In 1988, nearly 80% of the American public thought that sex between two people of the same gender was always wrong, but by 2013 that number had fallen 45%. Today, the Supreme Court of the United States reflected the sentiment of this cultural shift and voted five to four that the Constitution guarantees a right to same sex marriage. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority when stating, “It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves . . . The Constitution grants them that right.” His ruling was backed by the court’s four liberal justices (Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, and Breyer).
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., along with conservative justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, strongly dissented. Roberts said, “Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
How is a Christian to respond to such a decision? How do we articulate a Christian view without being labeled as hate-mongers? And what can we learn about ourselves from such a ruling as this?
First, labels are not always accurate. The fact that the SCOTUS has declared this to be marriage does not in fact make it marriage. When Paul was writing to the Corinthians, he berated them for their abuses of the Lord’s Supper. These abuses caused the event to lose all rights to be called the Lord’s Supper. Even though they were swallowing the elements, they were not in reality partaking of the Lord’s Table (I Corinthians 11:20). Calling it the Lord’s Table did not in fact make it the Lord’s Table. In the same way, mankind may choose to call something marriage, but calling it marriage does not in fact make it marriage. That definition is not left to any court of this land. The One who created the institution of marriage has already rendered the definition (cf. Genesis 2:24). Mankind’s redefinition is akin to me sticking a Jaguar hood ornament on a Yugo. Renaming it does not alter its under-the-hood reality.
Second, the New Testament declares homosexuality to be a sinful lifestyle. The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, labels sodomy as “vile affection” and “error.” Its practice is against nature and “unseemly.” Thus, when the President calls it “love,” he is not agreeing with the Bible’s definition of it being “lust” (Romans 1:26-27). So while the world is changing the label of marriage, it is simultaneously changing the label of sin. Christian ministers must not cower from using Bible terms. Scriptural content, not the Supreme Court, is our basis of definition and understanding. We must continue to call sin “sin.”
Third, we should not expect the world to embrace our Biblically substantiated values. The Bible is very clear that the world is at enmity with God (James 4:4). We should not expect our value system to be politically correct. Authentic Christianity has never been in step with the world, and we should not expect it to be in step with the world today. Thus, there may be repercussions from our refusal to accept the evolving definition of marriage. Our refusal to solemnize or sanction same-sex unions may cause us to lose tax-exempt status. Church closures and even imprisonment may not be too far down the road. We must believe, however, that family truth as God has defined it is worth the cost of persecution.
Finally, though Christians should be involved in the political process and vote for politicians who support Christian values, we must understand that the answer for America’s eroding morality is not primarily social action but evangelism. The truth of God will never be understood by an unregenerate heart (I Corinthians 2:14). The answer to our moral slip is the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, our lack of evangelism is the reason we find ourselves so marginalized. Nothing short of revival will bring this nation back to God. Elections alone are incapable of providing a moral compass to a nation that has closed its eyes to God.
Therefore, homosexuals should be given the love of Christ through the Gospel message. And through the Gospel, both lived and articulated, they will find true love from the heart of God.