Here is the full sermon responding to the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states (preached 6.28.15).
Here is the fourth sermon in our summer series through the book of Acts:
Gay marriage is here. Originally posted: April 10, 2013
I believe that gay marriage is coming, whether we like it or not, whether we agree with it or not. Rather than another conservative evangelical diatribe on the rights and wrongs of the issue, these next two posts will be suggestions on how we should respond once gay marriage becomes legal nationwide. (Although I doubt it will happen with these Supreme Court cases currently pending, I do think the time is coming, as the current is running swiftly in that direction). **Update: The recent ruling against DOMA did not make gay marriage legal nationwide, but legal in states that have already voted for it.
1. Jesus tells us to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. The world will always force us to take one of two options: either support gay marriage (and compromise our biblical beliefs) or violently condemn gay marriage (and lose our influence in the culture). When the world gives you only two options, choose option three. There’s a way to navigate the minefield. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:6
2. Why have we singled out gay marriage as the greatest evil in America today? Is it because we don’t struggle with it? The merits or evils of gay marriage aside, here’s my question: where’s the same moral outrage against pornography? Against materialistic excess, the love of pleasure and recreation, against the fact that many of us love our sports teams more than God? Where’s the moral outrage against that? Do we single out gay marriage as the greatest evil simply because we tend not to struggle with it as much? “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3
3. Our moral argument against homosexual marriage is destroyed because of the utter decay of heterosexual marriages. Many claim to want to protect the ‘sanctity of marriage.’ When one in two marriages end in divorce, when immorality is rampant, there’s not much ‘sanctity’ left to protect. To claim the moral high ground is hypocritical. He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Mark 7:6
4. Is our goal to preserve conservative values in America or to reach the world for Christ? Let’s keep our eyes on the prize. What’s our ultimate goal? To protect conservative values, or to win the world for Christ? Satan would love nothing more than to distract us on issues that are ultimately secondary. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:2
5. Paul tells us that it’s not our job to judge the world. That’s God’s job. This one hurts. It’s not our job to be the morality police. It shouldn’t surprise us when non-believers actually act like non-believers. Paul makes it very clear: judging the world is God’s job, not ours. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13
6. Jesus died for homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. Whether we like to admit it or not, God did not discriminate based on sexuality when he died on the cross. If someone embraces the homosexual lifestyle, then they stand in the same position as a person who’s embraced the heterosexual lifestyle: a sinner desperately in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
QUESTION: Your thoughts? How should Christians respond to gay marriage?
Here’s the link to Part 2 on this topic.
Originally posted: April 12, 2013
In my last post, I began to share twelve thoughts on our response to the coming reality of gay marriage. By the sheer number of clicks on that post, it’s obvious that this is a topic that many are working through. So, for what it’s worth, here are six more thoughts on the subject. Would love your comments below.
7. Jesus showed grace to notorious “sinners.” If you look at Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4), Jesus and the woman caught in adultery (John 6), or Jesus calling Matthew (Matthew 9), you’ll quickly discover that even when “religious” people avoided notorious “sinners,” Jesus didn’t. He embraced them. What example does that set for us? As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. Matthew 9:9
8. James tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. This should knock out any angry Facebook rants on the subject. Here’s the reality: you can’t argue someone into the Kingdom. Even if you technically win on points, you’ll still only drive them further away. Was an argument was persuaded you to follow Christ? My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20
9. Paul tells us to speak the truth in love. Speaking the truth in love requires a relationship. If you’re going to share something as foundational as biblical truth on sexuality, you need to build a relational bridge strong enough to support the gravity of that truth. So, before you flippantly condemn the entire homosexual community to Hell, how many homosexuals are you friends with? Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15
10. One of the greatest evangelistic tools you’ll have is a strong God-honoring marriage. A strong, long-lasting biblical marriage of one man and one woman for life is getting rarer and rarer these days. It seems like most don’t make it. If you make your marriage work, you’re providing an incredible witness to the world. God’s design for marriage was to be a picture of his love for the world. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25
11. Don’t allow hatemongers to represent us or shame us. There will always be extremists on either side, pressuring us to come out unequivocally in support of gay marriage or to come out and violently condemn the entire homosexual community. Jesus didn’t allow hatemongers to put words in his mouth. Neither should we. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” John 8:3-5
12. This whole issue reminds us that this world is not our home. We look forward to a better place. There will be a day when we don’t have to deal with this issue, or any other dividing controversy. Remember, for believers, this world is not our home. We look forward to a better place. Put your hope in that. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20
QUESTION: What thoughts would you add to this discussion?
Watch the video below to catch week two in our series through the book of Acts.
This is the final sermon in our series Step Into the Light.
This sermon (watch here) is the third in our series Step Into the Light and attempts to tackle the problem of evil in the world.
This sermon answers the basic question: What does it mean to be saved?
The Bible claims that God is all-loving and all-powerful. But how can you explain the Bible’s description of God given the existence of evil? Or, let me state the argument this way: given the reality of evil and suffering in the world, God may be all-powerful but not all-loving. That is, God has the power to stop evil but chooses not to. This turns God into a distant, removed, deistic god unconcerned with the affairs of the world.
Or, God may be all-loving but not all-powerful. That is, God loves us enough to stop the suffering in the world but doesn’t have the power to do so. This retains the compassion we so long for in God, but it robs Him of His sovereignty and divinity. So according to this argument, given the reality of evil in the world, God can be all-powerful or all-loving, but not both. If He was both, he surely would have stopped evil and suffering long ago. And yet it not only lingers, it flourishes, rampaging across our globe leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake. What kind of God would allow that? Surely not an all-powerful and all-loving God!
And yet the Bible makes the claim that God is both all-powerful and all-loving. He spoke the universe into existence. He is all-powerful. 1 John 4:8 explicitly says “God is love.” He is the very definition of love. So how can you reconcile the claims that God is all-loving and all-powerful with the reality of evil and suffering in the world?
I’m going to be talking about this perplexing question Sunday in week three of our series Step Into the Light. But I would love to get your take. How do you answer this question?
Why do we use different terms to describe the same experience? Depending on your background or denomination, you’ll use terms like:
- Get saved
- Pray the sinner’s prayer
- Walk the aisle
- Believe in Jesus
- Ask Jesus in your heart
- Get baptized
- Be filled with the Holy Spirit
- Fall under conviction
- Be born again
Why so many terms? I believe it’s because salvation is such a transcendent experience that human words will never be able to fully capture it. Have you ever had an experience so transcendent that human words couldn’t fully capture it?
Maybe it’s a sunset that takes your breath away. In that moment, calling it “picturesque” can’t do it justice. Guys, it’s that moment when you see your bride walking down the aisle at your wedding. In that moment, describing your bride as “beautiful” can’t do her justice. Moms, it’s that moment you hold your child for the first time after you give birth, and saying you “love” your child can’t contain the depth of emotion you feel.
Salvation is one of those transcendent experiences, when you’re forgiven of your sins, when you become right with your Creator, when the Spirit of the Living God comes to live in you, when your eternal destiny changes forever. Human words can never fully capture the power of that moment. That’s why we use so many terms to describe salvation. We’re just trying to get our arms around it.
QUESTION: What other terms have you heard/used to describe salvation?