Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Friday, June 26, 2015

After the SCOTUS Decision:

I haven't watched TV news today.  I'm sure it is full of interviews and punditry concerning today's decision by the US Supreme Court requiring all states to legalize same-sex marriage.  I've already seen some online comments.  Some are rejoicing, some are mourning, while still others are still shaking their heads at the lightning speed of this change.
I've spoken in the past about my conclusions on the matter of marriage.  You can find videos of the messages here and here.
Recently, my pastor, Doug Williams has been leading us in the formation of a statement about marriage and sexuality.  It hasn't been finalized, yet, but here it is:

We believe the Bible teaches that sexual intimacy is a wonderful gift from God to be expressed exclusively in a marital relationship between a man and a woman.  (Genesis 2:24-25; Proverbs 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; Hebrews 13:4)  We further believe that each of us were born with physical characteristics that make us male or female, and that this sexual identification in which a person is born is established by God and should be accepted by each person as a gracious gift from Him (Genesis 1:27; Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:5; Mark 10:6-9; Luke 1:13)
 Therefore, any form of sexual intimacy outside the bond of marriage between a man and a woman, (such as premarital sex, adultery, or homosexual activity) or any attempt to change the sexual identification in which one was born, are both sin and outside God’s design and desire for our lives. (Leviticus 18:1-30; Proverbs 6:32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-18; Romans 1:26-27; 1Timothy 1:9-10; Ephesians 5:5-7)
 Though humbly seeking to remain true to the clear teaching of the Word of God on this and all other matters, we also seek to remain true to that same Word in reaching out in love and compassion toward everyone, including those whose sexual lifestyles we cannot endorse or accept (Matthew 9:36; 11:28-30; 1 Corinthians 6:11).  So we also commit ourselves “ speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Titus 3:2 (ESV)

I agree.

A Godly friend of mine will often comment when he is saying good bye.  "Keep it between the fence posts and keep the shiny side up."  Did I mention that my friend used to be a professional truck driver?  Let me suggest some ways for those of us who are seeking to follow Jesus to stay in the road in the aftermath of today's SCOTUS decision:

  1. Nothing has really changed.  I'm not disrespecting the judicial branch of the US government, and I realize that "nothing" is hyperbole, but the reality is, the Supreme Court nor any other human institution has the power to make something right or wrong.  They can declare what is legal and illegal, and/or they can identify rights that within their jurisdiction cannot be denied others, but they do not have the power to make something that is inherently wrong right, or vice-versa.  The rightness or wrongness of human slavery, the death penalty, the right of women to vote, the racial segregation or integration of schools, and the sanctity of life are not created by any body of people.  Obviously, since the Supreme Court has changed its decrees on various issues it is not infallible.  Beyond that we need to remember that the obligations of Christ's followers are not determined by the government, but by our Lord.
  2. One way or another all of us are living in the Book of Ecclesiastes.  We are trying to find meaning in this life.  One of the great lies of our world is that meaning and satisfaction come from getting what I want.  This chasing of the mirage of self-pleasing is not something that is limited one particular people group.  It is shared by people of whatever sexual orientation.  While I may not understand, the urge that another is trying to satisfy--I may even conclude that satisfying that desire is wrong--I can sympathize and empathize with the desire to find meaning, peace, and satisfaction in life.  This world is populated, not by "us and them," but by us.  We are all dream-chasers.  We all desperately need the reality of Solomon's conclusion to the whole matter--"Fear God and Keep His commandments."  (Ecc. 12:13)
  3. In the United States we Christians have gotten a free ride.  For some time, now, a number have been looking out the window wondering whether we ought to get off the train and walk.  I recently posted about the Benedict Option (here).  My thoughts are worth looking at chiefly because they point to other better informed and more nearly complete explanations.  The Christianity of the New Testament is clearly counter-cultural.  Clearly, there is a place for seeking to influence the nation in which we dwell, but expecting that nation to maintain and enforce our Christian standards for us in inappropriate and unhelpful.  Today's decision will force individual Christians, churches, and other Christian institutions to focus less on what our government can do for us and more on what we ought to do.  
  4. I see a dangerous backlash--probably not the one you think I mean.  It is a self-imposed backlash.  Some of my colleagues have rightly observed the hypocrisy, and unnecessarily harsh rhetoric of some conservative Christian leaders toward those in the gay community.  Meanness, and demeaning language are totally out of place.  We should repent of and abandon that kind of behavior.  However, some have gone too far.  They seem to say, because some have spoken harshly, and have condemned sin in others while hypocritically ignoring their own sin, we should just be quiet and say nothing.  That is an option we cannot choose.  Walking in the paths God has marked out is the way of blessing.  For some staying in that path is very hard.  We dare not deny anyone the opportunity to experience the fullness of God's blessing by our silence. 
  5. I'm out of time.   I need to go practice what I'm about to say.
    Love others, whoever they are, whatever label they have, love them.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And [Jesus] said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  “This is the great and foremost commandment.  “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’" (Matthew 22:36–39)