As we prepare to celebrate another anniversary of our nation’s founding, and with the news of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of gay marriage, I can’t help but reflect upon how drastically our nation has changed since my childhood. Freedoms (like freedom of speech, religion, and the right to bear arms) that our God-fearing founding fathers sacrificed their livelihoods, and even their lives to obtain, freedoms that I and many have long taken for granted, are under attack. And before long, could be just a memory. We are definitely living in a day when that which is evil is being called ‘good’, and good is being called ‘evil’. (Isaiah 5:20)
It is growing increasingly difficult to speak out against gay marriage in our nation without being accused of being intolerant, a bigot, a ‘hater’, or worse. As several florists, photographers, and bakers can already attest– and perhaps many more of us will find out– it can be very costly to take God at His Word and to refuse to condone ‘gay marriage’ (which in fact is an oxymoron since God created marriage and defined it as being between a man and a woman Genesis 2:24).
Regrettably, the fear of real or imagined reprisal from family, friends, or even the government, is causing some professing Christians to remain silent on the subject of ‘gay marriage’ and the LGBT movement. Others remain silent because they lack knowledge of what the bible has to say about the subject – whether because they are ‘unchurched’, have not personally studied it, or because their pastor avoids preaching on the topic. Some are confused and not sure what they believe because what they hear in the mainstream media from certain religious leaders, politicians, Hollywood stars and other media personalities contradicts what they have been taught to believe. They do not feel confident that they know how to respond to this crucial issue which has temporal and eternal significance.
It is time that we as the Church—Jesus’ Bride– speak up and stand on and for the Word of God!
Rather than acquiescing to the accusation, “Who are you to judge someone else’s lifestyle?” Christians need to make it clear that we are not judging anyone! We need to assert that we are not expressing our opinion. We are just agreeing with God, the Ultimate Judge, and what He has clearly stated in His Word regarding both the sanctity of marriage and the sin of same gender sexual relations. (I wholeheartedly agree with those who say we must not remain silent on what God has to say about sexual relations between heterosexuals who are not married to one another either!) Rather than remaining silent when people assert that a person who claims to be gay was born that way and has no choice in the matter, we need to speak the truth in love – that since the fall of Adam and Eve ALL of mankind has been born with a sin nature and we will continue in our sin unless we receive a ‘new’ nature. We need to share in love that it is only when a person receives a ‘new nature’ by being ‘born again’ through faith in Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross that ANYONE—‘gay’ or ‘straight’; male or female; rich or poor; black, white, yellow, red; or whatever else might distinguish individuals from one another—can have the power to overcome the temptation to sin. Praise be to the Lord, who gave us both the power to resist the temptation to sin and the power to overcome the penalty of our sin, which is death, through the power of the Holy Spirit who is at work in all who put their faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross!
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
We need to make it clear that the sin of homosexuality, being a lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, or any other choice regarding sexual behavior is not the ‘unforgivable sin’. The ‘unforgivable sin’ is refusing to receive Jesus’ free gift of salvation. Sin is the name God gives when we ‘miss the mark’ and disobey or rebel against His Word and His will.
So why should we focus on this particular sin? Why are we considering this sin rather than any number of other sins like fornication, adultery, lying, drunkenness, gluttony, or gossip? Because this sin– which not so long ago was considered ‘abnormal’ even by the American Psychiatric Association – is now being promoted as an acceptable ‘lifestyle’, even one that is to be embraced and celebrated. Those who label it ‘sin’ are increasingly under attack and considered to be an abomination, and pressured to adopt the culture’s view.
Why is it critical that we label sin for what it is rather than calling it our ‘choice’, our ‘lifestyle’, a ‘disease’, or something else?
First, we can call something anything we wish, but our calling it something else does not make it so. Only God who created and rules the world has the authority to call something sin, and He has already written in the bible what sin is. It is rebelling against Him and going against His Word. Both the New and Old Testament make it clear that same gender sexual relations is sin because it violates His commands and His will.
