Mourning… and Rejoicing

Dancing in the streets!  Mourning in our hearts!

Historic Day for Indiana – I heard the news yesterday, but reading the headline and the details in the Indianapolis Star this morning made for a sad start to this day.

Predictably, a federal judge in another act of judicial tyranny, declared Indiana’s marriage laws unconstitutional. Laws based on thousands of years of precedent, 238 years of United States precedent, accepted definitions across all national and cultural lines throughout world history, were overthrown by a single federal judge. Oh, he’s not entirely alone as judges like him in other states have done the same, against the will of the people, against the wisdom of history, redefining marriage into virtual meaninglessness.

As word spread, Gay and Lesbian couples dropped what they were doing and headed for court houses across Indiana to receive marriage licenses and be “married.” State officials and many churches are ready and willing to participate. Those who don’t agree are marginalized as repressive, discriminatory, and haters, doomed to be left behind in the inevitable march toward normalization of same sex “marriage” across the world.

Why do I put those overused quotation marks around “marriage?” Because it is not marriage and I will not call it marriage.

Why am I so adamant about this?  Why not accept this inevitable reality?

Let me clarify. I am not in the least surprised by this. I knew it was coming. Even as the vast majority of voters have resisted redefining marriage (even in California), the pressure has been kept up by the media and the courts to turn the tide. Over time, as the public falls in line with media pressure and judicial fiat, such things find popular acceptance and those who are unconvinced become marginalized and demonized. Generational polls indicate younger Americans are embracing this change, so the outcome is quite predictable.

So, what do we do? Two things:

1.  Speaking the truth in love.

Did you notice until this brief quotation from Ephesians 4:15, I’ve not yet appealed to the Bible. Why not? You don’t need the Bible to intuitively understand that marriage is the union of the two complementary sexes, male and female. When Paul made the case in his letter to the Romans, he didn’t quote the Bible, but wrote what later was recognized as part of the Bible. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20  This is true regarding the evidence for God in creation that renders us without excuse when we reject God. It is equally true in regard to the reality and expression of sex. You don’t need to know Scripture to recognize that when women and men exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones… abandoned natural relations… Romans 1:26, 27, the purpose of creation was violated and the Creator is dishonored as we suppress the truth. Romans 1:19.

But while the case for marriage is intuitively and objectively obvious from creation, it is even more explicitly revealed by God in Scripture.  The  record of creation in Genesis 1, 2,  the judgment on abnormal sexual behavior in Genesis 19, the prohibition of same sex relations in Leviticus 18:22; 20:13 all make it obvious that God designed us for heterosexual relationships in marriage. All other expression of sexual intimacy are forbidden..  In the New Testament, Jesus affirmed all of the Old Testament and Paul explained the gravity of sin in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 that unrepentant patterns of sin disqualify from kingdom inheritance. It is not loving to be silent and passive toward those in danger of coming judgment. The truly loving thing is to give the warning of divine judgment, call to repentance, and proclaim the Good News of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ.

2.  Rejoice in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I must not give in to despair and I call you not to succumb to despair as we grieve over this decline of our culture. In great measure, we are entering the world of the earliest believers. The case can be made that our culture is even more confused sexually, perhaps the worst confusion in world history. But for now, we have a measure of religious liberty that the early church longed to have. They weren’t just marginalized. They were killed for their faith, as are many of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world today.

But we have the hope of the Gospel.  We know that ultimately, the Gospel will prevail as many will come out of darkness into the light of the Gospel. Jesus called us the light of the world and the salt of the earth. We carry the precious Gospel that has the power to transform. It’s not our job to change people,  but to love people in word and action and invite them to Jesus for restoration.

As Paul served in a similar culture, yet persecuted far more, he recounted a list of his troubles, ending with sorrowful yet always rejoicing.   Read this in context and find much reason to Rejoice!.

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger, in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

For further review, see other posts from 2013, Sex in a Broken World, and a preaching series from Summer 2013 starting in late June and into early September.

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