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SCOTUS and Gay Marriage: A few helpful resources

June 28, 2013

gavelTwo days ago the Supreme Court issued two historic and rather controversial rulings on the definition of marriage in the United States. Here are a few responses and reflections that I have found helpful for understanding and processing this event.

For a succinct breakdown of what these rulings do and do not mean, see Joe Carter’s “9 Things You Should Know about the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Cases.”

Trevin Wax reminds us that in the big picture of God’s sovereignty and our call to gospel witness, gay marriage is both good and bad for the church. He writes, “If we truly believe Romans 8:28, that somehow, in some way, God is working all things for the good of those who love Him, then even when the culture swerves in an opposing direction, we ought to expect both benefits and challenges.” Wax goes on to describe more specifically how three developments will likely present both trials and opportunities for the Church’s gospel witness in the years ahead: (1) The Loss of a Culture of Marriage; (2) Threats to Religious Liberty; and (3) The Cost of Conviction.

Similarly, Russell Moore reminds us that these decisions and the culture they reflect are an opportunity for gospel witness:

This gives Christian churches the opportunity to do what Jesus called us to do with our marriages in the first place: to serve as a light in a dark place. Permanent, stable marriages with families with both a mother and a father may well make us seem freakish in 21st-century culture. But is there anything more “freakish” than a crucified cosmic ruler? Is there anything more “freakish” than a gospel that can forgive rebels like us and make us sons and daughters? Let’s embrace the freakishness, and crucify our illusions of a moral majority. . . .

The increased attention to the question of marriage also gives us the opportunity to love our gay and lesbian neighbors as Jesus does. Some will capitulate on a Christian sexual ethic. There are always those professional “dissidents” who make a living espousing mainline Protestant shibboleths to an evangelical market. But the church will stand, and that means the gospel Jesus has handed down through the millennia. As we stand with conviction, we don’t look at our gay and lesbian neighbors as our enemies. They are not.

The gay and lesbian people in your community aren’t part of some global “Gay Agenda” conspiracy. They aren’t super-villains in some cartoon. They are, like all of us, seeking a way that seems right to them. If we believe marriage is as resilient as Jesus says it is (Mk. 10:6-9), it cannot be eradicated by a vote of justices or a vote of a state legislature. Some will be disappointed by what they thought would answer their quest for meaning. Will our churches be ready to answer?

Moore’s conclusion is worth careful consideration:

Same-sex marriage is headed for your community. This is no time for fear or outrage or politicizing. It’s a time for forgiven sinners, like us, to do what the people of Christ have always done. It’s time for us to point beyond our family values and our culture wars to the cross of Christ as we say: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

Finally, for some of my own reflections on how the gospel of Jesus ought to shape our understanding of the broader issue, as well as our posture toward our gay friends and neighbors, see my earlier post, “The Gay Movement is a Gospel Issue.”

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