Friday, August 6, 2010

Another Response to the Overturning of Proposition 8

I say another response, of course, because the blogosphere has been brimming with reactions and sound analysis of the Wednesday ruling. Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional, which decision effectively legalized homosexuals' rights to "marry," at least in the eyes of the state.

Preeminent among those responses is Dr. Albert Mohler's, who is always amazingly adept to comment on the downward-spiraling of American culture from the Biblical perspective. Over at PyroManiacs, Frank Turk also offered a thoughtful, helpful response, linking to a couple other posts he's done on the subject in the past, one of which I found to be excellent. James White offers the exasperated response, and I stand right there with him on that. Dan Phillips comments briefly, but effectively. Fred Butler is as sharp as always. And let's face it: the Christian blogosphere wouldn't be the Christian blogosphere without a post up at Between Two Worlds, even if Justin is on vacation.

So, with all of those giants, why would I bother giving my two cents? Better yet, why should you bother reading it?

Well, my point isn't to try and comment on something that these others have missed. Not at all. Yet at the same time I do indeed want to remind us of what's important in this whole discussion and call us to keep first things first.

It's likely that as you Christians seek to be a good steward of the Truth of God that has been entrusted to you, and a witness of it amongst your unbelieving friends, that you'll enter into the discussion of why the issue even matters to Christians anyway. Why do we care? What's all the fuss about? I mean, why can't we grant the same rights to two consenting adults who want to make a commitment to each other for life?

Not Just Because Homosexuality is a Sin

One answer that you might be ready to give is that we Christians care about preventing the legalization of gay "marriage" because the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is sinful. As the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, and our sole authority for all matters of life and godliness (2Pet 1:3), we must accept its word as binding. Here are some examples:
  • Leviticus 18:22 - You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.
  • Romans 1:25-27 - For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 - Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
So it's clear. Those who say the Bible doesn't forbid homosexuality don't have leg to stand on. It's clear that Scripture condemns homosexuality as sinful, and thus just as all other sins it is worthy of death. It is a mark of rebellion, and those who practice it will not inherit the kingdom of God, but along with the rest of those who persist in their sin "their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev 21:8).

And so, as the purpose of the civil government is to promote the general good and well-being of the society and to restrain the evil therein to the best of its ability (Gen 9:6-7), we believe the government should not sanction that which the Lord of the Universe expressly forbids. Violating God's Word is never the best thing for any society, as long as Jesus is Lord.

But having said all that, I'm saying don't give that answer. At least, don't give just that answer.

Not Just Because God Himself Defines Marriage as Heterosexual

Another answer you might be ready to give is that we Christians care about preventing the legalization of gay "marriage" because God Himself is the One who created marriage, who performed the first marriage (Gen 2:18, 21-22), and He Himself defines marriage as being between only one man and one woman. And as God is the Lord of the Universe, we must accept His Word. Here's what He says:
  • Genesis 2:18, 21-22 - Then Yahweh God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." ... So Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
God purposed to make a companion suitable to Adam when it became apparent that there was no fitting match among the creatures of the earth. And He sovereignly caused Adam to sleep deeply, Himself took one of Adam's ribs and fashioned it into a woman, and then presented the man with his bride. God did not make another man from Adam's rib, but made a woman. In God's mind, only a woman was a "helper suitable for him."
  • Matthew 19:3-6 - Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
So when a Pharisee asks Jesus about divorce, Jesus, the Lord of all (Ac 10:36), talks about marriage. He declares that God's purpose was to create human beings "male and female." Now, it is not an accident that He said this. In the context of a discussion about marriage, Jesus prefaces His comment on divorce by underscoring that God made humanity as male and female. God did not make us only male, or only female. He intentionally designed that a man shall leave his family and be joined to his wife, and that these two -- this man and wife -- should become one flesh. He does not speak of a man leaving his parents to be joined to his husband, but his wife.

And so the very definition of marriage from the Creator -- and thus, the authority -- on marriage is that it be between one man and one woman. To sit quietly by, then, while our government -- which we have been blessed with the right to participate in as (at least what used to be) a democratic republic -- in rebellious, treasonous fashion seeks to redefine that given definition would itself be an act of treason against our King.

And yet having said all that, I'm saying don't give that answer. At least, don't give just that answer.

Because It's a Matter of the Clarity of the Gospel

If we're going to speak into this situation with any sort of prophetic voice (read: having a Biblical impact), we need to give the reasons why homosexuality is a sin, and why God has defined marriage between one man and one woman.

Marriage is a wonderful, beautiful, and glorious institution. But the truth is that marriage is not those things in and of itself. God has designed marriage to be a symbol, or a picture, that points to something greater than itself. And it is only so wonderful, beautiful, and glorious because of that something greater that it points to. And that is the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is, that after man rebelled against God in the Garden by sinning against Him, their sin separated them from their God and subjected them to spiritual death absent a redeemer. Because no human being could ever atone for his sin, the Father lovingly sent His Son Jesus to live the life we should have lived, to die the death we should have died, so that everyone who trusts in Him alone for their righteousness before God should not suffer eternal punishment, but should be saved. And of all those whom the Father has given to the Son, He will lose none. He will never forsake His bride, but will always live to make intercession for them (Heb 7:25).

Marriage
is an institution set up by God with a specific purpose: to glorify Him (to make much of Him) by magnifying the relationship of covenant-keeping grace that exists between Christ and His Bride, the Church.

In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul gives us the most amazing, breathtaking instruction on marriage in all of Scripture. There, he quotes Genesis 2:24, just like Jesus did in Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:7-8: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." Then, the very next thing he says is, "This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church."

