The Supreme Court just announced that Gay Marriage is legal. There are going to be a lot of opinions flying around the web today. People will be thankful, angry, sad, loving, and hateful. Some will feel and act emboldened. Others will feel and act betrayed. I’ve been struggling with how I wanted to respond, as I know a lot of people will ask me. Many will continue the same old adages that gay marriage is ruining the sanctity of marriage, and now that it is legal, whatever sanctity was left is now forever gone. But my mind keeps coming back to two points:
1. Gay marriage didn’t destroy the sanctity of marriage.
2. God’s love is unchanging.
1. Gay Marriage didn’t destroy the sanctity of marriage.
It’s true. We did that well enough all on our own.
- In America, there is statistically one divorce every 13 seconds. That’s 6,646 divorces per day, and 46,523 divorces per week.
- The average length of a marriage that ends in divorce is eight years.
- The average age for couples going through their first divorce is 30 years old.
- Cohabitation, in place of marriage, has increase by nearly 900% over the past 50 years.
- Census data from 2012 shows that 7.8 million couples are living together without walking down the aisle, compared to 2.9 million in 1996.
- For women under 30, more than half of all childbirths occur out of wedlock.
- In 1960, 11 percent of children lived in fatherless homes. Today, that numbers is approaching 40%.
- 15 million U.S. children, or more than 1 in 3, are living with fathers today.
- In some neighborhoods, as few as 1 in 10 children live in stable two-parent households.
And all of this is not without consequence.
First, children from fatherless homes are:
- Seven times more likely to live in poverty
- Six times more likely to commit suicide
- More than twice as likely to commit crime
- More than twice as likely to become pregnant out of wedlock
- Worse off academically and socially
- Worse off physically and emotionally when they reach adulthood
Second, children from fatherless homes account for:
- 60% of America’s rapists
- 63% of America’s youth suicides
- 70% of America’s long-term prison inmates
- 70% of America’s reform school attendees
- 71% of America’s teenage pregnancies
- 71% of America’s high school dropouts
- 72% of America’s adolescent murderers
- 85% of America’s youth prisoners
- 85% of America’s youth with behavioral disorders
- 90% of America’s runaways
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that if you grew up in a divorced household, or without a father, that you are among the statistics above, or that you are somehow any ‘less’ than someone who grew up with a mother and father. But you are among the exceptions. The above are statistical facts.
But when we look at the other side statistically for children who did grow up in a two parent household:
Children from natural marriage homes are:
- Seven times less likely to live in poverty
- Six times less likely to commit suicide
- Less than half as likely to commit crime
- Less than half as likely to become pregnant out of wedlock
- Develop better academically and socially
- Healthier physically and emotionally when they reach adulthood
As I said before, statistically, when a nation has strong families, the nation itself is much stronger.
In the early 20th Century, less than 10% of marriages ended in divorce. When we look at today’s elderly generation, we see that most of the couples are still together. To them, ’til death do us part actually meant something. So what happened? You see, prior to the 1960’s and 1970’s, if you wanted to get a divorce, you had to have a good reason. You had to show proof to the courts that your spouse had cheated on you, or that they were abusive, and so on. But then came no-fault divorce laws. And suddenly, it didn’t matter. If you got bored with someone, or things didn’t go exactly the way you planned, then go ahead! Get that divorce! America is all about what you want. Who cares what someone else wants? Who cares what’s best for your children? As long as you get what you want and feel that you deserve, everything is good to go.
Perhaps if we really sincerely did want to promote our nation’s best interests, we wouldn’t be spending so much time fighting over gay marriage, we would simply ban no-fault divorce laws.
2. God’s Love is Unchanging.
Back to the direct issue of gay marriage, there are a lot of Christians distressed about the new ruling and legalization. But what my mind keeps coming back to here is, so what? Has God changed? Has His word changed? Has your mission changed? Has Christ’s command to go and demonstrate love changed at all?
The fact is that compared to Christians who are literally beheaded and blown up by ISIS just by stating that they are Christians, we still have it pretty darn easy here in America.
Just this week, Muslims drowned Christians in a cage and then blew them up by RPG, burned them alive in a car shot by an RPG, and had others’ heads tied together with explosive necklaces which were then detonated.
But we’re too concerned about debating the Confederate Flag to care. Perhaps we’re worrying too much about the wrong flag? Just a thought.
Look, it’s not to say that things won’t begin to change, but if gay marriage is the current extent of Christian persecution in America, you’re still among the most fortunate in the world. At least you’re not being blown up.
