Freedom. It is one of the most treasured things on this planet. It is also one of the most endangered treasures on this planet as well. Freedom is often endangered by our very exercise of freedom. We use our freedom to do what we want, to say what we want, to enjoy what we want – even when our exercise of freedom puts others at risk. Freedom always carries a price, and that price is the responsible exercise of our freedom. Paul once wrote to the Corinthians reminding them that we are free in Christ, but we should not allow our freedom to be a stumbling block to others. Clearly personal freedom has limits even in a free society.
Part of our problem is that we believe freedom is a right instead of a gift. Freedom is a gift of God. It is part of the awesome expression of His incredible love. Freedom is part of His design for humanity to become the people He has created and redeemed them to be. But when our freedom becomes a license for sin, or a justification for aberrant and destructive behaviors that serve only our desires instead of the perfect will of God – freedom exacts a terrible price – upon us and those under our influence.
Freedom without the responsible exercise of that freedom can become the foundation for tyranny.
On this Independence Day when we celebrate the gift of freedom in this nation, I find there is much that I must grieve. In particular I grieve the decision by the New York legislature to legalize homosexual marriage further erodes the moral fabric of our nation under the guise of guaranteeing personal freedom. I know this will label me in some people’s mind as a homophobe, but that would be inaccurate. I grieve because I believe same-sex marriage is contrary to our Creator’s plan and that cannot be ignored without consequences. Many years ago Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I tremble for my nation when I consider that God is just.” I believe we will continue to see consequences in our land that our nation can ill afford because God calls to judgment not blessing when we ignore His will. The fact that this occurred in a legislature controlled by the Republican Party is a terrible shame upon that party and that state.
Quite often this moral confusion is created by the people of God who choose cultural acceptance over the clear teaching of God’s Word. We as Christians will be held accountable when the Church steps away from being salt and light holding back the darkness. That is why I applaud an Anglican Church in Canada, a nation that has gone even further down the slippery slope of moral confusion. Scott McKnight shared this post yesterday from Ottawa, Canada where a church leaves is building over the same-sex controversy.
It was a historic moment in Ottawa as a subdued crowd of about 300 filed out of St. Alban’s Anglican Church on King Edward Avenue on Sunday, leaving behind a place where some have roots going back to Confederation.
Founded in 1865, the church where Sir John A. Macdonald worshipped has been in the spotlight ever since a showdown over same-sex marriage and other issues led the congregation of St. Alban’s to leave the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, and, after a bitter battle, the building they have called home for 146 years.
“This is kind of historic. We’re in a new era,” said Sheila Lang, 79, as her grandchildren — the seventh generation of her family to attend the church — played in the reception hall of the Ottawa Little Theatre, where the congregation, now called the Church of the Messiah, will meet until it finds a permanent home. Meanwhile, the diocese will establish a new congregation at St. Alban’s, with a relaunch planned for Friday
The move is historic in a broader sense, Ms. Lang added: “This is a societal shift,” in which traditional Christian values are “eroding and we see the church trying to accommodate the eroding values.
“But we are not deviating…. We stand on the Bible and the Word of God.”
Reverend George Sinclair urged the congregation not to dwell on grief over losing St. Alban’s, but instead to embrace the change as an opportunity for renewal.
“We are entering a time of new dreams and new visions,” he said on the stage of the theatre, flanked by reproductions of three stained-glass windows Macdonald’s wife donated to St. Alban’s after his death. “A church that just has the building, but does not have the dreams and visions that come from God, is on its way to dying,” he warned.
The service was lighthearted, with Rev. Sinclair remarking at the beginning, “You’re all looking pretty frisky for 146 years old,” and quipping that everyone would be glad of the air conditioning.
Nevertheless, some members were overcome with emotion. “It’s very sad. It has been my church for 33 years,” said Barbara Allen, 72.
“It is an emotional day,” said Lisa Moore Ede, a member of the church for 17 years. “But overall I’m excited to see where God is going to lead us,” said Ms. Ede, whose nine children also attend the church.
In an interview after the service, Rev. Sinclair said the move was “an issue of conscience, and for us. Conscience trumps buildings.”
The immediate catalyst for the church’s break with the diocese was the latter’s 2007 decision to allow the blessing of same-sex marriages. But Rev. Sinclair added that his church was also responding to a general sense that the Anglican Church of Canada has been drifting away from Jesus’s teachings.
“If you end up thinking you’re smarter and nicer and wiser than the master, in what way are you still his disciple? The Bible is very clear on certain things, as to what is right or wrong,” he said.
A few months after the diocese gave same-sex marriage the green light, his congregation voted almost unanimously to leave the diocese and the national Anglican body, realigning instead with a breakaway organization called the Anglican Network in Canada. In October 2008, St. George’s Anglican Church on Metcalfe Street in Ottawa followed suit. Read more
We are on an increasingly slippery moral slope. For me, it is a matter of great concern and the focus of many a prayer.