After hearing of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday, I was faced with a moral dilemma inside my soul. What do I preach on in light of the current events? Do I remain silent and say nothing? Or do I comment on the present situation?
The recent decision by the United States Supreme Court demands a different message. I hope these words are relevant, Biblical, and in good taste because history was made last week.
I share these words, fully realizing that in our congregation there are those that have gay friends and gay family members. I do, as well. My efforts are not to repel you or cause you to rethink your church membership. If anything, I want you to realize that it is possible to love a person and not agree with their lifestyle, or philosophy, for that matter.
As with any issue, it is important to think the way that God thinks on it. Romans 12:2 tells us: “Do not to be conformed to this present world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” God’s word and God’s Holy Spirit are two instruments which He uses to renew our minds into thinking His way on various subjects. John Calvin said: “It matters not what you say or I say, but what God says.”
Some believe that homosexuals were/are as God designed them and such is their lot in life. Some say: “They were born that way,” as if it were scientific. And yet a gay gene has never been found; it does not exist. On the other hand, behavior does influence wiring of the brain. This has been found with those addicted to pornography. Why would God allow someone to be born with a condition that was specifically against His ethical demands? “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” – Leviticus 18:22
The secular world says that it is impossible for gays to change. You can’t “pray the gay away.” But the apostle Paul notes that some did change to the gospel message. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
Obviously same-sex orientation is mysterious and rare (10%). I think that there are many factors which influence a person identifying as a homosexual: environmental, social, familial, etc. While undergoing mandated reporter training, I heard of a sad situation of a boy who was molested by an uncle. He believed that there was nothing wrong with this behavior. He said the experiences felt good and that he developed a desire to do such things to others. As a result, he developed deviant sexual desires. Former experiences can guide future decisions.
Over the last 20 years, there has been a shift in society’s feelings on the subject of homosexuality. There were sodomy laws in almost every state during the 20th century. Then in 2003 with the Supreme Court case Lawrence vs. Texas, such laws were removed. Now society has said this behavior is acceptable. We have shifted from focus on the behavior to focus on the person.
But God has never changed his mind on the subject of homosexuality. He puts the gay lifestyle in a group of behaviors which He promises to exclude from His kingdom and to judge such individuals with His wrath, just like other forms of sexual sin or taking advantage of others (read Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Consider the following Scripture as it pertains to Biblical sexuality. These verses speak to all forms of sexual behavior outside of one woman and one man committed for life in the covenant of marriage:
Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”.
“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” – Ephesians 5:5
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” – Colossians 3:5-6
Furthermore, the gay lifestyle makes a person vulnerable to specific venereal diseases and infections that he would not normally be exposed to if he were living as God prescribes. This is not to mention the personal guilt, ostracism, and other social and psychological effects of the lifestyle.
Is it loving for me to be silent with this information? No; it may be politically correct for me to be silent! God is calling Christians today to speak the truth in love. We must not conform to the culture’s philosophies, but hold fast to God’s word.
Just because something is now the law of the land does not obligate the church to go against the word of God. We are not to fear our government that has lost its moral compass. Jesus tells us who to fear in Luke 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”
Romans 13 tells us to obey civil authorities. But there are times when civil disobedience is an option. Peter and John’s civil disobedience is found in Acts 4:18 “So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
What happened on June 26 is an example of how there are times in the Christian life where one’s government will go in one direction and the church must go in another. As a minister of the gospel, I cannot conduct a same-sex wedding ceremony. Nor will any of our staff. To do so would oppose God. The present situation presents a test to our loyalty to Jesus! Our allegiance is not to the Supreme Court or to the laws of Pennsylvania when such laws are contrary to God’s specific teaching.
Many churches are making efforts to further protect their religious liberty in light of the Supreme Court’s decision. You may say, “No such protection is needed.” But listen to Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito:
“The decision will also have other important consequences. It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women.”
In other words, what was common understanding and conviction on this issue is seen as hateful and bigoted by those who champion a new ethic and a new level of acceptance to behavior that has been immoral since the creation of man.
The future is unknown. You might take our efforts as bigotry or hate. That’s wrong, unfortunate, and presumptive. It is more to protect us should we be faced with litigation.
Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary writes:
“The threat to religious liberty represented by this decision is clear, present, and inevitable. Assurances to the contrary, the majority in this decision has placed every religious institution in legal jeopardy if that institution intends to uphold its theological convictions limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman. This threat is extended to every religious citizen or congregation that would uphold the convictions held by believers for millennia.”
In March of 2009, our Church Council passed the following statement: “Believing marriage to be the sacred union of one male and one female, under no circumstances, will a same-sex ceremony take place at Central Schwenkfelder Church.”
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas states: “The majority’s inversion of the original meaning of liberty will likely cause collateral damage to other aspects of our constitutional order that protect liberty.”
Not everyone goes to heaven. 1 Corinthians 6 offers both warning and hope; warning to those who practice such things along with other sins will not inherit the kingdom of God. They will not go to heaven; they will suffer for an eternity, separated from God, just as anyone who is not redeemed by the blood of Christ. Redemption brings about a changed lifestyle.
The hope is that through the power of the Holy Spirit and the presentation of the gospel that sinners would be regenerated; turn from their sins and be given the supernatural ability to live a changed life just like everyone who has genuinely come to faith in Christ.
Jesus said in John 8:12: “I am the light of the world.” The church holds a privileged place being used by God as He conducts His affairs in the world. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus called us to be salt and light to preserve and illuminate this dying and dark world. We are to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to a world that desperately needs Him. Jesus likened us to “a city on a hill.”
If we reject this role, we will become like the world and will be good for nothing. We will blend into a world that does not know God. We will become like them instead of being the missionary center that God has called us to be.
You will be tempted to go with the flow & fall into line. People on both sides of the political aisle are calling traditional folks to “come up with the times.” But as John Piper wrote in his recent blog, the court’s decision brought us to a new low in our country. Instead of sin being a choice, we have institutionalized it.
May we never hear those demoralizing words that Jesus spoke to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:15: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm– neither hot nor cold– I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
This morning, consider the words of Franklin Graham as a wake up call.
“The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled today that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. With all due respect to the court, it did not define marriage, and therefore is not entitled to re-define it. I pray God will spare America from His judgment, though, by our actions as a nation, we give Him less and less reason to do so.”