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Posts Tagged ‘same-sex marriage’

rainbow flagIt’s likely that we have Christian neighbors, family or church members who celebrate the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex “marriage.” Perhaps we know because they have publicly “waved” a rainbow flag on Facebook.  How can we respond?

As an ezerwoman designed by God to be a helper, I would like to pass on some questions that Kevin DeYoung of The Gospel Coalition has carefully shaped. If asked with kindness and respect, these questions might help brothers and sisters in Christ to slow down and think about the rainbow flag they are flying. Here are 20 of Kevin DeYoung’s questions. (You will find all 40 at The Gospel Coalition.)

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?

2. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?

3. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?

4. Why did Jesus reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?

5. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?

6. Do you believe the passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?

7. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?

8. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?

9. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?

10. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

11. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?

12. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?

13. Does the end purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?

14. How would you define marriage?

15. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?

16. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage? If not, why not?

17. If “love wins” (as some say it did with the Supreme Court decision), how would you define love?

18. What [Scripture] verses would you use to establish that definition?

19. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?

20. How has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?

 

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grandparents & grandchildrenAs a grandmother, it is difficult—no, impossible—to stomach the arrogance of those who seek to make marriage what it isn’t.
Each of us is alive today because of fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers who believed in and practiced the “one flesh” union of what only God can define as marriage.

We live, breathe, speak, relate, and contribute to this big world because of the Masterly design and institution of marriage. If there are no complications, the flesh of one man joined with the flesh of one woman creates the flesh of a child–new life! For that, a son or daughter can be forever grateful.

How can a society thrive if two men or two women set up housekeeping and call it “marriage”? What vitality is there in this unnatural pairing? Sure, it may produce certain emotions (“I feel so loved!” “I am so happy!”), but it is the “one-flesh,” male/female pairing in real marriage that produces generational fruit even as it perseveres with patient, kind, and selfless love.

Those who practice same-sex pairing and call it good exist because of those of us who do not. They can continue to define marriage as “two people who love each other,” but marriage isn’t really about love. It is about commitment—one man and one woman to each other and (should God bless their “one flesh” union with new life), that father and mother to their son or daughter.

Even the Greeks, with their tolerance of “man-boy love,” knew that marriage was the bedrock for family and society. When young men grew up, they were expected to marry a woman and father sons and daughters. Aristotle and others understood a “natural law” and the importance of building up rather than tearing down.

For our society to thrive, we need men and women who (pardon me) do it the old-fashioned way: in their marital bed, by design of God, acknowledged by man, and with commitment to birthdays and anniversaries to come.

 

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supreme court gavelThis morning, when I woke up, nothing had changed. God is still in heaven and the Supreme Court of the United States is not.

Yesterday, June 26, 2015, a majority of nine men and women in black robes made an attempt to redefine marriage, but they cannot. God created marriage, therefore, only He can define marriage. That is just the way it is.

This morning, when I woke up, nothing had changed. I am still living in a fallen world moaning under the weight of sin. Here in this world, my neighbor might choose to call his dog a cat. But when he tells me I must do the same, I cannot join him in calling something what it is not.

Some of us may feel completely unnerved and shaken to the core. We ask: What now? How shall we live?

In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion for all nine months of pregnancy and for any reason. Black-robed judges made an attempt to redefine the killing of an unborn child, but they cannot. Some church-attending folks decided to accept the court’s decision and tolerate a practice they did not “personally support” so that women could have “the right to choose.” But many of us never accepted the decision even though we embraced the women who mourned their aborted children.

That is how it is in this world. Until Jesus comes to take us from this earthly place to our heavenly home, we will see wrong things called “right,” evil marketed as “good,” and what is contrary to nature called “normal.” That is how it is in this world when the truth of God is exchanged for a lie (Ro. 1:24-27).

So, how shall the people of God live here on earth under the court of this nation?

  • With continued trust in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some may say the Court’s ruling will draw down divine judgment; others may say the ruling is divine judgment but either way, we are called to a life faithful to God in every circumstance.
  • As people of God unafraid to be set apart or different as we speak what Jesus Himself said about marriage from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6) and live in a way that may cause others to ask: Why do you do what you do?
  • With confidence that marriage is not government recognition of two people who love each other, but the complimentary union of one man and one woman. We can literally say that in this union part of man flesh joins with part of woman flesh to become the one flesh of a new life. This new life— son or daughter—is not the by-product of a sexually romantic relationship, but the connector of mom and dad in the institution created by God for that child’s benefit.
  • As men and women who strive to honor the covenant of our own marriages and seek after the best interests of generations of children.
  • As people who affirm the sanctity of all human life, including those who see themselves as gay, and who love our neighbor as ourselves, speak well of him, and no matter the disagreements, discuss everything in a kind and thoughtful way.
  • As praying people who ask God to turn hearts toward Him and nurture a desire to rebuild a culture of marriage and life.

