June 26, 2015

Anchoring in God’s Word: Thoughts on the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

by Eric Davis

scotus_marriage-blog480In a historic, Romans 1-esque move today, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the 14th Amendment requires all 50 states to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples and recognize those marriages performed in other states.

Among professing Christendom, there has been everything from shock, outrage, fear, and indifference. Whatever our response, surprise must not be one of them and anchoring in God’s word must be all of them. In addition to what the Cripplegate has previously said on this issue, here are a few things for us to keep in mind in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling:

  1. The God of the Bible reigns in unrivalled sovereignty and supremacy.

“Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’” (Isa. 46:9-10).

God was no more surprised by the Supreme Court’s ruling than he was when rulers crucified his Son 2000 years ago. It serves his own purposes for history. He is in total control of this ruling just as he is over a water molecule in the Mariana Trench just as he is over a star billions of light years away just as he is over the return of Jesus Christ to make all things right. The God of the Bible saw this coming; he ordained it for his own reasons. That is the Christian’s lullaby.

  1. Man is utterly wicked.

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Rom 1:28).

It is one thing for humanity to sin against our glorious and loving God. It’s quite another to make our sin a matter of law and laud (Rom. 1:32).

And though the Supreme Court’s ruling is a sin of epic proportion, it is merely another thorn busting forth from a rebellious and depraved human race.

Yet, we are reminded that in the heart of every human being is the capacity of every known sin. Whether we are sorrowing or celebrating today, one thing is sure: we are all from the same stock of utter sin.

  1. The God of the universe looks with sovereign derision on the rebellion of nations, kings, and rulers.

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (Ps. 2:1-4).

God is so sovereign and so holy, that the upheaval of the highest human courts solicits an unworried disdain from heaven’s thrown. And this truth is not ammo for Christians to angrily blast the culture. Rather, it is to strike us with sorrow for our unregenerate rulers. It is motivation for us to pray for our rulers and judges (1 Tim. 2:1-2). It is fuel for our own fear (Prov. 1:7). It is motivation to compassionately preach the gospel.

  1. All human rulers and judges will give account to the one Ruler and Judge.

“Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Ps. 2:11-12).

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Rev. 20:11-12).

Whether district, circuit, or supreme, the responsibility of human judges is to obey the highest Authority of the universe because the responsibility of all humanity is to obey him. And in the end, God will judge the small and the great alike for deeds done in the body. He will be fair. He will be exacting. The Judge of all the earth will do right (Gen. 18:25).

  1. Any victory for sin and its propagation today will be an unspeakable defeat in the future.

“Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:12-13).

Sin’s DNA is deceit. It advertises as pleasure, but only brings pain. It’s the worst invester: self-destruction is the certain dividend. Today, many are celebrating attempted overthrow of the good plan which God has designed for the propagation, joy, and good of humanity. But, as with all perversion of God’s design, it will prove futile and painful. Present celebration will bring future frustration. Sin wearies like water-fetching with busted buckets. Worse, it ends in unalterable eternal punishment.

  1. Jesus Christ has promised to build and bless one institution.

“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).

Though tragic, this ruling is relatively small in the scheme of things which the true church of Christ has faced throughout the millennia. A brief glance at church history proves this as small resistance. There have been times (and still are) when it was illegal to be a Christian. God’s people have been thrown to abused, starving wild beasts as punishment. Nero wrapped Christians in pitch and used them as human candles during his parties. Christians were burned alive by the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation. And in many countries today, Christians are denied basic human rights, tortured, mocked, unjustly imprisoned, and executed for their faith.

And yet, many of these persecuting societies are nothing more than dust brushed by an inquiring archaeologist. Meanwhile, the Church survives and the Bible thrives.

  1. Regardless of earthly circumstances, God’s church is to stay fervently committed to the same old plan.

“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:13-16).

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…'” (Matt. 28:18-19).

The Supreme Court’s ruling changes nothing for the “what-should-we-do-as-the-church?” because the Bible does not change.

In this dark hour, God’s people have a wonderful opportunity to do what we’re always supposed to do: shine and speak. We are to humbly, lovingly, and intentionally avoid the bunker-mentality, and be in the world with the hope and prayer that God rescues some.

Today’s headline is merely a reminder nudge for the church that the world still needs Christ, we are to still love our neighbor, we are to still unashamedly speak Christ crucified in the place of sinners, and the earth is still not heaven.

