This past Friday, the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, a decision which flies in the face of orthodox religious belief, namely Christianity. There has been much response to the decision, and many, on both sides of the decision, have commented. Some have celebrated the decision, while others have voiced disapproval. Still, others have looked past the decision and attempt to predict the impact on other facets of society.
I am a Christian. I attempt to live my life according to the Scriptures. I believe the Scriptures are the inerrant, authoritative, sufficient Word of God. The Bible is, very clearly, God speaking to his creation and created ones. And, throughout the Bible is the gospel, God’s plan to redeem sinful man.
Over the past few days, I’ve read, observed, listened, and tried to understand public response to the Supreme Court’s decision. Here are six conclusions I’ve reached regarding the public response to the Supreme Court decision.
1. If you are a Christian, and you celebrate or support the U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage, you stand in direct opposition to the teachings of Scripture.
The Bible is the inerrant, authoritative, sufficient Word of God. It is how God reveals himself and speaks to mankind. The Apostle Paul tells us that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV) Wayne Grudem, in Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, states that “to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God himself.” (39) He goes on to say that “…the Bible is necessary for knowledge of the gospel…but is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something about God’s character and moral laws.” (54) In other words, we all know the difference between good and bad.
Christians can, in no way, rationalize or justify the legitimacy of same-sex marriage based upon the teachings found in Scripture.
2. Both the Old and New Testaments affirm the one man/one woman institution of marriage.
From the beginning, God created and ordained the institution of marriage as a one man/one woman relationship that is both complementary and purposeful. In the early chapters of Genesis, scripture tells us that
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28 ESV)
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 ESV)
In the New Testament, Jesus affirms this when he responds to the Jewish leaders, saying
Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. (Matthew 19:4-6 ESV)
Scripture is clear regarding the definition of marriage. As Christians, this is the principle we must cling to as right and good.
3. The New Testament condemns homosexuality as a sin.
The general response from our culture regarding homosexuality is that the Old Testament’s prohibition of homosexuality is for another social era and that the New Testament never condemns homosexuality. If we remember that “All scripture is God-breathed…”, we read in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman church this warning:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth…For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:18; 26-27 ESV)
Paul goes on to say in his first letter to the church in Corinth that,
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV)
And, to Timothy, Paul writes,
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:8-11 ESV)
The New Testament is clear regarding disobedience to God.
4. Religious freedom is in peril.
Many Christians gloss over the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision, thinking that a lifestyle contrary to God’s teachings is all that is at stake. There is more…much more.
When our founding father, Thomas Jefferson, wrote his now-famous letter to the Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, in 1802, he assured the Baptists that “a wall a separation between church and state” had been established and that the Protestants were free to worship as they saw fit. This “separation” though, only prohibits the establishment of a state church and does not prohibit the free exercise of religion, meaning that religion is free to influence its citizens and, yes, its government.
In the recent decision regarding same-sex marriage, our government has imposed on many of its citizens a law which cuts against the very grain of its religious faith and conscience. While Christians cannot, in good faith, participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies, or in licensing same-sex couple to wed, the recent court decision has implications that citizens are required to under the threat of penalty.
And, what of Christian ministers? While the Supreme Court allowed for a dissenting conscience among religious leaders, and there is protection in the 1st Amendment, some in the media have already asked questions about church facilities, religiously-affiliated universities, hospitals and such. In his article, “Now Is the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions,” Mark Oppenheimer states, “…the logic of gay-marriage rights could lead to a reexamination of conservative churches’ tax exemptions…” And, the Pew Research Center says “…it’s possible that institutions will be pressured to give ground on gay marriage by federal authorities.”
5. The role of the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court has changed.
Since when do a group of unelected lawyers create law for the citizens of its nation? The 14th Amendment, which was used to argue for marriage equality, never addresses marriage. It’s a stretch to say that it does. It is clearly the responsibility of states to determine marriage laws, yet our Supreme Court justices, who are appointed and who are not representative of the nation at-large, have overstepped the bounds of responsibility and taken it upon themselves to decide what marriage is and is not.
The court has opened Pandora’s Box in regard to all sorts of equality issues, all based on their convenient interpretation of the 14th Amendment. What of polygamy, or any other sort of contrived relationship? The equality in the 14th Amendment is pointless unless applied to all, or it ceases to be equality. That, too, is the danger of this decision.
6. Civil disobedience is biblically permissible.
In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul affirms the role of government in the lives of Christians. In essence, government is created by God to provide protection and welfare for the good of its citizens.
Yet, when the government imposes a law upon its citizens that requires disobedience of God’s laws, and then forces obedience to that law under threat of penalty, it is biblically permissible to disobey civil authorities.
Grudem states, “God does not hold people responsible for obeying the civil government, however, when obedience would mean directly disobeying a command of God himself.” (88)
We see an example of this in The Acts of the Apostles when some of the apostles are arrested and then commanded “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” Their response? “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Later, they proclaimed that “We must obey God rather than men.” If disobedience to God is demanded, Grudem states that “God requires his people to disobey civil government…” (88)
From this, we see clearly that we are called, as Christians, to stand firmly on the beliefs we have based on the Word of God found in the scriptures.
Following the Supreme Court decision, many on social media included the hashtag #LoveWins. I don’t doubt that at all. Love does win, and in the future, love will win out. But, it will be the love of Christ through his Church that shows the ultimate love…despite sin, any sin, the love of Christ overcomes and gives grace to all of us sinners…gay, straight, or otherwise. It is because of this love, though, that we are called to proclaim the commands of God and, by the power of the Spirit, walk in those commands.