If you followed the news at all over the past couple of weeks, then you know that the Supreme Court refused to hear cases stemming from several states’ same-sex marriage bans. By refusing to hear these cases, the rulings made by the lower Federal courts that turned over the bans now stand, giving same-gendered couples the immediate right to seek marriage licenses in their respective states, as well as in the states under the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts. This is a big deal – especially as cases are heard in both the 11th Circuit and 5th Circuit. For those of us who live in Georgia, this means that there is a three-judge panel that will soon decide to maintain a traditional definition of marriage or change it to suit the culture’s demand for change. As Christians who are called to be salt in light in our culture – even if the culture is growing ever darker, how should we respond to this issue?
As you pray about these developments in our country, I think It is important that we recognize three important realities. First, as much as it grieves us to see people make lifestyle choices that are in opposition to God’s word, we must recognize that it is their choice to make. We can speak the truth with them, share the Gospel with them, plead with them to repent, but ultimately, sinners have to choose their pathway in life. Some will choose life, some will choose death, but all must choose. The homosexual, the fornicator, the thief, the alcoholic, and the addict must make their choice in life just as you did. Christians should not have disdain for sinners, but should lovingly plead with them to choose Jesus, not their sin.
Secondly, we have to recognize that evangelicals are at a clear impasse on this issue. Homosexuality has been around a long time. But modern societies have never sought to legitimize it as they are today. The more homosexuality is mainstreamed, the more it will come into conflict with Christians who are seeking to live their lives, run their businesses, educate their children from a biblical perspective. Already, homosexuality is being integrated into secular educational curriculum around the country. We have already seen business owners forced to sacrifice their religious liberty to facilitate the marriages of homosexuals. These business owners simply chose not to participate in those marriage ceremonies due to their Christian consciences. They suffered social, political and judicial persecution as a result.
Thirdly, we need to recognize that the RAPID movement toward same-sex marriage is only the most recent symptom in a disease that we have been suffering with for a long time. We have created a climate where marriage has become little more than a social contract. It is very difficult for Christians to claim moral high ground in the marriage debate because we have allowed marriage to become a fairly flimsy institution in our own rank and file. As we have watched over the last century, we have seen our own divorce rates match the divorce rates of nonbelievers. We have tolerated (in some cases, celebrated) the cohabitation of our young adults. Not to mention our problems with adultery and fornication that go unchecked. We are very loud critics of the homosexual agenda, without having much to say about our own marriage problems. It is a wise time for the evangelical church to own these issues, lovingly engage in church discipline to help correct these issues, and publicly repent for worrying more about the splinters in the eyes of those outside the church while ignoring the rather large planks protruding from our own eyes. Marriage may be getting “redefined” by our judicial system, but the church has unwittingly contributed to the new definition.
If this latest cultural development does anything, let it first cause us to redouble our efforts to improve the health of the evangelical marriage. Let our children see the benefit of a dad and mom who are madly in love with one another. In all things, let the church’s example to the culture reveal how much better things are when done God’s way – including marriage. The first step to transforming the world is transforming ourselves.