6 Tips for God’s People in Response to a Culture Changed by Court Decree

Rainbow Sunset

While I do not want to become one of those guys who perpetually toots out only one tune, and I certainly do not want to make gay marriage or homosexuality the priamary notes of that tune, I do want to follow up yesterdays post with another reflecting on appropriate responses to the Supreme Court rulings yesterday.  This one is from an acquaintance, John Freeman, President of Harvest USA.


As the Supreme Court struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and the referendum of Proposition 8 in California, it certainly seems that the tide of our culture will continue to steadily move in the direction of the acceptance of gay marriage. So, what now? How are followers of Jesus Christ, and the church, to think about and respond to the recent decision by the Supreme Court? It is crucial that the church as an institution, and individual believers, respond well. John Freeman, president of Harvest USA, a ministry devoted to those struggling with sexual sin, thinks that the best response of the church now is to do the following six things:

1. We should not lash out in anger or be afraid

A fight or flight response is normal when cataclysmic events occur. But both these instinctual responses are unhelpful and unproductive. My wife has often told me, “John, when you speak or react out of fear or anger . . . bad things come out of your mouth.” She is usually right. Admittedly, we may legitimately fear where this decision will next take our nation; and we may legitimately be angry over how God’s design for the institution and function of marriage as it has historically benefited society is being hijacked. But we need to keep this in mind: As believers, our true citizenship is in heaven. We must think and act like those whose world has been impacted but not devastated.

I think a more productive response would be that of grief. We need to be grieved at what happened, grieved at the state of the culture, and grieved at how blind people are to the truth. Jesus wept over Jerusalem and her refusal to turn to him as their shepherd, and the Old Testament displayed a similar common response to tragic national events, where the people grieved in sackcloth and ashes.

Just grieve? Doesn’t seem very productive or helpful. It feels so powerless! Yes, but we need to remind ourselves that the “weakness” of the church is how the power of God is best displayed. The reason we don’t have to be angry or afraid is because . . .

2. We need to remind ourselves that God is still on the throne . . . neither slumbering nor sleeping

Although decided in the private chambers of the Supreme Court, this has not happened out of God’s sight. He is the God who knows all and sees all. This is beyond our rational understanding, but by faith we believe that God remains in control over all things, even over the decisions made by man and society that veer away from his wisdom. To respond with anger or abject fear is to forget this

Why God has allowed the acceptance of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage to be so prominent today will remain a mystery at some level. Why he has allowed it to split churches, denominations and families must also be trusted to his providence. We only know what Scripture does tell us: that this is a broken world, a world where his image-bearers are in rebellion against him and his intentional design for creation. Nothing really new here.

We must, as his followers, trust in Him at all times, especially when it seems that ungodliness has the upper hand. This is the courage of faith, and that courage must also move us to . . .

3. Boldly and gently proclaim the ultimate destructiveness of ungodly actions

While many will celebrate this decision as the advancement of an enlightened society and a triumph of inclusiveness and tolerance, the reality is that actions made in opposition to God’s design carry with them significant consequences. Several years ago noted pastor, teacher and author, James Boice, said, “It’s God’s world, not our world. Although we may want to rewrite the rules, we can’t, because it’s God’s world. And sin is destructive, whether or not we admit or agree, it’s still destructive.” By removing the definition of marriage from its historical and God-designed nature as being between one man and one woman, how long will it be before other forms of “marriage” will be legal (such as polygamy and polyamory)? What will be the effect on children and families as we move into territory that is completely new to human society?

These kind of ungodly decisions serve to remind us that the world in which we live is hostile to things of God. It reminds us that we live here as “aliens and strangers,” that we’re temporary residents of a foreign land. But it still remains a world that God so loved that he sent his only Son, so . . .

4. We must not avoid our calling: to engage the culture and all people with the truth and mercy of the gospel.

Even as culture goes off the rails, and we may seem powerless to stop it, we’re not off the hook from engaging the culture and actively loving people. Although we may want to retreat and go into self-protective mode, we must not. The church did not do so as the Roman culture descended into greater ungodliness and injustice. The downward spiral of our society and the increasing celebration of what is explicitly forbidden in God’s word make our sharing the gospel more important than ever! The gospel is the only hope for a broken world and fallen hearts. For this reason the church must not attack and demean gays and lesbians because of this issue. The gospel is a message of hope for everyone; not a platform for condemnation and ridicule. The gospel is heard through the words and deeds of His people. Another way to put this is our need too . . . .

5. “Keep calm and carry on” as God’s people and his church.

During World War II, people in Britain, during the bombing, felt that the world was falling apart. “Keep calm and carry on,” became a common phrase on billboards and posters as a way to encourage the British people. We need to follow this advice as well. How do we “keep calm and carry on” when we see everything around us in a downward spiral and decay? We lean on and trust in the Rock of our salvation, who is still with his people while we continue to carry out his Kingdom work.

