This Changes Everything (or Nothing)!
“This changes everything!” “This changes nothing!” Those are the two opposing views we’ve all heard in the news and social media regarding the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. Many opponents of the decision warn of the potential ramifications: proponents will seek to drive Christians and Christian institutions out of education at all levels; they will press laws to force faithful Christians and individuals to violate consciences in work practices and many other ways. Those in the political and legal arena cite evidence of a seismic shift of the legislative and judicial process—laws are no longer just made by Congress, but by the courts as well; public opinion, individual preferences, and personal feelings are now the basis for judicial review rather than a clear reading of the words of the Constitution and a historic understanding of the founders’ intent. On the other hand, many of those who favor the court’s decision dismiss such concerns as hyperbolic hysteria and knee-jerk paranoia. “You Christians are just over-reacting. We’re not taking anything away from you. You can still get married. It’s just that now everyone has the same rights and opportunities.”
So who is right? Does this change everything? Or, does it really have little effect upon you and me? I would submit that both views are correct (to a point), and both views are lacking, though perhaps not in the ways that might first come to mind. It will probably take decades for all of the ramifications to come to light, but I offer this observation for now.
First, there should be no doubt that the legalization of same-sex marriage will have an enormous effect upon people’s views of its morality—whether it is right or wrong. In general, there is an assumption if something is legal it must be right. This certainly happened with the court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. In many people’s eyes, abortion was no longer seen as the killing of an unborn baby, but a legitimate choice, even a basic right that must be upheld at all costs. The most honest voices in the LGBT community will say as much: this decision is important to them not just because it brings tolerance of their lifestyle, but because it gives legitimacy to it.
But the Supreme Court decision changes nothing about our Christian faith. We believe there is a higher court and that Christ will be our final Judge. As Christians, we obey the government (Romans 13), but we recognize that our greatest allegiance is to God and His Word, and that in matters of conscience, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). We believe that God instituted marriage to be one man and one woman (Genesis 1, 2; Matthew 19:1-9; Mark 10:1-10). We believe that marriage is a picture of Christ’s sacrificial love for His bride the Church (Ephesians 5). We believe that the Church is a place of healing and forgiveness, restoration and mercy for all sinners. We believe and confess that we have not upheld the sanctity of marriage as we ought, and we must humbly repent and beg God’s forgiveness. We believe that true love for compels us to speak the truth so that all may know the forgiveness and love of Christ. We cannot celebrate that which God calls sin, for by so doing we leave people in their sin and apart from Christ. All of these are timeless tenets of our faith. God and His Word do not change with shifting public opinion.
So where does this all leave you and me? As Christians, we are called upon to do what we have always been called upon to do: living in this world but not being of this world. We continue to obey just laws and pray for our leaders. We affirm the human rights of all individuals and the inherent and equal value of all people. We recognize that we are all poor, miserable sinners who justly deserve God’s temporal and eternal punishment, yet the “blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all our sins” (1 John 1:7).
At the same time, we recognize that not everyone will accept God’s authority or grace. Our insistence to hold onto the full counsel of God’s Word will, as always, lead to rejection and ridicule, suffering and hatred in the days and years to come. Yet, even in the midst of persecution, our Bridegroom Jesus calls us to rejoice, saying, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12).
May God grant us each courage and steadfastness in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.