7 Ways the Church Can Redeem the Supreme Court Decision Legalizing Gay Marriage

Gay marriage is here. Rather than long for the past or fear the future, how can the church redeem the present? How can we turn this tragedy into an opportunity to advance the gospel? Here are 7 steps forward.

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1. Rejoice. Wait what? Absolutely! Rejoice. What does the Bible say in Philippians 4:4? Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! How can we rejoice? What can we rejoice in? God is still on his throne, Jesus still died for our sins, the tomb is still empty, heaven still awaits us. We need to be characterized by joy, not defeat. This caught us by surprise, but this didn’t catch God by surprise. Our mission hasn’t changed. We don’t need to be moping, defeated, angry, bitter, complaining Christians. We serve the Almighty God of the universe. He’s got this. Choose to rejoice.

2. Wake up from our slumber. Romans 13:11 says, And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Maybe this is the wake up call that we needed. Maybe we need to be reminded that we’re in a war, not with the government, not with the Supreme Court, and not with the LGBT community. We’re in a war with the principalities and powers in the spiritual realms. As fun as ball games and television shows and cell phones are, we’ve got bigger issues. Let’s wake up from our slumber and and realize we’ve got a part to play in this world, and it’s not to be distracted by all the cheap entertainment out there. Our salvation is nearer then when we first believed. Some people say this is a sign of the end times. What if it is? Are we ready? Are we paying attention or are we distracted by all the first world problems we deal with in America?

3. Make your marriage the most winsome one out there. We can condemn homosexual marriages all we want. Where we need to be aiming our attention is at all the heterosexual couples that are making a mockery of God’s institution of marriage. Let’s get our own house in order on the heterosexual side of things before we start condemning the other side. The gay community sees us proclaiming the only way as one man and one woman for life, and they see our sky high divorce rates, and they see hypocrisy, and they’re right. One of the greatest witnessing tools you’ll ever have is your own marriage. Don’t just witness with words, witness with deeds. Make your marriage the most winsome out there. Make it the most attractive. Make it the strongest. If this is your first, second, third or fourth marriage, make it so strong and so appealing to the outside world that they come to you, asking you what your secret is. Then you can point them to Jesus. Jesus himself tells us this in Matthew 5:18, In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. If this whole debate is about marriage, let’s not just say what we’re for, let’s show what we’re for by our own marriages.

4. Choose the way of grace and truthChurches are picking sides today. There is going to be a strong gravitational pull to choose either the compromise camp or the condemnation camp. Even the gay community itself will say, “You’re either for us or against us.” Let’s choose the way of grace and truth. Let’s choose the way of Jesus, Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). But if we don’t come out and condemn homosexuality, doesn’t that mean that we’re condoning it? Not at all. Look at Jesus in John 8, in the passage we read earlier. When Jesus encountered a woman caught in the act of adultery, he didn’t compromise his belief in Scripture. Adultery is still wrong. But neither did he condemn her. He held onto truth but showed her grace. If we can figure out how to live out grace and truth when it comes to this issue, first we’ll find a way to truly redeem this opportunity and shine the light of Christ’s love in a dark place. Warning we’ll probably be as misunderstood as Jesus was and receive friendly fire from the right and from the left.

5. Love first. Peter tells us, Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Befriend homosexuals like you would anyone else. Some of you have family members that are gay, and you’re already trying to figure out how to love them without condoning their lifestyle. It’s not easy, but it is possible. Someone asked me, should I allow a gay couple into my home? I would. I’ve got no problem with it. Because I’m comfortable with it? No. But because Jesus did it. Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. He showed grace where people needed it the most. The religious people didn’t understand it. Don’t stigmatize someone for their homosexuality anymore than you stigmatize someone for their obesity, marital status or economic status.

6. Prepare for refugees from the sexual revolution. The Bible is clear that homosexual acts are a sin. That shouldn’t cause us to rejoice with righteous indignation as much as it should cause us to grieve at all the pain people are subjecting themselves to. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error (Romans 1:27). Since we believe that God’s plan for sexuality is within marriage, we will deal with a lot of hurt people who found out the hard way that sex outside of marriage is not God’s way. In the same way, there is an entire community out there who is convinced that all of their problems just got solved by the Supreme Court’s decision. What we believe is that sooner or later, they’re going to realize that the homosexual lifestyle is not the answer they were searching for. There are going to be a lot of hurting people out there, and we need to be ready for them. That’s why it’s so important to love first. If we’ve burned all the bridges between us and them, there’s no way for them to come back when they search for God.

7. Pray for a Saul of Tarsus from the LGBT community. If we think this is a dark time, go back to Acts 8, when Saul of Tarsus started destroying the church in its infancy. That was a truly dark time, until Jesus met Saul on the road to Damascus and changed the course of Christianity. Let’s pray that a Saul of Tarsus, someone right in the middle of the LGBT community, a leader of that community, finds Jesus in a revolutionary way. A person like that could change his or her world. Let’s pray that God would raise up a Saul of Tarsus from the LGBT community.

QUESTION: How else can we redeem the Supreme Court’s decision and turn this tragedy into an opportunity?

12 Thoughts on Our Response to the Coming Reality of Gay Marriage (Part 2)

4.10.13

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?

