Friday, June 26, 2015

Thoughts On The Day Same-Sex Marriage Became Legal

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My phone made its familiar sound that told me there was a news update, so I glanced down to see what was going on.  “Supreme Court Declares Same-Sex Marriages Legal in All 50 States.”  I didn’t really have a reaction, just setting the phone back down and getting back to work.  Given our cultural and political climate, I don’t think many people are surprised.  More than anything, I just thought about enduring another day of people in the media shouting about it.

 Later, I began to wonder how other believers in God were feeling about the news, and so I paused to write out a few things I hope we will remember on a day that I’m sure some people will feel like we have somehow “lost”…

 First, I hope we remember that “legal” and “right” are not the same thing.  The American government is not the judge of what is morally right (though people sometimes act like they think it is).  Adultery is sinful before God, but it is legal.  Abortion is sinful before God, but it is legal.  Getting drunk is sinful, but it is legal.  Lying is sinful, but it is in most cases legal.  We could go on and on.  There are many things that are legal, but they’re not right in God’s eyes.   God’s truth has not changed today.  Today just adds one more item to the list of issues where we must show people that God’s truth is wiser than what our culture says is OK.  

Second , I hope we remember that we must treat all people with the love and patience of Christ, even if they are celebrating sexual sin.  I’m sure many will celebrate today that somehow a great wrong has ended in our country.  Much of the celebration will be taunting people of faith.  We will be tempted to forget who we are and shout back with an un-Christ-like attitude.  It’s probably a good day to remember that Jesus was mocked and reviled, and yet He “committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;” He “did not revile in return,” but “kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”  (1 Peter 2:21-23).  God sees the celebration as well; if you must speak, speak kindly, and trust the God who judges righteously to act in His time. 

       Third, I hope we remember that Christians have been here before, and the gospel flourished anyway.  The first-century Roman empire of Jesus and Paul celebrated homosexuality far more even than our own culture does, and yet Jesus and Paul and other believers still taught the truth boldly and lovingly about God’s design for marriage and sexuality.  The Roman government certainly didn’t line up with Christian teaching in many ways, and yet the church grew and flourished anyway.  God is still alive and working, and so we will keep teaching what the Bible says whether it is popular or not, and hopefully we will teach it in a way that helps others see God’s goodness. 

Fourth, I hope we will notice that not much has really changed today in the big picture.  Same-sex relationships were already legal, and people could already choose how they wanted to act sexually.  God gave us all the freedom of choice to make those decisions.  Yes, same-sex marriages can now receive the same marriage certificates and tax breaks that husbands and wives receive.  It is a small victory for sin, because the government’s approval encourages people to accept it as a valid moral choice for themselves, but that message of cultural approval has already been going on in media outlets for years now.  And so our responsibility before God certainly hasn’t changed today: to keep living for God and keep encouraging a sinful world to come back to Him.  Tomorrow, we will wake up in the same world we’ve always been in: people making their own spiritual choices, and God’s people trying to shine His light.

  Fifth, I hope we remember that Christians never really “lose.”  We have a deeper hope in Christ, much deeper than just trying to get our government to line up with God on every issue.  We are part of something far more important.  That’s why Paul could write in Romans chapter 8 about persecution and difficulty (v. 18,35-36), and yet be filled with a deep sense of victory: “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (v. 37).  “What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who is against us?” (v. 31).  I suppose every time a soul (or a country) rejects God, you could say that the truth “lost” that time.  But in the big picture, we are promised that God wins, and so His people win with Him.  Today is just another day to remind us that God’s kingdom and the kingdoms of the world are not the same, and that this world is not our home. 

I understand why some Christians would feel upset today.  I agree that the national conversation on homosexuality has been a little silly and one-sided, but that’s the way the world goes sometimes.  To say sexual desires and actions are the same as being born black or white is simply not true.  To say that Christians are “hateful” for teaching that there is a proper way to conduct ourselves sexually is dishonestly representing Christianity.  Those conversations will continue, and I’m hopeful the world will calm down and look at those issues a little more honestly than they have the last few years.  Who knows, maybe today’s ruling will even allow those conversations to take place in a better tone.

So while I understand feeling upset, my first reaction is that we have bigger things to do than stay that way.  I hope we’ll see the bigger picture we are part of.  Let’s read the headline, let's reflect on the world we are in, and then let’s get back to work…


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