Want a Christian Roomie? Just Don't Tell Anyone

A woman posted a note on her church bulletin board and now she’s facing charges from the Fair Housing center of West Michigan (Grand Rapids) (HT: Aquila Report).

According to the Fair Housing Center she can rent only to Christians (thereby practicing a form of discrimination) but she just can’t announce that she’s doing it.

Hello, Alice? Wonderland is calling.

So, all those Craig’s List ads that read “SWF seeks Whatever to share expenses” are also a violation of Fair Housing laws? Are we to take it that Muslims in Dearborn are not allowed to seek only other Muslim roomies?

The person representing the Fair Housing Center says that she was offended by the Christian seeking a roommate and by her Alliance Defense Fund attorney. Perhaps but I say “God bless the Alliance Defense Fund!”

One of the most interesting and disturbing things about this whole story is that it was someone in the congregation who notified the Fair Housing Center about the Christian seeking a roommate. Really? Doesn’t Scripture say:

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24).

So, someone sees a want ad on the church bulletin board and is offended. What’s the first thing the offended person should have done? Did our Lord mean to say, “Take your complaint immediately to the civil authorities”? That is not an obvious reading of this passage.

Doesn’t Scripture also say:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15).

Our Lord continues by teaching us that, if the sinner continues impenitently, we should bring two or three witnesses to the sinner and if that fails we are to take our concern to the visible church. Nowhere in the passage are we taught to take our concerns to the civil authorities. I do not mean to imply that advertising for a Christian roommate is sin but obviously someone was offended by it. The question is what Christians should do when they are offended.

Paul also warns against Christians taking one another to court (or to civil authorities). This is basic Christian teaching. My interest here is not chiefly the matter of civil freedom (although that is a concern; does the constitution of the United States really empower a Fair Housing agency to punish someone for seeking a roommate of the same religion?). My concern here is that what should have been a private matter or perhaps an ecclesiastical matter between Christians became a civil matter.

The spirit of the age has been one of radical egalitarianism for most of the last two centuries. The spirit of the age seeks to level all outcomes. We understand the spirit of the age but are Christians subject to the spirit of the age or to another Spirit and what does the Spirit say to Christians?

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