Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is Gay Marriage A Problem for the Church?

Geoff Surratt has recently written on gay marriage in his blog ( my-thoughts-on-gay-marriage/). Actually, I mostly like it. It is refreshing, positive, and focuses on a real issue--and that is making marriages healthy and God-centered. He takes a biblical stand AGAINST gay relationships and announces what he is for and against in that area, but is unwilling to major "on the minors" as he sees it.

The exception I would make is that I think gay marriage is a "litmus test" as to the Christian or not-so-Christian state of America. And it comes up looking pretty bad. To publicly endorse gay marriage, especially from the Oval Office, is to "bless" gays and their agendas. It is more than just recognizing them as legitimate. It is sanctioning them and making them "normal" for the country as a whole. Of course, the President maintains that religious institutions do not have to recognize gay marriage or relationships. The problem here is that whether or not a church or ministry recognizes it or not, such a marriage is legitimate and must be seen and acted upon as such by everyone. To not "accept" gay marriage in the church is meaningless at best and temporary at worst. Sooner or later the church will have to come to the issue of recognizing gay marriage and gay life as "normal" in America and treat it as such. I believe down the road will come legal action against churches who hold out against gay marriage and gays in general. After all, the union is legitimate and sanctioned by state law and government force.

What distinguishes gay rights from civil rights is its decidedly anti-biblical stance and basis. While slave owners and Southern sympathizers "used" Scripture to try to justify slavery and its vices, most biblical writers and scholars and churches saw the evil in such a stance. They rightly discarded slavery and its advocacy in a biblical framework. This was not socializing the Bible, nor accommodating the Scriptures. It was about honoring the image of God in a person of different race than white. It was about treating them with God-honoring respect and acceptance. Their color was not a "choice" they had, as the gay and lesbian person has. To maintain that "gayness" is hereditary or a "necessary" human trait has not and cannot be validated. It is a choice, and an anti-biblical one at that (cf. Romans 1). Sodom and Gomorrah will be re-visited, and God's judgment will be similar. To claim that is harsh and unloving is to claim God does not know what He, as a loving and just God, is doing.

It is when "forced" to recognize gay marriage as "normal" and legitimate that the church will have to take a stand and accept whatever backlash it will suffer, which could range from individual persecution to fines to jail time for its leaders and constituents. I agree that we cannot legislate morality, but we certainly should not legislate or legitimize sinful choices and behaviors. We will have to make a choice, as did Joshua in Joshua 24:15 -- "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

Friday, May 11, 2012

Evangelical Erosion

I remember an older book by Charles Swindoll in which he talks about "erosion" and the problem with it. Erosion happens without us ever noticing it until it is too late. Slowly, month by month, year by year, a beach is eroded away. Homes are placed in jeopardy. Roads become swallowed up by the sea. This can happen in anything, and it is happening in theology and biblical circles.

I recently attended a conference held by Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia on "Science and Faith." The speakers were top-notch. The subject was well-covered and documentation was adequately provided. The problem, however, was that one speaker, Dr. Denis Lamoureux from St. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta postulated that although sin is real and that we all need a Savior, sin entered the world NOT through a historical Adam and Eve. Biblical folks, he says, have conflated the message of theology and salvation with an ancient phenomenological perspective. Because the Apostle Paul accepted ancient science and cosmology, his use of Adam to tie him to universal sin is a conflation we cannot make. Human sin simply manifested itself gradually over many generations. No historical Adam and Eve is necessary for salvation theology. He represents a growing tide and trend in the biblical-theological and church world.

Then there came the President's announcement that, though he affirmed the Christian faith, he now believes we must fully accept and bless and make same-sex marriage legal and acceptable. After all, his kids and co-workers who know many gays and gay couples can't be wrong!!! He believes he can maintain a Christian testimony and profession and fully endorse and support gay marriage and gay rights. After all, the Bible was written in ancient times with ancient formulas and ancient problems, such as those referred to in Romans 1. This is not the truth or necessary for today. Again, many evangelicals and seeker-targeted churches, especially the megachurches in this country, will buy into this way of thinking. That I can confess Christ and be a Christ-follower and bless homosexuality and gay couples and people. At the very least, I don't need to make declarations against it.

Erosion! Evangelical erosion is taking place. I predict that in a decade or less, many Christian churches and ministries will view homosexuality as a "choice" and not a "sin." Gay people and couples will be welcomed into our churches, as we now welcome divorced people and couples. Barriers to their service and use in ministry will be dropped. As long as they show a loving spirit, they can become caring deacons and astute teachers. Many will ignore Romans 1 or re-tool it and re-interpret it so that modern gays are not addressed by it. They will still need Jesus, still need a saving knowledge of Christ, still depend on Him for salvation and eternal life. And, some will hope that they might "give up" their gay orientation, but it will not become a requirement or expectation. This is where we are headed. No historical Adam and Eve. No barrier to gays. No problem! Erosion.

We cannot play fast-and-loose with biblical revelation or truth. We cannot have two "rights" and no "wrongs." We cannot say that part of the Bible is O.K. while the other parts are open to modern ways of seeing and believing. Not only will we lose our distinctives and truth...we will lose Jesus as well. Because if I can re-contextualize the Bible to fit my sensibilities, then I can do away with Jesus as the "ONLY" way, truth and life.

It is coming. Erosion. What will you do to stop it??