This is a re-post of Joe Dallas’ excellent response to the Supreeme Court Ruling—
Joe Dallas – June 26, 2015
We knew that in spite of daily mounting risks we had no choice but to move forward. This was evil’s hour; we could not run away from it. Perhaps only when human effort had done its best and failed would God’s power alone be free to work. -Corrie ten Boom, ‘The Hiding Place’
It’s no surprise, really, so “saddened” is a better word than “shocked.”
The first human relationship instituted by our Creator, and afforded the honor of representing His union with His people, has been officially revised by the highest court of a nation whose coins say we trust God, but whose policies say we don’t. So reading this morning’s news that the Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage the law of the land is like watching a dying relative take his last breath. Grief and relief come together in a moment – grief over death; relief that the waiting is over and the inevitable has finally come.
Of course, my gay and lesbian friends and fellow citizens have a completely different take on all this, and why not? Their relationships have been validated, legally and (largely) socially. There are financial ramifications to this most of us probably can’t appreciate, and the dignity officially bestowed on them this morning is, I’m sure, an indescribable boost to their spirits.
In fact, many of them who’ll now marry are from a time I and my 60-plus peers remember well. In the 1950’s and 1960’s of my youth, the culture held the right position – male female union is normal; same-sex union is not – but largely for the wrong reasons.
In those days no one, to my knowledge, was saying, “Homosexuality is wrong because it falls short of what God intended.” The message I cut my teeth on was “Homosexuality is wrong because queers are disgusting and a real man beats them up and they’re all pathetic child molesters!”
Look for that sentiment in the Bible and you’ll be searching in vain.
So considering what many homosexual people have endured, can we really begrudge them their joy in having a society which once despised them now lining up to dance at their weddings? I understand their celebration, and at one time I would have joined it.
But don’t look for me at the party. I wish my gay and lesbian friends the best, but today, for me, is a time for mourning and repentance, and for prayerfully considering the obvious question: what now?
Let’s Get Consistent
When my boys were young, the oldest discarded his bathrobe, leaving it on the floor of his closet untouched for months. His younger brother took a shine to it, grabbing it for himself and wearing it proudly until his older brother noticed, and complained, “Hey! That’s my robe!”
I had to step in and gently remind him that since he discarded it, he shouldn’t complain when someone else wants it.
For years I’ve felt that way about marriage. How many Christians have discarded their vows to engage in adultery, porn use, strip clubs, prostitutes, and hookups? How many believers have thrown away their partners, wrongly thinking that because they found someone more exciting they’d therefore found something better? How many young Christian couples live together, thumbing their noses at matrimony while claiming a Christian identity?
Gay couples took a shine to marriage, grabbing it for themselves and wearing it proudly, and we object, “Hey! That’s our institution!”
God surely would step in right about now to gently remind us that since we discarded it, we shouldn’t complain when someone else wants it.
Peter said, “The time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God” (I Peter 4:17), so I see no better way for us to respond to today’s ruling than by first recommitting ourselves to love our own partners, serve each other by building each other up, and making our homes the sanctuaries for spouses and children that they were meant to be. The greatest blow you can strike against immorality in any form is, after all, the blow of a holy, Christ centered life.
Let’s Get Compassionate
This issue is tailor made for indignation.
Tell a repentant homosexual that he can change, and you can lose your counselor’s license. Tell Bruce Jenner he can become she, and you’re enlightened. Vote as a California citizen to preserve the traditional definition of marriage, and your majority vote will be overturned. Give the man-woman union a thumbs up in voter-approved state laws around the country, and the Supreme Court will dismiss all of you with a non-negotiable thumbs down.
So yeah, I’m mad, without apology. But is my anger going to stir me to redemptive acts, or to the sullen, self-righteous whining of a sore loser?
Because anger at ungodly laws needn’t pollute my love and respect for people, all people, case closed. The lesbian couple getting married at the chapel down the street are not my enemies. The gay men moving in next door are my neighbors, who I’m to love as myself. The transgender co-worker at my office is someone I have more in common with than I have differences.
That’s life in 2015 and, more to the point, life in this fallen world. And hasn’t that been the case for believers in centuries past?
So if I’ve become so myopic in my anger over the gay rights movement that I lose sight of the worth and humanity of gay people themselves, that says more about my sin than theirs.
When I began my work 28 years ago, some pastors and believers considered me to be on the liberal side. (Hilarious, considering the fact that the left-wing OC Weekly newspaper listed me as one of Orange County’s 50 scariest people!)
But I got the “liberal” label slapped on me (by some) because I felt and stated that the Church needed to repent of hostility towards homosexuals. Not of our position, which I felt was the right one, but of the way we promoted it.
