Tag Archives: gay marriage

Where Do We Go From Here?

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.”[1]

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.”

[1] http://news.sbts.edu/2015/06/26/mohler-responds-supreme-courts-same-sex-marriage-decision/.

What is Marriage?

The following message is based upon Genesis 2:18-25 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-17 and deals with the subject of marriage, gay marriage and how the church should respond.  It was delievered at the Central Schwenkfelder Church on May 20, 2012

Today marks the beginning of a new sermon series on current events.  It was Karl Barth who said that that a mark of a good preacher is to have a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.  A topic that has come to the forefront of the news, especially over the last two weeks is on the subject of marriage.  All one has to do is look at the latest cover of Newsweek magazine to notice that the question of who should get married; marriage rights, and related issues are in the news.

Normally, I would not venture into these waters so as to avoid appearing to promote a political agenda.  As always, there is a risk of being misunderstood on such things when a minister wants to be relevant on social issues, whether it be gay marriage, abortion, etc.  So is there a Christian response to these recent happenings in the news?  I think so.  The following is my response.  I’d like to first ask…


God designed humankind as male and female, as we read in the first couple of chapters of the book of Genesis.  And when He designed our first parents, they were created in His image with a special ability to cohabitate and procreate.  Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  More specifically, before He brought the woman to the man, he looked upon the man and saw that he had a need.  Genesis 2:18 records: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”  And when he received his mate, perfectly matched for all of his needs, emotional, physical and spiritual, he said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”   This naming action implied a special covenant relationship that is foundational to our understanding of marriage; one man, one woman, helping, caring for and loving each other for the peace and propagation of society.

Then, as if we needed to be given the purpose for this covenant, verse 24 states: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.  The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”  It is not to say that everyone is supposed to experience marriage, but that is the environment in which romantic love flourishes, commitment is established, perseverance is practiced and children are to be born.  There is a synergy involved; a mixture, a bringing together of two complimentary parts to form a perfect union; such was the case with our first parents.  Any other arrangement for romantic love taints the original design that God gave us; whether it is heterosexual immorality, an adulterous affair, homosexuality, polygamy, incest or anything else.  All of these are unnatural.  God’s design of marriage between one man and one woman is the natural choice.    Deviating from God’s design and provision for romantic love invites all sorts of unnecessary pain and heartache.  With this is our backdrop, we must also ask…


For the record, I have gay friends.  I have friends who have gay children and I have friends who have gay siblings. And you do, too.  I think for one, to be reminded that the Scripture is clear that the practice of homosexuality is something of which God does not approve, from such places as Leviticus 18:22: “‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”  Such sin is coupled with other sexual sins that God finds detestable.

In the New Testament, homosexuality is part of a broader issue of sexual immorality that is to be abandoned by the Christian, alongside of adultery and heterosexual promiscuous behavior.  For instance, Ephesians 5 tells us that immorality must not be named among Christians. Paul writes: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”  Or in Colossians 3:5 tells us that we must lay aside these sins. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.”

As I said before, homosexuality is one example of sexual immorality.  It is a sin, just as heterosexual sex outside of marriage is; just as adultery is, just as pedophilia is, etc.  Paul goes on to express in 1 Corinthians 6:9 states that those who practice shall not inherit God’s kingdom.  The English Standard Version reads: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.   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.”

Homosexuality was something practiced widely in the first century Greco-Roman world. Fourteen out of the first fifteen Roman Emperors practiced homosexuality.  For instance, when Nero was emperor, He had taken a boy called Sporus and had him castrated.  He then married him with a full marriage ceremony and took him home in procession to his palace and lived with him.  When Nero was eliminated and Otho came to the throne, one of the first things he did was take possession of Sporus.

I visited Corinth in 2010 and saw the bathhouse where male and female prostitutes would designate themselves with a shaved head and a greased body, advertising their availability to the next client/worshipper. But then notice that he says: “…and such were some of you.”    Paul taught that repentance was possible then; it is today as well.  To say that this isn’t possible is to tell those struggling with same-sex attraction that they might as well give up.  So many want to see their sexuality as their identity.  But should any of us be identified by merely our sexuality?  Isn’t that seeing ourselves as so one dimensional?  I am not defined by my heterosexuality.  Rather, I’m defined by who I am in Christ; and I’ve been blessed to be a male, a husband, a father, a son, a pastor,etc.

In today’s rhetoric on the subject, not many talk about the health risks of the gay lifestyle.  Many want to point out that their gay friends have been together for years of monogamous love.  According to a Madison and McWater study, Homosexuals have an 83% infidelity rate.  Another study by Dr. John Diggs, M.D., stated that monogamy was extremely rare for gay couples. In addition, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said as recently as 2010:

“The data indicate that rates of HIV infection among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are more than 44 times higher than rates among heterosexual men and more than 40 times higher than women. Rates of syphilis, an STD that can facilitate HIV infection and, if left untreated, may lead to sight loss and severe damage to the nervous system, are reported to be more than 46 times higher among gay men and other MSM than among heterosexual men and more than 71 times higher than among women.[1]

Is this a part of God’s plan?  With God’s revealed word, confirmed with the stated risk factors, I think the answer is plain.  Some want to say: “Are not homosexuals born with that predisposition?  Officially, to date, there are no biological factors, contributing to same-sex attraction; possibly environmental factors, but no biological factors are known to date.