Now, people on both sides of the debate will attempt to use or abuse scripture to justify one side or the other. On one side you’ll hear arguments about shellfish in the Book of Leviticus being an abomination, and that Jesus himself never said the word ‘homosexuality’ as a justification of actions. And on the other, you’ll hear stories of doom and gloom with quotes of Sodom and Gomorrah and how we are holier than thou.
But what I would like to point out here is one of my favorite passages from the Bible in the New Testament:
9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed,you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
For people on the one side trying to justify homosexuality biblically, the Bible is pretty explicit in the above passage on the whole not inheriting the kingdom of God thing. I’m not implying you’ll agree whatsoever, but I’m just saying that the whole shellfish argument isn’t going to really cut it, if you’re trying to come from a sincere Christian standpoint.
And for the people on the other ‘holier than thou’ side, what I always like to point out is the fact that homosexuality is in no way singled out in the above passage. It’s one in a list of many different sins, and in God’s eyes, there is no sin that is better or worse than another. Jesus said that if you looked lustfully on a woman who was not your wife, that you’re equally guilty of the sin of adultery in your heart. Yes, that means that you’re momentary lapse of temptation is as damning as the two grooms down the street.
The truth is that if God is truly holy, all-powerful, omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent, there is not a single person who has ever lived on earth (with the exception of Christ) deserving of heaven. If God is perfection and sin is imperfection, the two cannot be mixed. And guess what, your neighbor’s homosexuality isn’t any more condemning of Hell than your own pride is.
Many Christians are prideful in the way we look down upon and treat others whom we perceive to be in more sin than we are. Too often, we strive to compete, or make ourselves look better when comparing to the mess that someone else’s life is. You’re guilty of it, and so am I. We all are.
“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.” – C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity.
The great mistake many Christians make when discussing gay marriage is that we do so from a prideful, condescending way, rather than an earnest and sincere love for the person and a desire to see them discover the amazing, incredible gift of God’s unabashed, abounding, infinite grace.
They sin. You sin. I sin. We all sin. And we are all condemned to Hell equally without God’s grace and redemption. And I’ll tell you one thing. Most gay people and supporters of gay marriage aren’t going to magically come to see the light by your repeated claims of damnation. Jesus won people over not just by being honest with them, but also by doing so with grace and love.
What I absolutely love about the rest of the Bible passage above is that it doesn’t just end with the condemnation of all of the sins listed, but continues on with:
“11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed,you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
The wonderful thing about grace and redemption is that it is for everyone, everyone equally needs it, and it is equally given to anyone that just asks. God isn’t just about judgement; He’s about forgoveness. God is not about death; He’s about life.
The Bible also says a lot about the sin of gluttony and over-indulgence. God says that your body is a temple, and it needs to be taken care of. It also undoubtedly affects you directly, as well as everyone else around you that loves you. By living unhealthy, you make it almost certain that you will become a burden on your loved ones who will be forced to see you medically suffer as life progresses, you may leave your family too soon in premature death, and you may be a burden on taxpayers nationwide who are forced to fit the medical bills for your choice to be unhealthy. And yet, I don’t see many Christians doing nationwide protests or claiming The End is near because of America’s record obesity.
I think I recall something in Matthew 7 about Jesus saying to not focus on the speck in your brother’s eye while having a log in your own. And for everyone else who tries to justify their own sins, whatever they may be, against anyone else’s judgement, they tend to read the passage like this:
7 “Do not judge,
or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Too often, people try to claim that Jesus means that you should never judge. This is incorrect. We read the first three words, “Do not judge…” and ignore the rest. But when reading the entire thing in context, what Jesus says is to not judge hypocritically.
So no, Christ does not say to not call a sin a sin. But He does say to not judge others if you haven’t even checked yourself first. You aren’t any holier than I am, I’m not any holier than you, and a we isn’t any holier than a they. You can’t focus on the downfalls of others if you haven’t already sincerely done the same for yourself.
It is not your job to change your neighbor’s heart. Your job is to love them unconditionally and demonstrate to them the actual love of Christ. The rest is up to God.
“Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.” – C.S. Lewis
Jesus did not come to save those who are spiritually healthy. He came for those that are spiritually sick.
When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” – Mark 2:17
Many Christians also make the mistake of assuming that if someone claims to be a Christian, that it means an instantaneous and forever change of heart and action. But the truth is that everyone comes from a different place. Yes, if you are sincere about acknowledging your own sins and accepting Christ’s gift of grace and redemption, the Bible tells us we are a ‘new creation.’ Yes, some people will be forever changed on the spot, in an instantaneous transformation. But many will also continue to stumble and struggle as they continue to grow spiritually and gain a greater understanding of who God is, and what His standards are.
