The Supreme Court made a ruling this past week making same-sex marriage a (US) nation-wide right. Although not all Supreme Court justices were in agreement the ruling was passed on a ‘constitutional’ issue. One of the very interesting responses I have read came from an evangelical scholar and NT professor at one of America’s prestigious seminaries. You can read his response here:
He is clearly against same-sex marriage as theologically ‘correct’, yet is convinced the decision is the right one. This makes for interesting reading, and is provocative, not only on this issue but on a host of other issues, where one’s Christian beliefs cannot be imposed on the wider ‘secular’ society.
In this short post I want to push a few other angles in response to this, and other situations we face / think we might face in the future.
Laying on one side the rights / wrongs on this particular ruling, but assuming that ‘more persecution’ is on its way, could it be that such results are the answer to prayer, and not the victory of those who oppose our faith? If we long for NT realities why should we not be ready to receive those realities in a NT context, which was one of severe opposition to the faith-claims of those first-century believers. Jesus both promised us opposition and he also prayed that we would not be taken out of the world by the Father (another goodbye rapture prayer by our Lord!!).
- Marriage & divorce
For some people I am ironically on what might be considered the more liberal end of the divorce / remarriage spectrum. I am there for two reasons – I am convinced that is the NT perspective, with the automatic provision in Jewish law for being divorce and remarriage. The purpose of divorce was in order to have a document that meant the person with the document was clear to re-marry. The only debate was over ‘for what reason’ a divorce could take place. I am also at the ‘liberal’ end of this because I believe the Scriptures are at the ‘totally for’ end on marriage. ‘Till death parts’ is so strong that the disciples’ dismay was not over ‘who can bear to be single’ but ‘who can live out marriage?’
The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” (Matthew 19:10).
The church has been guilty of minimising marriage. There is very little ‘fear’ about entering marriage. If the door in is easy then we will forever be trying to secure the exit door. If the door in is a narrow one and we have to weigh up whether we wish to live with the restrictions within then there is no need to try and shore up the exit door in the way we have. (And thank God for grace and that God’s way is redemptive not legalistic. Hence the mess inside and outside the Christian community.)
So we face a huge issue where we have to hold our hands up high. The Christian community has been over-active in redefining marriage. Till death parts becomes, ‘until no longer convenient’; faithfulness gets reduced to not appearing in the wrong bed.
- Judgment on the nation
And what about the fear that such decisions to legitimise same-sex marriage will bring judgment on the nation. Well it is interesting that they were not on the list Jesus himself gave when assembling the nations before him (see yesterday’s post). The judgment there was on how we treat and respond to the ‘other’. That is an interesting take on the current legislation.
- Legally required to carry out same-sex marriage
And what about being legally required to carry out same-sex marriages as clergy? That is an issue and one that will have to be faced. Being asked to go against one’s conscience is a no-go area, though we also need to ask if our conscience is selective on what issues do not comply with my personal, as opposed to faith in Jesus, beliefs.
What if there are deeper issues being exposed here? What if the church should not be an institution, should not have ordination, people should not be ‘licensed’. Of course my personal beliefs kick in here, but maybe there is a huge opportunity to revisit how the church – institutional or not – is to align itself to and within the state.
Days of crises? They certainly are. Might just be important that we identify what the crises are rather than assume what they are. If we do then the days of crises could become the doors of opportunity.