Christ and Caesar

Who Speaks for God?

For anyone reading the newspapers over the past week, the contrast was striking—a modern version of Christ versus Caesar.

On one hand, the newspapers tell us Pope John Paul II came out with a strong statement against gay rights. He was responding to the European parliament, an advisory body for the 12-country European Union, which recently passed a resolution calling for the legalization of homosexual marriage and homosexual adoption.

In an unusual public attack, the Pope blasted the resolution, urging European countries to reject it. The parliament, he said, is asking us to legitimize “a moral disorder.” Government approval of homosexual marriage and adoption, the Pope concluded, would confer “an institutional value on deviant behavior.”

Those are strong words—and they appeared in sharp contrast to the words of another world leader. Ironically, just days earlier President Clinton had likewise made a statement on gay rights. But his approach was very different.

In a letter to a coalition of gay rights groups, the president expressed his support for their agenda. He promised to fight against ballot initiatives that have been proposed or planned in several states—bills that would curb special rights for homosexuals and that would reassert the moral primacy of heterosexual marriage.

Gay activists are ecstatic over the president’s endorsement. As one gay leader put it, “Lesbians and gay men are fighting a holy war.”

And that just about sums it up. There is a war going on, and it does have religious dimension.

What we have seen played out in the headlines was a confrontation between two contrary religions, two worldviews. On one side was the spiritual leader of the largest religious institution in the world. And on the other, the political leader of the most powerful nation in the world.

The Pope stood for a view that human nature is fallen, that our desires are often evil, and that we must look to divine revelation to tell us which of our conflicting desires should be expressed and which should be restrained. In this view, institutional approval should be limited to those moral choices that are sanctioned by God’s word and in line with the moral order He has created.

The president, on the other hand, stood for a view that human nature is essentially good, and that happiness lies in fulfilling our desires—whatever they may be. When it comes to sexuality, in this view, there is absolute equality between all desires, all lifestyles. As the president put it, gay rights are about “the essential right to equality.”

We will never come to grips with the gay rights movement until we understand the deep chasm that divides these two ways of thinking. As Christians we should be ready to help and support those who struggle with homosexual temptations. But we should stand absolutely opposed to any institutionalization of the gay worldview, which is completely contrary to biblical teachings on human nature—and which, if adopted, could undermine the family.

The real question is not just whether gay rights ordinances will be passed in this city or that state—but which worldview will prevail in our hearts and in our society.


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