Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Supreme Court, Same Sex Marriage, Religious Liberty, & the Return of Jesus Christ

On June 26th 2015 the Supreme Court declared same sex marriage legal in all 50 states of the USA.  Much of America declared victory with intense, flamboyant demonstrations.  On one of the most viewed pages on the Internet there was a comment from Google indicating their celebration of the Supreme Court ruling with a link to gay pride content.  On Facebook stickers appeared on the emoticons of "gay pride."  A free tool provided by Facebook helped users to switch their profile pictures coloring to show the gay pride rainbow colors.  The United States White House adjusted it's outside lights to the colors of the rainbow to demonstrate support for the ruling.  #SCOTUS #Cares trended on Twitter.  On both Twitter and Facebook the same sex ruling trended at #1 all day and all night.  Obama issued an official statement, saying "prayers have been answered."

I was feeling a bit left out.  Everyone celebrating and all.  I was also kind of curious who President Obama was praying to.  Many Christians had been praying, daily appealing to heaven that the Supreme Court might actually make a quality ruling.  Unfortunately that did not happen.  So follows another terrible landmark ruling for the Supreme Court.  They just keep lining up.  I felt deeply disturbed by the ruling, and troubled by the reaction of the public.  When the majority is so powerfully behind something like same sex marriage I start to wonder.  What's going on in this country?  Has everyone lost their mind?  Or perhaps, simply lost the ability to think clearly.  Same sex marriage, on the heart level, when appealing as a parallel to racism is very appealing.  My heart jumps right to it.  But then my mind says "wait a minute, something isn't right here."  Why should society endorse a practice that is medically unsafe and known to spread illness?  Why should society endorse the practice of sexuality centered around a part of the body meant for waste deposit?  It's a reasonable question I think.  

As Christians we know that God views homosexuality as a sinful practice.  Homosexuality is described as immoral in both the Old and New Testaments (Leviticus 18:22, 1 Cor 6:9-11).  The Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Romans: "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done" (Romans 1:26-28 ESV). 

I'm not a biblical scholar, but that seems pretty clear.  I don't understand how so many Christians are able to equivocate on the issue of gay marriage and pretend that somehow it's no longer a sin because they have a friend who said they were born that way.  Many are born with certain drives toward sinful behavior.  God asks us to overcome those urges, and take up our crosses and follow him.  Talk about gross prevarication.  But the appeal is strong, to stand on the battle lines with brothers and sisters of a different orientation to fight for rights!  Just like Selma!  Except... not quite.  When we get our minds involved, we start to realize that the issue has been distorted, and portrayed in a way inconsistent with reality.   You can't tell that to anyone though.  They'll cut you off, call you a heartless bigot, and say something like "love is love."  And suggest that you hate them.  Disagreement does not mean hatred of course.  People disagree all the time without hating.  But it's all a battle for the moral high ground.  If they can pin Christians as backwards bigots and haters, then they've taken the high ground, as victims of cruel oppression.  Or so goes the current media narrative.  

Christians are wondering how to respond to all of this.  I've been reading a great many statements regarding this issue from media, and Christian groups.  Very little has changed.  Jesus Christ is still Lord.  God is still God.  The Supreme court ruling only means that if the left pushes hard enough they can force immorality into law.  It's been done before, in Roe v. Wade.  Here it happens again.  Abortion is still child sacrifice, a disturbing horrifying genocide against unborn Americans.  And homosexuality is still an objectively immoral practice perpetrated by those who need prayer, love, and support.  But not by encouraging unhealthy behavior.  But by welcoming them to right living in Christ Jesus.

In my area there was a church outreach placed right next to a gay bar called the Oz.  While attending events at this church outreach in the past two years I saw several homosexual men carefully step into the doors.  I saw them receive love.  And I saw them abandon their former practices, and embrace the teachings of Jesus Christ.  It was a beautiful witness, and it reminded me that love means love, but it also means wisdom, moral living, and genuine changes in life.  

Supreme court justice Scalia had something interesting to say regarding the same sex case Obergefell v. Hodges.  He said, "It is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage.  It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today's decree says that my ruler, and the ruler of 320 million Americans coast to coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court."  That is a very important point.  Perhaps even more important than you or I realize.  At the state level citizens have more direct access to their representatives.  The Supreme Court, and overall the Federal level has taken it upon itself to dictate more and more thoroughly to the states regarding laws and enforcement of those laws.  It is a disturbing trend.  In addition, many would call the same sex ruling an example of judicial activism, or a case of trying to legislate from the bench.  The Supreme Court judges are suppose to interpret current law, not make new law.  But politics and political correctness seem to have won out again.  

Many believe that the Federal government has become entirely over bloated.  They are looking to Article V of the Constitution, calling for a convention of states to deal with the federal problem.  Interesting proposal to say the at least.  Interestingly, several states have already signed on.  Learn more about that initiative here.  