So what are we to make of gay marriage? While I believe that one ought to have the opportunity to visit whoever they would like in the hospital; or leave their assets to whom they want.  But to call it marriage is unnatural and runs contrary to God’s design.  To put it as Pastor Kevin DeYoung does: “In our age of hyper-tolerance we try to avoid stigmas, but stigmas can be an expression of common grace.  Who knows how many stupid sinful things I’ve been kept from doing because I knew my peers and my community would deem it shameful.  Our cultural elites may never consider homosexuality shameful, but amendments that define marriage as one man and one woman serve a noble end by defining what is as what ought to be.  We do not help each other in the fight for holiness when we allow for righteousness to look increasingly strange and sin to look increasingly normal.”[2]  Gay marriage is innovative.  By allowing same sex couples to marry, are we not creating a new brand of human relationships?  Should we be creating new forms of human relationships recognized by law?  Is this not heading down a slippery slope?  What about polygamy?  What about incest?  What about bestiality?  As heinous as these are, do they not also deviate from the form which God has given us?


You would have to be asleep to not notice that we are living in a culture that is constantly changing.  Our sense of morality is eroding and there is a loosening of self restraint.  Our changing culture is moving in a different direction.  Never before have traditional views on sexuality been challenged.  Cohabitation is commonplace.  Marriage for life is a rarity.  What is acceptable to one generation and setting is unacceptable to another.  Starting in 2003, with the case of Lawrence vs. Texas, overturning sodomy laws, followed by the Massachusetts Supreme Court making gay marriage legal, there has been a gradual acceptance of the gay lifestyle.  What would have been unheard of 25 years ago; now several states in the United States have laws allowing for gay marriage.  As of 2012, same-sex marriage is recognized in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Washington and the District of Columbia. New Jersey lawmakers recently passed a gay marriage bill, but the bill was vetoed by the governor. In contrast, just two weeks ago, North Carolina became the 30th state in our union to amend their constitution with a definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

What influenced this change in society?  Princeton Sociologist Kwame Appiah suggests: “If you ask the social scientist what has produced this change, they will… give you a historical account that concludes with a sort of perspectival shift.  The increasing presence of “openly gay” people in social life and in the media has changed our habits.  Over the last thirty or so years, instead of thinking about the private activity of gay sex, many Americans started thinking about the public category of gay people.”[3]  The challenge for the Christian is to adapt, rather than conform to a culture that is moving away from Judeo-Christian values.

This is not only an American political issue.  It is something that is challenging the church of Christ in other parts of the world.  Just this week, I met with a missionary who serves street people in a major European city.  Among them are the transvestites who live sexually confused lives.  He told me that such men: “…are not happy.  They feel trapped and oppressed; caged with no way of escape.  He told me that gays are in bondage to a lie.  God has given us powerful feelings, emotions and desires.  We try to fill them with other things.  We’ve been duped into believing Satan’s lies.”  Jesus called him the deceiver, “…the father of all lies, a murderer from the beginning. (John 8:44).”  He recycles his ideas, always asking: “Did God really say that?” as he did in the Garden of Eden to Eve and in the wilderness to Jesus.  What a disservice we do to those struggling with such issues if we stay silent.  Woe to the church that allows those struggling to go the way of destruction without saying something!

I was ordained by a Christian conference that made the following statement: “Neither individual Christians, nor ministers of the Word of God, nor congregations of the Lord Jesus Christ, may take away from or lessen God’s prohibition of and warnings against the practice of homosexuality.”[4]

In addition, the Church of England Evangelical Council, which is a conservative arm of the Church of England, states: “Because marriage is instituted by God, neither the Church nor the state is authorized to re-define it.  A relationship between two men or two women cannot therefore be a marriage and neither the state nor the Church should describe it as such.”[5]  The Christian stance on the issue is over 2,000 years old and spans the world- it is not confined to the 2012 presidential election.  For the record, Central’s marriage policy states, among other things: “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.”[6]


That is a good question.  I believe I can love someone, without agreeing with their lifestyle.  I can treat a person with dignity, regardless of their identity or sexual orientation.  We must love them with the love of Christ.  But part of that love is being honest about what Scripture has to say concerning homosexual behavior.  Allowing someone to fall off a cliff without telling them that the bridge is out, is not loving, is it?  Thus, we would never want to approve of any promiscuous lifestyle, whether it is homosexuality, adultery or heterosexual promiscuity, which leads to unnecessary pain and heartache.  But in our conversations on the issue, we can be loving, honest, willing to listen, civil and prayerful.

How can we minister to gay people, without being for gay marriage?”  For one, we must draw a difference between same sex attraction and same sex behavior.  Maybe you’re struggling with same sex attraction.  Don’t believe the lie that you were made for this.  God can give you the strength to overcome these urges, as you put your trust in Christ Jesus.  Or if you know of someone who struggles with same sex attraction, you can come and talk with me; we can pray, I will give you resources that might help you in your concern.  Secondly, to recognize that mistreatment of someone just because they are different than you, is not Christian, nor does it represent the gospel.  Rather, we must show love and dignity to all.

I conclude with something that Pastor Bill said last week in his sermon on Deborah, the Old Testament prophetess from the book of Judges.  Deborah was one who was immersed in life, a mother and a wife.  And she spoke God’s truth.  She was God’s representative for a strategic time.  Her life was a testimony that God intervenes when we honor His authority and obey His commands.  I encourage you to do that as you think not only about gay marriage, but about any social matter.  The purpose of your life is to glorify God.  You and I glorify Him by honoring His authority and obeying His commands.  Let us have the mind of Christ on these issues.  May He give us the grace to do so.  Amen.

[2] Kevin DeYoung, “Five Reasons Christians Should Continue to Oppose Gay Marriage,” found at http://www.christianpost.com.

[3] Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism, (New York: W.W. Norton, 2006), 77.

[4] Statement of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, “Homosexuals and the Christian Fellowship,” found at http://jswat.net/cccc/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/PPLH_-_Homosexuals_and_the_Fellowship.pdf.

[6] “Wedding Policy for Central Schwenkfelder Church,” approved by Church Council on March 16, 2009.