In light of the significance and impact of yesterday’s dual ruling by the Supreme Court, I’m sobered. And compelled to write. My goal is not a scholarly, biblical worldview analysis about what took place. I’ll leave that to the smart guys – for whom I’m profoundly grateful, men like Al Mohler and Denny Burk. They are an incredible gift to the church. Read them. Think long and hard about what they say.
My intention is to address the issue from a practical pastoral perspective. What must our reaction be as the church of Jesus Christ? In a culture that’s growing increasingly distant and hostile to the gospel and its implications – evidenced by the decision and language of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion – what shall we do?
We must pray. We must seek God’s face because we delight in Him – not because our nation is in trouble, not for the future of our children, and not because we’re afraid of losing our liberties. Those motivations will quickly wear thin and cease. The closet of prayer must become a place of abiding, joyful communion with our Lord. The empowerment that comes from meeting with the triune God daily in a specific place and for a specific amount of time will enable us to fulfill the Great Commission and cry out to God for a Third Great Awakening. But our cry to God for this is not (primarily) related to legislative and personal protection. Rather, we long to see an outpouring of the Holy Spirit – so that through our gospel preaching other lives will profess faith in Jesus.
We must understand the theological significance of marriage. We, as pastors, need to explain to our people that marriage is one of God’s primary means of demonstrating Trinitarian unity and diversity and gospel mystery. If your pastor has not explained this to you, purchase a book or volume that will disciple your mind in this matter. Theology determines the present and future state of the Church – and local churches – of any particular nation. Ours is no different.
We must love and honor marriage. It’s one thing to stand for the theology of marriage; it’s quite another to actually cherish your wife with sacrificial service (gentlemen) or honor your husband with loving submission (ladies). Marriage isn’t just under attack in the halls of justice and legislation. The serpent is still speaking into the ears of Christian husbands and wives every day, seeking to divide and conquer the union that God joined and no man should put asunder. Let us step on his hissing head with the authority of our Risen Savior with the spiritual weapons He’s given us to do so. This is hard – but warfare always is. Beg God for strength. Then love your spouse as Christ loves you.
We must disciple our children. Somewhere along the way Christian parents have relegated to the youth pastor, teacher, coach, or any combination of the three the responsibility to be our child(ren)’s primary influencer. Training children in the ways of God’s Word is hard. It seems pointless and extremely frustrating at times. But like most (if not all) activities in the Christian life, it’s an issue of faith. Your kids are not trophies for your personal glory. They are image bearers. And if we don’t teach them the truth of Scripture, the image they one day will bear will be idolatrous. We see the fruit (of such neglect) presently in our nation. (Just observe those – raised in Christian homes – who “support” and “like” recent state and federal decisions regarding gay marriage via their Facebook posts.) As parents, we must face issues like yesterday's Supreme Court ruling head on with the truth of the gospel.
We must evidence the kindness of the gospel. We’re not called to be name-calling, raging culture warriors, warring against those individuals and groups who don’t hold our Christian convictions. This is easy to do. But it mars the gospel’s witness. Instead, we’re to winsomely and kindly interact with those who don’t share our convictions on marriage (and any other issue). We’re to demonstrate with our charity and gracious opposition the kindness God showed us when we were lost and blinded by our sin to the glory of Jesus. Only the Spirit can help us do this. When we do, some will listen – and be won to Christ. Socio-political and cultural issues flow from this.
We must stand for biblical truth. The previous point does not negate this one. We’ve falsely dichotomized Christian kindness and Christian conviction. It’s either one or the other – at least that’s how it seems to be primarily presented in pop Christian culture. It need not be so. In fact, without a solid theological and doctrinal conviction regarding the truth of the Bible, we have no idea what actual Christian kindness looks like. It becomes a diluted, syrupy sentiment of religious pluralism that promotes moral relativism (whether explicitly or implicitly). Rather, God is calling His Church in our day – as He’s been since the first century – to a Pauline and Luther-like boldness in regards to the truth that’s willing to be pulled limb-from-limb that others might hear the only story that saves. Here we stand. We can do no other.
We must make our voice heard while there’s time. If we don’t have a gospel-driven, Spirit-burning desire for the previous six points, this one will not have any power in the Public Square – let alone perseverance to make a difference. But if the previous points are present, our voice will be prophetic, as it should be. It may not swing an election, dissuade justices, or hold the ear of elected representatives, but it will please God. At the same time, if God is merciful, it may just stay the tide of depravity we’re currently witnessing in our nation. So sign that petition. Call that politician. Write that editorial. Call that talk show. Cast your vote. Engage your neighbor over the fence. But know why you’re doing it. And do it with the streams of the aforementioned points flowing into your life and words.