Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Its gonna be alright--reflections on the Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage
It was about two years ago when I was sitting with a group of ladies I lead Bible Study with on Wednesday morning. Several of our ladies expressed concern about the liberal gains on the issue of gay marriage through the legal system. Fueled by the anxiety from their favorite news channel and political activists doing direct mail campaigns, the concern showed on their faces and could be heard in the elevated pitch of their voices.
My response was something like this, "Like it or not, this issue is not going to go away. As a matter of fact, it will not be long before homosexuals can marry in all 50 states. We as a church need to spend less time dreading the inevitable, and more time figuring out how we will respond to the world we live in."
As a Christian who believes that the Bible is my authority for faith and life, I believe that homosexual behavior is sin. There are times, when I am in a place of deep compassion for my LGBT friends and acquaintances that I struggle to understand why God's Word teaches so clearly on this matter. Once in a while I wish Scripture said something different because I think it would make things a lot easier. But God is God. I owe my allegiance to Him. I trust him, and I trust the Scripture as his authoritative Word. It is not my place to judge homosexual persons (or yours), to treat their sin as any more "dirty" and evil than any other sin, or to pretend like my struggles are any less profound. As both a believer and a church leader, though, it is my job to stand where Scripture stands on morality, and no amount of hermeneutical-hoop jumping can convince me that the Bible says anything other than behavior in the LGBT spectrum is contrary to faithful Biblical teaching.
The truth is, there are a lot of behaviors that are legal that are contrary to Biblical teaching. You can get drunk without going to jail. You can charge usurious interest rates, and be within the law. A person can solicit a prostitute in a legal brothel in Nevada. People shack up, commit adultery, gossip and cuss out folks, others let the hungry starve, and still others covet their neighbors oxen and asses. Just because something is legal, my friend Randy Rasmussen reminded me a few weeks ago, doesn't mean that it is right.
Just because we as believers cannot dictate ethics to our society through the legal system does not mean that we are at a disadvantage as a church, or that the rapture must be coming in the very near future, or even that we should be angry, concerned, or fighting for our rights more vigorously. There is no need to be anxious. God is on the throne. He is still our God. We now have an even clearer understanding of a truth we may have forgot. The United States is not God's chosen nation. We are not a theocracy. We don't obey the laws to worship the state. We are subject to civil governments in order to be good witnesses and so that we can live at peace with others.
Furthermore, while the state has "ordained" marriages that I do not recognize as biblical, it has done a great service to the cause of justice by allowing persons in same-sex relationships the same civil rights as persons who have covenanted together in more traditional marriage. Just because a person does not approve of same-sex marriage as a sacramental act of the church does not mean that that same person cannot celebrate the fact that same-sex couples can now have the property rights, taxation rights, and rights relating to health care as those who are in marriage covenants that conform to the biblical standards.
God designed the church from the beginning to be a counter-cultural movement. To have a set of standards and values for those that covenanted with them that was contrary to the world around them. We have an opportunity as God's people to stand apart. To shine like light in the darkness. To engage persons who live in all sorts of different ways that leave them in bondage to sin, and share with them a different way--namely the way of Jesus. We don't have to scream or fight for our rights. We can simply stand apart as God's holy people. This is something that we have always been called to do.