The weight of the Supreme Court decision is a heavy one. While some are celebrating equality in rights, others are standing slack-jawed at the overreach of the federal government to rule on individual States’ rights… and in doing so silencing the First Amendment rights of religious freedom.
I say this gently: Amending civil unions could have been the answer which would have granted the freedom for both sides of this issue to continue to live life according to their sincerely held beliefs.
Instead, we have sides. Again.
And it’s not just limited to religious vs. non-religious, Christian vs. non-Christian, heterosexual vs. homosexual.
There are those who hold that marriage isn’t just for Christians to determine its definition vs. those who point to Scripture to show that God instituted marriage. Even within the Christian community, there is division: Those who think God’s ordination of marriage is old fashioned and needs to be modernized vs. the ones who believe that God does not change (see here) and that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (see here).
There are people from different walks, different faiths, different sexual identifications on both sides of this debate.
However you look at this situation, whichever hill you’ve stood on and picked up your fight, consider these truths as we move forward…
1. Things don’t need to go our way in order to love others.
Just ask Saeed Abedini, imprisoned in Iran for his faith in Christ. His wife Naghmeh writes this:
UPDATE on SAEED:
“Today Saeed’s father was able to visit Saeed in person. It was a very short visit, but Saeed was able to send a message. He wanted us to know that for 1000 days he has experienced utter darkness and has died, yet for 1001, he has been resurrected with Christ. That for 1001 days he has learned to forgive over and over and over again. That for 1001 days he has chosen Christ over what they have tried to force on him and he has stood on His faith in Jesus Christ despite the pressures, tortures and threats. He wants you all to know that through the Grace of God and your prayers he has been able to stand strong and see lives redeemed inside of the prison. He has felt your prayers in prison as no prison walls can hinder them.”
No, things don’t need to go our way in order to love others, not even those who hate us.
2. Things don’t need to be fair in order to treat others with respect, kindness, compassion, dignity, grace, truth, or even forgiveness.
It wasn’t fair that Jesus paid our price for sin. It wasn’t fair that God loved us enough to die for us while our souls were still enemies of His. But no one has loved as deeply, as completely, as eternally as our Savior.
No one has forgiven as much as He has
No one has pursued us for as long as He has.
No one has given up as much as He has.
No one has paid so high a ransom as He has.
And yet… He loves us. Oh, how He loves us! Undeserving, unworthy, indebted as we are, even as unwilling as we may be… the Creator of the Universe loves us.
Sit on that for a minute.
This painting is “Ever Interceding” by Nathan Greene.
I have already seen today some heated, angry, defensive words being thrown around; hateful speech directed at assumptions; and raw feelings directing the flow.
After the mention of God as a “he/she” not caring who loves whom; and Christians having “a problem acting like their Christ sometimes because he hung out with lepers and sinners”; and with professing Christians warring on both sides of the issue quarreling about whether or not Jesus ever addressed homosexuality, I knew our focus needed refocusing.
Listen, dear ones: Jesus DOES love everybody. No questions about that. No disputes about that. He LOVES everybody. He died to save the WHOLE world. No sin (which is anything we do that falls short of His holiness) was excluded. That said, He absolutely did draw the line on how God made us.
“Haven’t you read,” Jesus replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (See here)
Marriage, as defined in the Bible, as well as throughout history and tradition, is a God-made union. So He is the One we look to if we want to know how it should look. Or if it should end. Yes, in all fairness and honesty, we need to go there, dear ones.
One thing I have often heard, from those who are for same sex marriage, is how can they ruin the sanctity of marriage and the establishment of family when so many heterosexual marriages end in divorce? God allows for very rare instances for divorce and remarriage, but it has become an epidemic of pain and broken families in our culture.
If we are going to stand for “one man, one woman” we might need to also take a look at our own hearts individually and fight together for the healing of “what God joined together” in our homes, our families, our churches, our communities.
So where do we go from here? How do I respond as a Christian?
Dear friends, while God’s love is not synonymous with acceptance of everything, hatefulness is never God’s answer for any disagreement on how He calls us to live. “Let your speech always be gracious…” God’s Word tells us in Colossians 4:6.
Check this one out. I love how the VOICE translates Ephesians 4:29:
“Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them.”
Grace, friends. Don’t throw away the truth, just communicate it with grace to those who hear you.
And love. Love people the way God loves them.
Every time Jesus met someone who was a sinner (like we all are), Jesus met them where they were, loved them, and called them into a relationship with Him. But He never left a person how He found them.
When you know Jesus, you can’t help but be transformed!
But He doesn’t change us in order to make us lovable… Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!”
While we were still in sin, God proved His already existing love for us! Can you even imagine a love like that? God’s love is a transforming, redeeming, world changing love. He never leaves us as He finds us because His love makes us new creations. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
So, as the world longs for and cries out for “tolerance,” what it really needs is love. Truth and Grace, in perfect balance, which is true Love.
It’s how God loves.
Here’s the truth:
“Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. ”
Friends, that list covers all of us. I’m in that list. You’re in that list. If for no other reason than idolatry. Anything we give our best to, put first in our lives, or serve… it is an idol. If God is not first in our lives, our actions, our thoughts, what is?
THAT thing is our god. That thing/mindset/relationship/goal/status/self focus/fear (etc.) is our idol. Whatever we give our best to…
And God’s love doesn’t want anyone one of us to become comfortable with or defend any of those things. Why?
Because He WANTS us to inherit His kingdom blessings!
Ready for the GOOD NEWS? Do you know how that verse ends… that verse that says wrongdoers will not inherit the Kingdom of God?
That’s grace… free and undeserved favor of God, not something we earned, but just because He loves us.