Rom. 1:16-32, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, and Jude 3-25
A Biblical Perspective on the SCOTUS decision
After 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.”
Writing 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 wrote, Marriage 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 immorality; and 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?!?!”
Martin 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?
If 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. 1:21-23; Eph. 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?
The 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 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!”