A Pastoral Perspective on the Supreme Court Ruling
Plenty of articles have been written regarding the Supreme Court expansion on the definition of marriage. You may have grown weary of all of this commentary, but here are my thoughts concerning this seismic event in our culture. My thoughts are specifically directed toward those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.
This is Nothing New
Although I am disappointed and concerned about this ruling, it shouldn’t surprise us. We shouldn’t expect non-followers to follow or agree with Christ and His Word. Getting angry at people who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus and who then live contrary to scripture is pointless and not Christ-like. It would be similar to getting mad at a blind person for not appreciating a beautiful sunset. They are not the enemy nor should they be the focus of our angst.
I do, however, have a different reaction to believers who are cheering on the moral acceptance of homosexuality. I am disappointed in Christian friends who adopt the gay flag on Facebook or go as far as joining in on the bigotry chants toward those of us who still believe in moral absolutes and biblical authority. Shame on them. I am even more disgusted with pastors and churches who have come to believe that God has now changed His mind regarding biblical morality. They are the ones whom Jesus calls out in Revelation 2:20 as being “tolerant” of Jezebel type teaching that “misleads others into sexual immorality.” Double shame on them
An old warning comes from Jude 4 for believers to be on the lookout for “godless men who change the grace of God into a license for immorality.” Again, this is nothing new.
It’s Been Worse
The sexual norms within the Roman Empire in the first century were much worse than it is today. It was very normal for men to have sex with their wives for procreational purposes and then to have sex with other people for recreational purposes. This included sex with other women, prostitutes, slaves, other men, and even young boys. This behavior was considered normal behavior and socially accepted. Although women were less inclined, many women lived these lifestyles too without chastisement.
And to think that this is the century in which the church started, thrived, and then exploded with growth. The church did all of this in the midst of enduring great persecution too. Why should we be different?
The church can survive this Supreme Court ruling. In order to do so, the church needs to be incredibly loving and grace-filled toward those outside a relationship with Jesus while also teaching, expecting, and modeling holiness for believers. Christian marriages should look incredibly different by how they follow God’s Word within their marriage roles and how genuine love plays out towards each other. Christian marriages should be so attractive to others, especially to our own children. When Christian marriages look no different than those outside the faith, we lose credibility in almost insurmountable ways.
Not only has it been worse in the past, but if you study scripture, it will get worse the closer we get to the coming of Jesus. So don’t panic, freak out, or become depressed.
God is Still on the Throne
As crazy at it feels sometimes, God is still sovereign and has everything under control. As believers, our responsibility is to remain committed to Scripture. The Bible not only affirms, but Jesus defines marriage between one man and one woman in Matthew 19:4-6. Additionally, Romans 1:21–28 defines homosexuality as a sinful lifestyle that rejects God’s design from creation. Although some Christians, pastors, and entire denominations have caved on this point, we must remain true to God’s Word regardless of the culture shouting mean things at us.
Continue to pray for spiritual awakening
Two of the greatest revivals in Judah’s history came after two of the most wicked times in their history. Both kings Hezekiah and Josiah saw God bring national revival on the heels of national immorality. (See 2 Chronicles 29–31 and 34–35.)
But revival must first start in the church. Stop shouting at society and begin praying for revival to begin in the church. Before Jesus revealed the coming judgment on the world in the book of Revelation, He brought condemnation to His church. That’s where believers should start.
So, lift up our eyes and focus on the opportunity we have in front of us to be more like the early church than never before in our lifetimes. Believe it or not, the fields are ripe for a harvest!
(For a recent message prior to the Supreme Court ruling from Revelation 2.)
Excellent comments and perspectives.
Another thing to consider is that America has, over time, cheapened the concept of “Holy Matrimony” ….or marriage, especially after states started instituting ‘no-fault divorce’. And when the divorce rate of Christians is not that different as compared to non-Christians….then just what is it that is being defended by opposing ‘same sex marriage (SSM) yet not having marriages that are honoring to God. Both Same Sex Marriage and rampant divorce and serial re-marriage cheapen God’s concept of marriage.
Perhaps the best reaction to the recent Supreme Court ruling would be to abandon the civil marriage routine (not get a marriage license) and do a Contract/Covenant marriage. Create a marriage contract that ignores the regular marriage license routine (since the state is so often willing to help one side break out of the marriage through ‘no-fault’) – and the contract marriage would preclude any no-fault divorce, but divorce is only possible if one partner is unfaithful or abandons the marriage….but the disposition of marital assets and possible child custody arrangements would be more favorable to the partner that didn’t violate the terms of the marriage contract.
