July 4, 2015

O Church Arise! A Biblical Perspective on the SCOTUS decision

by Caleb Kolstad

Rom. 1:16-32, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, and Jude 3-25

A Biblical Perspective on the SCOTUS decision

flag america and christianAfter Friday’s landmark SCOTUS decision many shepherds felt compelled to imitate the example of Jude.  Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 3-4).  Following in Jude’s footsteps I decided to take a week off from my regular expositional series through the gospel of John in order to address the Supreme Court’s nation changing decision.

These are dark times, there’s no denying it!”  In our own backyard my family hears beautiful hymns of the faith played on traditional church bells from only a block away.  We often hear great gospel songs like “the Old Rugged Cross” and “Amazing Grace.”  Yet when anyone drives by this same church they quickly observe a flashing “Gay Pride” rainbow flag that is proudly displayed on St.John’s digital billboard.  St. John Church of Christ wants everyone in Freeport to know that they are leading the way in the “Open and Affirming” church movement that is sweeping through our nation like wildfire.  Dr. Dutcher strongly believes that Lord himself wants every church, not just his own congregation, to join him in this progressive crusade.  They are certainly not alone in this!  Just like week Pastor Tony Campolo issued a statement saying he now “fully supports same sex marriage.”  Add to that, a recent article on Reuters which reports that close to 35% percent of “professing Evangelicals” now support gay marriage. That number represents a sixteen percent increase over a time span of just three years (though around 45% of the nation still believes homosexuality is a sin).

I do not know what it is like where you live but in our “conservative” city the local newspaper has provided Dr. Dutcher with free advertisement more times than I can count.  How is it, that one liberal pastor is given so much press coverage so he repeatedly promote his own religious and personal convictions?  St John’s “Unity Fest” for example was spotlighted three times in the month of June alone.  In sharp contrast, the congregation that I pastor is celebrating its 170th anniversary of ministry in Freeport on July 1st. We did not even receive one write up.  For all the talk about “dialogue” and “free speech” very few media outlets have given equal opportunities so that both sides can express their viewpoints concerning this controversial subject.  That’s strange seeing only 3.8% of Americans identify themselves as LGBT (per Gallup).

Needles to say, the moral trajectory of our nation is quite troubling.  I make this assertion on the authority of Scripture.  The goal of this article is to evaluate last week’s landmark Supreme Court decision from a biblical perspective.  As you have no doubt observed everyone these days has an opinion but only Being’s point of view truly matters.

But before we look at what God thinks let me highlight a few of the human perspectives that were given over the past few days.  As you know Friday’s landmark SCOTUS case was a split decision (5-4) in favor of legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states.  President Obama, who in 2008 told the American public that he believed “marriage is between one man and one woman” celebrated the S.C.’s decision, saying, “Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else#lovewins.

God and the Gay ChristianWriting for the Majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “The ancient origins of marriage confirm its centrality, but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society. The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. That institution even as confined to opposite-sex relations — has evolved over time.”

As I have demonstrated in an earlier article it came as no surprising to see the majority of celebrities in Hollywood rejoice over Friday’s decision.  Pop icon Madonna tweeted, “Finally And at Last! The Revolution Of Love has Begun! #livingforlove #rebelheartsunite”  While former Disney Channel actress turned music star, Demi Levota wrote, “I couldn’t be more proud to be an American today… What an incredible day for equality!!!!”

ESPN sports continue its pro LGBT ways collecting a collection of pro-gay marriage tweets from professional American athletes in effort to promote this “new orthodoxy” far and wide.  The Chicago Cubs Dextor Fowler twitted, In 1967, interracial marriages were legalized. If that had not happened, my wife and I would not be able to in union. Love should ALWAYS win.  Olympic figure skater Johny Weir wroteMarriage equality in all 50 states! Congratulations America! Brimming with pride.  While football player Scott Fujita tweeted, Resist the urge to engage in debate with those in opposition to equality. There is NO MORE debate. Just rejoice and celebrate this moment.