Suggested reading:
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
(Amazon.com) Our Identity Matters

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woman reading bibleSome might believe that Cardinal Francis George was prophetic when he said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Although blessed my entire life with religious freedom, these words challenge me to ponder civil disobedience. The reason why is explained by C.P. Krauth who said, “Error first seeks tolerance, then it seeks equality, then it seeks dominance.”

This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue another ruling on same-sex marriage as it pertains to states’ rights. The Court could: 1) Leave the issue of same-sex marriage up to individual states; or 2) Rule that individual states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or that states must recognize the same-sex marriage of out-of-state couples.

Do we who profess Jesus Christ really understand the implications of re-defined marriage? Do we understand the impact on our children, employment, church, community, and daily life in general?

Gay columnist Frank Bruni wrote in the New York Times that it’s time Christians get with the program and “take homosexuality off the sin list.” Bruni suggests that we free “religious people from prejudices that they can indeed jettison . . . rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.” (Quoted by Eric Metaxas http://www.breakpoint.org 4-13-15). But I take my stand with Rev. Richard Eyer who writes, “It is not our human prerogative to redefine marriage for the sake of political correctness, social justice or as an accommodation to the changing times. As God does not change, but is ever faithful, so marriage does not change and ever proclaims the faithfulness of God to His people . . . Marriage cannot be whatever a society wants it to be. We as Christians bear witness to the truth, and the dark ages of sin will not change it.” (www.lcms.org/freetobefaithful)

I am free to take such a stand but, soon, will it require opposing Caesar? As laws on marriage, parenting, and hate speech are set in earthly stone, what will happen when I, as a follower of Jesus Christ, cannot obey them? What will happen when I’m told I can’t mentor a young woman at my local pregnancy center because, like the Navy Chaplain was told, it is “inappropriate counseling” to use God’s Word on sex outside of marriage or the practice of sodomy?

Black Americans once engaged in non-violent civil disobedience in the face of Jim Crow laws. If I would have been old enough, I think I would have joined them. I have joined the ranks of non-violent pro-lifers who rallied in public witness against legalized abortion. While we have opportunity, Christ-followers should speak with confidence and refuse to compromise biblical faith as a parent, student, employee, or business owner.

The Christian photographer, cake-baker, and florist did not compromise their faith. When asked to provide their services for the wedding receptions of gay couples, they refused to participate in something they believed contrary to God’s Word. Law suits quickly followed. We will see more of this as marriage deconstructionists and the media try to intimidate and silence Christians. But if the Supreme Court rules that individual states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize the “marriages” of same-sex couples from other states, will I urge my pastor to teach in the way of Christ and contrary to the Supreme Court even if it means his possible arrest? Will I continue to publicly mentor using God’s Word even if it means speaking against “Caesar”?

Silence is preferable to many Christians. “I believe in Jesus,” I’ve been told, “but my faith is a private thing.” Or, “I don’t want to know what’s going on out there. It’s too overwhelming. I just want to be left in peace.” A follower of Christ will find contentment on this earthly journey because of the Holy Spirit within him, but he will most surely never be at peace with a world that despises the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Why is it that homosexual activists who used to be somewhat libertarian (“all we ask is that you recognize our affection for the same-sex”) have become more boldly totalitarian (“participate in our wedding or we will shut down your business”)? Is it possible that in seeking friendship and peace with the world, Christian denominations that were already acceptant of child sacrifice through abortion and now ordain practicing homosexuals and bless same-sex marriages offer no resistance?

But when Christians refuse to submit, will the anger of those seeking dominance turn to persecution? Even genocide? It has in the past. It is today in Iraq, Egypt, and Kenya. It may be coming to America soon. And what then? My pastor reminds me that the Church grows stronger under persecution. Unlike with any other religion, hope abounds as people live for Jesus Christ.