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Leviticus 18:22 (See also Leviticus 20:13)
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (See also 1 Timothy 1:9-11; Romans 1:18-32; Jude 1:7)
Secondly, if we ‘misdiagnose’ something we won’t know to take the necessary action to remedy the situation. For example, if I have swallowed something poisonous, I need to know what it was I swallowed in order to take the appropriate antidote. Similarly, I must go to the Great Physician, Jesus, who alone has the power to save me from my sin. If we do not label sin for what God clearly states it is in His Word, then rather than humbling ourselves and going to Jesus to receive the forgiveness that He promises to all who confess their sin, we will continue in our sin and ultimately receive the penalty that our sin deserves—death and eternity in hell. In other words, if we refuse to acknowledge that our sin is indeed ‘sin’ we will not realize our desperate need for a Savior Who alone can deliver us from our sin.
Can you imagine being around a person who you know has an incurable disease and not telling them that there is an antidote for it if you know there is one? Could you stand by and do nothing as they or others celebrate the person’s condition because they are ignorant of its fatal nature? Would a loving person say or do nothing if it was in her power to share the antidote that alone could save the person’s life?
Then how can we as Christians be silent when we know that belief in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross is the ONLY way that sinners can be saved? Wouldn’t remaining silent when you have the ability and God’s command (Matthew 28:19) to share the necessary way for salvation be the ultimate act of ‘hatred’? And wouldn’t remaining silent also be an indication of your lack of love for God who sacrificed His beloved Son Jesus to be the ‘antidote’ for sin?
Are there some who oppose gay marriage who hate those who are homosexual and lesbians? Regrettably, I am sure there are some. Most grievously some of them claim to be Christians and to represent Christ. But there is a large number who oppose gay marriage who do so because first and foremost they love God and know that if they love Him they will support and obey His commandments. (John 14:15, 23)
Secondly, they share God’s love for those who are homosexual, lesbian, and bi-sexual and it grieves them to think that if those who have succumbed to that sin do not repent of it that they will spend eternity in hell. Those who truly love God and share His heart of love for others who are caught in sin—any and every kind of sin– will feel compelled to speak up and share the redemptive power of the gospel with them. They will also pray for them and not deride them. Have you extended the love of God by sharing the gospel with anyone you know who has been taken captive by the sin of same gender sexual relations or anyone who has bought our culture’s lie on the issue?
The real ‘haters’ are those who hate God and want to do away with the commands He has provided in the bible for our good, because He loves us and knows what is best for us. They hate those who represent God and His Word. They have been deceived by Satan and falsely believe that those opposed to ‘gay marriage’ want to keep them from something good, rather than wanting to protect them from that which is harmful to them and displeases God.
When God created the world, after He made Adam, He said that it was not good that he be alone. So He designed the perfect helpmate for him, a woman, who Adam named Eve. A woman who God designed in every way—including physically–to complement, or complete man. Then God gave them the joint assignment ‘to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth.’ That was an assignment that neither could do alone; they needed each other. Clearly, God did not choose to put two men or two women together as two of the same gender could not have fulfilled His command to reproduce. God knew that the very best helpmate for man was woman, and that man was the very best helpmate for woman. Not just for reproductive purposes, but in His infinite wisdom He created them in His image– both men and women– to reflect different aspects of the triune Godhead and to assume different– but equally vital– roles. His plan for marriage was for man and woman to be united as one flesh, and to reflect the mystery of Christ’s love for and oneness with the Church. (Ephesians 5:22-35)
As Our Creator who made us for His pleasure and glory (Isaiah 43:7), God alone has the right to define what marriage is, which He did in the beginning when He created man and woman for oneness and fruitfulness. Throughout the bible God reaffirms the role of marriage and the importance of family. And throughout the bible God consistently addresses the issue of same gender sexual relations as sin. His design for marriage and family has not changed, nor has His word regarding same gender sex. Unfortunately, mankind has not changed either. Like Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden who doubted that God’s Word was for their protection and for their good, we too think we know better than God and we too rebel against His perfect word and will.
