Our Response to the Attempt of Redefining Marriage
Last week Pastor Jonathan mentioned that the pastors wanted to say something about the recent Supreme Court ruling that attempted to redefine marriage. We didn’t say something last week, partly because the news came late in the week and we didn’t want to disrupt our plans for the service, and partly because we thought it would be appropriate to address it on the Fourth of July weekend.
We Are Not Surprised
The first thing to say is that we are not surprised by this decision. It is the culmination of the ongoing sexual revolution and it does reflect a view of sexuality and marriage and human nature held by an increasing number of our fellow citizens. And thus we can see it as an opportunity for us to listen and to understand why so many of our friends and neighbors view this as a great victory for human dignity and justice. In doing so, we can be better prepared to speak to them about Jesus, and how the hunger for acceptance that they feel will not be satisfied by Supreme Court decisions, or social affirmation, but only by the glad approval of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ in response to repentance and faith. The thrill of social acceptance will fade. The happy smile of our heavenly Father will not.
At the same time that we want to understand our neighbors, as a church we ought to grieve this decision. The Bible pronounces a woe upon those who call evil good and who call good evil. With this decision, the Supreme Court has done precisely that. Now, for many in our culture, and maybe for some in this room, it’s not obvious why that is so. And to you I’d say, we’d love to talk to you about why we lament what is an act of presumption against the living God on the part of the Court, and more importantly, why the normalization of sinful activity — activity that’s contrary to God’s design for human flourishing and a rejection of his authority as Maker and Savior—is something that we as Christians grieve. We’re not surprised, we are grieving, and we’re eager to explain why to those with questions.
We Should Respond Appropriately
Second, we should continue to think and pray and wrestle with the Scriptures so that we are able to respond appropriately in all situations. For example, the distinction between apostles from the world and refugees from the world, which we looked at in Acts 14, is incredibly relevant in the present moment. We must be prepared to joyfully resist our contemporary sexual Pharisees, who stand on what they think is “the right side of history” in their rainbow phylacteries, patting each other on the back on the way to the next awards ceremony. Boldness—that is, courage and clarity about sin and about Jesus—will be necessary if we’re to faithfully stand firm in this evil day.
At the same time, we must become the kind of church that eagerly welcomes refugees from the sexual revolution. Make no mistake; there will be increasing collateral damage as a result of this decision, and not just in relation to homosexuality, but from our culture’s entire choose-your-own-adventure approach to sexuality: fornication, adultery, divorce, enslavement to pornography, regret from transgender transitions, and more. The children of this revolution are and will be incredibly broken, and we must be a place where healing and restoration can happen because that’s who Jesus is.
We Need a Special Kind of Community
Finally, boldly resisting sexual Pharisees and compassionately welcoming sexual refugees will require a very special kind of community. Boldness in the face of cultural and political opposition doesn’t come out of nowhere. As in the book of Acts, it comes out of a godly, resilient community, committed to meeting each other’s needs, where the married and the unmarried alike are valued and embraced, with thick bonds of friendship and fellowship and love that can only be produced by the Spirit of God.
But we won’t be building this kind of community by retreating. Your pastors feel the burden to equip you with what the Bible says about sex and marriage and culture, and why we believe it, and how we should speak and engage and confront and listen in this present environment. So expect more on these subjects in the coming months. Pray for us, that we’d have the mind of Christ as we bring the Scriptures to bear on this situation in this congregation, and we welcome your questions.
But again, any teaching we do is not simply for our own sakes; we’re equipping you for mission, and being bold for the cities means moving to where the battle is hottest. We don’t get to choose the times in which we live. We don’t get to choose the ascendant and celebrated sins. But we do have the responsibility to preach about the reality of sin, and that Jesus is the only way out. The coming days may cost us. It may be that, in the coming years, to be faithful Christians means that we must be bad Americans. We may be called upon to joyfully accept the plundering of our property or the loss of our jobs or the removal of our tax-exempt status. And it’s not going to be fair. The devil never fights fair. But he’s brought the Supreme Court to a Resurrection fight, and our God knows his way out of the grave.
This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.
Prayer of Confession
Our Father and God, your word tells us that your wrath is revealed against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their unrighteousness suppress the truth. We live in a time of great truth suppression. Many in our culture and in these Cities are suppressing what it means to be human, and what it means to be a man and a woman, and what marriage and sex are ultimately for. And as a result, we are awash in a sea of sexual confusion and rebellion that will have and is having dire consequences for us as a people. Not only do many do things that Scripture and nature tell us are worthy of death, but we increasingly celebrate those who practice them. This is a great evil.
What’s more, as your covenant people, we have contributed to this confusion. We have run headlong into our own sexual foolishness, and we too have exchanged the truth for a lie and insisted that those lies are true. And so we seek your forgiveness for our own lusts, our own failures to honor the marriage bed, as well as our cowardice and desire to please man rather than God. We confess on this Independence Day weekend, that we are entirely dependent upon you. Grant us the grace to turn from our wickedness to Jesus, and to experience the depth of our need for you, that we might walk in the newness of life and so commend your beauty to the world.
We know, Father, that if we in the Church regard sin in our own midst, or in our own hearts, our prayers will be ineffectual. And so we confess our individual sins to you now.