Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States responded to the issue of Gay Marriage in a way that has served two purposes.
- It took an institution that originated in the church but has become secularized… and redefined it.
- It opened the door to discussion on how we should respond to such a decision.
I will address these two issues separately and then tie them together.
Marriage was given by God and designed from the beginning of time. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 2:24) But just because this SCOTUS decision brought attention to the move away from this decision, don’t be deceived that this move was new.
Even in the OT, there was a move away from this one man and one woman definition. The first King, Solomon, and most kings in the future, had many wives and concubines. This was never directed by God but an example of even followers of God falling into conforming with the ways of their surrounding cultures. Polygamy was normal in most cultures at that time. The Israelites were looking around at the outside cultures and seeing the difference as bad. They begged for a king to be like other cultures. Their kings had many wives to be like other cultures. Their pursuits pulled them further and further away from God’s plan.
By the time of the New Testament, Christians were attempting to bring the definition of a God ordained marriage back to one man and one woman. In every case where they mention the qualifications for Holy living or Christian leadership, they included a line about being a man of one woman. (1 Tim 3:2, 1 Tim 3:12, Titus 1:6, etc.)
The first major transition of the Church post the apostles was the 1500s. The church had become more connected with the political power of Rome and many decisions at this time led to the Reformation and the split of the church between Catholics and Protestants. It was during this time that a pestering theologian instituted something called the Marriage Ordinance in Geneva, which made ‘state registration and church consecration’ a dual requirement of matrimony.
This was a mistake that has taken over 500 years to see the ramifications. Now marriage has become more of a state run institution than a religious one, as originally intended.
Discussion of where to go from here
Since the time Jesus first led his disciples, the Christian church has been at odds with the culture. This is not new. In fact, almost every one of Paul’s letters addresses some aspect of how to deal with that issue. Perhaps the most direct statement is in Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:2)
As a result of the division between the Church and the culture, we have two different responses to work through when deep and personal issues divide us.
Response to people outside of the church
Our response to people outside of the grace of Christ is never to change. We need to love them and not judge them. We need to meet them where they are and tell them of the love of Christ. Attempting to get these people to conform to the teachings of Christ, when they have not accepted Him as their Lord and Savior is a complete waste of time. There is no value in attempting to get them to understand and adapt to His teachings until they accept His sacrifice for their sins. Part of that is getting them to admit they have sinned. It much easier to point out Rom 3:23 and Rom 6:23 than try to point out their own personal sin life.
Response to people who call themselves Christians
The biggest problem I see in the church is the fact that so many Christians have fallen for the lie that to disagree with culture is somehow to hate culture. As a result of not wanting to be labeled a hater, many Christians have attempted to get creative to find a way to ‘show love’ to people who are not Christians.
The error in their ways however is to think that supporting a sinful lifestyle is somehow loving. Or to think that pointing out a sinful lifestyle is somehow hateful. I lived a sinful lifestyle before I met Jesus. My lifestyle was not homosexual in nature but it did involve sex outside of marriage. Prior to last week, these to acts were seen differently in the eyes of culture. One was accepted and the other was not. Culture has spoken and said they are both now acceptable. However God spoke first and said both are NOT acceptable.
Just because many of us Christians lived in a sinful way that was accepted by culture, we now have a guilt feeling that we cannot judge any other sinful lifestyle. This line of thinking is dividing the church significantly.
The only truth is that which is taught in the Bible. That truth is for everyone but only those who have Christ in their heart should be held to that truth. It is our job to love others and show them that truth in love.
Bottom line: Having sin is not the same thing as living a sinful lifestyle. Approving a sinful lifestyle is in no way loving.