We are now about 10 days past the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States preventing states from denying marriage licenses for homosexuals. The decision may be final, but the discussion about it is not.
Because this topic includes both politics and faith, virtually everyone has an opinion on the topic. And because this topic intersects both politics and faith, the arguments are sometimes more loud than logical and more boisterous than biblical. Here are some of my thoughts about the discussion, and my attempt to maintain a biblical perspective on what has happened and how believers should respond.
Some have suggested that Christians need not worry about this because the state can recognize one form of marriage and the church another and those two perspectives don’t need to be in agreement. In fact, the argument states, Christians shouldn’t even attempt to coerce the government to have the same perspective on marriage as the church because of the principle of “the separation of church and state.” That is a reference to a line written in a letter by Thomas Jefferson that actually read, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” In other words, Jefferson’s concern was that the government should not act in such a way to interfere with freedom of worship or the operation of the church. Unfortunately, most people have taken that statement in the opposite way from which it was intended. Jefferson was not attempting to restrict churches from influencing public policy, but was attempting to protect churches from the intrusion of the state on its practices. So the “separation of church and state,” actually provides a venue that invites the church to work to shape the laws of this land according to moral and biblical principles. This is a time when the voice of believers and the church should and must be heard.
Secondly, there is a perception that “what one does in his/her bedroom behind closed doors is of no concern to anyone else.” In other words, why should I care who marries whom or how two or more individuals conduct themselves sexually since it doesn’t impact me personally? However, the government’s responsibility is to uphold and defend morality (which is why it enacts laws against theft, pornography, murder, rape, and much more). To say that the government can sanction various “new” forms of marriage without cultural impunity is short-sighted and wrong. Homosexual marriage does have moral implications and will have deepening implications that will not be for the good of all people. Should we also sanction marriage between men and boys? What about polygamy? Polyandry? Incestuous marriages? What about sexual relationships between adults and children? Are those kinds of marriages and relationships good for the moral well-being of the country? At least today most would still agree that those “relationships” are not moral and for the benefit of all involved, yet the principle undergirding those desires is the same one that supports homosexual marriage. As a friend of mine used to say, the camel has gotten its nose under the tent; the tent will not remain upright for long. Now that homosexual marriage has been affirmed, what other unbiblical sexual relationships will also be approved in the future?
Additionally, one reason that believers in Christ are so passionately against this practice and the decree from the Supreme Court is because of what the Scriptures say about homosexual practice. To practice homosexuality is not freedom. It is the condemnation of God wherein He pulls back His restraining power and condemns people to do the ungodly things their sinful hearts desire (Rom. 1:26ff). And the tragedy of the Supreme Court decision last week is that, “they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32). In other words, the Supreme Court has not only “tolerated” homosexual practice, but it has now embraced and celebrated it. And that action is one more step down the pathway to the rejection of God and the deepening of His judgment. And because believers don’t want our friends and family and neighbors and culture judged by God, we speak against homosexual marriage and uphold marriage between one man and one woman as God’s singular provision for marital union. We want homosexuals freed from the sin that has ensnared them and freed from the anger of God. And thus our activities and comments and pleadings are a means of loving homosexuals — we want them to give up their “pleasure” now so that they will enjoy pleasure with God for all eternity and avoid the eternal wrath of God.
Fourth, believers are not against homosexuals. Every kind of sin leaves men under condemnation from God and because I was born a sinner and skillfully practiced and cultivated many kinds of sins I too was under God’s judgment. But through Christ, I —and every other believer — have been freed from the judgment of God against my sin and also freed from the power of sin so that I no longer have to sin. Now there is joy and freedom to obey Christ and do righteousness, something I could never do before (Romans 6). It is that which we long for homosexuals and thieves and adulterers and fornicators and drunkards and sinners of all kinds to know — there is freedom and forgiveness in Christ (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
Finally, to say that I have concerns about this new ruling is not to suggest that I am anxious or in despair. Believers are to rejoice in the Lord at all times, and one primary way that we rejoice in Him during these days is by recognizing His sovereignty over this circumstance. As I’ve told our church body a couple of times recently — we need not despair; we’ve read the end of the Book and we know who wins. Christ is already and will be finally victorious over sin and death (Jn. 16:32-33). Sin and sinners don’t win, Christ does; so we are not anxious or fearful. And because we do not fear, our interactions on this topic need to be both bold and gracious — bold because we do not fear what will happen to us if we speak, and gracious instead of hostile because we know that our word is not final but Christ’s is, and because we are seeking to draw those who are enslaved to sin and blinded by unbiblical thinking to know the freedom and joy of Christ.