It has been a week since the Supreme Court’s slim decision to legalize “gay marriage” here in America. Proponents are claiming a monumental victory and others are grieved over the direction our country is heading. The blogosphere has lit up and social media is fully engaged – nearly everyone has an opinion on this emotionally-charged subject.
From what I’ve seen, the Christian response has primarily centered around two topics: redefining our biblical position and second, how to prepare for a potential tsunami of attacks. Overall, the material has been solid and I applaud my brothers and sisters who are standing firm on the truth and desire to respond to others in love.
With that said, let me add my ingredients to the mixing bowl as we consider this issue from another direction. While I am not pleased with the high court’s verdict for a variety of reasons, I do believe that their decision will strengthen a presently weak American church and show itself to be a greater blessing in disguise. The potential for such strengthening is outlined in the following four points.
1. Greater Gospel Opportunity
One day after the court’s ruling, I was eating pizza with my son at a local restaurant. Moments after we sat down, I couldn’t help hearing four adults speaking about this issue (we talk loudly here in NJ!) and expressing their curiosity as it pertained to the Bible’s teaching. Immediately I felt compelled to introduce myself and enter their conversation. We talked about the biblical perspective of homosexuality and the conversation easily transitioned into a Gospel presentation.
Despite the headlines, Christians aren’t “haters”. Hating goes against everything our Savior taught us! We love all people including our enemies, right? And what is love? According to 1 Corinthians 13:6, “[Love does] not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” We “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). And the truth of Scripture is clear: taking their place among many other unrepentant sinners, “homosexuals…will [not] inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9, 10). Simply put, to give unqualified approval for homosexuality is to keep people from heaven! Can it get more unloving than that?
Praise God that people are talking about eternal realities. May we rise to the occasion with the message of God’s grace and forgiveness and transformation! Remember, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).
2. Greater Boldness
In the past week, I have never seen more believers take a bold stance for their faith. Conversations at work, social media posts and discussions with friends – those who oppose “same-sex marriage” can no longer be quiet. We have been forced to get off our tails and study the issue. Then we can’t in good conscience sit back and watch God’s clear intentions for marriage maligned, the Word of God misinterpreted and the perspectives of fellow believers misunderstood. Sure, we were pushed into this corner, but remaining silent is no longer an option. God has given His children the red carpet to share what they believe. And despite knowing in advance we will be attacked for our beliefs, countless Christians have still boldly decided to clearly express their convictions.
While many would assume that fear drives away boldness, quite the contrary is true when one is empowered by the Holy Spirit. Persecution is often the necessary ingredient when coupled with God’s grace that makes a believer bold. Take for example the Apostles. Despite the “threats” they received (Ac. 4:29), “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Ac. 4:31). The Apostle Paul, when confined in prison as a result of his biblical beliefs, remarked, “[In] all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20). To the Thessalonians he said, “But after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the Gospel of God amid much opposition” (1 Thes. 2:2). Let’s keep asking God “that utterance may be given to [us] in the opening of [our] mouth[s], to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel” (Eph. 6:19).
3. Greater Clarification of True Believers
Throughout church history, one of the greatest problems the church in this world has faced is keeping the world out of the church. Unsaved people are welcome in our churches, but unsaved people (especially when they think they are saved) can easily dilute the church’s purity in her commitment to Christ. When society makes it peaceful or popular to be a Christian, the church is often at its weakest. Everybody is joining the ranks. Yet when it costs something to be a Christian, the phony believers are quick to jump ship. Oftentimes the church (the unsinkable ship) is then only left with a small remnant of true sailors sold-out for the cause.
In the early church it was sacrificing to the patron gods of their respective trade guilds or bowing down to Caesar as lord. The false believers compromised. True believers stood firm and paid for it dearly. Though to a lesser degree, I believe this issue, unlike any other in our generation, has served as a dividing line between true and false believers. The sides have been clearly delineated. Neutrality is no longer an option. Jesus told us to “consider the cost” before following Him (Lk. 14:28). Genuine believers are now learning what that means.
A powerful current has rapidly swept through our country. It has seized many in its deadly waters who have been pulled from their Christian moorings. My prayer is that the Lord will cause them to “wake up” and “remember what [they] have received and heard; and keep it, and repent” (Rev. 3:2, 3). May they emerge from the undercurrent of superficial talking points. May they detect the rising tide they entered when polygamists and pedophiles say “my turn” (which they are!). May the persecution of believers allow them to fill their lungs with fresh Christ-adoring and church-loving oxygen. May they remember that the ultimate lifesaving liberation is found only through Jesus Christ.
4. Greater Unity
Lastly, I believe this recent issue will galvanize the universal church community. Christians are created by Christ to be warriors. Sadly, we have not done too well in the spiritual battle over sin (Eph. 6:12). Additionally, since the inception of our nation, society has been rather accepting of us. Sure, we’ve fought, but the majority of our fighting has been against one another. We have publicly aired our contentions with other believers over the airwaves of a watching world ready to pounce on our disunity. Even worse, we have shot our own, watching fellow believers within our ranks drop off from the friendly-fire of the unfriendly bullets named discrimination, judgmentalism and unforgiveness.
Christians are rapidly becoming a minority. We need to bond together like never before. Let’s remember that it is not only our individual churches, but also the universal church of God that is one in Christ, knit together in love.
As a dear brother recently said, “This is not a time to flight, fear or fold.” Both the Bible and history teach us that the bride of Christ has always shined her brightest when experiencing persecution. True love has already won when our heavenly Husband defeated death, the devil and sin at Calvary. By God’s grace, may we make the most of this opportunity by welcoming others to enjoy this divine marriage!