I want to apologize to the people of Christ Church PCA and to the people I interact with, and minister to, in Trussville, AL. I want to apologize because I have remained silent on the issue of homosexual marriage for far too long, but recently I read an opinion piece in the Birmingham News section of AL.com that is pulling me out of the closet.
John Archibald, representing many who favor same-sex marriages, wrote a piece entitled “Same-sex wedding brings shame in Alabama.” Apparently the shame, in John’s mind, is that a particular marriage was forbidden, at a particular Methodist church, by a particular Methodist bishop. Archibald cited his Methodist heritage as one of the reasons he was appalled at how “his” church was responding to these loving men. He also cited the “good deeds” of the particular gay couple, as he ranted about his frustration with the bishop’s adherence to church law, as well as her apparent desire to keep the peace.
Now I must tell you, I am the son of a Methodist choir director, and the grandson, great-grandson, and great-great-grandson of Presbyterian pastors. However, my views on homosexuality and homosexual marriage do not come from that heritage. They come from the Word of God. As I say that, I realize that with every passing day it is becoming more unpopular to see the Bible as the Word of God. Sadly, this is true of many, even in the church. But if God is God (and He is), then His Word must be truth. And if God is unchanging (and the thought otherwise is terrifying), then His Word must also be unchanging. Those are not merely wishes. They are truth, backed up throughout the Scriptures. We could take up much space addressing them, but I am focusing on another topic here, so I will save that for later. For now, I will simply say we must look to truth, not to the whims of culture or to personal preference, to find our help.
This is an important point, even for those of us in Alabama. At this point in time, though it will likely change very rapidly, people in Alabama, generally speaking, are against homosexual marriage. Often times, though, their angst against homosexual marriage is not because of the specifics of Biblical teaching on God’s design for men and women, or his design for marriage. Generally speaking, people in Alabama are not in favor of homosexual marriage because it is different...weird. Thanks to Archibald, and others like him, they won’t think it is weird for long. So a case, for, or against, homosexual marriage must be based on Scripture.
Throughout, we see that Scripture is consistent in its condemnation of homosexuality and its upholding the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. After all, marriage was given by God to Adam and Eve (Gen 2:24), and to men and women after them, with the command that all who would follow after them in marriage would leave Father and Mother and cleave to one another. Yes, that was in the Old Testament, but it was the passage that Jesus, the head of the Church for both Methodists and Presbyterians (and Christians of all shapes and colors), cited to define marriage (Matt 19:5, Mark 10:7).
But sin entered in, and homosexuality was noted as one of the most grievous sins, an abomination before the Lord, both in the Old and New Testaments (Gen 19; Lev 18:22, 20:13; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10). I know...I know. So you ask me what to do with the second half of Lev 20:13, which tells me the homosexual is to be put to death. Is that what I am saying? No. What I am saying is that God is holy and He calls His people to be holy. In Old Testament Israel, God put in place laws and punishments for the theocracy to enforce holiness. The law remains, but the theocracy does not. So we no longer hold to the earthly punishment, but that doesn’t erase eternal punishment.
As 1 Cor 6:9-11 tells us, the sexually immoral (homosexual and heterosexual) will not inherit the kingdom of God. It also says that some of the people in Corinth, whom Paul was writing the letter to, used to fit that bill. What about them? Jesus took their punishment! Praise the Lord! Jesus has taken it, and offers his righteousness to all who would repent and turn to him in faith...but that repentance means to turn away from the sin. When Paul wrote in 1 Cor 6:9-11 and said that such were some of you, he said were...not are. They have been cleansed from their sin and have turned from them. A life transformed by Christ is a life transformed. Not perfect, but transformed, so the fruit of the Spirit is different from the fruit of the flesh (Gal 5). Christ cleanses us and changes us. Both!
I guess that is one of the reasons I have such a hard time with the Archibald piece. He has taken Christ out of the church. The result is a man-made religion that doesn’t offer truth...or hope.
There is another problem that I have with this piece, though. I am tired of the tired old attempt to equate those who stand for the truth of God’s Word with the Jim Crow Racists who opposed civil rights for African-Americans or with Nazi Germany, which sought the destruction of the Jews. I am offended by this. But worse still, I’ve talked with my African-American brothers who are offended at their struggle for equal rights being equated to the movement for homosexual marriage. I can only imagine how offensive this connection is to those who suffered in German concentration camps.
The struggle is sad and the struggle will continue. And public opinion will move more and more towards condoning homosexual marriage. As I ponder those sad realities, my mind and heart go to two poignant verses found in the book of Judges...a book written to show the hopelessness and despair that result from relativistic thinking.
- Judges 2:10 - “And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.
- Judges 21:25 - “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
These are timely reminders that there is nothing new under the sun. I believe the call for Christians in response to these times is 3-fold:
- Remain steadfast in the truth of the Word of God;
- Tell the next generation;
- Love the homosexual, and the idolator, with the love of Christ.
Because, as Paul wrote in 1 Cor 6:11...“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Amen!