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To my congregation: A response to the Supreme Court Ruling on Same-sex marriage

June 27, 2015

Yesterday’s (6/26/2015) landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states did not come as a shock or a surprise to me.   Quite frankly, I expected it.  Obviously this news exploded in social media and opinions on both sides have been strong and will continue to be so.  I fall on the side of the conservatives and am not sure that I can really add much to the conversation that hasn’t already been said.  So largely I am directing this blog post to my own congregation that I have had the amazing privilege of pastoring for the past 19 years.  My response to yesterday’s decision has been to focus on three core anchors of my faith that do not change regardless of how the shifting sands of culture reshape the national landscape.   So here are those anchors:

God is still in charge

The psalmist writes: The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all (Psalm 103:19).  In a psalm that speaks of redemption and forgiveness and compassion the reader is reminded that God can be this kind of God because he is the ultimate ruler.  That means that God’s standards, whether they are adhered to or not, are still the ultimate standards and God’s ideals as set forth in His Word, the Bible are still the ideals for which we should strive.

I think it was comedian Mark Lowry who once quipped, “Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurs to God?”

God was not shocked or surprised by yesterday’s ruling and I don’t believe he is wringing his hands in panic.  He is on his throne and he will bring glory to his name in his time.

God’s Commands have not changed, nor will they

Jesus gave us an illustration of how to live in a culture that seems fundamentally opposed to us in Luke 17:25-37.  It is the familiar story of the Good Samaritan.  The impetus for the parable was the question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 25)  Jesus put the question back to the inquirer and asked him to sum up the law to which the reply was: “Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (v. 27)  After Jesus approves of the answer Luke says the man “wanted to justify himself” and inquired as to who was his neighbor, to which Jesus responded with the ensuing parable.

This summary of the greatest commandments is also found in Jesus words (Matthew 23:27 and Mark 12:30).  For me they are a constant reminder.  God is to be loved with every fiber of my being.  That means he is to be first in my thinking, first in my decisions, first in my responses to culture.  I am to be wholly devoted to Him at all times.  Yeah, I know, none of us do this best, so I refer you to Psalm 103 above “he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (v. 14).  The fact that I fail to always love God with all my being does not change the reality that this is his command for which I should strive.

I am also to love my neighbor as myself.  On any other day the Samaritan would have done anything to avoid the Jew and vice-versa.  The Jews of the first century hated the Samaritans, it was racism plain and simple and ugly.  No doubt the Samaritans were not necessarily fond of the Jews.  But on that day the only thing that mattered was the care and concern for a fellow human in dire straits created in the image of God.  Anyone who crosses my path is my neighbor and I may fundamentally disagree with just about everything in their lives but because of who God is they deserve my respect.  So I will continue to show love and respect to each person to the best of the ability God gives me.  I reserve the right to disagree with them, but will strive to do so with gentleness.  When I have the opportunity, I will engage in conversation to try and understand and yes, to even maybe help them see what I understand to be Biblical truth, but will strive to do so without name calling or verbal abuse.

No matter what the culture says or does, I am to live by the commands of loving God and loving others, even when I disagree with them.

God’s Word is still my guide

This is getting long so let me wrap it up with this final anchor.  As a pastor, for the past 30 years, I have devoted my life to learning and studying God’s Word, the Bible.  It has been my guide and I have strived to the best of my ability to understand it and then allow its truth to speak to me and the culture in which I live.  The Bible I read has a lot to say about marriage between a man and a woman which is foundationally the created order.  The culture in which I live has, long before the same-sex marriage issue, twisted, reshaped, re-interpreted and re-purposed God’s ideal.  But all that has not changed God’s ideal.  He still is crystal clear.  So to the best of my ability I will continue to follow God’s Word, regardless of the changes in culture.  I will do so, without apology, without reservation, with great resolve and with a commitment to being a person of gentleness and compassion.

Our world is changing and will continue to change.  Since Genesis 3 the prevailing culture has been on a trajectory away from God and will continue to do so.  For me, these are three key anchors that I will continue to grasp, come what may.

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