Dear Church Family,
So the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has ruled, as we assumed they would, in favor of same-sex marriage. As citizens many of us are grieved by the threat this decision poses for our democracy; as humans we are appalled by the arrogance that reinvents an institution based on the divine design of God, the basic physiology of human persons, and the ubiquitous practice of all races, which has served humanity and society well since the dawn of time and in every part of the world; and as Christians we abhor the casual disregard for the revealed wisdom of God, the maker of us all, and the creator of the marriage bond between a man and woman.
But we are not taken aback or surprised. The world is hostile to God and its institutions eventually reflect the widespread rejection of his law—"mystery of lawlessness" is at work and we have already seen this in the abortion horror that has swept away the lives of millions of American children, and we see this daily in our own instinct to do things our own way. Perhaps an even greater evil was perpetrated in the redefinition of "freedom" as each individual having the freedom to pursue their own vision of happiness no matter its impact on others. That irrational view is likely to come back to bite us. SCOTUS may have had its say for now but there is a higher court and a greater judge before whom they and we must one day stand. The law of God does not rely on any human court or cultural consensus for its legitimacy.
How are we to respond?
We must keep insisting on the word and will of God for his creatures. He made us and he knows what is good for us. Marriage between a man and a woman was his idea—it perfectly expresses unity in diversity—and it remains the revealed setting for the continuation of our race; the best context for the raising of our children; and the sure foundation of a sane society. The church has a prophetic role to speak out to the world at large.
We must not return evil for evil but continue to reach out to our neighbors, whatever their social background, sexual mores, or political views, with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The greatest act of love we can show to our fellow human beings is to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ. In that proclamation there is both the promise of a Savior and the rule of a Lord. He forgives our sin on the basis of his work, not ours, but he also insists on intruding into our lives and having his say about how we should then live. If there is one thing that is way worse than a nation turning from its Christian roots, it is a church or a believer denying the Lord who bought them with his blood. "Judgment begins with the house of God."
In our everyday lives we must be prepared to speak up for biblical marriage alongside other social issues of our day. Our denomination is addressing the matter of reconciliation and equality between races. If I speak out against same-sex marriage and don't speak up for racial equality, I am being a hypocrite. As individuals, some of us may well want to help those whose lives lack any social cohesion and direction. Tenth members have a history of helping and loving our neighbors. Church members already give sacrificially to all sorts of good causes; some have chosen to live and work in the most deprived parts of our city; we open our church doors weekly to serve our community; we feed the homeless and visit the prisoner; and we have most famously of all provided this country with a surgeon general who made unpopular decisions in order to serve all Americans whether they agreed with him or not. Dr. Koop gave us a good example of a life lived well in the public eye for the glory of God and the good of his fellow human beings. We must never underestimate the impact of one ordinary life lived in the place where God has put us to live out his will.
We are called to be faithful. If anything, this crisis calls us back to be a pilgrim people, "aliens and strangers here," heading towards that New Jerusalem whose builder and maker is God. This world is not our home! In the long history of the church we have known what it is to be marginalized and we are used to being in the minority. But we are not despondent. We actually believe that "all things work together for the good of those who love God." Therefore we go forward in faith and not fear. There will undoubtedly be spiritual casualties. Many so-called "evangelicals" have been quick to capitulate as they continue to let the world squeeze them into its mold. Many more will no doubt twist Scripture to their own destruction. But we are determined, under God, to be faithful. We believe that God will use this challenge to purify his church in the world. There are already conversations afoot to take away our non-profit status, which will undoubtedly have a huge effect on our work. Already there are threats that if we oppose the ruling of the Supreme Court we will be held guilty of hate speech. So be it. Our consciences are tied to the Word of God and we must stand there. We know that we do not hate anyone; we are in fact under orders to "love our neighbor" and even "love our enemy," and we intend to keep our Master's commands. We plan to love our enemies to death in hopes they come to know our Savior. We have never made much of any particular sin because we are too conscious of our own sin; but we will not call evil good or good evil since our Lord told us that to do so would bring upon us his curse.
Instead, we will pray for our nation as we have always done; we will pray for our leaders, our friends and neighbors, and we will pray that our Father's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Join me in praying, "God, please forgive and bless America and her people; revive your church; may your kingdom come and your will be done; may we be found faithful when the Son of Man comes; come, Lord Jesus."
© 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Liam Goligher. © 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org