  1. Through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s enemies can become his children.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

The hope of humanity is, and has never been, in an earthly king, court, or judge. Even if our nation’s laws represented the most respectable moral standards, it would still be insufficient to meet the greatest human need.

Every human being enters the world as a natural fist-shaking enemy of God. And yet, incredibly, the God of the universe stepped out of heaven and into the muck of humanity. As a mere human, he lived righteously in complete obedience to God. At the cross, he held himself accountable for our sin, enduring the righteous anger of God which we deserved as sinners. Christ was treated as God’s supreme enemy so that we might be treated as his beloved children for all eternity. By turning from trust in self to trust in the Savior, we can enter into God’s favor and begin living in the joy of obedience to him.

Photo credit: graphics8.nytimes.com

Eric Davis

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Eric is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008. Leslie is his wife of 14 years and mother of their 3 children.
  • Brian Morgan

    Amen brother. Another sad chapter in the moral free-fall of this nation. Let us pray for an awakening, let us be the holy church we are called and equipped to be. Let us shine forth as ambassadors of our Heavenly kingdom, that the light of Christ may continue to be spread in our generation. May our personal anthem ring clear in our response, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the POWER of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Rom 1:16a

  • Matilda

    Hi, I was wondering if you or anyone had any advice on how to deal with pro-gay christians in your life? I have a lot in my family and all of them are people that I would consider to be probably-not-christians based on fruits of the spirit, bible knowledge, and church attendance, but they get really angry if you even insinuate they might be unsaved. I don’t really care so much about internet trolls like the kind that plague the gospel coalition site, but many of us are dealing with real people and while we have plenty of advice on some aspects of this topic, there isn’t a lot about how to deal with wrong-headed christians or quasi-christians. One of my family members is especially politically aggressive, so much so I had to block him on social media (and no one stands up for me out of fear). Finding someone to adopt me is out, and I’m not sure how to even evangelize these people.

    • E S Gonzalez

      Serve. Honor. Pray.
      Not necessarily in that order, lol.;)
      Serve those around you who disagree/reject God’s truth in a way that reflects Jesus Messiah and His heart for the lost and dying.
      Honor our Lord (or, I should say, continue to honor our Lord) by being obedient and faithful to Him/His Word in thought, word, and deed.
      Pray for the hearts of those around you. Direct your words prayerfully to the One who is able to change the hearts of men.
      If the opportunity arises to share/remind the person with whom you’re speaking that the Word of God is the infallible, Divine and supreme authority in all matters upon which it speaks, then ride! lol But do so understanding that all you’re doing is “dropping seed” … or “watering”– He alone gives the increase. 1Cor3:6
      We don’t need to fight for God or with men.
      Just my two cents … maybe five … lol

      • Mr. Mike

        Somebody has been reading their Bible and applying it. I would say that your two cents was worth a fortune. Very well said. Thank you.

    • Sir Aaron

      I’m not sure what you mean by finding somebody to adopt you (sarcasm?) but I see that you are in a tough spot.
      I think you should evangelize them like you would other unbelievers. Concentrate on the core of the gospel. Jesus is God, he died on the cross for sin, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day according to the Scripture. I would also concentrate on faith and repentance.
      I would probably choose to avoid conversations that serve only for unbelievers to argue. Don’t allow yourself to be dragged into arguments that have no purpose. You can merely state something to the effect that the Bible says and that’s what is important.
      Memorize Scripture so that you will have a Biblical reply to every challenge sent your way. Scripture is your ally.
      Pray for them and pray for yourself.
      Be patient. When you are not in a position to give them the gospel (because they refuse to listen) then model Christianity through your lifestyle.
      Remember that God and God alone saves.
      May God give you the grace and wisdom to deal with your situation.

    • I appreciate this question, Matilda. It’s where we all live, isn’t it?

      I think it would be helpful to have a few talking points that aim to disarm the hostility in the person you’re speaking with, so you can attempt to have a rational conversation.

      1. A lot of professing Christians are “pro-gay” because they think that “pro-gay” is “pro-love” and we’re “haters.” I think it’s super important to show them why that’s not true at all, and why the opposite is actually true. It is not love to affirm a lifestyle which, if not forsaken, will end in eternal destruction & will rob eternal joy. Indeed, it’s hate to do so. Try to help your family see that they don’t actually benefit homosexuals by “giving them what they want,” anymore than a parent benefits children who want to eat ice cream for every meal or play in traffic in the afernoons. See here for more of that.

