Sunday, June 28, 2015

Now That the Court Has Ruled, 'How Then Shall We Live?'

Let me open this posting by asking you a question.  Do you consider yourself a tolerant person?  If you say "yes," then whether or not you agree with what you are about to read, you will tolerate me, in the real sense of toleration, as a person of worth.  If you say "no," and choose to continue reading, then I would only ask you to do to think about this position that is different from your own and see if it makes sense to you.[1]

As a result of this past Friday's Supreme Court's decision, the church in America received a wake up call.  It was a wake up call from a deep, deep sleep and presented an "exam" that it is not prepared for.  The 5-4 decision, by the Supreme Court to legalize same sex marriage has given the Christian church in this country a huge essay question that resounds with the question, "how then shall we live?"  How are we to respond as Christians to the "apologists of the profane" railing against God ordained marriage?

Did Jesus have anything to say about same sex marriage and homosexuality in the gospels?[2] This is the question that I would like to address first, before I answer for us the "how then shall we live" question.  

Did Jesus Address Homosexuality and Same Sex Marriage?

Did Jesus address homosexuality and same sex marriage? The "ministers" and "theologians" who defend same sex marriage would vehemently answer this with a resounding response to the negative.  But in order to defend that answer, they have to manipulate the context of certain passages, that lead to a demonstration of eisogetical gymnastics in the attempt to support their position.[3] 

Bearing this mind, allow me to share three passages and make some short comments that need to be considered.

First, in Matthew 19:4-6 (c.f., Mark 10:6-9) Jesus was asked a question about the lawfulness of divorcing one's wife, for any reason at all. In responding to this question Jesus addresses His challengers' question by taking them back to "the beginning," in Genesis, where God created the first man and woman (Genesis 1:26). Further along in Genesis (chapter 2), we see that God "made them male and female and said 'For this reason a man shall leave his mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh"(Genesis 2:24). 

So Jesus believed in the original Genesis account and shared God's original plan for mankind, the family and ultimately society as a whole. The meaning of anything is found in its origin, and the meaning of the family goes all the way back to the beginnings of human civilization.

Second, some argue that Jesus never spoke on the subject of homosexuality. Making such a statement is what is called an argument from silence. But is it really? Those making this claim neglect to see the  background of Jesus' addressing the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as a dramatic example of God's judgment (Matthew 10:15, Luke 10:12, and Luke 17:29). 

All through the Old Testament, the prophets described these cities as being notorious for advocating and participating in homosexual practices (Genesis 18:20, Genesis 19:4-5, Isaiah 3:9, Jeremiah 23:14; and Ezekiel 16:46-59). Jesus fully knew about this and that what was to be understood about these two cities.  

Third, in Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, "Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law and the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill."  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Lw and the Prophets who foretold His coming, life, betrayal, death and resurrection.  

So what does the Law and the Prophets refer to?  The Law consists of Five Books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. The books of the Law describe what sexual behaviors God did not condone. They also prescribe what sexual practices are not natural behaviors between two people of the same gender (Genesis 19:1-11; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13).

May I also note that when Jesus says that He has come to fulfill the Law and Prophets it does NOT mean that Christians today should seek to practice the Old Testament punishment of stoning someone who violates the moral laws set forth in the Levitical passages?  This is because of the cross, and Christ taking the penalty for our sins. He took them for me, and He took them for you as well.

Which brings me back to answer the "how should we then live" question.  How are we to respond as Christians to the apologists seeking to destroy the sanctity of marriage and traditional family?

What Should Be Our Response as the Church?

I think it is clear that with the erosion of truth in our culture, the moral foundations are decayed. As a result we have lost our moral compass and moorings that were rooted and grounded in the Judeo Christian faith.  But now we need to ask same question posed by late Francis Schaeffer, who saw the trends of this nation leading us to where we are today. The question of "how then shall we live?" should be ringing in our churches, and our homes.  This is the essay question that we need to answer.

Allow me a six point answer for you and I to consider. There may be additional options and some may wish to expand on these.  But let me just give six points, and none of them affirm or celebrate the Court's decision.  Here we go. . . 

Point #1: This is nothing new in the history of the church.  From its earliest beginnings, whether on the margins of society or in a place of influence, the Christian church has been and will always be defined by the gospel.  Marriage has been, and its definition will always be defined by the God who first ordained the institution.

Bearing this in mind we still need to respect and pray for our governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7) at the local, state, and federal levels of governing authorities. Some are going to respond in favor,  while others will disagree with the ruling by the federal court.  How we disagree will be reflected in the attitude that we take. 

Point #2: Because philosophical and moral relativism are having a driving influence in this day, we need to understand that we now live in a sexually profane and broken culture. As believers, we need to communicate the truth about biblical marriage in a way that will bring healing to this sexually broken culture. Not all celebrating this now will be celebrating it later.  This decision will have its "shipwrecks," and the Church needs to be ready to minister healing to those who are broken.

Point #3:  We need to understand the biblical mandate that ALL PERSONS, including those who have chosen the LGBT lifestyle, are created in the image and the likeness of God, and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.[3] We will neither agree with the choices, nor celebrate and nor affirm but we still can love the person for the sake of Christ, and be there for them when consequences of  unnatural choices impact and breakdown their lives.

Point #4: We need to love our neighbors as ourselves regardless of whatever disagreements arise as a result of conflicting beliefs about morals, truth and specifically marriage. This is where the rubber meets the road on being an ambassador for Christ, not a judge. People who reject Christ are already judged (John 3:18), but there is still hope for them to repent.

Remember the second part of the Great Commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But also remember, that as an ambassador you cannot do that without obeying the first, of loving God "with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind."

Point #5:  Following this thought of living out the Great Commandment, we need to live respectfully and civilly with those who may disagree with us for the sake of the common good. This issue is going to create fragments in our culture. It may divide friends, and family but we need to remember who we serve and we need to live out the gospel with conviction, gentleness and respect.

Point #6:  We need to understand our freedom under the context of religious liberty.  We still have those liberties, and we need to cultivate them peacefully.  We are being told that those liberties are still in tact.  Time will tell if that holds true. But for this time, we have our freedom, which allows all those who differ to live and believe, and even prosper.

Conclusion.

I know not all of my friends and family will agree, but I love you regardless of your view and value you as a person and friendship. Even when we disagree, we need to be able to talk to each other - not spew hate & call each other names (which does not align with what it means to serve Christ).  

I think it is clear that we, the church, have our work cut out for us.  Hopefully this will give you at least a some starting thoughts for giving a response and not a reaction toward what has happened to this nation and what is yet to come.  We need to pray for courage, and boldness, and carry that forth with gentleness and respect.[4]


Notes
[1] In either case, I would only ask that if you are going to post a comment, you will do it in a cordial fashion. Ad hominem and other forms of verbal violence will not be tolerated.

[2] The gospels are not late writings, but were completed well before the end of the First Century, so Jesus words are not redacted nor unclear.

[3] Eisogesis is a subjective approach to a passage of Scripture. Reading into text something that isn’t there at all. Greek. Same root as exegesis with different prefix. "eis" means "into."

[4] This ministry does not agree, nor do we condone that actions of Westboro Baptist Church, and we believe them to be totally antithetical to the Christian demonstration of the gospel of Christ.


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