Biblical Fidelity in a Shifting Culture
July 23, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Four weeks ago the Supreme Court of the United States announced their ruling which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. While not unexpected, and the topic having been hotly debated for years both in political and ecclesiastical spheres, reactions to the ruling have been abundant and vastly variant. Some have asked for my opinion and perspective on the decision. While I am no political or cultural expert, I am a pastor, committed to the Word of God and seeking to make known God’s truth. I believe the Bible is not silent regarding God’s standards for marriage and the church’s responsibility in a shifting culture. If I call people to anything, I want to call people to be faithful to God’s revealed truth in Scripture.
First, our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, has issued two officials statements this year regarding same-sex marriage. On March 18 Roy Taylor, the stated clerk for the denomination, stated, “We believe that, from creation, God ordained the marriage covenant to be a unique bond between one man and one woman.” This was in response to the Presbyterian Church (USA) deciding to allow their pastors to officiate same-sex marriages. Then again on June 27 Taylor reissued this statement, “The PCA, like other evangelical, conservative, orthodox, and traditional Christians from many denominations, believes that from creation God ordained the marriage covenant to be a bond only between one man and one woman.,” following the SCOTUS ruling. As a member of the PCA, and based on our own commitment to the authority of Scripture, the leadership of Oak Hills is in full agreement with these statements.
Second, I encourage you to glean from Kevin DeYoung’s wisdom on this topic. DeYoung, who has been leading his congregation through the process of transferring into the PCA, has written extensively about same-sex marriage. You can read his blog posts “But What Does the Bible Say?” and “40 Questions Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags,” which followed the ruling. You can also read his book, What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?. I appreciate DeYoung because of his commitment to be faithful to Scripture with humility and grace.
Third, let me share with you some pastoral encouragement regarding what you should do.
1. Submit to the Authority of Scripture. Feelings and cultural whims shift daily and will continue to shift on many different topics. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Is. 40:8). Be a Christian of the Book. Be ready to submit to God’s truth, even when it is not convenient for you.
2. Pray. Paul commands not to be anxious but to pray (Phil. 4:6). In almost every letter he writes Paul asks the recipients to pray for him, for the sake of his ministry (i.e. Eph. 6:19-20 & 2 Thes. 3:1-2). Jesus exhorted his followers to pray (Matt. 9:37-38; Luke 18:1-8, 22:40, 46). Peter calls his readers to pray (1 Peter 4:7). All of these were in contexts of adversity and need.
3. Humble yourself. Nowhere in the Bible will you find a differentiation between sins and sinners. Sin is sin is sin. And we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). None of us inherit the kingdom of God by our own righteousness (compare Is. 64:6 with 1 Cor. 6:9). It is only by the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ that we are saved. And God’s grace is sufficient to save anyone, through faith (Rom. 1:16 with 1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 2:1-9). In our humility, let’s be outspoken in making known the astonishing grace of God.
4. Love you neighbor. Much can (and has been) be said about this second greatest command. Let me highlight one detail from Jesus. In his parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus doesn’t allow us to focus on asking who is my neighbor, but he directs us to be the kind of neighbor who sacrificially loves others and having mercy on those in need. Let’s go and do likewise (Luke 10:37).
5. Do Not Fear. Many Christians have responded to the recent ruling with fear of what else may transpire. Restriction of freedom of religion? Persecution? We have no way of knowing what the future holds, but Jesus already has made clear what Christians ought to expect in this world. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Even Peter commanded his readers to not be surprised by tribulation (1 Pet. 4:12). Our courage in facing the future is not rooted in the circumstances of current events, but in the supreme and sovereign ruler of the universe. Jesus will reign eternal and is able to save to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25).