My belief was fueled by the widespread indifference among believers, at that time, towards AIDS patients, and the reluctance to establish ministries to help repentant homosexuals when we were all too glad to establish ministries to people dealing with other sins. I was also struck by the vehemence with which we denounced homosexual sin, combined with the contempt we expressed towards homosexuals themselves, while addressing other “normal” sins less frequently, and with much less passion.
We were short on compassion when we held the majority view. It will be interesting to see how our compassion holds up now that they, largely and loudly, hold the cards.
They said they only wanted equality, nothing more. We said we hated the sin, but loved the sinner. So it will also be interesting to see, in light of these shifting times, who was lying.
Let’s Get Courageous
This morning’s High Court ruling comes on the heels of yesterday’s verdict against a Jewish New Jersey group called JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing) which helps men and women who believe their own homosexuality conflicts with their faith. For stating that homosexuality is a sin which can be overcome, JONAH has been found guilty of consumer fraud.
This is turn comes on the heels of laws passed and/or proposed in 17 states banning therapists from offering services to minors seeking to overcome homosexuality. Which come on the heels of lawsuits against Christian bakers, florists, and photographers who cannot in good conscience offer their services for same sex weddings. Which is in turn preceded, on a global scale, by hate crime legislation in European nations cracking down not on acts of discrimination, but on the very expression of traditional views.
All of which plays out against the backdrop of widespread fear among pastors to take clear positions on a subject they know to be controversial, and therefore too messy for the pulpit. Wolf howls are hitting a crescendo, but too many representatives of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah seem more comfortable purring than roaring.
And so it goes. The push for legal recognition is nearly won. Time to make a U-turn, track down the enemies, and shift from the sweetness of “Co-Exist” bumper stickers to the guillotines of the French Revolution. Aristocrats, you’ve been served.
Of Mortal Ills Prevailing
In Spielberg’s excellent film Lincoln, Thaddeus Stevens, the radical Republican Congressman who fought alongside Lincoln for the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, is shown relishing his victory with his secret lover. In contrast to Lincoln’s “with malice towards none” approach to Reconstruction, Stevens vows vengeance against the vanquished, chortling, “Now I want lawsuits, I want slave-owners to lose their farms, I want retribution.”
His goals weren’t realized, but his sentiment is alive and well in today’s gay rights movement. It’s a movement not all gays are part of, and one which many heterosexuals fervently support, so homosexual people can no more be blamed for excesses within this movement than Christians should be blamed for any and all errors committed by the Religious Right.
But it’s nonetheless a movement not content with victory, and soon to be salivating over retaliation. This is why, to my thinking, there’s such a visceral reaction among Christians and/or Conservatives towards this morning’s news. If it would all really end with same-sex marriage being legitimized nationally, we’d be disappointed, but not alarmed. Yet it’s more than that. We see the trends, and we’re gearing up, because the handwriting on the wall is more ominous than the headlines.
Look for funding to be cut off from Christian universities holding the traditional view on marriage. Look for revocation of tax-exempt status for organizations refusing to hire people practicing a sexual behavior the organization believes to be wrong. Look for lawsuits against Christian ministries promoting the Biblical position on sexuality. Look for the public humiliation of people having the audacity to state their conservative views, and look for it to go from ugly to rabid.
While you’re at it, look for the infiltration of Evangelical churches by people hoping to eventually persuade those churches to change from traditional to pro-gay in their official positions. Look for many more Christians to “come out”, some of them well known Christians artists; others well known authors, speakers, and pastors.
And if you’re still holding the belief that marriage is Biblically defined as a male female union, look for and get accustomed to minority status. Make that double if you dare express that view publicly, and it won’t be the status of a quaint little group of sweet old fashioned dolts who the general public finds amusing but leaves alone. No, our status is becoming more like that of the despised outcast, the villainous bigots who stubbornly clutch their hatred like retired Nazis in hiding.
“Our helper He amid the cloud of mortal ills prevailing”, Martin Luther wrote so beautifully in our beloved A Mighty Fortress. And prevail they must, because this is nothing short of Biblical prophecy and warning playing itself out in the
It’s not the only problem we face, of course. Far from it. Terrorism, poverty, violence in our streets, and human trafficking make this one look almost tame.
But it’s hardly tame. It’s real, and it’s here. And in response, our courage, drawn from God and rooted in our confidence in Him, isn’t a luxury we can take or leave. It’s got to become the stuff of daily life.
To all of which my lovely wife responded this morning by reading aloud to me Psalm 31 which I, and I think plenty of others today, find reassuring and awfully relevant:
Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!
Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the Lord: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.
For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.
O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.
–Psalm 31: 19-24
On that note, have yourself a blessed and wonderful weekend. Or, as we say in