Gay Marriage, Golden Opportunity

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Note: Even though this article was written two years ago in response to another SCOTUS decision on gay marriage, I believe my thoughts are even more relevant today.  Hence, the repost. 

As you probably know by now, the Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and has declined to uphold California Prop 8 which protected traditional marriage.  These landmark decisions continue to push our country towards legal gay marriage.  On the one hand, this is disturbing for Christians who are concerned about the continued redefinition of a God-given institution.  On the other hand, this is an exciting time to be a Christian in this nation and believers have been given a golden opportunity.

Russell Moore has posted an outstanding response that all Christians should read.  Moore rightfully suggests that the shifting views on marriage have profound implications on our gospel witness because “marriage isn’t incidental to gospel preaching.”  He goes on to say,

imagesThere’s a reason why persons don’t split apart like amoebas. We were all conceived in the union between a man and a woman. Beyond the natural reality, the gospel tells us there’s a cosmic mystery (Eph. 5:32).

God designed the one-flesh union of marriage as an embedded icon of the union between Christ and his church. Marriage and sexuality, among the most powerful pulls in human existence, are designed to train humanity to recognize, in the fullness of time, what it means for Jesus to be one with his church, as a head with a body.

And here’s where our opportunity lies.

I have thought for quite some time that this cultural conversation on marriage is a golden opportunity for the gospel that has been dropped right in our laps.  Sometimes it can be challenging to turn conversations with people towards the gospel, but this issue makes it about as easy as it’s ever been.  Marriage is already on people’s minds, people are already talking about it, and people are very interested in it.

Sadly, I’ve seen some Christians miss this opportunity.  Sometimes we Christians merely settle for “God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” or “The state has an interest in preserving traditional marriage” and we just leave it at that.  While those things may be true, is that really all we’ve got?  Is that the best message we can give the world?  Heaven forbid!  This is our time to tell of a Cosmic love story that began before the foundation of the world as God the Father had a Bride picked out for His Son.  And this Son would fight for His Bride, destroy the Dragon that savaged her, restore His Bride, clean up His Bride, and cherish her forever.  Ephesians 5:22-33 reveals to us that marriage, as God designed it, is meant to be a parable of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church.

And this is not just about gay marriage.  Any tampering of marriage is wrong because any tampering of marriage tells lies about Jesus Christ.  God detests adultery because Jesus Christ always keeps His promises and is faithful to His Bride.  God hates divorce because Jesus Christ will never part ways with His Bride.  Wife-beating is wrong because Jesus Christ will never abuse His Bride.  Polygamy is wrong because Jesus Christ has only one Bride, the Church.  You see, the institution of marriage has been assaulted long before anyone ever thought of gay marriage.

It was first assaulted in Genesis 3,images when Adam refused to protect and provide for Eve as he passively stood by and let her be enticed by the serpent instead of crushing the reptile’s skull.  Adam’s loveless and selfish passivity told lies about Jesus Christ who always defends His Bride and in fact, Jesus turns out to be the serpent-crushing Hero prophesied in Genesis 3:15.  He won where Adam lost.  And how did Jesus, in love, defend and rescue His Bride?  Go back to that marriage passage in Ephesians 5 that says,

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives… (Eph 5:25-28)

imagesJesus “gave himself up for her” through His death on the cross which paved the way for our forgiveness and restoration.  Jesus’ death and resurrection was the serpent-crushing blow that rescued His captive Bride from the reptile’s clutches.  The reason we wish to uphold marriage as God intended is because we wish to uphold the gospel.  And again, this “marriage moment” in our culture is a golden opportunity.  Dr. Moore agrees.  He says,

This gives Christian churches the opportunity to do what Jesus called us to do with our marriages in the first place: to serve as a light in a dark place. Permanent, stable marriages with families with both a mother and a father may well make us seem freakish in 21st-century culture. But is there anything more “freakish” than a crucified cosmic ruler? Is there anything more “freakish” than a gospel that can forgive rebels like us and make us sons and daughters? Let’s embrace the freakishness, and crucify our illusions of a moral majority…we have the opportunity, by God’s grace, to take marriage as seriously as the gospel does, in a way that prompts the culture around us to ask why.

Amen.  Let’s seize this moment.  The next time you are in a conversation with someone about marriage, tell them about the ultimate purpose of marriage as a gospel reflecting parable.  Some may say, “I can’t say that.  They don’t even believe the Bible!”  I say, “Jesus has commanded us to preach the Gospel to a world that doesn’t believe the Bible.  They may or may not believe.  But one thing is guaranteed, they won’t believe unless there is a preacher (Rom 10:14). Therefore, go and make disciples…”

Church, let’s not miss this opportunity!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer

Seeking a better country

imagesI’ve been sensing a lot of angst out there lately from Christians regarding the state of our country.  Some are concerned about losing the right to bear arms, some are concerned about the NSA controversy and privacy.  Others are very alarmed over the recent IRS scandal.  Still others are in shock and dismay over how quickly the tide seems to be turning regarding gay marriage.  Many are very concerned about Americans losing certain liberties that we’ve enjoyed for years.  And there are always folks who are worried that one political party or another is going to bring this nation down.