Not everyone rejoiced over Friday’s historic ruling however.  In fact four of the sitting justices on the Supreme Court wrote dissenting opinions warning the nation of what this ruling represents.  Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “People of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.”  While Justice Samuel Alito said, “This decision will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.”  The most scathing dissent came from the pen of Justice Scalia who wrote, “I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.”  He went on to talk about our new rulers. “Today’s decree says that my ruler, and the ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”  Later adding that “a system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”

In addition to this, many of Evangelicalism’s most respected theologians and church leaders were united in lamenting the Court’s decision.  Dr. John Piper quoted Psalm 119:136, “My eyes shed tears, because people do not keep your law.”Adding, “We weep over our sins.  We don’t celebrate them.  We don’t institutionalize them!”  Dr. Al Mohler called the SCOTUS decision, “Damaging, devastating,and far reaching.”  While Dr. John MacArthur noted that “the Word of God pronounces judgment on any nation that reclassifies evil as good, darkness as light, and bitter as sweet (Is 5:20).”  “As a nation, America continues to put herself in the cross-hairs of Divine judgment!”

What was your reaction to Friday’s Supreme Court decision?  Were you joyful?  Sorrowful?  Fearful?  Concerned?  No matter what any of us think or feel the most important question is what does God think of all this?  In the Holy Scriptures we receive a clear and timeless word from the Lord.  Everything we need for life and godliness is found in the Bible.  Please read this next sentence very carefully.  Just because something is super controversial does not necessary mean that it is super complicated.  What God thinks of homosexuality is not complicated.  It’s not.  It’s really not.  The Word of God calls homosexuality sinful, abominable, unnatural, and evil.

I would encourage you to read through Romans 1:16-32 this week.  The trajectory of wickedness in any nation is easy to trace.  First, people give themselves over to sexual immorality, followed by idolatry and homosexual immoralityand it sort of all culminates in a debased, reprobate, depraved mind!  This passage describes America in the 21st century.  Into this dark context Paul testimony in Romans 1:16-17 shines bright like a diamond!

In this dark hour will the evangelical church hide the gospel light under a bushel (contra Matt. 5:14-16)?  Will we keep the gospel to ourselves and only discuss these issues with fellow believers on Sunday? (contra Acts 1:8)  Will we isolate ourselves from the big bad world or cower in a corner and hope it will all just go away(contra John 17:15-17)  Or will imitate the example of Christ and the apostles and say, “WE ARE NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES?!?!”

Luther Here I StandMartin Luther was spot on when he said, If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.  Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

Their is second passage that I want to draw your attention.  It will behoove all of us to spend some time in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 as well.  The Corinthian church should have known that no unrepentant sinner would ever enter into the kingdom of God.  Unrepentant sinners do not strut through the gates of heaven.  As in the first century their are many deceivers out there today who are telling people that “homosexuality is not a sin.”  “You do not need to repent of being LGBT anymore than a black individual needs to repent of his skin color.”  “Gay is the new black.”  “God loves you just the way your are and so do we.”  #truelovewins.”  “That is why we are “open and affirming.”  The truths that are presented in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 are much needed today so do not be afraid to share them with a lost and dying world.

There is a third key text that I want to briefly remind you of and that’s the neglected epistle of Jude.  If you have not read the book of Jude lately now would be a really good time to do so.  Notice the apostolic charge that every believer, not just pastors, receives in verse 3 to “contend earnestly for the faith.”  This 911 emergency epistle took on this form because certain (false) teachers had “crept into” the Christian church “unnoticed” (note Jude 4).  These “ungodly persons” got into the fellowship, in part, because they claimed to believe in God’s “amazing grace.”  

