RESPONSE TO THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION TO REDEFINE MARRIAGE
It's been less than 24 hours since the Supreme Court released its decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. I imagine that this news has created an emotional reaction for nearly everyone paying any attention to cultural issues around the world and in the United States. Whether your reaction is celebration or disappointment, eventually those feelings will wear off and we will need to think clearly about all the implications of a major decision like this*, especially for those in the minority who uphold faith in Jesus and hold to a biblical standard of morality.
*(Afterall, this is new territory for everyone - 5 people just overturned thousands of years of the definition of marriage - it's difficult to anticipate what the next few years will look like.)
This is a deeply polarizing issue that will cut through virtually every city, subdivision, community, club, and even families. You have likely already experienced conflicts in your social circles regarding this issue. I strongly encourage everyone who engages in conversations to remember that we are all image-bearers and are deserving of respect and dignity. We may disagree but that isn't the same as hate or bigotry. Use caution and grace when talking through these issues. The way you defend your position is often as important as the content you use to defend your position. (See my *note below if you're reading this and looking for opposing views).
So how might followers of Christ feel about this issue? How ought Christ-followers to think biblically about this decision? And how should we behave in the coming days? After reading dozens and dozens of posts and responses - even through a few unpleasant exchanges - I've curated a handful of articles that may help you sort through emotions, arguments, and actions and to be as faithful to Christ and the Bible as possible in the coming days.
1. How might a Christ-follower feel about this decision?
Feelings are (obviously) so subjective! I'm not telling anyone how they should feel but I am pointing out that we are all experiencing a range of emotions. It's also possible that we've witnessed outrage, anger, hopelessness, happiness, joy, fear, sadness, and maybe even conflicting emotions over the past 24 hours.
Here are three helpful perspectives:
- John Piper writes with level headed clarity but also captures the heart-wrenching emotions that many Christ-followers are experieincing... Desiring God. "My main reason for writing is not to mount a political counter-assault. I don’t think that is the calling of the church as such. My reason for writing is to help the church feel the sorrow of these days. And the magnitude of the assault on God and his image in man. Christians, more clearly than others, can see the tidal wave of pain that is on the way. Sin carries in it its own misery..."
- Hershael York explains a reason for hopeful optimism... Southern Seminary Blog. "I am excited. While I would not choose this direction for our country or our culture, and though I lament the very real harm that this Supreme Court decision will do in millions of lives, I also believe that a sovereign God rules supreme in human affairs and He is at work making of the nations a heritage for His Son. The Triune God has not called an emergency session and will not be announcing a strategy of response to the latest development. He is working all things—even and especially this—to His glory for our good."
- Trevin Wax gives a positive and a cautious response... The Gospel Coalition. "The evangelical witness may be leaner in numbers in coming years, but the upside is that the witness may be even more potent. The gospel of God’s love in Christ is no less powerful in 21st century America than in 1st century Rome."
2. How should a Christ-follower think biblically about marriage (and the way SCOTUS has re-defined marriage)?
Thinking clearly can be difficult when your emotions are up and down. It's not my role to tell you what to think, but I offer these articles that articulate the biblical position well. Long before June 26th the Bible had something to say about God's plan for marriage.
Here are several sources of information to help you think biblically about the SCOTUS decision:
- Ravi Zacharias offers a solid perspective on the sacredness of marriage and sexuality here in this 11 minute video response in a Q and A session.
- Albert Mohler is a go-to source for clear biblical responses to cultural issues. The Briefing: Special Edition (20 minute audio)
- Sam Allberry is a great source for biblical teaching from the perspective of a man who has lived with same-sex attraction all his life. I value his perspective and I deeply admire him for his compassion and his biblical teaching. I highly recommend you check out his website - www.livingout.org, as well as his book, "Is God Anti-Gay?"
- Trevin Wax has also compiled the top 10 quotes from the dissenting justices. "The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment… The Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?" - Chief Justice John Roberts
- Jonathan Parnell helps us see why homosexuality is not like other sins, at least not in our current culture. This is helpful because people often ask why Christians dwell on homosexuality but not on divorce or alcohol or idolatry etc. The short answer is "as far as I know, none of those sins is applauded so aggressively by whole groups of people who advocate for their normalcy..."
