This was publically tweeted by President Obama shortly after stating Friday to be a national victory in light of the 5-4 ruling of Obergefell vs. Hodges. Love, which has appropriate placement within marriage, has been talked about as a legal right for all to exercise without restrictions. Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.” He goes on to state, “It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” In those statements, there are a mirage of key words and undergirded ideas that find a ticket to American identity. Who can really disagree with that statement? Inherently, it seems proper and right on the surface. I mean, why shouldn’t all people have the right to love whom they love without restrictions in a nation marked by freedom?
Christians have been particularly disturbed by what’s happened in the past couple of days. One might ask, “If you can worship who you want, why can’t I marry who I want?” Unfortunately, for Bible-believing Christians like myself, it’s not that simple. I wish the topic of homosexual marriage was a simple topic, but it’s quite complicated in relating what Scripture says to the popular thoughts and opinions of today’s culture. To hold my ground, my foundation upon what I believe in regards to this issue is that I believe in the Bible. As ALL of the Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, and for training in righteousness, I believe in ALL the Scriptures–not just the ones that are easiest to follow. This means that I believe in John 3:16-17 with the same faith that I believe Romans 3:23. If the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin, I believe it to be a sin and can not be in support of encouraging others to actively pursue acts of rebellion against a holy God of wrath (Rom. 1:18-32).
God’s Word tells us that homosexuality is against the Creator’s design. Leviticus 18:22 states that lying with a male as with a woman is an abomination. 1 Corinthians 6:9 tells us that men who practice homosexuality can not inherit the kingdom of God. To properly understand homosexuality as a sin, one thing that has to be straightened out is how Christians view sin. Sin is first and foremost an offense against a holy and just God who is the Creator who has pronounced sin as punishable by eternal death. This is perhaps where our discussion kicks into second gear. Regardless of how “harmless” homosexual marriage might be to yours or your neighbor’s immediate future, according to the Bible it’s a sin against the one true lawgiver and judge God (James 4:12) and against his natural order. In Genesis 1:27, God ordained the first marriage as man was created “male” and “female.” He also made woman as a marriage partner “fit” for man, not like man (Gen. 2:18). This leads our discussion to the all-important part of Scripture in Romans 1:26-27 which reads,
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
A few things to note here is that the the latter part of verse 27 states the exchanging of natural relations between men and women to be an error. This is also called a dishonorable passion. In light of the God who created man as male and female as stated in Genesis 1:27, the words used for men and women are unique in this passage. One can’t see it in the English translation, but the words used for men and women in the passage is better translated as “males” and “females.” The common way to allude to men and women are not used here, but the scarcely used way of describing the male sex and female sex is used in these particular verses. These words show up the majority of the time when alluding to the creation of man as male and female or when alluding to the different sexes of animals as male or female. To put it simply, I think that there is a clear emphasis upon the distinction of the sexes between male and female in the verses. This isn’t a cultural gender distinction but a natural sex distinction. Even in all its collaborative efforts, the American society can never change the distinct natural sexes of male and female.
Yet, it’s the gospel that gives hope to ALL men, including those who struggle with homosexuality. The latter part of Romans 1:27 says that those who shamelessly practice homosexuality receive their “due penalty.” The God of grace who freely offers salvation to all those who admit their sins and trust in the loving Savior Jesus is still a just God. The God of grace must execute his righteous judgment upon unrepentant sinners, which is in this case those who unrepentantly practice homosexuality. However, just as God gave up unrepentant sinners “in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (Rom. 1:24), “to dishonorable passions” (Rom. 1:26), and “to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Rom. 1:28), he also gave up his Son (Rom. 8:32) by pinning him to the cross and giving him up to wrath that believers of Christ deserved. “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Chrissts and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).
Scripture shows us that Jesus represented the truest act of love. His love is why he claims victory for all those who trust in his righteousness and not their own. God sending his only begotten Son to justly pay for all of the sins of those who believe in him to be their true and righteous Savior is how we win. John states that this is love (1 John 4:10). Yes, love did win when the only perfect man was hung upon the cross for sins he had not committed. And love continues to win when we as believers follow him into suffering by showing a love that is alien to sinful humanity. Will we love our neighbors? Will we be sanctified further into his image? Jesus calls us to take up our crosses, because he alone took up the only cross what would crush every other person in the history of the universe. You see, his love won, and our love heralds to the world that he won. This isn’t done by aimlelessly putting up offensive remarks through social media. It’s done through emulating the love of our savior who died for us while we were still enemies.
One problem with our interaction with homosexuality is that we tend to pick either extreme. It seems as if homosexuality has to either be not a sin or the most heinous of sins. I’ve dealt with why I believe homosexuality is a sin according to my belief in the Bible. On the flip side, the question I have is why Christians who are so vehemently opposed to anything related to the permissibility of homosexuality are specifically opposed to this issue. As homosexuality fits under the broader umbrella of sexual immorality, it doesn’t seem as though the cousin sin struggles of homosexuality are as vehemntly opposed against. Do we see the same passion in believers standing up and protesting against the prevalence and accessibility of internet pornography? Do Christians pick battles with their full arsenal of arguments against sex outside of marriage (pre-marital included)? It really is perplexing to me as to why homosexuality is one that is specifically targeted. It leads me to believe that these convictions are ironically driven more by culture than the Word of God. As followers of Jesus, we are called to hate ALL sin, not just the sin that blooms on the other side of the field.
What I think the real issue underneath the mask of this current event is the promotion of man’s thoughts above God’s. It’s a simple and not so profound statement, but I think it rings true as a central problem in this time and age. The truths are these: The U. S. is the 21st nation to legally permit same-sex marriage. Even before the national acceptance of same-sex marriage, it was permitted in 36 states. This issue was hardly one that was invented in the past year. Even four years ago, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy pointed towards a possible “victory” for those in favor of same-sex marriage. Obergefell stated, “It is my hope that the term gay marriage will soon be a thing of the past, that from this day, it will be, simply, marriage.” This sentiment is shared by many in America, and it is a complete disregard for the true author of marriage. Then, the true problem beneath this mess is not the permissibilty of homosexual marriage but that man stands as king in this secularist society. What America needs is not opposition to homosexual marriage. It needs the transformational power of the gospel. Russell Moore wrote, “The Supreme Court can do many things, but the Supremem Court cannot get Jesus back in the tomb.” Does this not hold true in the midst of all social difficulties throughout history? The fact is that Jesus rose from the dead. The Bible told me so. Thus, in effort of loving our neighbor, what we can do is not stand as enemies against those celebrating the passing of same-sex marriage. It’s to hold onto the pillar of Christianity in the preaching of the gospel. Let us not shortchange the power of the gospel that made us who were enemies friends to God. It is our duty, as Christians, to centralize this message in such times to our friends and neighbors. Because #JesusWins.