Wednesday, July 8, 2015

So, How Do We Respond to Gay Marriage?

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV)

The response of Christians toward gay marriage is as highly varied as the response toward all sin by Christians of different perspectives and theologies.  People make up churches and therefore the response of churches is as varied as the people which make them up.

Some churches spend a lot of effort beating up sinners.  Anger, name-calling, and statements of prejudice are not going to resolve the differences between those on either side of the gay marriage issue.  Yet, some feel it their calling to denounce not only sin but sinners.

Other churches have caved on sin.  Chip Ingram has rightly observed, “One group champions truth without love and another champions love without truth.”  Some pastors have preached truth without grace and it has caused great damage.  More often than not however, evangelical pastors have avoided the issue altogether. Several mainline denominations have legitimatized and even glorified homosexuality by ordaining gay clergy and performing same-sex unions. The mantra has become, “As long as you love each other then you can live like you want.  This is not the time for timidity in the church!  It’s time for churches to speak out and reach out to those who are confused and ensnared.  As our culture spins out of control we must maintain our call to be salt and light in a decaying and dark world.  You cannot sacrifice truth for love or acceptance.

Chip Ingram has rightly observed, “One group champions truth without love and another champions love without truth.”  More often than not however, evangelical pastors have avoided the issue altogether.  I don’t see silence as an option according to 2 Timothy 4:1-5 “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Some are calling for churches to change their stance on this issue in order to remain relevant.  Our aim is not to be politically correct, but to be biblically correct.

Our model is Jesus Christ.  We don’t want to cave into sin or clobber sinners but instead to follow Christ as our example. John 1:14 says that Jesus is “FULL of grace and truth.” The word “full” means, “abounding and abundant; complete and perfect.”  Likewise, we’re called to minister in truth and with grace.  Preaching about God’s heart on homosexuality certainly doesn’t seem to be “in season” but preach I must.  Our society is all about discussing “our rights” but we’re increasingly hesitant to declare, “what is right.” I would not be able to say that I love God or my neighbor if I stay silent.

So, what do I do? 
  1. Know what God says about homosexuality.  What does Scripture say? We don’t need to consult surveys or wonder what the Supreme Court will decide; we need to know what God has declared.  Make no mistake…it is the Word of God that is on trial here.  Your opinion does not matter.  God’s truth is the authority. 
  2. Be clear on the definition and purpose of marriage.  Actually, the term “gay marriage” is an impossibility because biblically marriage is defined by God to be monogamous between one man and one woman for life. Ronald Sider, in a recent Christianity Today article puts it like this: “This cannot be understated. Again and again, the Bible affirms the goodness and beauty of marriage between one man and one woman and at the same time it consistently condemns the immorality of sexual acts (heterosexual and homosexual) that do not honor that bond.”   Jesus said, "But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. "FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. "What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."  Mark 10:6-9 NASB
  3. Remember that everyone matters to God. Practicing homosexuals are still made in the image of God. They are sinners…and so are we. Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  4. Pray for those caught in the sin of homosexuality.  Reach out in love and look for ways to introduce them to Christ. Let’s move from us vs. them to us for them. I like what Christopher Yuan, a former homosexual, says: “God’s unconditional love is not the same as His unconditional approval of our behavior.”  We must welcome sinners without endorsing evil.
  5. Live with purity and watch our words and actions. We need to stop with the demeaning jokes and the unkind comments and the malicious names. Ephesians 5:3-4 “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”
Pointed fingers and condemnation are not tools of love and reconciliation.  May God grant us the same spirit we would want toward us if we were trapped by moral blindness in this world.

Scripture to Claim:
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

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