Satan’s successful ploy in the Garden of Eden was to get Eve and Adam to doubt the legitimacy of God’s love for them when He restricted them from eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God was very clear in His instruction; there was no equivocation or room for doubt. Yet, Satan appealed to the desire of their eyes and the lust of their flesh. Rather than calling upon God to deliver them from their temptation, they gave into it. Unfortunately, all too often that has been the story of mankind ever since. Rather than believing that God loves us and that every command He gives us is for our good, we have doubted His love and falsely assumed that His commands are to keep us from something good rather than to protect us. Those who are caught up in the sin of same gender sexual relationships have bought the same lie that Adam and Eve did: the lie that God’s word is not to be trusted and that they know what is better for them than God does.
God warned Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed His command that death would be the result. And it was. If people today rebel against His word and do not repent and turn to Jesus, they will face the consequences of their sin too, which is death. (Romans 6:23) There will be consequences not only for those who themselves rebel against God, but also for the nation that turns its back on God’s commands (Psalm 9:17; Jeremiah 13:25; Ezekiel 14:13), which is also why we as Christians should be concerned about the direction of our nation and vocalize our opposition to laws that are made which are contrary to God’s commandments. We also must pray for those who have been taken captive by this sin to be open to hear God’s word, and pray that we who know and love God will lovingly and boldly share with them how they too can be delivered from the power and penalty of sin and enjoy the peace that is only found in a life surrendered to God’s will.
In His love and mercy God made a way for Adam and Eve—and all of us who inherited their sin nature– to be fully reconciled to Him, a Holy God. The question for each and every person regardless of their sexual orientation or preference is the same: Will you accept the free gift of deliverance from death that God has provided through trusting in Jesus’ death in your place on the cross? Or will you choose an eternity in hell by rejecting the free gift He has provided? Will you live your life in rebellion against God’s commands, or in submission to them?
In this nation we have enjoyed the privilege of sharing our faith without fear of being fined, imprisoned, or facing physical suffering. We cannot be certain of how long we will continue to have that privilege; hostility toward Christian values in this country is growing more intense and increasing at an alarming rate, as is global persecution. I believe that you and I and all believers are at a crossroads where we are going to have to choose between the fear of man and the fear of the Lord. Are we going to stand on and for the Word of God, or are we going to bow down to ‘political correctness’? Do you love the applause of men—as the Pharisees did (John 12:43)—more than the praises of God? Are you more concerned about offending a Holy God or of offending people who are ignorant of God’s word or who purposely rebel against Him? Do you love yourself and your comforts more than you love the souls of those who will perish for all eternity if they do not turn to Jesus and repent?
God has put governmental authorities in place that we are to respect and obey. However, as we see from the example given in Acts 5:29 after Peter and John were told by the authorities that they were not to declare the gospel, Peter responded, “ We must obey God rather than men.” Is that your conviction too? Think how different history and even your life would be had the apostles remained silent because they were unwilling to face persecution for the sake of sharing the truth of God’s love and His commands in a hostile culture. The Holy Spirit in them compelled them to share the gospel regardless of the cost. Are you listening to and following the leading of the Holy Spirit? Or are you responding to the world, your flesh, and the devil that conspires to keep you silent?
Jesus told us that if we followed Him, we would be persecuted; that we as His servants are not above our master who willingly suffered and laid down His life out of obedience to the command of His Heavenly Father. If we are persecuted for remaining faithful to God and to His word our response should be the same as Jesus’: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Jesus also said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10) Have you considered that the greatest blessings of your life may be found in the days ahead in a culture that wishes to silence you, but desperately needs to hear the gospel message that you have been commanded to share? If you love others– and especially if you love God– silence is not an option.
About the Author
Jamie Shaver and Julie Van Gorp met at a business retreat in 2006. Alarmed by the rapid- and what they perceived as negative—changes taking place in our society and frustrated because so few people address the root cause of the problems, which is a lack of knowledge of God and His Word, they felt compelled to share with others that God’s Word is indeed relevant for our culture and that hope and wisdom for practical living is found in God through His Word. They consider themselves ordinary women who have found a way to live extraordinary lives because of an intimate relationship with an extraordinary God. Connect with them at True View Ministries.