Cardinal George said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Then he continued, “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization as the Church has done so often in human history . . . God sustains the world, in good times and in bad . . . only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, Savior of the world and head of his body, the church. Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb . . . are on the right side of history. Those who lie about Him and persecute or harass His followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up bringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression. There is nothing ‘progressive’ about sin, even when it is promoted as ‘enlightened.’”  (www.ncregister.com/blog/tim-drake/the-myth-and-the-reality-of-ill-die-in-my-bed)

Will I be willing to disobey Caesar if it means obeying Christ? I pray for courage to do so. For now, there are things I can do that don’t oppose Caesar. I can pay attention to my own marriage and, as Rev. Eyer says, “make it an example of truth.” I can openly discuss the fact that children do best, not with two dads or two moms, but when mentored by a faithful mother and father. I can point out that man and woman are distinct and complementary, yet they are one: so also are Christ and His Church (John 17:22-23). I can be active in my church and encourage my church to be active in the world through its members. “If we can’t be bothered to attend church when there is absolutely nothing standing in the way of doing so,” writes Rev. Peter Speckhard, “can we credibly complain if it becomes slightly more difficult to attend the church we weren’t attending anyway?” (www.lcms.org/freetobefaithful)

The error of redefined marriage demands tolerance and equality. But if the Supreme Court allows this error to dominate, then civil disobedience may be required. Jesus said, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

Marriage is of God. I must resist its counterfeit.

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older couple's handsWe are witnessing the deconstruction of marriage. But, how did it happen and why? Can we place the blame on those who advocate same-sex “marriage”?  Are they the only ones  chipping away at the institution of marriage?

Long before society began to tolerate the “marriage” of two men or two women, it accepted cohabitation, adultery, and no-fault divorce. It accepted the lie that we are, first and foremost, sexual beings who have the “right” to love, be loved, and have our needs met. Society, however, would not be left in such darkness if we in the Church had trusted the Light and resisted the sexualization of marriage.

What does this mean? In 1961, Mary Calderone, the co-founder of SIECUS (Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S.) and former medical director of Planned Parenthood, lectured on the role of churches in sex education to 500 delegates from 38 Protestant denominations. Calderone worked her way into churches and homes because she feared that parents did a poor job of teaching their children about “sexuality.” She wanted parents to teach children the “yeses” of sex instead of so many “thou shalt nots.” She wanted boundaries and inhibitions removed. Calderone wanted children to experience the “wow” factor of sex. There were those in the Church who embraced this thinking. It was their hope that talking about sex with children beginning at an early age would help boys and girls grow up to be husbands and wives who would experience the “wow” factor of sex.

And so, for half a century and from kindergarten on, children hear: “God created sex to be beautiful within marriage.” “Sex in marriage is the best thing ever.” “Sex is worth waiting for.” “Sex within marriage is when we are the closest to God.” “Sex is so amazing, my dear child, that we are going to talk about it a lot.”

Because sin permeates all relationships, including marriage, is it possible that years of fantasizing on the ecstasy of sex might have an impact on a husband and wife? Might sexual expectations be so high that when marriage is put to the everyday challenges of real life, husbands and wives are disappointed? Might they be so disappointed that they are tempted to believe that sex with someone else might be better, maybe even with someone of the same gender who might better understand their partner’s needs?
Has marriage been sexualized?

Consider the husband and wife who desire to bring new life into the world, but are barren. Rebecca Mayes writes, “One of the aspects of barrenness that is so awkward is the fact that the ‘success’ of your marital relations (more modernly called your ‘sex life’) with your spouse is often scrutinized by those around you, either privately in their own minds, or quite publicly to your face. The joining of two fleshes into one in the bonds of holy matrimony used to be treated with such modesty and respect. No one would dare ask you whether you’re ‘doing it’ right or if you’ve tried such-and-such a method. But the sexual revolution has changed all that, and in numerous Christian publications we read that the act is a beautiful, natural part of marriage and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We should celebrate our ‘gift of sexuality’ and teach children in our Church all they need to know to be prepared for utilizing this ‘gift.’ But is this what the Bible says? When we blush at the questions about what’s wrong with our reproductive organs, is that for a good reason, or are we just prudes?” (He Remembers the Barren, 6-15-2014)

Sex matters, but marriage matters more. Some pastors take care during pre-marital instruction not to overemphasize sexuality because they believe that it could threaten the hierarchy of values in marriage and assume too predominant a place in terms of producing a well-grounded and joyful marriage. The “wow” factor of sex can be wonderful, but it is the friendship, trusted companionship, communication, and agape love of a husband and wife that carries them through good times and bad, sickness and health. With an identity that is primarily “sexual,” we are limited in the ways we can serve others. Not so with our holy identity; for indeed, when we see ourselves as “uncommon” and set apart for use not just by anyone but by God, our opportunities to serve are multiplied.

Instead of detailed sex talk, parents do better—with the support of the Church—to help boys understand the vocation of manhood and girls to understand the vocation of womanhood. Boys need to know how they, as the stewards and defenders of life, should regard women, most especially their someday wives. Girls need to know how they, as the co-stewards and nurturers of life, should regard men, most especially their someday husbands. Parents go a long way in preparing sons and daughters for marriage by mentoring respect, patience, selflessness, and forgiveness. Parents also do well in preparing young men and women for the realities of married life. Because of the Fall, marriage is hard work. It requires appreciation of our differences as male and female, the commitment to work together, trust, friendship, and more agape than eros love. Marriage can be a beautiful relationship, not just because of the sexual union, but sometimes even in spite of it.