      2. Many people have framed this issue as one of “marriage equality,” but that has never been what this is about. Homosexuals have always had the right to get married. No one has ever denied them that right. But because they are not interested in binding themselves in covenant with a single, adult member of the opposite sex not in the same family (i.e., the definition of marriage), they’ve not been interested in marriage. What they’ve been interested in is forming a union with their partner and calling it marriage, and having everyone recognize it as marriage. In essence, they’ve been interested in redefining marriage to suit their particular perversion.

      It will help if your professing Christian family can see this. And sometimes it helps to explain that not even the homosexualists are asking for true “marriage equality,” because they would deny the institution of marriage to a group of three people who wanted to be marry to each other, or to those who are underage, or to members of the same family. Every argument the homosexual uses for “marriage equality” can be made for those other relationships being called marriage, but the homosexualist doesn’t want to extend the title of “marriage” to them. How is that equal? Indeed, it’s not. Because this has never been about “marriage equality.” It’s been about forcing others to accept, legitimize, and celebrate a particular sexual perversion.

      3. Finally, I think it’s most important to continually get back to one’s source of authority. Anyone can have opinions, but if someone is a professing Christian, they should recognize very quickly that their opinions don’t mean a thing. The only opinion that matters is God’s opinion, because His opinion isn’t just an opinion, but binding, authoritative reality. Jesus is Lord, and if we claim to be His people, we are His slaves. We are to submit everything to Him — even our thinking. The question is: where do we go to know what Jesus thinks of things? Answer: Scripture alone. Try to help your family see that, whatever we might think, the Bible is our authority. And then you can reason from an objective standard.

      If they reject the authority of Scripture, you can simply ask them on what basis they can decide what parts of God’s Word they accept or reject. The answer to that is always: themselves. “But don’t you see, Uncle James, that you’re setting yourself up as the standard and the judge of God’s Word? As a Christian, don’t you want to come under the Word of God, and let it stand in judgment of you? Isn’t that what we’re called to as Christians?”

      This is only a start, but I think those are 3 key issues in having these conversations. May God bless you as you seek to be a witness to His truth.

  • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

    “Streams of tears flow from my eyes because your law is not obeyed.” (Psalm 119:136)

    What a painful and fearful thing it is to see celebrated the things that will usher in God’s wrath.

  • Sir Aaron

    As Christians we recognize the evil that is before us. But I think there are a few other points we should recognize.

    #1 – While it brings no joy to watch the celebration of evil, we know that Scripture is clear that there will be great evil just before Christ’s return. We can rejoice in the reminder that Christ’s return is imminent.

    #2 – From the OT to the Reformation, we know that even in dark times God can and does raise up people to make dramatic shifts in culture and government for the better. So we should never give up hope that God can perform a miracle in our country including revival, repentance, and a return to a more Biblical rule of law.

  • rhutchin

    In Romans 1, we first read, “although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Think of the capitulation of society and even many within the church to the teaching of evolution. After this, “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.”

    Then, we enter chapter 2, where Paul argues that we are all sinners. What Paul does not say is that God unleashes a great judgment on those He has given over to sinful desires. Paul seems to be saying that this is the natural condition of a sinful world. We, in the United States have been pampered. Our country was founder by people who committed themselves to God’s rule. Such people established universities to propagate the gospel. Over the course of our history devout people prostrated themselves before God because of increasing sin and great revivals swept the land. We almost ripped the country apart because of slavery. One consequence of this was that we enjoyed God’s blessing as God constrained the sin that would normally be present. That period of God’s blessing is now ending, and we are becoming what should be seen as more normal for a sin obsessed world. A United States that is not experiencing God’s favor will be more chaotic as God is not restraining sin as He has in the past.

    God’s complaint to us will be the same as to Israel. I gave you blessing and you forgot Me; I gave you drought and you did not think of Me. So, now we get the drought part (as in California) or floods, or terrorism/crime, and whatever else happens when God steps aside and lets sinful people run amok. That is the more normal condition we should expect. Times will be more difficult – but even Israel under Ahab and Jereboam II enjoyed economic prosperity – so it’s probably not the dark ages.

