Part 1: Why Christians Lost* the Battle for Traditional Marriage
(Part 1 in a 3-part reflection on the times)
Any day now the Supreme Court is going to announce its decision on Obergefell vs. Hodges, one of the most paradigm-shifting cases in its 226-year history. At stake is whether the definition of marriage that has stood for millennia – that is the union of one man and one women – is in need of a makeover in order to include same-sex couples. Personally, I expect their decision to be 5 – 4 against the traditional, default position. But even if it simply moves the homophile agenda forward rather than granting it the blank check it’s been lobbying for, the die is cast. The center of the target for human sexuality toward which all of us have been designed, programmed and then proscribed by our Creator to aim is eventually going to be completely erased here in America (and most of the so-called First World) as far as man-made laws and dominant public mores are concerned.
You can count on it.
The reasons for this extraordinary, rapid shift in legal and public opinion – likely unprecedented in American and perhaps even world history – are many and varied. But as an observer looking through the lens of a Christian worldview there is, in my opinion, one key straw that did the camel in. The “meat” of American culture is rotting because the “salt has lost its savor.” (Matt. 5:13)
There are many ways in which the Church collectively and Christians individually have become lukewarm (Rev. 3:15, 16) and have thus failed to retain our inherited saltiness. (I know we’re dealing with metaphors here. But this is an example where literal chemistry still applies. Run lukewarm water over a block of salt and behold: it melts and you’re left with some tepid, briny water that is only good for helping people poop or throw-up.) Among them:
1. Worldliness – compromise in matters relating to Lordship; chastity (pre-marital sex, pornography, adultery, etc.); gender roles; the sanctity of marriage (unbiblical divorce and remarriage); soaking up entertainments that have championed the post-modern-sexual (pomosexual) ethos; worldly dating patterns and ideas concerning human sexuality (e.g. that a person can’t live a full life unless they are partnered and having great sex); etc..
2. Our failure to obey our God-given mandate to “tend, protect and cultivate” the broader world (Gen. 1:28; 2:15) – which includes a focused engagement in culture-forming arenas such as academia, the arts and politics.
3. Handing the majority of our children over to Pharaoh to be educated – and hence – indoctrinated in a humanistic, relativistic, and pomosexual worldview.
4. Calling it “traditional marriage” and primarily defending it as such rather than taking out the sharp, two-edged sword of presuppositional apologetics and boldly standing with God and biblical marriage. There isn’t time here to develop this somewhat complicated distinction. But by ceding the terms of the debate to the humanists and their fallacious insistence that it take place solely on “religiously neutral” grounds, we have fallen into the Proverbs 26:4 pit: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.” (For the reader who understands this distinction, I am not suggesting that natural law arguments don’t play a key role in our broader apologetic. But we should no more lead with them than we should prefer working by moonlight rather than by the full light of day.)
5. Not understanding the times and how the church is called to do respond. (1 Chron. 12:32) See all the above plus the ridiculous reactions of too many pastors and Christians towards homosexuality. Among them: treating it as almost an unpardonable sin and the same-sex attracted person as a separate category of sinner; thinking and acting as if such inclinations are a choice; that every individual homosexual fits neatly into the categories outlined in Romans 1:21-32; and that a couple of prayers, some deliverance, or just getting married to a member of the opposite sex will invariably eliminate homosexual impulses. I could go on and list dozens of other bone-headed responses and clichés I’ve heard Christians use that haven’t even reached the pathetic threshold of “healing the wounds of people slightly.” (Jer. 6:14)
6. A lack of consecration in regard to the divine engines of prayer, fasting and worship. There is a profoundly spiritual component to this struggle (Eph. 6:12). And it is folly and to neglect the spiritual weapons the Lord of Host has granted us for the battle. (2 Cor. 10:4)
7. Fumbling and even ignoring outright our call to boldly proclaim and defend (as well as model; see #1) what the Bible says about human sexuality generally and homosexuality specifically. The bottom-line? When truth falls – stumbles, is unproclaimed and undefended – in the public square, darkness and confusion settle over the people. Justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance. (Isa. 59:14) And so normalizing homosexuality begins to first look plausible…and finally necessary.
In Part 2, I will develop this last point a bit more, particularly in regard to the so-called millennial generation upon whose shoulders much of the battle but most of the blowback for losing it will fall. Just what is the “truth” concerning homosexuality we as Christians are called to proclaim and defend? The answer is perhaps a bit more complex than the stereotypical “The Bible says it and that settles it!” mantra allows. And in Part 3, I will suggest a “modest proposal” to the statistical majority of millennials who have come to believe that God is OK with people being gay.
* Lost… for now. As Christians, we should ever keep in mind the implications of Jesus’ bruised heel over the serpent’s crushed head. (Gen. 3:15) We should maintain a strong confidence in the power of light to vanquish darkness; grace to triumph over sin; love to conquer death; truth to cast down lies; and leaven of the Kingdom to eventually work through the loaf. (Matt. 13:33) We should boldly believe and confess that the God of peace will eventually crush Satan under our feet even as He did for the early Christians who suffered under the anti-Christ persecutions of Nero, Domitian and the Roman emperor cult. (Rom. 16:20) Observing the flow of both Biblical and secular history, we understand that sometimes people and nations have to go backward and down before they can take the next step forward and up. We should believe that our best days are yet before us – though they may only be seen by our children or some other future generation. The profound loss of Christian civilization and the captivity we are and will experience will be temporary. Out of the ashes of a spent, dissipated America, a humble, Godly remnant will arise, repent and rebuild. There will be seed in the stump! (Isa. 6:13)
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