What separates the saved from the unsaved is not whether you sin or not. It is whether you actually acknowledge your sin as sin and repent, or not. I still sin. Everyone who claims to be a Christian does. But the difference lies in the heart, and how we respond to that sin. Do I acknowledge my sin as sin, and work on myself spiritually to better myself and make sure that I don’t fall into that same temptation again in the future? Or do I spitefully find a way to try to justify my sin, and make it seem normal, or even good? Some of my favorite quotes about this topic are these:
The sin that is most destructive in your life right now is the one you are most defensive about. – Tim Keller
There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who think they are sinners and the sinners who think they are righteous. – Blaise Pascal
“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” – C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity
Have you ever heard the question, “Can you be gay and be a Christian?” I know I have. It’s probably the most searched question when discussing faith and homosexuality. And to be honest, I don’t really like the premise. It’s like asking the question, “Can you look at porn and be a Christian?” Or “Can you tell a lie and be a Christian?” Or “Can you be fat and be a Christian?” Or even, “Can you be tempted by absolutely anything at all and be a Christian?” Depending on which way you look at it, the answer can be both Yes or No.
Even Christ was tempted by Satan himself. But he didn’t give in to that temptation. So did Christ sin? No. Some people are tempted with homosexual desires. Just about everyone else is tempted with heterosexual desires. It’s important to know that mere temptation or desire does not automatically equate to sin. But action does.
So to the original question of the gay Christian, my response would have to be, “It depends.”
The way I think the original premise should be worded is in three parts:
Can you be tempted (by homosexuality, heterosexuality, lying, stealing, drunkenness, gluttony, literally anything at all) and still be a Christian? Absolutely. Sin only becomes sin once temptation turns into action. If you are tempted to sin, but continue to fight and abstain from it knowing it’s not what God desires for you, then you are undoubtedly saved.
Can you fall into that temptation, turning it into action, and still be a Christian? Yes; if you acknowledge that your sin is sin, have a sincere desire in your heart to continue to grow closer to God, try harder and harder to flee from your sin, and demonstrate this sincerity with action. The wonderful thing about God’s grace and forgiveness is that it doesn’t matter if I sin 7 times or 77,000 times. If I’m sincere in my heart about wanting to flee from my sin and am actually doing something in my life to try and make that happen, I am forgiven.
Can you continually live in your sin with action and without remorse forever, denying and justifying it, and still be a Christian? That’s where we can start to run into some problems. Because without ever acknowledging your own sins and your own need for repentance, you are not saved. If you forever attempt to justify something God has labeled a sin as not being a sin, or even as something that God encourages and/or desires for your life, then there is a problem. You are attempting to serve self and God at the same time. And I’m not talking about homosexuality here. I’m talking about your secret porn addiction, your cursing habit, your drunkeness; literally anything at all. You must come to love God or love sin. Not both. If I suddenly claimed that God commanded that I look at pornography daily for the rest of my life, and that it’s actually what God wants and intends for me no matter what, people around me would understandably doubt whether or not I’m truly saved.
There are two kinds of people in the world—only two kinds. Not black or white, rich or poor, but those either dead in sin or dead to sin. – Leonard Ravenhill
There are a lot of points I’m trying to get across in this post, but among them are these:
- Gay marriage didn’t destroy marriage. We already did that on our own.
- If you want to fight for marriage, then fight for marriage consistently. That means that you are even more up in arms about the couple in your church who is about to get a divorce, than you are about the two women living together down the street.
- We need to stop being so prideful and recognize our own sins, and not just the sins of those whom we perceive as ‘less righteous’ than us. Their sin is not greater than your sin. We are all equally damned and and all equally in need of grace and redemption.
- Doom and gloom isn’t likely to change anyone’s hearts. But sincere love is. If you call yourself Christian, your mission hasn’t changed because the U.S. law has changed. Jesus said to love. So go love. Demonstrate love with actions as he did.
- Ultimately, one cannot serve both sin and God at the same time. The two are incompatible. You must love one and hate the other. This doesn’t necessarily mean an instant transformation, or that you will never sin again, but it does mean a sincere desire to continually acknowledge your struggles, acknowledge that you cannot do it on your own, and acknowledge that you are forgiven. God’s abounding grace pours over you.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life … 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. – Romans 6:1-4, 11-14