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Friday, March 15, 2013

Application principals on same-sex benefits from a parable

Recently, the debate as to whether same-sex couples should receive the same benefits from an employer as husband and wife marriages has emerged, again. This time it revolved around a school district as the employer in Texas.

I believe it is important I state my personal convictions in order to minimize misunderstandings and speculations. The sanctity of the marriage between a man and a woman was ordained by God since the beginning in the garden of Eden.

The protest by my brothers and sisters of the faith that is in Jesus against the school district decision to extend its regular benefits to same-sex relationships/marriages is misplaced. The claim that to extend such benefits to homosexuals is to condone homosexuality and therefore ought not to be allowed or permitted by the saints in Christ is also misplaced. Christians profess these protests and claims are their own efforts to uphold the commandment and authority of the scriptures. However, this too is misplaced.

the principal involving the generosity of the generous

Jesus taught three principals in the parable in Matthew 20:1-16.


1) Do not begrudge one who gives willingly and generously,
2) Do not overlook what you have have received, and
3) Do not fall into resentment when others receive the same as you have received.

Jesus related a parable in Matthew 20. It is a parable of a vineyard owner who hires laborers at various times during the course of the day. It is a parable about human resentment and envy.

When the owner instructed his manager at the end of the day to pay the laborers, those who worked the longest assumed and expected they would be paid more. They saw the manager pay those who arrived late and labored only a portion of the day; a full day’s wages. It was when he paid those who worked the whole day the same full day’s wages that they were filled with resentment.

the first principal

Whether the employer were a secular one, such as a school district, or a Christian individual, - what is it to those filled with resentment if those employers choose to share (the first principal) equally their employee benefits with all who work in their employ? I anticipate this response: Those laborers were not homosexual sinners, but this is presumptuous and without any basis because nothing is stated in the parable as to their character. Jesus would not support homosexuality, but this response, too, overlooks the fact that Jesus, like our Heavenly Father, never withheld his goodness and blessings from anyone whether it was a sinful woman or Judas who was to betray him.

And, if we were really to press the application of these responses to Jesus we would indict Jesus for supporting slothfulness. Really, Jesus. Who in their right mind would pay a worker a full day’s wages for laboring the last hour of the work day, only? Whether one searches for slothfulness or homosexuality in the parable to justify exclusions to deny any goodwill from an employer, it is a misguided search. The point of the parable, as explained by Jesus, is about the kingdom of heaven and how the vineyard owner (God) is good. It is not about the moral character of the laborers. God bestows his blessings similarly  on those who have walked in the Lord for thirty years, three days or three hours.


Jesus noted the preeminence of marriage in his discussion with the Sadducees. (Mark 12) They pressed Jesus to evoke from him a selective moral judgment in a scenario involving a woman who had been married multiple times. (Interestingly, the moral judgment which the Sadducees tried to evoke from Jesus was because to their own unbelief and efforts to debunk and dismiss the resurrection which is the ultimate judgment on sin.) Jesus, in addition to answering them about their ignorance,


Isn’t this because you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God?
and
You are therefore badly mistaken.

reminded these adversaries of the origin and beginning of that marriage relationship in the garden of Eden as being between a man and a woman.

What Christians are pressing for through their protest is to evoke a moral judgment against same-sex marriages or homosexuals receiving the same benefits as all other employees. However, the truth is resorting to cultural and legislation measures to accomplish a moral moral change objective does not equate to the righteousness of God. Also, it does not reflect the spirit of those who seek to do the will of God. The dependency by disciples of Jesus on employers or government to legislate selective morality as a means of denying or depriving people of benefits is no substitute for, and has no part with the gospel message of the love of God.

the second and third principal

Whether the laborers in the parable were sinful men or otherwise worked eleven or one hour; they were all the vineyard owner’s employees. It was his decision alone and no one else’s as to how much he paid them without being selective or inquiring as to their moral status so as to justify what he would pay each one. Whether the school district’s decision holds up in court is one matter. The other matter is that employees who have received their benefits from the school district lose nothing, except maybe their thankfulness, (the second principal) if homosexuals receive the same benefits. (the third principal)

indictment or vindication

The claims by my fellow saints in Christ that our protest is based on the scriptures has a ring of truth, but the fact that it is misplaced reveals missed opportunities. As much as the scriptures do condemn homosexuality same-sex relationships are an indictment unto themselves and this is overlooked by Christians as much as homosexuals.

Heterosexual and homosexual relationships are showcase display attempts at unity between two people. Either through the difference of heterosexuals or the sameness of homosexuals they are both affected by the mystery of unity. This is true of the witting and unwitting regardless whether or not they know or acknowledge God as the Divine Creator. This unity and oneness of God is prevalent. It is what is desired and delights all human relationships even when the moral makeup of those relationships represents a rejection of God and his will.


Yet, a union with a gender other than one's opposite is like a battery with two positive or two negative terminals. Such a thing cannot be made and still function as a battery even if it is called a battery.


Biologically, a behavioral homosexual can no more be produced by two homosexuals any more than biologically a physiological woman/man can be produced by two women or two men together.

Hence, morality, gay(ness) and faith aside, homosexuality for all its claims of loving and embracing diversity is an indictment unto itself, biologically.

However, there’s no less indictment for the assembly of the saints if we were to turn away a sinner whose attitude, behavior or otherwise a disdain for righteousness is evident. What is equally evident is that God is in the midst of the believers: Would that sinner be convicted in your assembly as the apostle Paul described what happens when a nonbeliever walks into the midst of the assembly of the saints and thereby vindicate the saints in Christ?



If therefore the whole assembly is assembled together and all speak with other languages, and unlearned or unbelieving people come in, won’t they say that you are crazy? 24 But if all prophesy, and someone unbelieving or unlearned comes in, he is reproved by all, and he is judged by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed. So he will fall down on his face and worship God, declaring that God is among you indeed.
2nd Corinthians 14:23-25

Conclusion

The claims by saints in Christ, allegedly on the basis of scripture, against homosexuals being extended the same benefits by a school district employer as to non homosexuals (or non declared homosexuals) is misplaced. Jesus taught three principals in the parable of Matthew 20. They are: 1) Do not begrudge one who gives willingly and generously, 2) Do not overlook what you have received, and 3) Do not fall into resentment when others receive the same as you have received. The resentment of those vineyard laborers to single out the vineyard owner as the target of the their own resentment was misplaced. The problem in their heart was not healed, but only fed by their resentment.

It is disciples who are to go into the world and do the work of proclaiming the love of God and the message of the gospel of Jesus. This does not involve the task of denying nonbelievers benefits to create the appearance of doing the will of God. It is not pressure tactics on employers or other governmental entities on a personal quest for a feel-good or otherwise smug sense of righteousness which is not righteousness.

The gospel message is not proportioned relative to the sin we might happen, or think, we are able to see or to discern in the lives of those to whom we are led by the Holy Spirit. It is a message for sinners without regard as to whether we see or discern their sin of drunkenness, homosexuality or thievery. If we understood and embraced the grace and love of God we would have no problem with this because we are reminded that ALL (that would include the squeaky clean) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23