7 Things I’ve Learned by Taking the Next Step

Jesus is always calling us to take the next step of faith as we follow him. Here are 7 truths I’ve learned along the way as I’ve taken the next step:

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1. Every Step of Faith Requires Death to Self. Taking the next step is about surrender. Daily surrender. I have to be willing to put God’s will above mine for every step of faith I take. That’s a big leap of faith when he’s asking me to trust his plans for my education, his plans for my career, or his plans for my family.

2. The Sacrifices are Real. The sacrifices hurt. I miss out on stuff. Others seem to get ahead of me in life. There are a lot of things I’d like to selfishly do for myself, things the rest of the world gets to enjoy. My time, my energy, my resources are no longer my own. The sacrifices made to follow Jesus are very real.

3. God doesn’t Want Something From Me, He Wants Something For Me. This was a watershed truth for me to truly understand as I began to take the next step. When God wanted something from me, it wasn’t because he wanted to deprive me out of joy or happiness. He wanted to clear away distractions that were keeping me from a deeper joy and happiness found in him. He wanted to take the saltine crackers and rice cakes away (what I thought was happiness) because he wanted to replace them with a filet mignon (happiness that comes from him).

4. The Goal of Next Step Is Always To Deepen My Trust In Jesus. The goal of the next step, really the entire goal of my faith, is to deepen my trust in Jesus. God uses circumstances, sacrifices and opportunities to help us depend more on him. That’s why it’s called a step of faith.

5. I Never Arrive. Beyond Each Step of Faith a Bigger One Awaits. God is in the faith stretching business, and I’ve never come to a place where God tells me my faith is big enough. It can always go deeper. There are moments I’ve chosen to trust him that in the moment seemed like huge leaps, but looking back they seemed like small steps compared to what God called me to next. I figure I’ll finally arrive in heaven. Until then, there’s always another step of faith out there.

6. God is Always There. God’s asked me to do a lot, but here’s what I’ve discovered: he’s always been there. Always. He’s never failed me. He’s never let me down. God is the very definition of faithful. Through every next step, God has been there every step of the way.

7. The Grass is Greener on the Other Side. It really is. A life spent trusting Jesus, a life following Jesus step by step, is an incredibly fulfilling and purpose-filled life. The faith, hope and love that await those who take the next step makes all the sacrifices pale in comparison. But don’t take my word for it. Discover for yourself. What’s the next step of faith Jesus is calling you to take?

The BIGGEST Reason There Are So Many Hypocrites in the Church

Too many people have been scarred by hypocrisy in the church. Why are there so many hypocrites in the church? There are a myriad of reasons, but here’s the biggest reason from my perspective: The reason there are so many hypocrites in the church is because there are so many unsaved people in the church. Look at what Jesus says:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23

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These were the leaders in the synagogues, the religious rulers, the ones in charge of the religious system of Israel, the ones who claimed to be the most religious. They even did great things in the name of God, like prophesy and perform miracles. And yet Jesus will say, “I never knew you,” and send them to Hell.

Let’s just stop and understand the gravity of what Jesus is saying here. He’s not referring to the lost pagan world out there. He’s referring to people who claim that Jesus is their Lord. People that go around and tell everyone they’re a Christian. People who fill up our churches every week.

He doesn’t say that they’re simply misguided or immature believers. He says they’re not believers at all. If you’ve grown up in the church, if like me you consider yourself a church person, these verses should absolutely rock you to your core. They should rattle you in your soul. The reason there are so many hypocrites in the church is because there are so many unsaved people in the church.

What Jesus taught, what the New Testament authors taught, what happens still in churches today is that there are a bunch of people walking around today claiming that they’re Christians but acting like non-Christians. In reality, the reason so many church people can act like unsaved people is because they are unsaved people. What makes it so destructive and what drives so many people away is that they’re convinced that they’re saved and they tell everyone around them that they’re saved when they’re really not.

John, one of Jesus’ disciples, was there the day Jesus taught this and probably felt as uncomfortable as everyone else. And yet it was the truth. Years later when John would write to the early Christians, he would flesh out this idea. Here’s what he writes in 1 John:

6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 1 John 1:6

John says we can claim one thing but still live out something else. He’s describing hypocrites who claim to walk in the light but are still walking in darkness.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8

If we claim that we’ve arrived, that we’re without sin, that we’re somehow superior to others, we deceive ourselves. It’s very possible for church people to deceive themselves into thinking their saved when they’re really not.

9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 1 John 2:9

This verse gets real specific. If you claim to be in the light, if you claim you’re saved, but hate those around you, you’re not in the light. What does that imply for all the mean, spiteful, hateful people in the church today? Nothing good, I’ll tell you that.

6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6

That’s John’s main argument. If you claim you’re a Christian, act like Jesus. If you act more like the Pharisees Jesus condemned than Jesus himself, you can tell yourself you’re saved all you want. But on the day of judgment Jesus very well may say, “Away from me, you evildoer, for I never knew you.” The reason there are so many hypocrites in the church is because there are so many unsaved people in the church (who think they’re saved).

QUESTION: What do you think? Is there a bigger reason out there to explain hypocrisy today?