In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. There is a lot of shock among Christ-followers. And we are not alone. As Chief Justice Roberts states in his dissenting opinion, “Just who do we think we are?”
The legal and political ramifications are myriad and certainly consequential. However, I want to offer a word of caution, lest we give in to the Chicken Little syndrome, running around frantically crying, “The sky is falling!” Our faith calls for a more measured response.
Firstly, we are providentially blessed to be citizens of a representative democracy. As such, we have the exceedingly rare privilege of giving voice to the way we want our government to govern. As Christ-followers, we are commanded to remain in a submissive posture to our governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7). We must take that seriously. But that certainly does not prevent us from taking an active, legal role in the democratic process. Do you seek change? You can do so.
Having said that, we must acknowledge that the Supreme Court only solidifies a path that our culture has been on (in rapidly increasing numbers) for years. The tide toward secularism is strong. Our fellow citizens not only practice such things, “but even applaud others who practice them” (Romans 1:31). Our neighbors, for the most part, do not share our opinion on sexuality.
Do remember this: From a global and epochal perspective, we have a rare privilege! Few Christ-followers have ever enjoyed the level of freedom that God has given to us to engage our neighbors and our government with our Biblical worldview. I would hate to swap notes of government injustice with, for instance, first-century believers who were fed to the lions by Nero (the Emperor, by the way, to whom Paul commanded submission in Romans 13). Nor would I want to tell stories of American injustice to our brothers and sisters living today in Sudan, Pakistan, or (sadly, the list goes on).
Next, we are Iowans, which means that this ruling doesn’t change much for us. Our state has been living under this ruling by our State Supreme Court for over six years (since April 2009). The sky has not yet fallen. Could things get worse for us? Certainly. But if someday our church loses its tax-exempt status (or some other repercussion) because we stand firm on such issues, so be it. We will submit (Romans 13) and we will hold firm to the grace and truth of Christ. This is His church and our unflinching loyalty is to Jesus (Colossians 1:18).
Finally, it is worth remembering that our culture departs from a Biblical understanding of marriage in many ways, not just this one. God has never promised us either a culture or a government that supports the Biblical view of marriage. If there is going to be a true change in our culture’s understanding of marriage it will come because God is working through the church to bring people to the truth. Perhaps relying less upon the government will help the church to provide a compelling vision to our culture of the beauty of marriage as God created it.
Our hope for true and lasting justice rests in a God who will one day make everything new. We live east of Eden. Darkness, oppression, unbelief and injustice are the marks of this present kingdom. But we know that one day Jesus will return to establish a new Kingdom, turning everything right-side up again. And His healing will be complete. Shalom – all as it ought to be – will be the marks of this coming, eternal kingdom.
Until that day we pray, “Don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 5:13, NLT).
There is no shortage of commentary on this issue. If you want to read more, we might suggest starting with the following articles:
“So-Called Same-Sex Marriage” by John Piper
“Everything Has Changed and Nothing Has Changed” by Albert Mohler