Stop right there.  Does it not trouble your soul when you hear apostate churches playing Amazing Grace on their church bells?  Was it not morally repulsive when our President sang this timeless gospel hymn at the memorial service in Charleston, South Carolina this week only to return to Washington D.C. to celebrate the SCOTUS decision from his rainbow lit White House?

truth warIf you know anything about John Newton’s testimony you understand the profound irony of this!  Like Augustine before him, as an unconverted man John Newton enjoyed sinful pleasures with the best of them  He was an 18th century hedonist and a wicked slave trader.  This is one of the reasons why Newton penned this verse, Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a WRETCH like me.  I once was lost, but now am found.  Was blind, but now I see.  According to God’s mercy, Newton came to see that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  For the rest of his life brother Newton observed the anniversary of May 10, 1748 as the day of his conversion.  Newton’s timeless hymn celebrates the glorious truth that God’s amazing grace saves and sanctifies sinners – unworthy sinners like you and I!   This is our gospel confession beloved.  It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all (1 Tim. 1:12-17).  This is our testimony of faith (Col. 1:21-23Eph. 2:1-10).

Let’s return to the neglected epistle of Jude one final time.  Many of the false teachers in the early church were abusing the grace of God by transforming grace into as a license for sin (Jude 4)  Talk about RELEVANT!  God’s Word reads like today’s newspaper.  These “godless persons” (that is God’s description of them not mine) were literally “turning the grace of God into licentiousness” and in so doing were “denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Into this very context Jude charges the beloved of God to fight for this nonnegotiable body of objective truth (“the faith”).  If we ignore this apostolic charge we risk losing our common salvation!  Oh that could never happen Caleb?  Why did the Reformer’s refer to Europe from around 400-1400 AD as the (spiritual) dark ages?  Post Tenabras, lux anyone?

Amazing GraceThe Lord’s half-brother goes on to remind believers that sin and judgment go hand in hand.  Notice carefully what examples Jude uses to illustrate this timeless truth in Jude 4-16 (heterosexual and homosexual sins).

In verses 17-19 Jude exhorts the people of God to remember.  While in verses 20-21, we are commanded to “keep ourselves in the sphere of God’s love” by building yourself up on the sure foundation, while remaining wholly dependent on God, as we live our lives in light of eternity.

Despite the many dangers, toils, and snares that we’ll surely encounter along the way the apostle calls on us to be ministers of mercy as we attempt to rescue doubters, drifters, and defiled ones (note Jude 22-23).  By the grace of God, believers need to remember, remain, & rescue!

In view of this sacred duty Jude concludes his letter by reminding us of the comforting doctrine of Divine preservation.  YOUR SAFE AND SECURE IN CHRIST- NOW GO TO WAR!  “Onward Christian soldiers!”  “Fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12).”

O Church AriseO Church Arise and put your armor on; Hear the call of Christ our Captain; For now the weak can say that they are strong.  In the strength that God has given.  With shield of faith and belt of truth; We’ll stand against the devil’s lies; An army bold whose battle cry is “Love!”  Reaching out to those in darkness.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, are glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen!

Caleb Kolstad

Posts

Caleb is the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Freeport, IL.
  • Krista Price

    I enjoyed your points and agree with all. I especially loved the Martin Luther quote!

    I wanted to forward to others but there were so many errors and typos that I felt it hindered credibility. Perhaps some more careful proofreading before posting would be appreciated for us English types! Also it is “tweets”,”tweeted” not “twits” or “twitted”.

    Happy 4th of July! I hope we still celebrate this with a red, white, and blue flag!!!

    • Jason

      “Also it is “tweets”,”tweeted” not “twits” or “twitted”.”

      Debatable…

  • calebkolstad

    Thanks Krista for the encouragement. I will try and edit some of the typos later on today. Thanks for bringing them to my attention. That is always helpful.

  • rhutchin

    Marriage is an uniquely Scriptural institution that unites a man and a women in marriage. However, the church could not enforce marriage to guard against abuse. So the government stepped in and added to marriage the force of contractual law. Through this means, the rights of spouses and children were protected. Inheritance was insured and divorce was to protect the spouse put away. The Supreme Court has now divided the duties of church from the state. The church can marry a man and women without force of law. It is a commitment between a man and a woman in the sight of God. The couple then will separately apply for state recognition of the “marriage” relationship to provide legal protections. No religious ceremony will be required for this – the state does not care if two people live together without the legal protections of marriage but it will document a contractual relationship were couples seek state enforcement of the relationship for the protection of the spouse and the children.

