Anger, sadness, fear, frustration, confusion. Emotions brought forth for many evangelical Christians after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing homosexual couples living in all 50 states to legally marry. The debate of whether homosexuals should marry has been ongoing for years and became legal already in several states. Now, the country has a new definition of marriage. No longer is it a covenant between one man and one woman, according to the highest court of the land. It’s a loving relationship between two loving people of any sexual orientation. This is marriage equality, the court states, and must be recognized by all the states.
Yet, Christians who stand firm in Biblical Christianity based on the Word of God steadfastly accept and acknowledge God’s definition of marriage as that of one man and one woman. These Christians, myself included, stand firm in what God’s word says about homosexuality – that it is unnatural and a deviation from God’s created purpose for men and women (Romans 1). Homosexuality, a lifestyle that is against God’s plan similar to premarital sex and adultery, prevents a person from inheriting (receiving) the Kingdom of God (eternal life with the Lord) – unless he or she is born again by faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is made new and turns away from this sin. This is salvation, new life and eternal inheritance available as a gift to us because Jesus died on the cross for sinners and resurrected from the dead.
This process of salvation is the same for anyone – a person who is a liar, a thief, a murderer, or just your average self-consumed, self-centered and self-protective person who thinks they don’t need God or that our deeds aren’t so bad. All of us – whether we identify ourselves as homosexual or heterosexual – are sinners and are in need the Lord and His forgiveness for going astray from His way. We are dead in our sins and need to be made alive. Jesus began His public ministry with this: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” If we are all good and do good things, for what reason would there be to repent? To repent is to change our mind from what is wrong to what is right. It is returning to a right relationship with God, our Father, and being cleansed of our sin by Christ. His love and mercy draws us to Himself. You can read more about God’s plan to save you and why salvation is necessary this link.
So, the challenge with the Supreme Court ruling is that people who stand firm in the biblical view of marriage will now be required to accept this new definition of marriage which is contrary to God’s ways. And there could be repercussions ranging from Christian colleges being forced to accept homosexual marriage partners into university housing, as an example, to pastors being asked to officiate at homosexual weddings or be sued if they object, to schools now teaching a variety of relational lifestyles that many parents don’t agree with. Many of the future consequences are still unknown.
To muddy the waters even more, you’ll find Christians who do support homosexual marriage and agree with the right of homosexual couples to be legally married. You’ll find Christians who say you can practice homosexuality and still be a Christian (most of them may view God’s commands in the Bible as outdated or changeable in light of the culture.) This view is in opposition to the Bible. There is a difference, though, between a Christian who struggles with same-sex desires and is seeking God to be changed (an accurate possibility biblically – check out this resource for more explanation) versus a person claiming to be Christian saying that God is accepting of homosexuality and requires no change in their behavior (an inaccurate view according to the Bible.)
You’ll find Christians who may not agree with homosexuality but feel that it’s not anyone’s right to prevent a loving couple from being married. It’s a Constitutional right, others say, and the right of every American to marry who they want. (Forgetting and or not realizing that the entity of marriage is not mentioned in the Constitution.) Some Christians don’t think redefining marriage will hurt them or the church at large. “It’s their life, not min,” they say. Read this for how that plays out.
If I’m honest, feelings of anger tend to bubble up when I hear of other Christians twisting, ignoring or perverting God’s word to justify their own feelings or behaviors. Our culture as an entity is a secular, non-God loving culture and cannot be expected to live by biblical standards. But a person calling himself or herself a Christian needs to know what the Bible says about what kind of behavior and lifestyles honor God and which ones don’t, and accept what God commands. Some Scripture can be difficult to understand but that doesn’t make it any less acceptable. Does any Christian perfectly live out the Lord’s commands? No, not even on a good day. But a person’s behavior, obedience and reactions do not change the truth of God’s word. To call good what is evil in God’s eyes is deceptive and dangerous. Those who are truly seeking Christ desire to be changed and no longer want to identify themselves according to their sin.
As I thought more about all of this, I wondered what is it exactly that Christians want. We know what the world and our culture wants – to live autonomously without any direction or guidance from a specific group or leader especially from a higher power you can’t see or an antiquated book you can’t understand. “You do what’s best for you, I’ll do what’s best for me and we’ll live at peace,” is the mantra of the Western world. Others want to believe in a god of their own making – but a God without Jesus Christ is a no-god.
But a Christ follower is under a different set of instructions. A Christ follower who has been born again is a subject of a very different kingdom where only One Sovereign rules. The Lord God Himself. And as many have written about this topic in just the past few days, God is not surprised by this outcome and God is not panicked. I believe it’s because God is allowing it to happen just as He sees fit.
The Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all. Psalm 103:19
Sovereignty (noun) = supreme power or authority. Synonyms include dominion, authority, rule. This is not the Supreme Court. This is not the President, nor world leaders and others nations. This is Almighty God, the only Supreme Judge, who created everything with His own breath and gave power to those He created.
