There is an interesting debate going on as Christendom engages the U.S. Supreme Court’s edict on same sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. David Corbin and Matthew Parks critique a recent Christianity Today article, How Christians Can Flourish in a Same-Sex-Marriage World, in which Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner attempt to place the Obergefell decision in context. According to Corbin and Parks,
As its title indicates, the immediate context of their essay is the Obergefell decision mandating the legality of same-sex marriage in all fifty states. Responding to evangelical concern over the ruling, Gerson and Wehner seek to diminish its significance in two ways. First, they describe it as simply the next step in the sexual revolution’s fifty-year assault on Biblical sexual ethics. Second, citing one New Testament scholar and C.S. Lewis, they argue that sexual ethics are themselves a relatively unimportant part of Biblical morality.
America Evanghelica reacts, “We reject the idea that, because public sexual values have changed, Christians no longer exert public influence. America is not slouching toward Gomorrah. And the duties inherent in democracy remain. Cultural retreat would betray our faith, because it would betray the call and responsibility to seek the common good.” Corbin and Parks also make a helpful corrective in their response:
By generalizing from the specific (marriage) context of the decision in this way, Gerson and Wehner, however, miss its critical importance. Marriage is not on the periphery of Biblical morality, but rather the original and most important human relationship and the chosen metaphor for the relationship between God and His people. Obergefell is not one more link in a long chain, as Gerson and Wehner suggest, nor, as they have it, merely “the advance of a progressive conception of individual rights.”
It will be good for no one if the response to such aggression is a muted defense of “traditional” morality, a metaphysical surrender complicit in the relativism it purports to combat. Rather, if Tocqueville is correct, Christians and their allies must continue to assert and to show that liberty needs religion to realize a truly human freedom—which makes that somewhat awkward Thanksgiving dinner worth fighting for.
I am not yet convinced that the Christian concept of marriage has become the minority view in this nation. We must remember that the five justices that flouted God’s law in violation of this nation’s founding documents were not representative of the American culture. As the dissenting opinions pointed out, in this politically driven decision, the justices themselves do not resemble the make-up of the American people.
However, that being said, perhaps it is time to assume a minority posture in this cultural debate. Why? Because it is not only possible for Christians to flourish as a minority, it is the way God works. After all, all of Christ’s victories have come out of weakness. When Yahweh led His people out of bondage in Egypt, his people were weak. Jesus himself was viewed as a failure by his disciples after his death. After His resurrection and ascension, his disciples were, by human standards, weak and a clear minority. The early church was a minority in Rome prior to Constantine’s conversion. After the sack of Rome, Christians were once again a minority throughout the world. In each case, God used that minority status to change the world and bring us to a point in history in which the founders of this new nation would declare their liberty based on the gifts of Almighty God. To put it another way, God always brings life out of death.
This is not a retreat. But it is a cause to reassess our weapons. Must we remain engaged in the political process? Yes, but we also must reengage the use of weapons that we have ignored. For one, our pulpits must return to speaking into the political culture. We have for too long been cowed by section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. If Yahweh owns the cattle on a thousand hills, is there any doubt that He can sustain our churches if 5 hooded justices deny God’s people a certain tax status?
The Church must take on its rightful role of speaking truth and making disciples of nations, as the Savior directed us, not just individuals. I own a book with many sermons preached during the revolutionary era, calling for liberty. As has been often observed, our pulpits were ablaze with righteousness in that era.
The Church must also take on its god given responsibility for educating children. The Church has abdicated this function to the state for too long. Is it any wonder we are raising an army of statist and not godly people when our children live in a statist environment 5 days out of a week? The Church must return to a classical model of education, as was the only mode of education prior to the American statist system.
The Church must recover its role of taking care of the sick. Again, it has abdicated that responsibility to corporate America and Obamacare.
Finally, the Church must return to a vision of worship as a recommitment of our lives every week to our covenant Lord, Jesus. This blog has repeatedly explained how worship is God’s core battle plan in the Church’s living out the great commission in the world. Worship must once again be installed as the central focus of the week.
In this, the only ally the Church needs is its Lord, Jesus Christ. One weak man in a minority position was once called to give an account of his writings. Martin Luther’s response changed a nation.
Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.