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“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-39)
This past Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.” On Sunday, I was reading the editorial page of the Hartford Courant and couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition of two starkly different articles. The first, written by Susan Campbell, a longtime Courant religion writer, celebrated the Supreme Court ruling. The second, by Russell Moore, a prominent Southern Baptist leader, was against the ruling and gave advice on how the church should respond. But as I read through both articles, I found myself shaking my head and embarrassed. Let me explain.
My reading of Susan Campbell’s perspective was that church folk who oppose same-sex marriage are “wrong and misguided” and are misrepresenting their loving Lord and Savior, who never spoke against same-sex marriage, by their opposition. And my understanding of Russell Moore’s perspective was that the true church uniformly believes that same-sex romantic love and marriage is sinful. I think they both could use a dose of perspective and humility.
To Susan Campbell, I would say this: believing that the Bible is God’s authoritative Word, and believing that the Bible is consistent in its witness that marriage was designed by God to be between a man and a woman, is not that crazy a notion. Many wise and godly men and women have understood and continue to understand the Bible’s teaching that way. Believing that our country’s (and world’s) shift towards legitimizing safe-sex marriage is not so much a realization that we’ve misunderstood God’s will on the matter than it is a reflection that we don’t really care what the God of the Bible thinks, that we just want the right to do what we feel is right for us, is probably not far off-base. And even though you disagree, please recognize that the traditional argument is a legitimate, and quite possibly correct, argument that comes from people whose primary desire is to be faithful to God and His revealed Word, not to hate and oppress our gay friends and fellow citizens.
To Russell Moore, I would say this: when you write, “how should the church respond?”, you are assuming that only those who are opposed to same-sex marriage are a part of God’s kingdom. The last time I checked, the point of entry into God’s kingdom is to repent of sin and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of those sins, not to hold to the traditional Biblical interpretation of marriage. I have read Justin Lee’s argument that the Bible does not oppose monogamous gay relationships. I have listened to Matthew Vines as he has argued the same. While I am still not convinced by their arguments, I can respect that they, along with many other LGBTQ people, actually desire to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, and in their study of God’s Word have reached a different conclusion than I have on the question of same-sex romance and marriage. I am not ashamed to call them my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I trust that God is wise enough to judge in the end who was right and what our reasons and motives were behind our theology and practice. Don’t forget that God even declared David, an unrepentant polygamist, to be a man after His own heart.
There is so much more I could say on this subject, and speaking up on this hot button issue pretty much ensures that some people on both sides will be dissatisfied with what I have written. But for now, my encouragement is that if you call yourself a Christian, you continue to seek to bring every area of your life – including your love life, your treatment of those who disagree with you, and your theology – under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Trust that God is fully capable of judging all of us, and in humility, love one another as God in Christ has loved us, so that He might be honored through the witness of our life and our church. Amen.
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