When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, God used the pagan Pharaoh to display His power and release His people from bondage. Pharaoh had no power that wasn’t given to Him by God.
When the Israelites disobeyed God and followed after foreign gods, the One True God used the highly-feared Chaldeans (Babylonians) to again display His power and bring His people to repentance through exile. The Babylonians had no power that wasn’t given to them by God.
When it was time for the Israelites to return to Jerusalem from exile, God used the Persian king Cyrus to display His power and send His people back to their homeland. Cyrus had only the power God had given to him.
When Jewish and Romans officials sent Jesus to His gruesome death on the cross, God used those leaders to display His power and provide a way of salvation for all who would believe. The Jewish priests and Pontius Pilate only had power that was given to them from above (John 19:11).
This is the sovereignty of God – the ultimate rule over kings and kingdoms, rulers and nations. All for the purpose of bringing people to a saving faith in God through Jesus Christ and complete dependence upon Him and the rules of His heavenly kingdom. God’s sovereignty is a place of rest for the Christian, knowing that while all may look like utter chaos from our perspective, God sees and knows and purposes for His plans to prevail. Just as Job said of the Lord: “I know that You can do all things and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”
So, it’s not any different here in the United States with what many describe as the moral decline of our society and government. For there is no authority except from God and those that exist have been instituted by God (Romans 13:1). But what happens when those authorities stray from what God has said is right? Maybe a better question is what is a Christian’s motivation and job here on earth in this current culture when authorities veer from God’s ways, as they’ve been doing for quite some time now?
What do Christians want? The freedom to worship and express our worship to God without the threat of attack or lawsuit? The nation to return to Judeo-Christian principles? The right to teach our children biblical truths without government mandates that oppose our beliefs? I would say yes to all of these things but should they be our motivator?
It seems that there should be an even greater desire. The desire to see others come to know Jesus Christ as Lord, through whatever means necessary, and the desire to see Christians be matured and grounded in their faith. If those are genuine desires and prayers, and are in line with Christ’s desires and God’s will, it seems there’s another perspective to consider:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Could the sovereignty of God allow greater testing to come upon Christians through this court ruling? Could this be a time of persecution for the Western Church and a time of repentance for the sin that blinds us? Could this be the time, as are all times of uncertainty, when we must choose to rest in God’s perfect providence and purpose for His church as we love the unchurched around us in grace and truth? Could this be a trial that we count as joy knowing that it has the potential to produce greater faith in believers’ lives and to lead unbelievers to Himself?
We can’t open blind eyes and soften hard hearts – that is spiritual work that God is in control of. Yet, He uses His people as instruments and vessels to proclaim and profess His righteous word to the world. When Paul preached and spoke to those in the first century who were hostile to Christ, he was able to do so with love and grace because the formerly-blaspheming Paul trusted and rested in God’s sovereignty and power to work in other people’s hearts as he shared the love, power and forgiveness of Jesus. No tricks, no human powers, no angry debates or disagreements. God is powerful and He can handle those who are opposed to Him.
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…
Those who are not Christian and have no interest in Christianity see nothing but foolishness and fairy tales when they hear of a dying Savior on a cross. But that can’t prevent the message from being told for there is at least one heart that is ready to believe. “No one comes to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them to Me. You must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. There will be trouble for you who believe in Me.” All Jesus’ words. Pastor David Platt said this:
Christians live in a hostile culture. There is a price to be paid for proclaiming God’s Word and confessing Christ as God’s Son…it won’t be easy but don’t stop proclaiming the word of God and His testimony.
So, as we have been doing and will continue to do, biblical Christians are to stand firm upon God’s holy and inerrant word. It is the truth and it is unchangeable. This is the time to be a Berean and know your Bible.
Biblical Christians are to share the love of Christ with others around them (and sincerely care about other people and what they’re going through). It is the command of God.
Biblical Christians are to speak what is true in a respectful and gracious way. It is kind to do so and the way of God’s servant.
Biblical Christians are to rest in God’s sovereignty and power over the lives of others and over the authorities of this world. It is the way of peace.
Biblical Christians are to trust that God will use trials and tests to mature His people for His glory and our good. It is what’s necessary.
Biblical Christians are to store up God’s word and prepare for battle, not against those who disagree with us, but against the unseen spiritual armies and forces of Satan. It is wise.
Biblical Christians are to humble themselves, repent of their own sin and pray for revival, seeking God to work first in their own lives to prune and purge the sin that so easily entangles. It is right and holy.
And those who are chosen in Christ are to anxiously wait for Him to return and bring us safely to His heavenly kingdom – and take as many souls with us as we can. We are to set our hope upon Jesus, who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, as we live in a culture that wants nothing to do with Him, praying that by seeing His beauty and love in us people hostile to Christ will want to know Him and follow Him. It’s only through Christ and by Christ that a culture can be changed as hearts are changed. We are great sinners but we have a great Savior.