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“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." -Matthew 5:13-16
Last week, in a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the United States Supreme Court voted 5-4 saying that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. In spite of vigorous opposing arguments, it is now the law of the land.
The decision set to motion celebrations in many corners of the nation, while causing angst among opponents who wonder what will be the future outcome for those who oppose this basic “Fundamental right,” (Justice Kennedy’s phrase).
The speed in which public opinion turned on this issue has been nothing short of breathtaking. Just five years ago 36% of Americans were in favor of gay marriage. Last week, just before the verdict, that number stood at 61%.
The Church has always found itself in cultures which do not share its ethics and values, yet our charge has always remained the same: To be a catalyst in seeing fractured, broken people (and communities) in rebellion against a holy and loving God, come to know peace with him, personal transformation and healing through the power and amazing grace of the gospel message.
Christian standards informed by biblical imperatives have always taught us that God’s plan for human sexuality is to be expressed only in a monogamous, lifelong relationship between one man and one woman within the framework of marriage. This Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage doesn’t change that one bit.
Yet some among our own community seem confused and have bought into the deception at the core of last week’s decision. I have to think that the swift current of public opinion towards acceptance has something to do with that.
Though God is love (1 John 4:16) and the singular echo of Christ-followers must reflect this immutable character quality towards each other and towards the lost, Christ-followers are commanded to live as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8) exposing the deeds of those darkened in their understanding (5:11), not joining them in celebrating the institutionalization of sin (Romans 1:29-32).
So, before you join the national party and raise the rainbow flag, I simply ask everyone at The Crossing to ponder these twenty questions, which I gleaned, edited, and added to from an article published by The Gospel Coalition that was recently sent to me. I hope it will serve as ballast as we wade into what for many, are unchartered waters:
1. If you have recently come to a new understanding about gay marriage, what scriptural references led you to change your mind?
2. How would you make a positive case from scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?
3. The apostle Paul said that the marriage between a husband and wife depicts Christ’s loving relationship with the church. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?
4. Do you think Jesus would have blessed homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?
5. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman? (Genesis 2:24).
6. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1:21-27?
7. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?
8. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?
9. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think men like Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp biblically?
10. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your understanding is not culturally conditioned?
11. How would you define marriage, and what scriptural verses would you use to establish that definition?
12. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?
13. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?
14. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?
15. If not, why not?
16. Do you think that it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?
17. If “love wins,” how would you define love?
18. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?
19. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?
20. If you consider yourself an evangelical and you support gay marriage, how has your support helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?
These are important questions. Hopefully God will use them to inform and shape our understanding of his will and his ways as he continues to bring hope, healing and grace to our shattered world through his church.