Friday, June 03, 2011

Church Vs. School


U.S. Federal Court of Appeals in Manhattan
In yesterday's New York Times, yet another news item appeared which demonstrates the true depth of ignorance of government bureaucrats and liberal judges alike regarding the exact nature of the Church.

Tempting as it may be to associate "the Church" with a specific physical location, the Bible teaches (and true Christians have held throughout the centuries) that the Church has nothing at all to do with a building, a spot on the map, or even the concept of a gathering place.

Rather, the Church is people — the Bride of Christ — specifically, people who have the Spirit of God dwelling within them, motivating them to gather together into local assemblies to facilitate the practice of all the scriptural "one-anothers" such as prayer, worship and praise, teaching, and the exercise of all sorts of spiritual gifts. While such things necessarily happen in a place, the place itself doesn't really matter. Personally, I have "done church" with dozens of other like-minded believers in places as diverse as gothic stone centuries-old cathedrals in Great Britain, and in the bowels of the L.A. county jail facility (the latter constituting, coincidentally, an even more meaningful time of worship than the former). The place really doesn't matter all that much. And do we change the nature of the place when we meet there? Hogwash.

In light of this, a Manhattan federal appeals court's pronouncement that "New York City may again block religious groups from using school facilities outside of regular school hours for 'religious worship services,'" on the basis that "When worship services are performed in a place, the nature of the site changes. The site is no longer simply a room in a school being used temporarily for some activity" shows how misinformed our government's understanding of what happens when Christians get together truly is. Church does not "change the nature of the site." Church changes the nature of the people who gather together. The dynamic of the people who become one in their submission to the Lordship of Christ is what "church" is all about.

So, what the judges are really saying is, "Christians cannot use public facilities to do things Christians want to do," even if their access to those facilities is on the same paying basis (which, by the way, is very good for cash-strapped school systems) as any other group of people, such as atheists, Wiccans, political clubs, gays and lesbians, bridge clubs, or whoever. Because the people who desire to use the building are believers in God, they are somehow to be singled out (i.e., discriminated against).

Liberal judges are constantly seeking ways to "rein in" the church. Here in Washington state, where large churches are unusual, they create building ordinances specifically designed to discourage the construction and use of facilities to accommodate larger church gatherings. In California, where larger churches are more common, they do the opposite, seeking to interpret zoning laws to prevent Christians from meeting together in small groups in each others' homes, saying things like, "Your house is not zoned to be a church."

When Christians seek to create legal associations and organizations designed to do specific good tasks (like feeding starving people), they then seek to interfere with the necessary and successful operation of those organizations by trying to create rules that say things like, "Hey, you cannot discriminate in hiring practices on the basis of religion — you have to hire unbelievers" (which, obviously, would defeat the entire point of believers banding together to create an organization to achieve a specific worthy goal).

My question is, if the Church is so irrelevant, as they claim, why not just leave it alone? Why try to rein it in all the time? Why be so threatened by it? If they're willing to pay the same price as an atheists' club to rent a school facility to use during weekend hours when it is simply lying dormant, and clean it up when they are done as well as the next person, where's the harm in that, exactly?

1 comment:

Dave said...

Hey Larry, I will definitely agree with you on this. I see nothing wrong with allowing any group to use public facilities during their off hours, in fact I would think that to not allow a specific group to use these facilities would be discrimination and probably against the law. So just because the local or state may pass a law to prohibit something does not mean it would stand up in a federal court.