads, "King of Queers".  Alrighty, then.

Is anyone surprised that this little play might ruffle a few feathers and incite a mob scene or two.  Somebody wire Arizona and get the Earp brothers to Texas in a hurry.  There's gonna be trouble.

In 1999, some Muslim clerics, upset that Christians did not take what they considered a strong enough stand against the play, issued a fatwah (death warrant) on the author.  I remember the tempest at the time.

Meanwhile, back in Texas...... conservative Christians are lining us, crying, "Blasphemy.  Shut that play down," and the college administration is throwing up their hands, claiming, "First Amendment".  It's High Noon.

Nobody wins when something like this happens.  The college comes off looking like rabble rousers and the Christians come off looking like wild eyed extremists.  How very sad.

I am one of those conservative Christians.  'Corpus Christi' is in direct conflict with what the Bible says about Jesus, the Gospel and Biblical morality.  My convictions require me point out the affront.  My heart is broken that Jesus is presented in this light.  My God is mocked and I ache over it.

The letter of the law may very well be on the side of the college.  Christians must allow alternative, even contradictory views to be expressed.  Sometimes those views will sting.  Sometimes they will offend.  But we must take the high ground.

We are outraged when Christians are persecuted in other countries.  We decry the absence of freedom of expression in certain religions and nations.  We must not become what we loathe in others.  We need to occupy the high ground.  The eternity of millions is at stake.

Why in the world would we expect those who don't share our belief system to conform to it?  On the other hand, why would those who demand 'tolerance' of Christians deliberately incite?  That is disrespectful.  But let's face it, there is no greater example of iconoclasm than the American college campus.  There is something about youth, higher education, restlesnness and the first amendment that bring out the rebellion in our young bucks and does.  Has it ever been different?

Dear Christians in Stephenville:
You are justified in your sense of indignation and hurt.  But I urge you to reply by speaking the truth in love.  By all means, confront the issue head on.  Do so, however, with reason, dignity and grace.  Let the force of your argument and the power of the Holy Spirit be your plan of action.  Leave the flailing, video bites and castigating to lesser groups.  Jesus is Lord, even of the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The Truth will win out.  I guarantee it.

Dear Tarleton State University:

You are correct.  You are entitled to host a public performance of 'Corpus Christi'.  But is it wise?  Are you being true to freedom of expression, or hiding behind a technicality to deliberately offend your neighbors?  Sometimes wisdom directs us to subjugate our rights for the sake of community and good will?  Your coice. Exercise your rights or demonstrate discretion?  Tough call.

Dear combatants:

You are in the public eye now.  Choose your words and actions wisely.  We are watching.  You are each, both, in a position to win the argument and lose the war.  You are all in my prayers.