Many Christians have asked how to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage for all 50 states. Let me offer three thoughts about how we should respond.
1. The institutionalizing of same-sex marriage did not redefine marriage; rather, it is the fruit of a redefinition of marriage. Same-sex marriage is one star in a constellation of changes arising from a rejection of God’s pattern for family that began decades ago. Many are amazed at the speed of the same-sex marriage revolution, but that is because our society long ago rejected the Creator’s basic pattern for sex and relationships. When we enthroned our desires, rather than God’s designs, as the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong in relationships, the acceptance of same-sex marriages became inevitable. Improvisations on God’s designs have disastrous effects on society as a whole—most notably on the children—and this improvisation will be no different.
2. Now more than ever, Christians should remember that we are citizens of another Country. We have grown accustomed to living in a country quite hospitable to our faith, and we should be exceedingly grateful for that. But we should also realize that this has been a privilege almost unknown in Christian history.
The entire New Testament, for instance, was written not from the seats of cultural and political control, but from the cultural and political margins. The Apostle Peter did not open his letter to the church with “to those in power” but “to those in exile.”
The good news is that Christianity thrives in such a context. Many of our country’s great spiritual awakenings came in times of great political darkness. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. As the darkness becomes darker, the light becomes more distinct. Christian families, operating by the Creator’s design and with the Creator’s blessing, will become more enigmatic and attractive than ever.
At its core, the Lordship of Jesus is a political claim: we pledge ultimate allegiance to Jesus, not to any court or people. There may come a day when our government decides that this counter-cultural claim will not be tolerated. We must be prepared to endure the consequences with courage.
3. We must speak about this in a tone that communicates the spirit of our Savior, who came not to judge but to save. We are not a community of the righteous condemning the sexually wayward, but fellow rebels redeemed by Jesus’ blood, calling out for others to experience the grace we’ve experienced. With the LGBT community we share a common humanity; a common problem—sin; and a common hope–the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.
We should never speak in a way that separates LGBT individuals from us. If we are right with God, it is because we are forgiven. We have absolutely nothing about which to boast, and that transforms our entire disposition. It is not enough to possess the truth of Christ; we must also reflect the spirit of Christ.
Furthermore, we cannot “give up” on our culture by withdrawing. Thank God, Jesus did not do that. He entered our world, living and loving among us. We must do the same. The Church must continue to be a place where LGBT individuals feel welcome as they seek repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must be the loudest advocates against acts of injustice or abuse of LGBT individuals. They are us. And we must prepare ourselves to receive the refugees of this sexual revolution, for they will be many.
More than anything, we must remain confident in the Gospel. The arc of history is long and gradual, but it tilts toward Jesus. This is not a time to panic, but to put forward the distinctive Christian view of marriage and sex. We must show our society—through word and deed—the Creator’s better way for these life-defining relationships.
*This is a condensed version of Pastor Greear’s article, “Responding Like Jesus to the SCOTUS Pronouncement on Same-Sex Marriage,” which was published at www.JDGreear.com on 6/29/2015.
J.D. Greear is the pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC, and author of Jesus Continued: Why the Spirit Inside You Is Better Than Jesus Beside You.