- The Gospel Coalition and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission have provided a joint website dedicated to equipping Christ-followers to give solid biblical answers to tough questions. I found the website to be very helpful in wording answers in a clear and concise and loving way without compromise.
3. How should a Christ-follower behave in the coming days?
Checking your emotions and filling your mind with truth is the best place from which to act in a godly manner. Here are some action points that will go a long way in helping you reflect the glory and love of Christ and the message of redemption.
- Denny Burk calls this your "must read link of the day" and I agree - he links to and comments on David French's post on what we shouldn't do: "there is a naïve belief that if only we were winsome enough, kind enough, and compassionate enough, the culture would welcome us with open arms. But now our love — expressed in the fullness of a Gospel that identifies homosexual conduct as sin but then provides eternal hope through justification and sanctification — is hate." The apostles faced beatings and counted themselves as blessed to have suffered for Christ. We struggle to stand with Christ in the face of social criticism. It is not the time to change your convictions to help the culture feel better about yourself.
- I don't know much about Josh Howerton, but I found his list of 11 Thoughts to be helpful and directive for a long and loving witness to our culture. (I especially like the quote from Jude 1:22 to "...have mercy on those who doubt." Remember, there will be confused and conflicted Christ-followers who will be looking seriously at all the issues prayerfully. They don't need short-tempered and impatient believers doing damage as they prayerfully and biblically process the issues.)
- Greg Gibson from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood writes this helpful article on how Christ-following parents can help their kids understand and process what is taking place in our culture.
- I'm not always a fan of this site but I found these two short action-oriented lists helpful - hopefully you will too! "5 Things Jesus Would Say to the Gay Community" and "5 Ways to Respond to the Supreme Court's Decision on Same-Sex Marriage"
I will personally say that I believe no other person in the history of the world loved more perfectly than Jesus (John 15:12-13). I will also point out that Jesus never apologized for very hard truths taught in the Bible. He never apologized for God's holiness. He never backed down from the Bible's view of righteousness and morality. He never encouraged anyone to continue in sin. And He never sugar-coated a future judgment from a holy God. He only spoke truth and lived out sacrificial love. He loudly preached the message of repentance from sin (Matthew 4:17). His 3 year public ministry has forever polarized the world into two groups: those who repent and believe and those who don't. He never apologized for that, but actually predicted His message would have a polarizing effect (Matthew 10:34-39). He then calls for His followers to give up their own lives in order to find true life in Him. It was the late Jim Elliott whose quote was written in the cover of my very first bible, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."
I can only stand with Jesus, though it might cost me friends, though people call me names, even if it means other forms of persecution or unpleasantness. I am not my own, I have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). All these years I have served Him and He has only loved me and been gracious and forgiving toward me. How could I abandon His Words and His mission now? Lord give me the strength to honor and glorify you alone, in your name I pray, amen.
Well, it's been a busy 24 hours, but I'm hopeful that I've pointed you to some resources that will help you feel, think, and act in a Christlike way as you interact with people in our culture. I love Jesus and his overwhelming grace and love for all people! He offers redemption and forgiveness to any who will believe and repent. I'm so grateful that He didn't beat me up for my beliefs before I met him, and I hope and pray that you also will reflect His unconditional love and kindness without abandoning His Truth - the message of the Bible. Love that denies the truths of the Bible is not love, but truths of the Bible without love isn't love either. May the love of Christ control you and may He love others through your words and your actions (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
*(Note from Gibson: All of these articles are written from an evangelical Christian and Bible affirming viewpoint. I'm not attempting to present both sides of the issue. This is not meant to be inflammatory toward anyone who might be reading this who holds an opposing view or is conflicted, but simply as a way to educate and articulate biblical views from the perspective of a Christian pastor of a Christian church. I also acknowledge that members of Ridgeline may also be processing all of this and may or may not agree with me. I hope this clarifies our stance so that each person may make an informed decision. Of course, I welcome dialogue but prefer to hold those conversations in person or in other formats but not in the comments section. Please feel free to email me with any questions or concerns.)