I discovered the breaking news of the SCOTUS decision today to legalize same-sex marriage as I was driving down the road on our family vacation. I am deeply saddened by this decision primarily because it violates the clear teaching of Scripture regarding marriage. The implications of this ruling reversing how marriage has been defined for centuries are sweeping and sobering for Christians.
Chief Justice Roberts stated himself, “People of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.” How then shall we live? We are to live as we have always been called to live: as salt and light to this dark world.
I want to pass three thoughts on to you as we continue to faithfully live as salt and light. Christians must speak and live with conviction, clarity, and compassion.
First, we must be people of conviction. The only way we can know God’s mind on marriage and human sexuality is found in Scripture. Earthly courts can render no decision that changes the will and law of God. Scripture is our authority and there are no appeals beyond the judgment of God. We find that the Bible has much to say about marriage and I want to briefly summarize that here.
The design of marriage has always been between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24). God designed marriage in such a way that the very union of a man and woman would bring forth the gift of life in children who would in turn multiply and fill the earth. It was God who declared after creating man and woman that this was “very good” before Him. God himself brought Eve to Adam after forming her from out of the side of Adam. They would abandon all other relationships as primary and become one in flesh. This was and is pleasing to God. The Apostle Paul taught that marriage itself was a metaphor for the Church (Ephesians 5:25-32). It is a picture of Christ’s selfless and sacrificial love for His Church. The experience of unconditional love and satisfying relationships must be demonstrated in our homes because we believe the gospel. The family unit is the most foundational shaping of our worldview and understanding of God’s love. We are convinced of these truths and therefore our conviction is that to change the very definition of marriage to anything outside of these truths undermines the design of God and contributes to our sinfulness and brokenness in fundamental ways.
Second, we must be people of clarity. Clarity comes from conviction. The need of the day is for Christian men and women who clearly articulate their faith in both word and deed. It is not enough to be against same-sex marriage. It is not enough to say we are for traditional marriage. Conviction gives courage and we need courage to humbly live out healthy, Christ-honoring marriages as followers of Christ. We must honor and pray for those who have been placed over us in government and leadership. However, we must always obey God rather than man if we are ever asked to violate our conscience. Let me be clear, I will not marry same sex couples as a Christian pastor. This does not mean that I do not love those who genuinely believe that they are in meaningful relationships, it simply means I cannot violate the convictions that I have a minister of the gospel. Christians who do not hold fast to the teachings of Christ are going to be quickly marginalized in our nation. Let us be courageous. Let us be clear about what we believe and why we believe it. Let us live to demonstrate what we are for in Christ Jesus.
Third, we must be people of compassion. We must always speak the Truth in love. God loves people who are in same-sex relationships. God loves all kinds of sinners. As Christians we do struggle with our sin nature but we do not find our identity in our sin. We find our identity in Christ who redeems, forgives, restores, and give us hope over our sin. There is more to men and women than their sexual orientation. They have souls and hearts for which Christ has died. Many of them have stories of shame, guilt, and deep pain in their hearts. The only way we can truly be compassionate towards them is by learning to see them as Christ sees them. They are sheep without a Shepherd. Let us feel their hurt and point them to the love and acceptance of Christ. They must know what we believe and they must see us clearly and humbly express those beliefs in ways that they know we love them. To love others is not to condone their behavior anymore than we condone the behavior of heterosexuals when we love them.
This is precisely where the church must stop and really look at our own hearts before Christ. Christians who do not take seriously their own brokenness and sin have little credibility in speaking about the sacredness of marriage. What about our sin? What about our divorce rates? What about the lack of leadership from Christian husbands and fathers? What about Christians who profess to know Christ but exhibit little fruit in their own lives of actually living for Him? What about petty church splits and infighting as lost people pass us by with great wonder about why we cannot get it together?
There was another verdict rendered today in the decision of the SCOTUS outside of the obvious one. I am thinking here of the spiritual verdict for where we are as a nation. Lawmakers are a reflection of the people they represent so it is not enough to decry the left-wing justice system or a liberal political party or complacent conservative establishment. This decision, though accelerated at a rapid pace in recent years, did not take place overnight. This is a formal announcement of where we have been for some time as a country. We have turned the American dream into an aspiration that each person can achieve and deserves their own happiness in freedom from all things spiritual.
As I drove down the highway this afternoon I was reminded why my time with my family and children is critical. They will need all the love and direction they can get as they take up the mantle of being salt and light in their generation.
The church cannot vacate our role for such a time as this. May the Lord open the eyes of our hearts! Just as New Testament Christians radically changed their world for the gospel against the tyranny of Rome, we too have the same power in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must wake up from our slumber and return to our first love. The darkness of our world cannot diminish the glow of the gospel. The darkness only accentuates the light when we let it shine.
Lord, let us be people of conviction, clarity, and compassion. Our culture will be persuaded by nothing less.
© 2015, Phillip L. Dunn