Monday, September 13, 2010

Praying with Bloody Hands

Yesterday, Pastor Leithart preached an excellent sermon on Isaiah 1 in which he explored how the prophet condemned Judah for being another Sodom and Gomorrah. Jerusalem is not condemned for sexual sodomy however, not for homosexuality. Rather, Judah is condemned for her oppression of the weak and the vulnerable, for taking bribes and subverting justice and then having the nerve to show up for church on Sunday. The prophet condemns Judah for offering prayer to God with blood on her hands.

Pastor Leithart pointed out that the original Sodomites were also oppressors and sinned against hospitality. Rather than welcoming strangers in their gates (the angels that visited Lot), they wanted to rape them. Thus, the homosexuality and the oppression go hand in hand, so to speak.

The sermon concluded with application to our own nation. In what ways do we have blood on our hands when we offer prayers to God? An obvious example is the blood of the unborn that runs in our streets, and we have exported that evil by funding abortions overseas. And he asked, why would we think that if we are evil and wicked at home (abortion, homosexuality, etc.), we would somehow be saintly abroad? If we cannot defend our own weak and defenseless why would we suddenly grow a conscience when it comes to the weak and defenseless of other nations?

And in fact our military record suggests a pretty mixed bag. Even admitting that we have sometimes done great good does not make all the atrocities go away. Bombing cities filled with women and children, and chalking their deaths up to collateral damage is hardly justice or goodness for the weak. Being a king throughout the Old Testament repeatedly has to do with defending the poor, making sure they have justice, speaking up for those who have no voice, strengthening the arms of the weak.

But in addition to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an invasion in the Philippines, and various other military crimes in South America, we have supported and continue to support regimes around the world that actively persecute and suppress Christianity. Leithart pointed out that some of our greatest allies and those who receive the most support from the US militarily and financially are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel all of which penalize, suppress, and sometimes openly persecute Christians. Do we have blood on our hands? Do we have Christian blood on our hands?

Conservative Christians are frequently good at standing against sexual sodomy, but we frequently stand by and allow or even encourage a number of other forms of violent coercion. In other words, the homosexuality in our culture is a sign of far deeper forms of sodomy in our hearts. Our homosexuality began with raping and pillaging the unborn and the weak at home and abroad.

Leithart pointed out that not all of the Israelites hearing Isaiah's condemnation would have been guilty of war crimes and injustice, but the oracle still stuck. Being part of a people whose leaders have acted like the men of Sodom doesn't give the people a free pass. They are still considered the people of Gomorrah. And so in whatever ways we have contributed to the bloodshed, in whatever ways we can repent of injustice and oppression, in whatever ways we can defend the poor, give voice to those who suffer in silence, and strengthen the hands of the weak, we are called to do so.


Brad Littlejohn said...

Amen! As if we needed another reason to lament the fact that Leithart doesn't have his sermons recorded....

Thanks for posting the summary though!

Andy Madsen said...

Thanks for posting this. I had heard that this was a fantastic sermon. It's nice to have someone give a summary. Thank God for men like Peter Leithart.