Why Can’t The Church Make Up Its Mind On Morality?

Title: Why Can’t The Church Make Up Its Mind On Morality?

Text: John 8:3, 9-11, Romans 3: 10, 23, 1 Corinthians 14:8

Time: April 29th, 2013

So-called “gay marriage” is sweeping the country, at least according to all the mainstream media outlets on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and the Internet.  Politicians are running to align themselves with the popular trends. Even the Republic Party, traditionally conservative in its values and convictions, is being swept up into the gay marriage push. Some mainstream Republican leaders are now backing the legalization of gay marriage. Amidst all of this where is the Christian church? It’s generally nowhere to be seen or heard. Where are prominent Christian pastors and leaders? Where are representatives of Christian institutions such as colleges, seminaries, publishing houses and media outlets? Where are the major voices of Christianity in newspaper editorials, TV talk shows, radio programs and other public forums? Nowhere seen or heard. In the midst of one of the most monumental and disturbing moral shifts ever experienced in Western Civilization, certainly in the United States, where are the Christian voices of opposition? Yes, we saw and heard opposition out in California during the battle for Proposition 8, a referendum that would limit marriage to man and woman, thus excluding gay couples from holy matrimony. Yes, there was Christian witness to that. But after it’s defeat by the courts, there hasn’t been much opposition to gay marriage coming from any Christian voice. Of course, there is the reality that any Christian who chooses to speak out against the perversion of marriage, against so-called gay marriage, is either marginalized or completely ignored by the mainstream media. There is, of course, this reality. But still, that doesn’t explain the almost total absence of prominent, and even not so prominent, Christians speaking in opposition. Is it because Christians think any opposition to the overwhelming trend towards gay marriage is futile? Perhaps this is why Christians aren’t more vocal in opposition. But I suspect there is a far deeper and profound reason why more Christians, especially Christian leaders, aren’t more passionately and vigorously fighting against the moral evil of gay marriage. It’s because they are truly confused about the issue. At this time, the Christian church, in general, is sending mixed signals to those inside and outside the church. On the one hand, Christians believe that God forgives sin, even the vilest of sins; so therefore, he forgives the homosexual. On the other hand, more and more Christians are buying into the popular notion that God makes some people gay – or in other words, making people attracted to members of the same sex. So for these Christians, it seems that if God made them that way, it’s no sin. When these two understandings mix in the Christian church they produce confusion, and this goes a long way in explaining why Christians and Christian leaders aren’t objecting strongly over the immoral revolution taking place in our country over gay marriage. But let me explain this problem in more detail, hopefully helping us form stronger convictions against gay marriage.

First, homosexual activity is a sin, but God forgives. John 8:3, 9-11, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. . . . At this they began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’” Here’s an example of someone who was sinning, was caught, deserved punishment, but instead received forgiveness from the Lord. Christians are quick to point out the fact that there is always forgiveness from the Lord no matter how bad someone has sinned. So accordingly, we hear Christians and Christian leaders say that God forgives the homosexual for his or her sins. But in saying so, it’s then acknowledged that homosexual activity is sinful, it’s a sin. Therefore, gay activity whether homosexual male or homosexual lesbian activity is sinful, it’s wrong, it should be discouraged, and so forth. But that message doesn’t seem to be getting out in churches today. The only message that Christians seem to be stating is that God forgives the homosexual. Yes, certainly, God does forgive the homosexual, just as God forgives the adulterer, as we’ve seen in the passage previously cited. But just because God forgives the homosexual doesn’t mean that homosexual acts are therefore ok now, or that they are acceptable or to be tolerated. Just because God forgives a sin doesn’t give people the right to commit that sin over and over again, as if forgiveness makes everything ok. It doesn’t. Often times we hear a Christian leader commenting on gay marriage – when they actually do comment, which is very rare – they often say something like, “God forgives homosexual sins just like he forgives all kinds of other sins.” This is true, but misses the point. The point is whether society should recognize the union of two gay persons as marriage or not? As Christians the issue of God’s forgiveness has nothing to do with the question of whether gay marriage is legitimate or not. Within biblical Christian morality homosexual acts are sinful, and therefore are discouraged. So then obviously, so-called gay marriage is sinful also and should also be discouraged. But why isn’t the church speaking out and promoting its own moral teaching on the subject? Because it’s confused about morality and forgiveness. It needs to remember that sexual immorality is wrong, including homosexual immorality. It need not be afraid to state this publicly. Doing so doesn’t contradict God’s offer of forgiveness; there’s no contradiction. But by not stating clearly that gay sex is wrong, the church is representing God poorly in this. In order to be forgiven one must repent of real sin, but if the church is waffling on whether gay sex is sin, then how can it offer any real forgiveness? It can’t. So the church need not see any incompatibility between the teaching of sin and God’s forgiveness.

