The U.S. Supreme Court decision in June requiring all states to recognize same-sex marriage really was not a surprise. And it’s a decision that is not likely to be reversed.
What are the ramifications for Christians who believe that marriage is a God-instituted union between one man and woman? What challenges will congregations face as this newly court-legislated reality sets in? We certainly don’t know all that may happen, nor do we know the timeline.
Evidence for that can be found north of our border in Canada, where same-sex marriage was legalized ten years ago. While the vast majority of same-sex couples in Canada were happy to be able to marry legally, activists were anything but content. In British Columbia, a conservative Christian college that wanted to start a law program was not able to do so because legal organizations claimed that any college that affirmed discrimination against homosexuals could not adequately train people to serve in the Canadian court system. Again in British Columbia, a local chapter of the Knights of Columbus (a Roman Catholic charitable organization) refused to allow its facilities to be used for a lesbian wedding celebration because such a relationship was against church teaching. The group lost its court case and was fined for discriminating against the couple. One can assume that similar challenges to Christian churches, schools, and organizations will take place in the United States.
It is unlikely that we will experience some kind of government action to forbid us to teach what the Bible says about marriage. But activists have already begun to talk about whether organizations (including churches and schools) that hold a biblical view of marriage should retain their tax-exempt status. Congregations that make their facilities available to community groups may find that by doing so, depending on the state, they fall under “public accommodation” rules, which forbid discrimination of any kind. Churches and individual Christians will likely be characterized as being against equal protection under the law. Statements affirming a biblical view of marriage are already being described as bigoted, unloving, and homophobic.
What are we to do? We begin with repentance—for the times that we have failed to be clear and loving witnesses to God’s truth and for the times that we have neglected to appreciate God’s gift of marriage and the spouses he has provided. We place those sins and failings at the cross, and there we receive the continuing assurance that our sins have been forgiven.
Then, we regard marriage as what God intended it to be. We continue to testify to the truth of God’s Word. We speak, not like the Pharisees, but as the Savior spoke, with genuine love and concern for sinners of all kinds. We faithfully proclaim both law and gospel, not seeking to change society, but to change hearts. We honor and serve our God-given spouses in love that flows from faith in Jesus, setting an example of how marriage can be. We teach our children what God says, preparing them for the time when they will go out into an adult world that neither knows God nor listens to his Word.
Then we pray. We pray that God would give us the faith of Paul, the courage of Stephen, and the zeal of Peter. We pray that God would use us to speak his truth and give reason for the hope we have. And we pray that Jesus, in these last days, will enable us to be faithful and loving witnesses of his truth, no matter what the challenge and no matter what the cost.
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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 102, Number 09
Issue: September 2015
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