June 25, 2014 – a federal judge declared Indiana’s marriage laws unconstitutional, opening the door to the issuance of same sex marriage licenses in Indiana. Then a stay was issued on the ruling until it could be appealed,
September 4, 2014 – a three judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that laws in Indiana and Wisconsin violate the U.S. Constitution. Again a stay was issued on implementation pending appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
October 6, 2014 – the United States Supreme Court, shocking both sides in the battle, declined to hear appeals from Indiana and four other states, thus letting stand the 7th Circuit’s decision, resulting in the legalization of same sex marriage in Indiana and several other states. Marriage application forms have been amended to accommodate same sex applicants and these so called marriages have resumed.
As I wrote in response to the June 25 ruling, Mourning and Rejoicing, I was not surprised by this ultimate outcome, as the trajectory has been established for several years. I am deeply saddened about it because God’s creation order is being violated and the whole nation will suffer. You don’t need a Bible to have overwhelming evidence that this is unnatural. The damage is incalculable for the nation, for children, ultimately for those who flaunt God’s law as the Scripture declares such persons will not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:10)
But I repeat – This is not a time for despair. We American Christians have lived with the illusion that we are a majority, that we are a Christian nation. We do have a strong Judeo-Christian heritage that has informed our laws and I am sad to see that abandoned. But we will now have to learn how to live as a minority. It has been done before… like most Christians in the world today… like almost all Christians for 2000 years… and like all believers in the first century of the church.
What do we do with this? Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has an excellent post on this Same-Sex Marriage and the Supreme Court: What Now for the Church?
Moore appeals that we avoid two responses:
The first is the temptation to listen to those who would want to jettison a Christian sexual ethic in order to acclimate to the cultural moment. We have no authority to revise what Jesus has handed down to us. Our vision of marriage is not the equivalent of a church constitution and by-laws, adaptable by a majority vote. Marriage is not simply a cultural or legal practice, but is instead an icon of the union between Christ and his church, embedded in the creation (Eph. 5:22-31). Without a Christian vision of marriage, we have no Christian vision of the gospel.
The second, though, is to respond with a siege mentality. We wring our hands or shake our fists at the cultural moment in a way that also detracts from the gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in an era in which marriage is redefined and confused. So did many of our forefathers and foremothers, which is why the Bible is consistently equipping the churches to live in a world of prostitution and adultery and so on. The sexual revolution didn’t start at Woodstock. It is always with us.
I love Moore’s next line, We ought to have the confidence of people who have heard a word from God and the compassion of a people who are on a mission with God. The Supreme Court can do many things, but the Supreme Court cannot get Jesus back into his cemetery plot.
Then, his conclusion: Let’s hold fast to what the gospel reveals about the meaning of marriage and the gospel behind it. Let’s articulate a Christian vision of what marriage should be, and let’s embody that vision in our churches. Let’s love our gay and lesbian neighbors. Let’s move forward with persuasion and with confidence. This is no time for retreat or for resentment. This is a time for mission.
I still find this development a bitter pill to swallow because I know it will create a long term sour result for my country. Pastors may not be allowed to act as an agent of the state in performing weddings unless they are willing to do all wedding without discrimination. Businesses and professionals will be under assault for opting out of serving the wants of the GLBTQIA community. Direct persecution will result for some as Religious Liberty is under attack.
Who can predict how this will play out? But didn’t Jesus tell us it would be this way?
In this world you will have trouble… John 16:33.
Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. John 15:20.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:11.
But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
One thought on “What Next for the Church? Our Response to Same Sex Marriage”
Thank you, Pastor Macy, for your wise, truthful, compassionate, courageous preaching. I really appreciated the Sunday message today (in which you mentioned this blog post). I always look forward to worshipping & connecting with others at Faith Church when I visit my family in Indiana.