    What the future seems to hold for us is a United States are times in which sin is more prevalent and more accepted than any time in our history. However, we learned to live with schools without prayer and moral instruction and still dutifully sent our children to them; we accepted abortion with only muffled opposition; pre-marital sex and divorce are as common within the church as without. We will get used to the new order and just shuffle along as we have always been able to do. Perhaps, a few, like Jeremiah, will mourn.

    • Kreff

      Well said!!

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  • Linda Rice

    Thank you for giving us perspective on events and future. So much better than defiant talk of civil disobedience. Last night, Isaiah 40:12 happened to be a verse at hand and I thought about it in contrast to our government. “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand?” No supreme court justice that I know of. “Who has marked off the heavens by the span [of his hand]?” No president I know of. “Who has calculated the dust of the earth by the measure and weighed the mountains…and hills…?” No matter what it looks like to we under government rule, the power of man is a pittance and the incomprehensibly immense God will have no trouble accomplishing His good and just will.

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  • kramxe

    The decision should not have come as a surprise to anybody. There are two components, one political and societal, the other moral. As we have seen in other cases, the two perspectives don’t always align (e.g. abortion).

    I do agree with the points made in this article. Historically, we have seen civilizations rise and fall. The biblical narratives of Judges helps us understand the cycles. We have no reason to believe those same cycles were reserved for antiquity. Fear grips us, on one hand, to see and understand the trends, and how fast things can change (remember, just three years ago Pres Obama was clear — marriage is only between a man and woman). On the other hand, we Christians have a long-term perspective, one that understands this tent is temporary. We can get angry about being part of a trend that we consider degrading to His commands. But, such trends are nothing new.

    From the political and cultural perspective, the notion that so many get their direction from the legal system, political leaders, entertainment industry, etc. is disheartening. Have we degraded to wimps without conviction, just allowing others to make decisions for us? Is our population so poorly anchored that they no longer hold any personal convictions about right and wrong? I often challenge people who oppose Christianity to articulate what they believe and why, including the foundation of their beliefs. Silence. I’m not sure they even understand the question. The Bible speaks often to being “tossed to and fro” because of the winds of the world. We have plenty of evidence that man’s ways, and wants, usually have negative outcomes.

    With regret, I believe our Christian churches are more and more populated with people who don’t know what they believe either. Over 60 years ago, Francis Schaeffer wrote a book, “The Great Evangelical Disaster.” He saw trends at that time, trends that have been brought to reality in 2015. The essence of the matter in loosing God’s way is the changing attitude toward truth. Schaeffer make clear the Christian community placed low value on truth, therefore loosing the anchor of God’s ways, and following after man’s ways.

    On the moral front, God cannot bless willful disobedience. There is no biblical narrative when disobedience was blessed. Same-sex relationships are willful disobedience. Oh yes, cohabitation is also willful disobedience. It baffles me why some Christian churches choose to overlook these forms of disobedience, all in the name of tolerance, compromise, and “love each other.” To me, it speaks clearly, that they discount biblical truths, and wish to follow the ways of Satan, the world, and the flesh.

    In the years leading up to this decision, the advocates pushed back on the societal outcome predictions. They contended that “you don’t know what will happen.” By now, we have great evidence from the Scandinavian experiment. Many of the Scandinavian countries made these same-sex relationship (sorry — no “marriage” in my thinking) legal 15-20 years ago. The outcome of the experiment is now clear. This means that conjecture is no longer necessary, but facts can help understand the outcome. The impact is not merely for the same-sex couples that wanted the change. The primary change was the understanding of marriage (just as Justice Roberts asserted). Out of that comes the decoupling of marriage and children. Children become a commodity. The necessity of a committed heterosexual is no longer part of the fabric. This means many more single-mothers with the children. Of course, this status requires more and more governmental assistance to live. The family unit changes, and are not sustainable like a traditional husband/wife/children model. So, to those who say “it does not affect me,” think again. When the family unit changes, and more and more governmental assistance is required, the impact is felt by everybody.

    Truth never changes. Yes, times change. If there is any surprise, it is the speed with which these changes are flowing down the stream of life.

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  • Lana Mitchell Davis

    Marriage is defined by God not the Supreme Court! If the justices of the court had any sense they would acknowledge that and not bring down the wrath of God on themselves. It will be very interesting to see what happens in their lives in the next year!

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