We must not let these things have more power over us than they really do. And, thankfully, we still live in a country that allows our views to be heard and we should make our concerns known, about the reality of unintended consequences making further trouble and about the future of religious liberty, two major issues embedded in this controversy. But, again, we should not place our faith in any human political or legal structure as our ultimate protector or savior. Jesus said that his kingdom was “not of this world”—neither is ours. The mission of the church continues. The church cannot be either dismissed or destroyed. It remains God’s vehicle of redemption, worked out through his people. That mission will endure until he returns. And in the meantime, the church—and especially the next generation inside her doors— needs to be strengthened by. . .

6. Relevant and effective preaching and teaching about sex.

The silence of the church on many issues has contributed to the emergence of movements that have been detrimental to mankind (see Germany and the rise of Nazism). It can be argued that the church’s failure to preach and teach about why God’s design for sexuality is good, relevant and functional (even in a broken world) has created a vacuum for the acceptance of same-sex relationships. The church has said “No!” for too long as its main message on sexuality and now needs to say “Here’s how,” or here’s how God’s design for sexuality remains the best venue for people and society to flourish.


On a more personal note, I am looking forward to having John Freeman at our church this coming Fall.  On November 9 of this year, John will be leading a seminar, Finding Sexual Sanity in Sex-Crazed Society, at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Chuch in Williamsburg.

If you are interested, check out the Harvest USA blog.  You will find a number of excellent, thoughtful articles on a wide range of matters related to sexual brokenness: Harvest USA Blog

Same-Sex Marriage: Some Suggested Reads

Ever since President Barrack Obama mad his announcement about the Great Reversal, and his renewed support of Gay Marriage there has been no lack of opinions posted… well, pretty much everywhere.  I considered writing something up, but other pressing matters left me without the time to formulate words to express my opinions.  But I did take the time to read the takes of a number of others.  Some of those I appreciated most are posted below.  I will likely add more to this post as I run across anything poignant on this polarizing issue.

Of special note, I think Mike Horton’s two articles are tremendous. The first is as pertinent for Christians to consider as it’s title is provocative.

Al Mohler is Right

I wonder, have I stepped into a beehive?  I have yet to get any flack but I wonder if it is coming.  I posted an article on my Facebook page titled: “Let’s Be Honest, A Lot of Christians Are Guilty of Homophobia“.

The article is in defense of the defense Southern Seminary president Albert Mohler gave about comments he made about homosexuality:

The Associated Press quotes Mohler as saying that homosexuality isn’t something that people can “turn on and turn off.” Mohler went on to say that “only the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ gives a homosexual person any hope of release from homosexuality.”

At the SBC Convention earlier this month Mohler was challenged to answer for his comments. His words of defense were:

“I made those statements. They are not alleged statements. I made them.”

According to reports, he then went on to outline how Southern Baptists had been homophobic and had misrepresented homosexuality. Mohler even called the Southern Baptists to repentance on the issue. However, he did all of this while maintaining that homosexuality is a sin that needs a Savior. One report…  said that the convention responded with applause.

On my Facebook post I commented that what Mohler said is also true in my denomination, the PCA, and is true of many Evangelicals.  Shoot, if I am honest with myself, it is probably true of me to some degree.  But the suggestion that some responses to homosexuality are themselves sinful is not tantamount to condoning homosexuality or the Gay Rights Agenda.

I appreciate what the author of the article pondered:

What did Albert Mohler say that was so outrageous? Was it the part about Jesus being the only Savior from sin? Was it the claim that our sinful nature goes beyond a simple choice? Any orthodox Christian should affirm salvation from our sin through Jesus and that we can’t simply decide to turn off our sinful nature.

That’s the thing. What is wrong with what Mohler said?  Is homosexuality merely a “choice”?  No doubt it is a choice in many respects. One can choose to indulge the desire or choose not to indulge the desire, just as with many expressions of sin.  It is this ability to choose that makes nonsense of the assertions that the Gay Agenda is somehow equivalent with the Civil Rights Movement of the Mid-Twentieth Century.  Folk could not choose to be Black of not.  Folks can choose sexual behavior.

However, what Mohler is pointing out is that sin is more than our behavior. However sin is expressed it is first  a condition of the heart and mind.  While choosing to not engage is preferable to hedonistic indulgence. it does not rid anyone of the condition or the consequential penalty. The wages of sin are death… Period.  This is true even if we suppress every inclination.