    So, why has the church increasing capitulated on this issue? It did not need do so. That is the sad part. The church can no more marry a man to a man than the state can require a man and women to marry if they want to live together. What is going on? As Pastor Kolstad notes, the church is under assault, “These “godless persons”…were literally “turning the grace of God into licentiousness” and in so doing were “denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”” As Paul warned, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

  • Todd

    Caleb I thoroughly enjoyed your post! I have always enjoyed your posts when they are on cripplegate. Your post concerning pastoral trials and Church upheaval led me to purchase the books that you recommended and I found them very helpful. I have a concern. It may be me, so if you think it is please share. As much as I enjoyed this post I could not read your last entry. The pictures were just too distracting. I don’t know if that is me being overly sensitive because I am sure in the period of Judges, Sodom, and Rome that such acts were so open and common place that Christians learned to just deal with it. Or I don’t know if its because I long for righteousness and those visual images repulse me as I’m sure all sin repulses God. I have covered my child’s eyes in public when heterosexuals become to engrossed in their sin. Caleb, I just don’t know my own heart on this issue. Could you help me? Should we as Christians be sensitive to such images or should we more tolerant recognizing this is the norm for a fallen world?

    Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed your post! I agree with you that the hypocrisy of the President was a total travesty. It displays how our nation still wants to hold on to a cultural notion of Christianity. Thanks for your post, thanks for your endurance, thanks for being open enough to share your experiences at your local Church lovingly and honestly. God Bless you Brother.

    Todd

    • calebkolstad

      Todd,

      First, thank you for your kind words. It is a honor to post here on Cripplegate and on TMS’ new Preachers and Preaching blog. I also post ministry articles here if you are interested. http://preacherboy316pt2.blogspot.com/

      Second, I would never want to offend a sincere Christian brother with worldly pictures. I maybe assumed wrongly that the vast majority of CG readers had already witnessed the Bruce Jenner transgender photo. It was the most talked about news story/photo for a week or so. I have the great joy of teaching the senior saints SS class at the church I pastor. The people in my class were familiar with the photo though many of them had a hard time looking at it again. They do not like what has become so commonplace in our secular culture. They rightly see this downward spiral in our nation in a Romans 1:18-32 sort of way.

      Third, since you asked for my opinion/counsel here it is. If I were you I would not put anything before my own eyes that may lead me into sin (cause my flesh to truly stumble). If the Bruce Jenner image is something that you find morally repulsive (as I do) but are not tempted by that is a different matter (in my judgment anyways). In other words, I hope that I would never put up a picture of seductive man/woman from an SI swimsuit issue in order to show our readers “how sex-intoxicated our culture has become.” I guess it is a case by case, context orientated decision for me. I am not sure if that answers your question or not?

      Fourth, I would by happy to email you my article, “How did we get here?” without any pictures if that be helpful. Just send me your email address and I will gladly do that. I linked an article that may be related to this subject. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/whatever-is-not-from-faith-is-sin-really

      Grace to you brother Todd. Thanks again for posting a comment.

      • Todd

        Caleb, thanks so much!! And by no means, and I mean no means, did I think you would put up something that might offend. Your body of work and your patient dealings with people who oppose you is evident. By the way, I in no way am flattering you. Your posts on enduring Church fights and how to manage them and the books you recommended saw me through a really tough time.

        As far as the pictures go, I agree with you the Bruce Jenner thing I just find morally repulsive. I struggle in my own heart because homosexuality really bothers me, much more than other sexual sins. I don’t know why yet. Let me reiterate, I am not opposed to you posting the picture at all, I just am not sure that all of my repulsion comes from the Holy Spirit.

        Thank you for mentioning the other sites you blog at. I’ll be sure to follow. Thanks again for your service and your willingness to share your experiences and knowledge.

        3rd John 2 to you and your family
        Todd

  • tovlogos

    Amen Caleb — Eloquent and irrefutable.
    This essay could also be entitled, The Depth of Spiritual Blindness. You mentioned Romans 1:16-32; Yes, for those who can see. Many may not realize the condemnation in verse 32, where the ones that fall are cheered onward — those that cheer and give hearty approval to those that embrace and practice abominations are equally liable to the same judgement. These tragedies provoke true believers to bleed forth their best effort to defend the faith; and those few whose ears and eyes the Lord opens may open.