To put thing in perspective – gays are reportedly less than 2% of the population, therefore the possible number of SSMs would also be extremely small. The number of divorces among heterosexual couples is many many times greater. Both are against Biblical precepts.
Thanks Mike for sharing. There is some good conversations today talking about getting the government out of marriages completely. Don’t think that will ever happen. Once the govt gets their foot in the door, they hardly ever leave!
There is also new data that shows that the divorce rate for Christians is not 50% as stated for years. Check out this article for details: http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2014/June/Church-Divorce-Rate-Way-Lower-than-Anyone-Thought/Is much lower.
Thanks again for sharing your comments!
Great words brother, we miss you guys a terribly! I have a few questions.
I am struggling with how to approach this issue. Politically speaking, as a independent libertarian, I interpret the SCOTUS ruling as “correct” and in line with the application of rulings regarding other freedoms (many of my own freedoms that I take very seriously). Conversely, as a believer in Jesus Christ and trusting in His Word, I disagree with the premise of homosexuality and the joining of people in a homosexual relationship. I believe that behavior is sin.
My struggle comes in applying truth in love. How do I love people who choose to make the choice to partake in homosexual sin without condoning their behavior? I “lose the audience”, so to speak, when I tell them I don’t agree. I don’t hate them…I’m not a bigot, I love them…they are my friends and family, in some cases. I want these people in my life…Jesus calls us to live life with sinners, to show them the love of Christ. We are called to love God first, our neighbors second…there are no greater commandments. I’m just really confused how I apply that without pushing people away from God.
Secondly, I feel like we, as Christians collectively, have picked homosexuality as our hill to die on, our greatest battle. The bible is clear, no sin is greater than another, it all leads to death. It almost feels like the fight against homosexuality is becoming a man-made battle. At its core, its sin and we are to speak out against it, I’m not disputing that one bit. My concern comes, what damage are we doing to our witness if no one listens to us because our message has become so full of hate? And we are speaking this message to people who don’t know the Word…they don’t have the ability to understand it because the Holy Spirit is not with them to interpret it. They think we are foolish. I guess my question is, how do I steer them to God if they don’t want to hear a word from my mouth because they’ve heard so much hate from other Christians?
Thanks for letting me vent and dump my questions on you.
Love you brother.
Great hearing from you! Miss you to bro! Great questions and tough ones to deal with. Remember this, Jesus is the ultimate example of one who spoke with truth and grace. Even so, people were still offended by what he said sometimes and walked away. Obviously, the religious leaders were so offended that they killed him. The tension with speaking both truth and grace is real and difficult. One thing to remember, if we share what Jesus or the Bible says and someone gets angry at the message/truth spoken, then their problem is with God, not us. However, too many Christians share truth with no grace and come across as complete jerks. If people are upset or offended as a result, the messenger is to blame. Trying to argue or debate one to join your viewpoint is rarely effective. When we genuinely listen to their viewpoint and come across humble and genuine, most of the time they will listen and respect you, regardless if they completely disagree.
Homosexuality is the issue of the day just as abortion was in other times. Asking God for the words to say and the tone to say things is key. If we venture in without prayer and humility, we can come across as loving our position more than loving them. This issue isn’t our greatest battle. The gospel is the main thing. Always has been. Yes, all sin leads to death but I disagree that “no sin is greater than another.” Some sin God hates more than others. Certain sins are abominable over other sins. God’s word is stronger against idolatry and sexual immorality than other sins. (See I Thessalonians 4:3-6 & Revelation 2:21-23)
Your last question is real tough because other Christians & graceless churches make it REAL difficult for us who genuinely love people but disagree with their life choices. If my friends know where I stand on a controversial issue, I only answer questions if they ask. I try to focus on other aspects of their life, job, family, health, etc that I can express genuine concern about WHO they are and not just about WHAT they do that I find offensive. But as I said in my article, I have way less patience with believers who are blatantly against what God’s Word said.
Hope this helps. Love you dude!
Wow. This perfectly describes my thoughts, and calms many of my questions as to why so many of my former classmates from a small Christian school are so supportive of that ‘lifestyle’. Thank you for helping to bring clarity.
Glad it was helpful. Thank you for sharing your comments!
You may not remember me, but we went to the same small Christian school. Thanks for keeping the faith and helping bring perspective.
Thanks Todd! Small world isn’t it? I appreciate the encouraging words! You never know how people will respond to an article that tackles a controversial subject. I am pleased it seems to be reaching far and wide.
You stated, “we must remain true to God’s Word regardless of the culture shouting mean things at us.”
With all due respect, if you are going to preach and live the Word of God, then do not stop with homosexuality. The Bible is filled with so many verses of other topics. And you firmly believe we should all “be more like the early church than never before in our lifetimes.”
