The latest challenge to marriage blew up in the chambers of the Supreme Court today as Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, which ruled that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits. The rulings leave in place laws banning same-sex marriage around the nation, and the court declined to say whether there was a constitutional right to such unions. However, there are now 13 states that currently allow for same-sex marriages and with the extension of federal benefits to them you can bet many states will be pressured to adopt same-sex marriages.
Now I’m no political pundit or news commentator, but you can bet this story will be filling the airwaves with an endless parade of opponents and proponents of this contentious issue. Activists, actors, preachers and politicians will have much to say about how this is either eroding the foundations of faith and family or making us a more enlightened, progressive nation. I doubt any cameras or mics will be put in my face for feedback on this ruling, but since we are still free to blog on the web I thought I would throw in my thoughts.
First, let me encourage my friends who fret and worry about the injustice of this ruling and the impact it will have on our nation. Many Christians will argue in public and carry their signs to protests, hoping to overpower the “powers to be” and sway public opinion. They will talk of the sinfulness of same-sex unions and demand that it is contrary to our nations traditional views. They will get all up in arms and act surprised that this has happened and then finally give up and return home… hopeless, angry, dejected and worried about the future of America. Let me offer a different response.
While I disagree with the courts decision I don’t feel threatened by it or even surprised by the outcome. To be threatened means something is vulnerable to attack, which marriage is not. The sanctity and ultimate definition of marriage is secure, as it was created and is upheld by the Word of the Lord. My marriage license, issued by McLennan County, affords me certain benefits from the state, but does not define my marriage or dictate how I love and care for my wife. I could move across the globe and my marriage will continue to be a picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not because we are good but because the mystery of marriage is rooted in the eternal relationship Christ has with His church. Like the covenant God has with His chosen people, I share a covenantal bond with Lydia that is endorsed by and held together by our Lord and Savior. No nation or high court can rob me of that or transcend the true nature of marriage. Since the dawn of creation God created man and woman to be united as one flesh and to demonstrate that through their holy vows and through sexual union… a unique union made possible by our physical design. The Supreme Court cannot erode, remove or change what the God of the heaven and earth has decreed.
I am certainly not surprised by this latest ruling. I have a Bible that tells me a story of nations that rise and fall in accordance with their allegiance to God. When a people bow before the living God and seek His face for wisdom and direction… their laws and culture reflect His character. When they don’t, the culture goes the way of man’s wisdom and desires, which always bends toward meeting the felt needs of each other. This requires the least amount of sacrifice and the maximum amount of personal pleasure. I also watch just enough prime time TV to know that the world has stripped away (no pun intended) our natural modesty about sexuality. They have convinced us, through entertainment, that same sex relationships are not only acceptable, but in many ways are more enlightened, happy and well adjusted than opposite-sex couples.
The court of public opinion is shifting and the Supreme Court is too. So what’s next? Do you want to paint one of those cheap poster boards and head to the capital? Write a letter to Obaman? Boycott CBS and Fox? How about another option.
What if instead of condemning a culture for it’s choices we began engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ through authentic friendships. Not offering up our scripted story with 5 points or 4 laws! What if you and I, with the confidence of Jesus Christ living in us, simply began to live in the world with a desire to make friends with people of the world? What if we sought friendship with those whose lives are contrary to ours and connected the gospel story of hope and freedom and restoration and joy, with their story. Perhaps we have forgotten that Jesus was a friend to sinners, ate dinner with tax collectors and drank at the well with an adulterous woman. If he boycotted or protested it was not against the world… but against the hypocrites in the church. His righteous indignation was reserved for the religious arrogance that permeated the church, while his love and compassion was extended to those outside the church.
I believe in sin and that it separates mankind from God. Without Christ satisfying God’s wrath against me and graciously offering me his mercy, I shutter to think what my life would be like. And I wonder who would be willing to sit across the bar from me and tell me the great story of Jesus and invite me to follow him. Would you?
Gay marriage is on the fast track in America, but it’s simply a picture of what has always existed in every culture since the garden of Eden. What people need is not our protests but our willingness to tell the story of Jesus and call them, out of love, to repentance and faith. The outcome is up to God, but the message has been imparted to us to share with the world. Let us carry the gospel in our hearts and on our lips into a world that needs it more than they know. If not us… who?