Many conservative Christians are reeling from the gay marriage ruling handed down by the Supreme Court last Friday. I hesitate to write anything substantive on the subject as there are others far better equipped to address the issue than I am. (For a couple of examples, consider Albert Mohler and Russell Moore.) However, as your pastor, I figured you might find it helpful to know what I am thinking. What follows is not a well-organized treatise, but simply a list of things that are on my mind regarding the future.
1. It seems clear that the Constitution is now incidental to the governing of our nation. As Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his dissent, the Constitution had nothing to do with this ruling. The political, social, and moral leanings of a majority on the Supreme Court are the real law of the land now.
While this is lamentable, it should not be ultimately demoralizing because the Constitution is not what gives Christians hope. We have a better document, a timeless, unchanging, inspired, and inerrant one – the Bible. No elected or non-elected public figures can ever overrule its judgments or silence its truth.
2. Related to the above, there will almost certainly be a collision in the future between the freedoms of religion/speech and gay marriage. We are already seeing that socially, if not legally, any speech against gay marriage or for traditional marriage is hardly tolerated. Numerous newspapers have announced that they will no longer publish letters to the editor written from a conservative perspective on this issue. It will become more and more common for the biblical position on marriage to be labeled “hate speech.” Now that gay marriage has been legalized, this label will have more traction. It seems likely to me that eventually such speech will be outlawed and gay marriage will have trumped free speech.
Likewise with the freedom of religion. It could be said that a collision took place here already, even before gay marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court. The concept of religious liberty did not protect an Oregon baker who declined to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding, nor a Washington florist who declined to decorate such a wedding. Emboldened by Friday’s decision, we can expect homosexuals to seek out conservative churches to rent for their weddings so that when denied they can file a lawsuit. It’s simply a matter of time. Gay marriage has already trumped the freedom of religion and will continue to do so.
While these things are bothersome, we ought not consider the acts of speaking the truth and honoring biblical principles as rights afforded us by the United States government. They are not first and foremost rights, but rather commands from God. Whether the government allows it or forbids it, I must speak the truth (Eph 4:15-16, 25; Acts 5:27-32). Whether a federal document endorses it or criminalizes it, I must pursue righteousness and abstain from every form of evil (1 Tim 6:11-12; 2 Tim 2:22; 1 Thess 5:22). My responsibility is to obey God and trust Him with the consequences.
3. It will now be all but impossible for our children to receive an even remotely balanced education on moral issues in the public school system. In curriculums from kindergarten through high school, the concept of traditional marriage will go the way of creationism. Previously, education on homosexual culture at the kindergarten level was something we only expected to hear about in California. I suspect it will be nationwide very soon.
This means that it has never been more important for Christian parents to be intentional about bringing their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. We need to train our children not simply what the Bible says, but why the Bible is our authority and how we can know that it is trustworthy. Most Christians today could not defend the Scriptures against a skeptic. This needs to change if for no other reason than we need to be able to train our children in these things.
Additionally, we must teach them not only that gay marriage is wrong, but why. Beyond all the scientific and sociological arguments, the greatest apologetic against homosexual marriage is that it defames the gospel. Marriage has been created by God to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church (Eph 5:22-33). Homosexual marriage takes an immoral act – one that is consistently and without exception portrayed as an abomination to God in the Scriptures – and superimposes it over this God-ordained picture of the gospel. Rather than covering sin with the gospel, it covers the gospel with sin. Which leads to #4…
4. This season will present us with innumerable opportunities to share the gospel. It is not uncommon for those who support gay marriage to be flabbergasted as to why anyone would oppose it. When someone asks, “what is so wrong? Why does it matter to you what other people do?”, we should proceed as if they have just said, “Please share the gospel with me.”
Many Christians in response to this question will say something like, “The Bible says that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.” This is true, but it wastes an opportunity. Why does the Bible teach that marriage is between a man and a woman? As I mentioned in #3 above, it's all about the gospel. In explaining that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church, we must tell in what sense Christ gave Himself up for the church (Eph 5:25-27) – He died for her sins. We must also explain in what sense the church submits to Christ – she repents, trusts, and follows Him in all things. Traditional marriage pictures that; gay marriage profanes it by superimposing an abomination over it.
We must also keep in mind that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that provides hope for any sinner, whether homosexual or heterosexual. It is a cruelty to withhold the gospel from anyone. Though we are vilified as haters, we must hold fast the conviction that our message, the gospel, is the only loving one in existence. All others further entrap the sinner in his sin.
5. Christians desperately need to be able to counter biblical arguments for gay marriage. I’m not saying there are actual biblical arguments for gay marriage, but there are professing Christians attempting to use the bible to make a case for gay marriage. Of course, they can only do this by twisting the Scriptures. We need to understand what these arguments are and why they are not valid. To date, the best resource I know of to equip a Christian to do this is the free e-book, God and the Gay Christian? Don’t just read it. Learn it.
6. Historically, good things happen when pressure is placed upon the church. I’m thinking of two things primarily. First, the gospel explodes. The 2nd century church father Tertullian wrote, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Amazingly, the more unpopular and dangerous it is to be a Christian, the faster the church grows. Times of persecution have always been times of rapid spread of the gospel. In fact, it could be argued that were it not for persecution of the church in the first three centuries AD, Christianity would not be a global religion today.
Second, the church is purified. Pressure serves to separate the sheep from the goats. Those who are not truly redeemed do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower them to persevere, so they fall away. We should not be surprised when many who claim to be Christians today succumb to societal pressure on the issue of marriage. It is already happening. These people will loosen their hold on the Scriptures to accommodate the culture and when they do that they necessarily give up the gospel. We will likely see many churches going the way of the mainline denominations. They will become increasingly irrelevant in terms of a gospel witness, and in the event of true persecution, they will disappear altogether. That is, nominal Christianity eventually will be a thing of the past.
This means that we will likely see revival. This is a good thing.
I can’t say that I was happy about the ruling last Friday, but I’m not at all disheartened. I believe that God is moving history, not merely watching it. He is accomplishing His plans, not merely reacting to the plans of men. Whatever the future holds, it is a future ordained by the God who gave His Son to secure eternal blessedness for me and all other sinners who follow Him. For I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day (2 Tim 1:12).