So Where Do We Go?

For several months the single most debated issue or topic was that of a referendum on gambling. The Bahamas Government wanted to get the people's opinions on the regulation of webshop gaming and the establishment of a national lottery. This past Monday that referendum took place. However the majority of those who voted said "no" to regulation and the idea of a national lottery. Such an outcome of “no” to both possibilities evoked a response of joy and victory for many Christians. Some persons have even gloated in the power of the church. Therefore, I am led to explore this reaction and restate a position of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Reaction to the Outcome

There is cause for rejoicing when people collectively take a position or stance of righteousness and morality. It says a lot for such persons and by extension the nation that it is righteous minded. It also speaks well for a government that decides to listen to its people and act in accordance with their wishes - though there are times when that is not the best thing to do.

Restating the Church’s Position

On the other hand, it is necessary that we as Adventists always remember that as much as we stand opposed to gambling in all of its forms, as clearly stated in the official position of the church, it is against our practice and beliefs to force our thinking or belief on anybody. As seen in the faces of some Christians following a perceived victory, the impression given was that we have won, and the church needs to be listened to. As for some who voted "yes" and were quite disappointed, the question is, “Does the church have the right to tell me how to live my life?” “Does the church have the right to tell me what to do and what not to do?”

The Church is to Proclaim God’s Will

Yes, the church is mandated by Christ to preach righteousness and uplift the standards of God’s Kingdom but never to coerce or force its position. It is never to decree morality; and here is where some of you may feel that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is being too accommodating. No, the church is not; but it is following the example of Christ. That example speaks to lovingly appealing to people regarding the love of God; doing His will and appealing to one to see the value of accepting the way of God. After all, did not God say, “Choose life”. Nevertheless, He never forced but respected the freedom of choice given to mankind. As such, the church must not go contrary to this practice. While we aggressively preach Christ and the requirements of His law, we must not “push down the throat” of people our position. They reserve the right to accept or reject though we pray that they would accept.

The Work Continues

Given the above, our position ought not to be so much that we have won a victory, but to recognize that the proclamation of the gospel continues; the reaching out to those affected continues, and the ministry to the poor and abused must continue. A vote will not change the thinking and practice of people. Only Christ can change. This is the time to seek God more than before and to reach out to share Christ. This being the Year of the Laity accords us that privilege.

Have a great Lord’s Day!