(Below is another brief reflection that I first wrote up for my church’s bulletin.)
Progress. There is an almost insatiable desire within much of Western culture that seeks a never ending form of progression. But what are we supposedly progressing to? How do we determine what is true progress and what is actual regress? Can any kingdom be built upon such a shifting foundation?
The Kingdom of God is not like that, that is, its way forward is rooted in the past, its progression flows forth from restored original intention. In Matthew 19 we see how Jesus views progress. As the Pharisees are asking Jesus about his teachings on divorce, they try to test him against the “progress” found in the Torah where Moses permits a man to divorce his wife for multiple reasons. What will Jesus do? Give some progressive way forward? Maintain this allowance?
Masterfully, Jesus shows us what progress within His kingdom looks like. When the Kingdom of God is at hand, the way forward is found in the ideal beginning. Jesus does not appeal to the status quo allowances made in Deuteronomy for sinful humanity, nor does He build off of them. Instead, He goes back to a very good garden, to a man and a woman, to a God who creates difference to bring unity, and Jesus expected His audience to do the same.
Jesus came to redeem humanity, to restore us back to our intended purpose which can never be separated from our original state. Wesley Hill puts it like this in his essay, “How Should Gay Christians Love?”: “In this understanding, Jesus’ bearing of the saving reign of God does not set aside or overturn the original creation. Rather, it begins to heal it, reclaim it from sin’s clutches, and restore it to what God first had in mind.”
True redemption is directly tied to restoration. Any form of human progress that deviates from God’s original good, from the uniting of two different sexes into one mysterious flesh, is actually regression.
But even this redemption is but a taste. For it is not just human sexuality that is moving forward, that is progressing back to its beginnings. There is a final wedding coming. There is a new song that will be sung. There is the marriage supper of the Lamb to attend. A new creation is dawning, and wonderfully, the new shall be the long awaited fulfillment of what was once very good.