But that brings up an interesting point.  Same sex marriage is not the issue I would prefer to spend my time on.  Liberals and conservatives alike know that we have much more severe problems in the United States.  But the media endlessly pushes the same sex marriage drama on a national scale.  Why?  Because it's a hot issue for people, and because it keeps people distracted from the larger issues.  I would prefer to be dealing with the 17 trillion dollar debt problem.  I would prefer to be dealing with the mass surveillance of Americans and erosion of personal liberty in our country.  I would prefer to deal with the corruption on Wallstreet.  I would prefer to deal with the lobbying and bribery going on in Washington D.C.  I would prefer to keep working on abolishing human abortion and cutting the sex trade industry to ribbons.  But instead, it's all gay marriage all the time.  And yes, it's an important issue for the reason of marriage, but perhaps more so in that the issue of gay marriage is used to attack the Christian worldview and caricature it as backwards, intolerant, and fundamentally flawed.

Christians ask, how do we respond?  For starters I would recommend signing the elegant and firmly biblical "Here We Stand" declaration drafted by the Ethics and Religious Liberty CommissionClick here to view and sign the declaration.   As far as "what next?" I would recommend an article written for Christianity Today by evangelical Ed Stetzer on just that very topic.  Click here to read it.  Stetzer outlines the response of dedicated Christians: prayer, love, and continued vigilance.

Unfortunately it's clear that in other countries where same sex marriage was legalized, what inevitably follows is a sharp rise in religious liberty violations.  Just the same has occurred in Canada, Brazil, and the U.K.  Here is an article on that topic by The Federalist writer John-Henry Western: Click here.  

It's important to remember that we need to stand strong even in the face of government sanctioned religious oppression.  Jesus taught us to render to the government what belongs to the government, and render to God what belongs to God.  What belongs to God?  We belong to God.  And God's standard of marriage supersedes that of the left, the right, the Supreme Court, and the U.S. government.  Remember if you face legal or cultural attacks in the years to come, there are Christian legal agencies that will provide legal support for religious liberty cases.  Some of those agencies include Liberty Institute, Alliance defending Freedom, and the ACLJ

Ironically enough my friends, this recent news may be a miracle for the Christians of western civilization.  In China is the fastest growing Christian movement in the world.  A traveling evangelist once asked a Chinese pastor for prayer requests.  The Chinese pastor said, "Pray for persecution.  When there is persecution people here come together, and work hard to spread the gospel."  Many on the western side of the church of Jesus Christ have seemed half asleep.  These attacks on religious liberty and the erosion of marriage may unite the American church and help her to stand up tall for the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ.  God often wraps blessings in the guises of persecution.  

The most important thing is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is shared with the lost of this world.  Is a terrible judgment hanging over America?  I'm not certain.  I know there is a heavy weight on my shoulders, and on the shoulders of countless other Christians.  It is the burden of sadness we hold for the fate of the country we love so dearly, our home, the United States of America.  Such a burden is reasonable to hold, and we have gathered under a banner known as the "Appeal to Heaven" flag to remind ourselves to continue to pray and cry out for the future of our blessed home country.  But the USA is not truly our home.  We are foreigners in this world, and our home is with God.  We are just traveling through this world. 

Is Jesus Christ returning soon?  I certainly hope so.  Mark my words, he most certainly will return.  And many will be quite upset on that day.  But on that day I will be so glad, I will be so happy to see my savior.  My heart smiles just thinking of that day.  

Many will laugh at us for that hope.  Just as in the times of Noah the people laughed at Noah, what a dope they thought, building an ark on dry land.  They taunted him I'm sure.  Maybe they called him a backwards bigot, or a hater, or judgmental.  Noah just quietly kept building.  And then the waters came, and the Earth was flooded.  After the flood waters finally dissipated, a rainbow appeared on the horizon as a sign from God that he would never flood the Earth again.  And today we see that same rainbow, touted in support of gay pride.  I'm reminded of the Bible verse that states "And as it came to pass in the days of Noah, even so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." (Luke 17:26 ESV)  Jesus was speaking of his return to Earth in the future.  Many will mock and say "Where is he?"  Or as 2 Peter 3:4 (NLT) phrases it: "They will say, "What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created."  Might all the rainbow flags be reminding us of verses like these?  It's hard to say for certain.  It's a speculative approach, but there is some sound reasoning behind it.

In any case, we must remain vigilant.  We must stand for our religious liberty.  We must stand for the biblical definition of marriage.  We must continue to share the good news that Jesus Christ came to Earth, really lived, really died, and really reclaimed his life.  He is alive today. Jesus Christ is the only single leader of mankind and he will literally lead this Earth one day.  The world will be placed on notice regarding this timeless truth.  It's not a metaphor, it's not a narrative, it's not a nice story, it's a solid actual fact of reality.  It will happen.  Until that day, we must continue to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  That is all we can do.  Here we stand.  We can do no other.  In Jesus name, Amen.   

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