The decision by the courts on homosexual marriage is of little interest to me. That is, the world will always fail to live up to God's holiness and we should not be surprised. As members of American polity we have the right and obligation to influence our culture in the way we believe best serves the country. Civil discourse helps to preserve the Union. What does concern me is how believers should respond to the situation.
I am posting Joshua Perkins blog as a spiritually discerned response. There are different opinions in the church, but this one I find most balanced.
Jun 27, 2015
I discovered the Supreme Court's ruling while waiting at the theater, checking Facebook one last time before the move started. My newsfeed exploded with status updates, articles, and videos about gay marriage. Controversy flowed freely. Facebook isn't a great forum for controversy - we don't have people in front of us that force us to filter what we say. We are disconnected from the immediate consequences of rudeness.
The following are my thoughts as Christians seek to engage with the wider culture, with our friends, colleagues, and family on the issue of gay marriage. This is not all there is to say. Kevin De Young and John Piper also have some good things to say. I encourage you to read them.
Here are four things to think about:
- If we express truth without love, we are a clanging symbol. So much that is written and said is written and said without love. Matt Walsh is a good example. I get sucked into his articles whenever they are posted on Facebook. While often I find myself agreeing with the ideas, I am often repulsed by the snark, the arrogance, and the distinct lack of love. He neither reaches out to people on the other side, nor encouraged people to love their neighbor. His raucous blather is a clanging symbol that neither exhorts nor edifies.
Why should we be loving? First, because God commands it. Scripture does not say "love, unless someone disagrees with you" or "love, unless someone disparages you for your beliefs". Second, while being loving will not win everyone, vitriolic writing and conversations will win no one for the Kingdom.
What does love look like? Love looks like truth spoken with patience, kindness, and without boasting. It means speaking truth without pride, and communicating without arrogance. It means engaging our friends and family in truth without being rude. It means that we are not irritable with people who don't believe what we do. It means doing these things without end.
There will still be people who revile Christians for their view. But let the reviling be because we believe in Truth. Not because we were unloving in our conversation.
- Reducing the experience of people with homosexual desires to simple choice is demeaning and insulting. I'm not an expert on homosexuality, but I've done a fair amount of reading in books and articles, and talking with friends. Homosexual desire is a complex issue. While it is not right, it is not completely a choice, either. People who have these desires don't wake up one morning and say "hmm... I'm not having any luck with the ladies... maybe I'll switch teams."
Why do people have homosexual desires and others not? I'm not completely sure. Maybe it has to do with developmental issues as a child. Maybe its partially genetic. Maybe it has to do with adult relationships as a child. I'm not completely sure. This does not excuse behavior. We all have sinful tendencies and proclivities. All of us have issues of sin in our lives that we fight every day. Anger, malice, greed, and the list could go on. We must face the fact that scripture condemns behavior, and for a reason.
But we must recognize that our friends with homosexual desires have walked a long, often painful path of rejection, isolation, and misunderstanding. Teenagers who don't have the same impulses as their friends, or men who don't experience the relational intimacy with a woman. People who fear rejection from their family and friends for even admitting they might be gay. Christians who fear expulsion from the Church for even admitting they might have the desires.
Shame on any church that cannot engage in loving ways with believers in their congregations who wrestle with this. Shame on any church that creates an environment where our brothers and sisters who struggle with this are afraid of being shamed and run out.
- Arguments against gay marriage do not stand up outside of the context of scripture. I listened to the oral arguments of this case before the Supreme Court via podcast. I was struck at the difficulty that the defendants had in explaining why gay marriage is not acceptable. There were all sorts of arguments, such as it is not the marriage definition in any society at any time until 15 years ago.
One argument is that marriage is for making families. That's true, but not everything. Do we tell couples who can't have children that they can't get married? Is marriage simply a production agreement between a man and a woman? Does not Song of Solomon teach us that marriage has a romantic element, completely separate from children? Does Paul describe the model of marriage as God's way of populating the earth? Or does he use it as a model of the relationship between Christ and the church?
The bottom line is that the marriage relationship - and the sexual and emotional intimacy that goes with it - is reserved for one man and one woman. This is how God has designed marriage. Trying to remove that from the discussion will make it difficult, if not impossible. And when it is removed from the discussion, we shouldn't be surprised when a secular government doesn't agree with our world view.
- We should care about this issue because we want people to know and experience God's love. People have all sorts of reasons for opposing same-sex marriage. Maybe it is different and weird to some. Maybe it is repulsive to others. But that's not why we, as Christians, should care. We should care because our hearts break at a broken world and desire to see that ALL experience the height, depth, width, and breadth of the love of God. We desire to see people fulfilled in a relationship with God.
There is a time for protecting our churches and our families from deterioration around us by exercising proper church discipline and casting out sinners who refuse to repent and work out their salvation. But it should only be done with heavy hearts, always ready to welcome back the repentant sinner, and seeing people restored in their relationship with God.
We desire to see God glorified through people - all people - being most satisfied in Him.
These are not the only thoughts. And these are not the only feelings. Many are feeling frustrated, angry, or confusion. These need to be addressed and expressed in the right way, in the right time. But as we engage with those outside the church, let us do so in love.More Sharing ServicesShare
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Posted by Joshua at 11:06 AM
- Ashish Gorde said...
Thanks Josh for one of the more balanced pieces I have read so far about yesterday's decision. So far all that I've read is from one extreme to the other and it's refreshing to read a more nuanced and scripturally consistent view. Thanks again.
- June 27, 2015 11:19 AM