    In the mean time, the man of lawlessness, the real headache, is upon this world of darkness. The present condition of this world is a red carpet for his appearance. There will be no revivals, the evidence shows the opposite expectation. Look at how God in the flesh was treated, and how He was murdered. This grievous thing that took place in the Supreme Court has brought us full circle from the days of Sodom — we were a spiritual mess all along; but now they are raising the fist in God’s face. Threatening sanctions if we do not comply, is a mirror image of the threat to don the mark of the beast — one could extrapolate, if a man with young children does not comply, he may have to watch his children starve before his eyes.

  • Adam

    In regards to your conclusion I found myself in a limbo all week after the SSM decision. Most of my Christian friends were quick to take a militant stance voicing their opinions on Facebook(where all modern day moral battles take place). Deep down I wanted to take part in the fight to uphold the biblical stance on homosexuality and counter the “civil rights activist” and their “open mindedness”. But I remained quiet . Still have. I guess I am so used to hearing Christians being called hypocrites, and sometimes, for good reason. I think it’s our job as Christians to stand up against immorality in our country… But at what point do we acknowledge that the divorce rate between professing Christians and the secular world is the same. We can’t even make a good case for traditional marriage, and even if some couples aren’t divorced in the church, no body is enving their marriage… They’re boring, weak, and not thriving. With that being the case I feel like I just cast my pearls before swine when I say anything.
    I guess I don’t really have a point, I just really love this blog and think the authors are great, so maybe it’s a good place to vent haha. Thanks for the CG, it’s a blessing.

    • Jason

      I’m one of those people (now *just* under 30) who really has taken a dislike to social media, so I may be bias, but I’ve yet to see any discussion on Facebook that wasn’t *at best* tossing pearls to pigs. The availability of pearls is usually questionable. The very format encourages people to talk at each other instead of with one another. If we want to have meaningful relationships we have to do more than slap something up on someone’s wall every once in a while (no matter how “inspirational”).

      The internet is great for providing information, but real relationships take more than an exchange of facts and clicking like buttons. We need to start asking ourselves how we can bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).

      Talk is cheap because the demand is low and the supply is *way* too high. It’s way past time we roll up our sleaves and produce something more valuable.

      If we want marriage in the church to be a light to the world we should start discipling the younger couples in the congregation (Titus 2 style), watching their children so they can go on the ever suggested but rarely practical “date night”, being willing to help facilitate healthy conversation, etc…

      Personally, I’m only starting to be a willing part of the solution. For years I watched professionals (counsellors, etc…) fill roles we are all supposed to fill and volunteered to help only for “official” events. I’m only recently beginning to understand what bearing burdens actually looks like. It certainly doesn’t look like Facebook activism.

      • Adam

        Dude, well said Jason. “Talk is cheap because the demand is low and the supply is *way* too high” I couldn’t have put it better myself. I really appreciate your words and found them encouraging.
        I’ve been married for two years, and since our church’s premarital counseling, married couples small group, and the occasional marriage book *the date night* has become a light hearted joke between me and my wife. Not in a bad way, it just seems like the evangelical duct tape for marriage, because it will fix anything. But, I can see that because my wife and I don’t have kids and haven’t struggled to spend time together that, to my own fault, I haven’t acknowledged the need in others marriages(mainly who have kids). You make a great point and I think it’s a good start to improving some marriages. I’ll sending out some text to friends tonight offering baby sitting duty 🙂

  • Caleb,
    Your article and the sermon that went along with it are spot on. We are living in a Romans 1 America. I also live in Freeport and it saddens me every time I drive past St. John’s. As a former atheist, I have a hard time figuring out how someone can claim to believe only parts of the Bible. Once I believed it, I believed it all.

    • calebkolstad

      I agree with you Ken.
      Do you attend brother Strong’s church or Park Hills?
      I am encouraged to know Freeport has another bright light shining in the darkness. Press on!