Ponder that. Let that sink in. He is speaking about marriage with reference to Christ and the church. Keep that in mind as we consider other things he's said in the passage.

Earlier, Paul is giving the Ephesian church instruction on how to conduct themselves in their marriages. He basically lays out a plan of loving headship on the husband's part (Eph 5:25-30) and respectful submission on the wife's part (Eph 5:22-24). Now, what is absolutely astounding is the reasons he gives for why a husband must lovingly serve his wife and why a wife must respectfully submit to her husband.
  • Ephesians 5:22-23 - Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
  • Ephesians 5:24 - But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
  • Ephesians 5:25-27 - Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.
  • Ephesians 5:28-30 - He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.
This is absolutely staggering. Throughout the entirety of Paul's instruction on marriage, the reasoning, the foundation, the basis for his commands is the work of Christ in His relationship with the Church. The Gospel is why husbands must love their wives and wives must submit to their husbands!

What is this all telling us? It's substantiating the claim I made above: that marriage is a picture, or a parable, of Christ and the Church -- of the Gospel of Christ's covenant-keeping grace with a people to whom He has committed Himself, and who have committed themselves to Him. When Paul says that "This mystery is great," and then tells us that he's speaking about Christ and the Church, he's establishing that marriage is designed to point us to the Gospel: that precious Good News that has saved us from sin, wrath, just punishment, fruitlessness, and a wasted life; that precious Good News that has gotten our sin out of the way so that we can enjoy fellowship with our Creator and Redeemer! So that we can spend eternity gazing into the beautifully glorious face of our God, who will dwell among His people in love in the Paradise of the New Creation.

Now this is why Christians should be opposed to the legalizing of gay "marriage": because it mars the picture of that precious Gospel that marriage is designed to be. If marriage is given to us in order to point us to the reality of Christ's covenant-keeping grace with His people, and if the husband pictures Christ and the wife pictures the Church, then any tampering with those participants confuses and obfuscates the Gospel.

And that's what should get our dander up. Not tax breaks. Not nomenclature. Not social agendas. The Gospel. Make sure the people you're having these conversations with leave knowing the difference. And if they don't know why the Gospel is so precious to us, why it's such a treasure, why it's to be so rigorously defended and protected...

Tell them.

Guard,
through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us,
the treasure
which has been entrusted to you.

- 2 Timothy 1:14 -

But we have this treasure
in earthen vessels,
so that the surpassing greatness of the power
will be of God and not from ourselves.

- 2 Corinthians 4:7 -

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- Matthew 6:21 -

9 comments:

kevinf said...

Great job, Mike! The more our society accepts homosexuality into it's culture, the faster it's demise. I am a former gay man myself, saved through the deliverance of our Lord Jesus Christ. To those who believe that their god accepts homosexuality as a valid lifestyle for them, I say this: your "god" is too small. He certainly isn't the God of the Bible. If you are fine with that, fair enough. Believe what you'd like but just know that you've made up a god in your image. If, however, you want to claim the Lord God Almighty of Scripture as your Lord and Savior, know this: He is infinitely holy and abhors all sin. He loves you but will condemn you to hell if you haven't repented and believed in Him prior to your death. These are Jesus' words not mine! (John 3:18). Know also that He can change you. For years, I didn't believe this and thus was openly gay because I simply didn't believe I had another choice. I learned though that true belief comes with the gift of repentance. It is God who saves and changes lives. It is up to us to surrender our lives to Him.

mariexpx said...

Great post, Mike! I love the ending. Tell them!

Mike Riccardi said...

Kevin,

Thank you so much for your encouragement, and for sharing your testimony. The Lord is good indeed! He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free. His blood can make the foulest clean, and, my brother, His blood availed for you and me! Amen!

Marie,

Thank you also for your kind comment. It's great to have you stop by. And I'm glad you liked the ending. So now let's go tell them!

threegirldad said...

Fabulous! And worth far more than two cents, I'd say. :-)

R.D. McClenagan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
R.D. McClenagan said...

But how can gay marriage be outlawed in the United States under our Constiution? Is that not discrimination and the denial of equal rights under the law? Let the church maintain that marriage should be reserved for a man and woman and keep proclaiming that (though many churches now accept homosexuality) faithfully and compassionately, but it is a different matter for the US government to tell gay people they cannot be married under a justice of the peace...

Mike Riccardi said...

There is no denial of rights to a homosexual person who wants to marry. Any homosexual person can get married if they wish. The problem is: none of them want to marry. They want to do something else entirely and call it marriage.

The lobbying for homosexual unions being regarded as marriage is the position that requires the law to be changed. And there must be just cause to amend the law. And, as I said in the post, since "the purpose of the civil government is to promote the general good and well-being of the society and to restrain the evil therein to the best of its ability (Gen 9:6-7), we believe the government should not sanction that which the Lord of the Universe expressly forbids. Violating God's Word is never the best thing for any society, as long as Jesus is Lord."

R.D. McClenagan said...

I think they want to be treated as equally as any other person under the law. They want to be able to marry their partners and have it legally recognized by the State.

The Law has already been changed in several states to allow for gay marriage. Certainly the general good of society is living in one where all people are treated equally and the government is not denying people the right to marry.

Mike Riccardi said...

You don't seem to get the point. No one is denied the right to marry. Every individual is free to marry whomever they please. That is equal treatment under the law.

However, homosexual unions are not marriage.

Also, you seem to simply dismiss everything that was written in the original post -- even the most relevant portion to your objection which I reproduced for you.

If you'd like to interact with the post, rather than just air your opinions, you're welcome to do so. If you don't want to interact with the post, please refrain from commenting.