For example, the Bible contains many verses related to slavery. Slavery was commonplace during the early church. So based on your statements, we should all take up slaves? You are preaching to all who listen, that we should be true to God’s word and live like the early church. So this is what you also firmly believe as well, correct?
As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.
And lets see what the Bible shows of Jesus and slavery:
Luke, Chapter 7, verse 2
Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.
What do you say of the slavery that still exists in the world? The Bible confirms slavery as a valid part of life. And according to you, we should look to the Bible and be true to “God’s Word”, and live like the early church.
So do tell, will you retract your statements and replace your mimicking thoughts with a humane, rational thinking that God may have granted you, or will you confirm your Biblical adherence and promote slavery as well, or will you be a hypocrite who feels he has the authority to judge even God’s Word, and deem which is applicable and which is not?
I am not retracting my statement nor am I jumping to another topic or discussion. My article was solely discussing the Supreme Court decision. I also refuse to argue with angry people. This is a rant free post.
I enjoyed reading this. If your answer to my questions was in the posted sermon, please advise, as I did not view the sermon.
I wonder what is the wise response to what is happening. The Progressive Movement is something that has fascinated me for my entire lifetime, as I was born when the modern Progressives stepped into the mainstream (late 1960s). One thing that I understand about this issue (cultural shift), as well as the larger platform, is that the very heart of the modern Progressives is ultimately a spiritual issue. They have never, ever shifted away from moving to remove Western Civilization from our society, which ultimately means to scrub the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of our society. That means Christianity.
The rise of the LGBT??? movement from the 60s has served as the “shock troops” in this political endeavor. Their job is to move or destroy the cultural taboos and boundaries that define a civil society. They push the boundaries and then dare us to be sufficiently tolerant of that push. They push, we tolerate, they push, we tolerate, they push, we tolerate…
Now, onto the spiritual question. I understand that loving our neighbor and praying for their salvation is an unambiguous New Testament commandment. On this issue, I offer no modification in the prevailing understanding. However, what happens when political opposition to this cultural shift is perceived by LGBT??? people as untrammeled hatred? How do we love them, and approach them with humility with the hope of reciprocated understanding, when they view opposing civic values as hatred?
I can’t imagine the answer is for Christians to disengage their society in the minuscule and increasingly preposterous idea that militant Progressives have any inclination to lay aside their victories to embrace those that oppose them.
There seems to be the choice to embrace one of two bad ideas: pray and oppose, knowing that the political opposition destroys any good faith efforts of reaching out in love, or continue to tolerate, accept, and pray, knowing that the political apparatus will soon thereafter criminalize any social opposition to the Progressive agenda. (ie, 20% of all US voters believe that clergy should be FORCED to preside homosexual marriages, and the number doubles among those under 30.)
Perhaps the answer is that this is Romans 1 in action and it will continue until God issues revival, if at all. Until then, how do you try to be “humble and genuine,” in an effort to garner reciprocation, when anything short of wholesale celebration is interpreted as hatred?
Much thanks in advance. I use Romans 1 as the explanation for what is already happening, but I don’t have an identifiable chart for how to interact within that context, other than not to celebrate, condone, or approve of the activity that is almost word for word out of Romans 1.
I agree that the homosexual activist movement has been around for quite a while. They have even put their agenda in book form with clearly stated goals for all to see. “.. .by conversion [toward public acceptance of homosexuality] we mean… conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media.” “…our effect is achieved without reference to facts, logic, or proof.” – (Kirk & Madsen, After the Ball, 1989, page 153.) I also believe that achieving homosexual marriage and/or acceptance in our society is not their end goal – the destruction of Christian influence and the church itself is.
To answer your first question, given the emotional hostility towards anyone who disagrees with their lifestyle or rejects the Supreme Court ruling on religious grounds, I don’t believe there is much hope to have a reasonable “debate” with many on that side of this issue. I too, believe that much of this is contained in the Romans 1 passage. Especially Romans 1: 28 that says, “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.”
I recently answered someone in my church who also asked similar questions as you did. I told him that arguing and matching their emotions is rarely profitable. I believe that, as a citizen, we should use every legal avenue as possible to stem the tide of this cultural destruction. Sadly, the media and education system has indoctrinated several generations into believing all of this is an equality issue and not a morality issue. In fact, many of the millennial generation actually believe apposing the gay agenda is morally wrong. It’s just as Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
For me, I focus on what I can influence: family and friends around me. I also focus on scripture that reminds me that everything will get worse before the Lord comes back. We are here. Thankfully, heaven is our eternal hope and will begin the “life that is truly life.” As Hebrews 11:9 describes Abraham, so should it describe us: “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country.”