My advice?  Relax.  Please.

imagesDon’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that the concerns that many are raising are not legitimate.  I, too, see things happening in our nation that I do not approve of.  And I most certainly believe that we should take advantage of the freedom we have to debate the issues of the day in the public square.  We all should be informed about what’s happening in our nation, vote as we see fit, and support causes that we think are good for our nation and fellow citizens.  I, myself, have been pretty vocal about my concern for the holocaust called abortion and plan on continuing to express what I think is right.

imagesHowever, I am concerned that a growing number of Christians are becoming obsessed to a very unhealthy degree with fighting for “our rights” and ranting against certain politicians and political parties and platforms.  And I am concerned that it is giving a watching world the impression that we are putting our hopes in government, or a political ideal, or a certain party, or particular legislation.  And I suppose some may have unintentionally crossed that line.  As they say, “If the shoe fits….”

Related to this, it seems some Christians are operating out of fear and anger which leads to hiding in our Christian bubbles or savaging people who disagree with us.  I think either response undermines our responsibility to live out the Great Commission (to preach and make disciples of Jesus) which is actually more important than whether or not the government is listening to my phone calls or whether or not my guns are taken away.

imagesIf we are going to enter the political discourse with those we disagree with, can we at least try to remember what the Scriptures say about our interactions with others?  Like, “You are the light of the world” and a “city on a hill.” (Matt 5:14).  And contrary to what I’ve heard some politicians say America is not what Jesus had in mind.  Rather, Jesus is challenging His followers to let that light shine in a way that unbelievers “may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16) And if Jesus calls us to love someone who is about to chop off our head because we are a Christian, (Matt 5:44-45) surely he expects us to love that Republican or Democrat that is getting under our skin.

A verse that is particularly convicting for me is found in 2 Tim 2:24-25 where Paul says, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone… correcting his opponents with gentleness.”  Yes, I know Paul is writing this to a pastor but do we really want to say that only pastors are commanded to be “not quarrelsome” and “kind” and “gentle” and all the other Christians can be as cranky and cantankerous as they want when they are debating politics?

I doubt it, especially since the fruit of the Spirit includes kindness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23)and if you don’t have the Spirit you’re not a Christian at all.  (Rom 8:9)  Am I perfect in these areas?  No way.  I write to you as a fellow sinner struggling and sometimes failing to apply what Christ said to my life.  But I yearn to better reflect my Master, and I’m assuming you do too, so my goal is to exhort, encourage, and stir you up for good works. (Heb 10:24)

Finally, let’s remember that our ultimate citizenship and allegiance is not to America.  As Christians, we are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God and our local churches are little embassies, tiny outposts representing a better country.

imagesOur ultimate allegiance is to Jesus Christ and His Gospel, which includes not only a message of hope and forgiveness for sinners, but also a message that Jesus is Emperor of the Cosmos, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.  And one day the King will return and overthrow all earthly powers, (even the good ole USA if it’s still around) and establish a good and perfect Kingdom where all of the liberty and all of the justice and all of the goodness you’ve ever desired in a homeland will be present for you to enjoy and all the bad guys will be finally dealt with.

God is determined to make this come to pass.  But for now, He is still in the process of making new citizens for this future Kingdom by giving men and women amnesty for their rebellion through the power of the Gospel.  And make no mistake, the Gospel will advance throughout the earth no matter who is in charge of what country.  Just ask China.

It’s good to love America and want it to be a better nation.  As far as earthly nations are concerned, there’s no place I’d rather be a citizen of.  I know many believers are rightfully concerned about the direction the country is headed in, but I think more American Christians need to show another face to the culture.  Instead of an angry face with clenched fists desperately trying to grab on to what is “ours”, it is time for us to show an increasingly joyful and hopeful spirit. Joyful because in Christ we possess a Treasure more valuable than anything we could gain at the ballot box.  Hopeful because we know that despite the things we see happening that grieve us, we know that the world as it is now isn’t all there is.  The question is, “Does the world think we really believe this based on how we act?”  Are we showing the world the things we preach are true when we dive bomb into despair and depression or fear and anger when our guy didn’t win the election?  Or when the political opposition gets it’s way on a given issue?

imagesHebrews 11 tells us how our spiritual ancestors, Abraham and the patriarchs of old were, “…looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God….having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Heb 11:10-16)

If you are in Christ, this is your glorious destiny.  So even if America is weakened or even destroyed (and one day it will be, one way or another), relax.  You’ll be fine.  Your true homeland is a much better country and will never be shaken.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer