Galatians, Adoption, and Unity vs. Division

worldI took Mom to church for the first time in a while. She turned 90 last month and her Alzheimer’s isn’t going to get better, but as long as I’m with her and we take her walker, she’s okay.

The pastor gave a sermon on Galatians, which was the typical sermon on Galatians for the most part (and believe me, I’ve had plenty of experience struggling with that epistle).

He did say a few different things though. The first was that he and his wife adopted three sisters, which I thought was terrific. So many of the opponents of Christianity, particularly those who are “pro-choice” complain that while Christians want to save lives from being aborted in the womb, we don’t care about what happens to kids afterwards. Adoption is one of the ways to care for kids afterwards.

The other thing he said had to do with identity, and yes, he brought up (among other things) gender identity. Of course he also brought up law vs. grace as if non-Jews could ever have been “under the law” in the first place, but I set that aside because I’m way past arguing about it.

But then:

For you are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. –Galatians 3:26-28 (NASB)

I’m sure you are all familiar with this text. Pastor said that while the secular world tends to split people up into as many categories as possible and thus cause ever increasing levels of division between people, Christ seeks to unite all of us by setting aside those labels or categories. Regardless of who you are, if you are of Christ, you are one with everyone else who is of Christ.

He’s right. I know it’s Pride Month, and I know some people reading this will be upset at what I’m saying, but when you create an acronym such as LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, (questioning), intersex, asexual, and agender…plus more), and then distinguish every one of those labels with what is now called hetero-cisgender or “cishet” (that is straight men and women who make up the vast majority of the human race), that’s definitely dividing rather than uniting.

Speaking of the latter:

Heteronormativity is the concept that heterosexuality is the preferred or normal mode of sexual orientation. It assumes the gender binary and that sexual and marital relations are most fitting between people of opposite sex.

It stands to reason that the people and forces involved in creating divisions are pretty much against “Heteronormativity.”

Pastor also talked about being a “child of God.” He said that often people use that phrase to refer to the entire human race because God created everyone, and he said that’s a wrong use of the term. You only belong to Christ under certain circumstances. Read verses 26 and 27 above. He said those are the qualifications for being a child of God.

He pretty much implied that anyone who is a child of God is adopted as Galatians states, forgetting (or sweeping aside) the fact that the Almighty chose Israel to be His special people by covenant at Sinai, and nothing has changed to make that go away. While we non-Jewish Christians may be heirs by adoption, metaphorically speaking, Israel, that is, the Jewish people, are born heirs, even atheist Jews, whether they want to be or not.

So if you’re not an heir, what are you? Galatians says “slaves,” but Pastor suggested calling everyone else orphans. He invoked the original film version of Annie (1982) which I haven’t seen since it was first in theaters. Orphans have no one to take care of them. They’re left to the mercy of the world and must get by on their own (or not get by at all).

The three sisters he and his wife adopted have someone committed to them, a Mom and Dad who will care for them because they are family. Pastor said that once children are adopted, they are issued new birth certificates with the names of the adoptive parents on them. The law, apparently, does not distinguish between a child born to you and a child you’ve adopted.

Applying that to born vs. adopted children of God is a little dicey because Jews still have a larger set of responsibilities to the Almighty than we adopted kids. On the other hand, we are equal in the sense that God has no step-children or second-class children. A boundless love covers all of His own which I suppose is where the “neither Jew nor Greek” part comes in. Just like “neither male nor female” doesn’t mean a man or a woman cease to exist when God takes us in, being Jew or Gentile doesn’t go away either, so differences are still there.

But they don’t have to separate us (although in some respects I suppose they do). They don’t separate to the degree that we become enemies of each other, thus Jews and Gentiles (or men and women for that matter) are still united together in God by His will (in the case of Jews, by covenant while non-Jewish Christians are made sons and daughters, not by covenant, but by grace alone).

I wish I had been in church the Sunday after the Uvalde Texas elementary school shooting.

As I said above, Christians are often blamed (and sometimes rightfully so) for defending the lives of unborn children but then not caring about them at all after they’re born. Stereotypically, Christians are associated with conservatives and/or Republicans, who are associated with Second Amendment rights, who are associated with gun nuts shooting up schools and grocery stores.

The people who Pastor does not consider children of God say they care more about protecting the lives of school children than the people who call themselves children of God. Are they right? It’s more complex than it appears on the surface and I’m not going any farther down that trail, not now anyway.

Those of us who belong to God are supposed to be united with each other (never mind all the different denominations and theological quarrels between them even as the Nicene Creed says we’re supposed to believe in ONE Church). That means regardless of what the world calls us or how it pigeon holes us, we have a responsibility to first love one another and then out of that love and unity, to behave toward the world in a way that illustrates those qualities in us.

So far, the world sees the Church as just another dividing point. In that, maybe they’re right. We are in the world but not of the world. I get why people of the world see us as different and even as enemies.

If humanity has any hope of unity, at least from the viewpoint of faith, it’s through God, not through anything else.

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