It is God’s design that the marital union of man and woman become the nest for new life; the foundation for home and family. Sin has distorted God’s perfect design but, even in disappointment and difficulty, a faithful marriage is the bedrock of a finely-tuned and healthy society. Marriage is the amazing teamwork of male and female; indeed, the two eyes of the human race. Both eyes are needed for a proper perspective on all matters of life. Biblical marriage is the only pairing that allows a man formed from the dust of the ground to welcome the help of a woman made from his rib. The world is better for it.

Intimacy in marriage is not all about the sexual act. It is the most perfect trust, companionship and loving faithfulness this side of heaven. It is the unity of two spirits in this life—male and female, each encouraging the other to journey well to a sure and certain destination.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.com
Linda Bartlett strives to help mentor
biblical womanhood through Titus 2 for Life .
She is the author of The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (Amazon.com)
Visit: Our Identity Matters

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African american with BibleRedefining marriage to be whatever we want it to be is an idea whose time has come.  Those who insist otherwise are a remnant from some unenlightened age.  Or so the media appears to believe.  Perhaps that’s why there was little if any coverage of a surprising victory in the state of Illinois.

Earlier this summer, the Illinois legislature took up the issue of same-sex “marriage.”  A vote in favor of gay “marriage” seemed inevitable considering that Illinois is President Obama’s home state.  He and both the governor and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel endorse the practice.  But a remnant from the unenlightened age was busy at work.  The state’s African-American pastors were working hard to reach and convict African-American legislators.  They were asking them to stand tall for the truth of marriage.

The pastors wanted the legislators to acknowledge marriage as the “institution created by God to bring men and women together for the benefit of children that can only be created through the union of men and women.”

The media informed me that this vote was taking place but then fell strangely silent.  I would never have known the outcome even if I would have channel-surfed or picked up the local paper.  I guess the media just couldn’t bring itself to report the stunning victory…

… of the African-American pastors.  Their faithful truth-telling made a difference.  Illinois did not succumb to the “inevitable.”  Illinois legislators defeated proponents of same-sex marriage in a hard-left-leaning state.

I believe that significant victories in cultural debates are happening more often than we know in families and neighborhoods across the country.  It’s just that the media, with a religious bent of its own, can’t seem to tolerate people who don’t share their convictions.  So, rather than report the news, the media seems more intent on shaping minds.

The mantra of the media beats away, but it does not silence the unchanging Word of God.  Truth is.  Trusting the Truth, the African-American pastors in Illinois refused to be intimidated and went to work.  Their voices and actions mattered.  It matters that all of God’s people “stand tall for the truth of marriage… ” and the order of God’s creation.

But it’s too easy for the believer to fear.  To doubt.  To grieve the loss of morality and see only dark days ahead.  We are tempted to disengage and succumb to the “inevitable.”  Have we forgotten that the Word came to live among us?  The Word cannot be overcome.  Using that Word, the pastors in Illinois exposed the darkness and held it at bay.  If they can do it, so can we.

While we have opportunity, we are compelled to speak what God has given us to say, warn neighbors away from sin, and offer forgiveness and hope to the repentant.

Come to think of it, this is how a remnant of people have pushed back against evil for a long, long time.

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parents standing w childrenHere’s something that we all need to hear.  At the 2012 Sydney Writers Festival in Australia, four gay writers on a public panel were asked, “Why get married when you could be happy?”  There was a consensus that gays did not want to be married.  ABC Radio recorded the discussion which you can hear by going to Mercatornet and their Conjugality page.

Here is an excerpt from Masha Gessen, a Russian-American dual citizen and author.  She was married to a lesbian partner in Massachuetts and then divorced.  Now she has three children who have five different parents.  She would like to see the institution of marriage abolished.  Here is an excerpt from her remarks as a panelist:

It’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist . . . Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.  The institution is going to change and it should change.  The institution of marriage should not exist.  I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life.  That’s not what I had in mind when I came out 30 years ago.  I have three kids who have five parents more or less.  I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally.  I don’t see why we should choose two of those parents and make them into a sanctioned couple.

To know what the gay (and determined to be at odds with their Creator) community wants, please listen to the first eight or ten minutes of the panel discussion.  We all — who care about children and civilization — need to know what those who seek to redefine marriage really want.

My appreciation to Michael Cook and Mercatornet

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