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Faith and Values: Hope in God should frame our response to court’s marriage decision

Steve Massey

Disgust. Anger. Despair.

Two weeks later, I still see it on their faces, hear it in their voices.

They are fellow Christians reacting to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows same-sex marriage. And their demeanor, however understandable, cries out for some encouragement.

Let’s respond to a rapidly changing culture biblically, not just react emotionally.

A biblical response, as opposed to an emotional reaction, demands that we decide against some things.

First of all, let’s not confuse what is legal with what is moral.

The Supreme Court may be the highest court in our land, but it has no authority to change the law of God, nor our obligation to it. Marriage, biblically, is a God-ordained union of one man to one woman. Always has been. Always will be.

Changing terms and definitions – even by human law – does not change this perfect design of God. The very Bible used to swear in our Supreme Court justices says this: “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’ … and He brought her to the man.”

God brought a her to a him; marriage has been this way ever since.

The irony of high court justices swearing their oath of office on the very Bible they’re now ignoring is inescapable.

But frankly, we Americans have indulged the legal right to be morally wrong since Day 1. The horror of slavery comes to mind. That man declared slavery legal did not change its moral abhorrence.

Secondly, let’s not confuse morality with holiness.

We Christians have no claim to our culture’s moral high ground when we avoid certain sins, yet cling to others, and live the same self-centered lives as everyone around us.

To be holy is not merely to avoid their sins while savoring our sins. A holy life is lived unto the glory of God. It’s not just to shun certain wrong things, but to live toward God’s values and increasingly reflect the character of our savior, Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Peter, writing to persecuted, frustrated and misunderstood Christians, put it this way: “… the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

Christian friend, don’t confuse what is legal with what is moral. Don’t confuse morality with holiness.

And, finally, don’t fret and behave as if what happens in a human courtroom removes this world’s ultimate judge from his bench.

It is still true that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4:17). God’s sovereign control of his world is the hope that displaces despair.

And it is this hope that allows us to stay focused on our purpose: We are first and foremost disciple-makers, not cultural reformers.

Again, the words of Peter are instructive: “… sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear …”

Nobody pays much attention to Christians reacting to recent news with anger, despair or disgust. But hope stands out and begs an explanation for its source.

Hope in God allows us to live with compassion instead of disgust; gentleness instead of anger; joyful confidence instead of despair.

Whatever more change comes our way, may God give us grace to respond, not merely react.

Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.
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