Second, even if some are born gay, it doesn’t make it any less sinful. Romans 3: 10, 23,”There is no one righteous, not even one. . . . For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Now another problem Christians and Christian leaders face is the widespread and popular idea that some people are born gay – born with the tendency to be attracted to members of the same sex. This notion is almost universally accepted in secular society, not primarily on scientific bases, but mostly on ideological reasons. In other words, scientifically the claim that people are “born gay” is not at all established, nor can it be demonstrated with any definitive evidence. But the popular notion that people are born gay fits in with the philosophical and ideological winds of change sweeping society, so it’s no wonder why so many people believe it, even though it lacks evidence to confirm it. The problem is Christians are also caught up in the cultural winds of change also, and so, consequently, they often buy into the popular notion that people are “born gay.” But then they take it further, reasoning, if God made some people that way, it must not be a sin after all. Some even go so far as reinterpreting the Bible to fit the modern understanding of being born gay. Some claim that the Bible writers didn’t understand what we know now about genetics; if they had, they wouldn’t have taught against homosexuality as they did. So a large segment of Christianity is gradually coming to the conclusion that homosexuality isn’t a sin after all. Consequently, in the church you have some people saying that homosexuality is a sin, but it can be forgiven, so we need to be understanding to gays and gay marriage, and so forth. Then, in the church there are others who are starting to say that homosexuality isn’t a sin after all because God made people that way. Therefore, we must love and affirm gay relationships as good and true, because after all that’s the only loving thing to do. And God loves all people. So there is this confusion of God’s love, forgiveness, and what is and isn’t sin. Is it any wonder why Christians and Christian leaders aren’t raising any vocal objections against so-called gay marriage, and that some Christians, in fact, are supporting it outright? There are even some Christians who embrace and affirm gay marriage as a valid expression holy matrimony, even some Christian leaders! In other words, there is great confusion in the Christian church at the present time about such simple categories of right and wrong, law and gospel, justice and love. No wonder there is no unified and clear Christian objection to the gay marriage movement in the United States.  So what can be done?

Third, the church needs to start thinking and speaking clearly on homosexuality in order to provide moral leadership to society. 1 Corinthians 14:8, “Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” The problem in the Christian church today is that it doesn’t have clear thinking on homosexuality, and therefore it isn’t giving a clear message to society on the subject of gay marriage. Christian leaders aren’t speaking clearly on the subject because they are too afraid they might be rejected or marginalized in society, so they keep quiet, or worse, they capitulate to the popular culture’s opinion, instead of giving a clear Christian response. So what is a clear Christian response on gay marriage? It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s what it’s always been – gay sexual activity is wrong, it’s sinful, it should be discouraged. Yes, God can forgive the sinner’s sin, but the sinner must confess the sin and repent of it, turn away from it, and reform through the power of God’s love and forgiveness. The question of whether a person is “born gay” or not is almost irrelevant because it’s still not an excuse for forbidden behavior. For instance, let’s suppose a person is born with the natural inclination towards the same sex. What does that mean? Nothing, as far as sin is concerned. What if a person is born with the natural inclination to pedophilia, attracted to children for sex. Does that excuse them from any responsibility for refraining from carrying out acts upon children? No. It’s the same with the homosexual. Even if certain people are “born gay” – something that is by no means proven by science and research, but which is still a highly controversial assertion – even so, it doesn’t excuse these people from restraining and abstaining from sinful behavior. Homosexual activity is still a sin, whether a person is born with the inclination or not. The church needs to stop listening to the secular world so much and start listening to the Word of God more. God says it’s a sin, so let us believe it, teach it, and say so in public, whether it contradicts society’s view or not. While at the same time, the church needs to work with any individuals who suffer from a tendency to be attracted to the same sex – whether by nature or by nurture, whether born that way or whether by social development – to help these individuals live lives of holiness before God. Can homosexuality be cured? Probably, under the right treatment and counseling. That isn’t what our secular, worldly society wants to hear, but it’s something the Word of God assumes with the process of confession and repentance.

The Christian church is about the only social institution capable of turning society back to moral sanity in the area of marriage. But it won’t help society any if it is confused and conflicted on the whole subject. We’ve seen in the past that the church has failed to accurately teach on important subjects like cohabitation (failed to discourage it strongly enough) and divorce (failed to dissuade those thinking about and carrying it out).  Therefore, maybe we shouldn’t expect much from the church in dealing with the new problem of gay marriage. But whether the church is ready to tackle this difficult subject, it must deal with it. Like I said before, there is no other institution in society that can turn things around and hold the line on godly marriage like the church. Pastors and church leaders talk about and deal with marriage often in the life of the church. All Christians are touched by marriages every day in every way, so it’s something that the church is already involved in. What needs to happen is Christians and Christian leaders need to begin to speak out for godly marriage and speak against gay marriage. Yes, the church needs to speak out against gay marriage, inside the church and outside the church. Pastors need to give messages that teach God’s will concerning marriage; and they need to teach messages that point out that gay marriage is not God’s will for marriage, because more basically, gay relationships are not God’s will. Christians need to repeat the will of God concerning marriage in their daily conversations, even in a society that is rapidly popularizing same sex marriages. Even if it causes hard feelings and hurt and rejection. And above all, Christian church leaders, pastors, denominational leaders and prominent Christian leaders need to speak out against gay marriage publicly. Where are all the prominent Christian leaders speaking out against gay marriage? Where are famous evangelists and high profile Christians in the battle for godly marriage? A few have spoken out and have taken the heat. Men like James Dobson have tried to teach the truth concerning marriage – and they’ve been clobbered by the secular media for doing so. I guess other Christian leaders have seen how people are treated who speak against gay marriage, so they’ve decided to play it safe and not comment. But this is no excuse. Christian leaders must have the courage of their convictions, to stand up and be modern prophets and speak against the sinful social trends. I believe other Christians would speak up more against gay marriage if their leaders would begin to do so. Let’s pray Christian leaders start living up to their calling and start leading, and stop being led. We need Christian leaders today to act responsibly and say what God says, even if it gets them into trouble for it. We all need extra courage in these dark days ahead. Let’s pray.

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