What Mohler is pointing out is that homosexuality is far more complex than a “choice” to act out on its desires and physical attractions.  He is reminding Christians that we need to recognize the true nature of sin – homosexuality and all types of sin.  And he is challenging us to realize we need a radical remedy. Fortunatley we have one. Mohler also reminds us of the power of the Gospel.

So, will I get any flack for concurring and posting the article supporting Mohler and his views.  Maybe a little.  But probably only from a few.  And hopefully not from anyone who actually takes the time to read the article.

What About Gay Marriage?


Anger at the disproportionate number of African Americans who voted for California’s same-sex marriage ban “has been widely noted”, says Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe. But “for sheer hatefuless” the “hatemongering” directed against Mormons for pushing the ballot measure can’t be beat.  (See The Week for full article.)

I’ve watched the news with some amazement at the craze taking place in the streets of California.  I have little sympathy for the protesters, at least for the position that is mobilizing them.  But I find myself reacting the the charges they levy: bigotry and fear. 

While concerned about the cultural repercussions if “gay marriage” receives constitutional support, I don’t believe I live in “fear”. In one sense, if this measure passes, some things will become more vividly clear, such as those who are committed to Biblical standards concerning marriage and those who are not.  The words of the Apostle Paul come to mind:

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of Life. ” (Philippians 2.14-16

In other words, those who maintain the characteristics of godliness shine like stars against the dark backdrop of the culture.  Therefore, if this measure passes in California, and elsewhere, it is not a cause for fear, necessarily, but an opportunity to shine in contrast. 

However, Paul’s words also cause me a little discomfort. 

First, while faithful believers may stand firm and shine in contrast to darkness in the culture, there are others who share our opposition to same-sex marriages who do not shine in the same way. In fact, some don’t shine at all. They are just what they are accused of being: bigoted and fearful.  I’m not sure that the differences of standards behind the sharing of  moral/political positions are always so obvious to those who hold the opposing view.  How, then, can we stand out like stars shining in the darkness, when some who stand with us are only a different shade of darkness from the culture they oppose? 

I’m sure that this difference is all the more distorted because many of us who are driven by Biblical standards are also tainted, to some degree or another, with the sins of bigotry and fear.  Our righteous motives are blended with unrighteous, sometimes even without our being conscious of the mixture.  To whatever extent this is true, the shine on our star is dimmed, at least somewhat.

Second, Paul’s words encourage us to do everything without complaining or arguing.  I’m not sure that from the perspective of the gay community, and their allies, that we Evangelicals have lived up to that counsel.  I’m not sure even from my own perspective that we’ve met that standard. 

Certainly the most militant proponents of “gay rights” don’t want to hear any Evangelical voice (nor do they support our right to a voice), but I am not confident we have exhausted all the means to express our voice.  We have used politics and the media to protect our position.  But have we expressed the full grace of the gospel with equal effort?  I’m not talking about a cheap grace that simply overlooks sin and calls it acceptable. I’m talking about the demanding gospel that demonstrates brokenness over our own sin – past and present – the experience of forgiveness in Chirst that reconciles us to God AND moves us out to love a broken and decaying world.  While this verse in no way mitigates our responsibility – and right – to stand up for righteous things, I have to wonder, if we lived out the gospel, if this was our primary voice, if there would be as many of our opponents who would hope we would just “shut up”.   Our civil rights are not abrogated, but we must not mistake exercsing our common civil rights as that which makes us stars.  It is the gospel embraced, lived out, and faithfully expressed, that makes us shine.  I suspect that is a voice that would be more readily heard.

Let me conclude with this: Many people are quite clear as to what their position is, but not as well thought out about the “why’s” behind the positions. 

Honestly, that is probably true of me.  I’ve given some thought, perhaps more thought than some others have, to this issue, but I’ve been pretty set in my position without wondering if there were some aspects I have been neglecting.  To the extent I have failed to clearly think through this polarizing issue, remaining ignorantly contented in my position, I suspect I am exercsing a form of bigotry.   And to the extent that I am willing to maintian my position without discerning how the gospel can be brought to bear to bring about reconciliation and greater resolution,  I am failing to shine.  I am not suggesting compromise and retreat, but reflection and humility. 

Dr. Geri Huminski has written a thought provoking article for Harvest USA titled: What About Gay Marriage?   Harvest USA is an uncompromising Evangelical ministry that reaches out to those who are effected by sexual addictions.  They offer a perspective, both experientially and biblically, that I don’t find elsewhere.  This article has helped me think more clearly about this culture defining issue.  I am still not sure I am ready to embrace all that is suggested (particularly in regard to taxes and shared benefits), but it is helping me think through both my “what” and my “why’s”.  

My hope is that I will be more shaped by the gospel and the advancement of the Kingdom of God than by the mere maintaining of the political status quo.  I suspect my “position” won’t change much, but maybe my shine can get a polish.