I’ve seen two very different responses under the evangelical banner after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5 to 4 in favor of same sex marriage.
The first reaction is from EvangelicalResponse.com:
As Evangelical pastors and leaders, we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of good news for all people. Following in the way of Jesus, we are compelled to be a voice for the voiceless and to fight for the dignity and equality of all people, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, or gender identity. Today, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in favor of civil marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans. We join with millions of people around the country in celebration of this major step towards justice and equality for LGBTQ people in the United States. While we believe that the Supreme Court’s decision is a major step in the right direction, we are also reminded that this victory is only one step towards true equality for LGBTQ individuals and highlights our need, as people of faith, to continue to work for justice. In many places across our country, discrimination against LGBTQ people continues to be protected by law.
• In 28 states, LGBTQ people can be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity alone.
• In 28 states, LGBTQ people can be refused housing based on their sexual orientation or gender identity alone.
• In 8 states school systems, LGBTQ inclusive curriculums are prohibited.
• In 32 states, schools have little to no protection against the bullying of LGBTQ students.
These numbers demonstrate that we still are far from having a just and equal society for LGBTQ people. As evangelical pastors and leaders, we call on our fellow evangelical Christians around the country to lift our voices on behalf of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, working to make our nation, our communities, and our churches welcoming and inclusive spaces for all people. For far too long, we have been silent and complicit in the discrimination and marginalization of LGBTQ people around the world. Today, we commit to no longer stand by while discrimination and inequity flourish, but to lift our voices on behalf of all of God’s children.
The second reaction was published at Christianity Today and it is entitled “Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage and it was assembled and released by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. It reads:
As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image. We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage represents what seems like the result of a half-century of witnessing marriage’s decline through divorce, cohabitation, and a worldview of almost limitless sexual freedom. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.
The Bible clearly teaches the enduring truth that marriage consists of one man and one woman. From Genesis to Revelation, the authority of Scripture witnesses to the nature of biblical marriage as uniquely bound to the complementarity of man and woman. This truth is not negotiable. The Lord Jesus himself said that marriage is from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6), so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Eph. 5:32). The Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage demonstrates mistaken judgment by disregarding what history and countless civilizations have passed on to us, but it also represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.
Evangelical churches must be faithful to the biblical witness on marriage regardless of the cultural shift. Evangelical churches in America now find themselves in a new moral landscape that calls us to minister in a context growing more hostile to a biblical sexual ethic. This is not new in the history of the church. From its earliest beginnings, whether on the margins of society or in a place of influence, the church is defined by the gospel. We insist that the gospel brings good news to all people, regardless of whether the culture considers the news good or not.
The gospel must inform our approach to public witness. As evangelicals animated by the good news that God offers reconciliation through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, we commit to:
- Respect and pray for our governing authorities even as we work through the democratic process to rebuild a culture of marriage (Rom. 13:1-7);
- teach the truth about biblical marriage in a way that brings healing to a sexually broken culture;
- affirm the biblical mandate that all persons, including LGBT persons, are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect;
- love our neighbors regardless of whatever disagreements arise as a result of conflicting beliefs about marriage;
- live respectfully and civilly alongside those who may disagree with us for the sake of the common good;
- cultivate a common culture of religious liberty that allows the freedom to live and believe differently to prosper.
The redefinition of marriage should not entail the erosion of religious liberty. In the coming years, evangelical institutions could be pressed to sacrifice their sacred beliefs about marriage and sexuality in order to accommodate whatever demands the culture and law require. We do not have the option to meet those demands without violating our consciences and surrendering the gospel. We will not allow the government to coerce or infringe upon the rights of institutions to live by the sacred belief that only men and women can enter into marriage.
The gospel of Jesus Christ determines the shape and tone of our ministry. Christian theology considers its teachings about marriage both timeless and unchanging, and therefore we must stand firm in this belief. Outrage and panic are not the responses of those confident in the promises of a reigning Christ Jesus. While we believe the Supreme Court has erred in its ruling, we pledge to stand steadfastly, faithfully witnessing to the biblical teaching that marriage is the chief cornerstone of society, designed to unite men, women, and children. We promise to proclaim and live this truth at all costs, with convictions that are communicated with kindness and love.
One is clearly gospel-centered and one is not. This first response was a capitulation to culture, the second was an affirmation of biblical truth. It’s amazing how the first group claims to offer an evangelical response of which I can only agree with 100% of the first sentence. Re. following the way of Jesus… I didn’t realize He was an equal rights champion during his time on earth. He came to seek and to save those who were lost. Yes he didn’t follow the culture’s norms, such as treating a Samaritan woman with dignity, but he was far more concerned with God’s kingdom that perceived inequality. He wants us to love people, but we are to also love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.
This Supreme Court decision will separate the wheat from the chaff. Either you will be informed by culture and let it drive you or you’ll engage it and see it transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Kevin DeYoung has a great response and it is one that I would encourage all Christians to read (representing either group). What does the Bible say? That is something we all should be concerned about. It reads in part:
I’d rather not talk about homosexuality again. But the world hasn’t stopped talking about it. And the Bible hasn’t stopped saying what it has always said. So let’s not be shrill and let’s not be silent. If you already know what the Bible says about homosexuality, don’t forget what the Bible says about all of life and godliness. We can be right about marriage and still wrong about everything else that matters. And if you like most everything else the Bible says, why would you on this matter of homosexuality decide the Bible suddenly can’t be trusted? If you won’t count the cost here, what else will you be willing to sell? The support for homosexual behavior almost always goes hand in hand with the diluting of robust, 100-proof orthodoxy, either as the cause or the effect. The spirits which cause one to go wobbly on biblical sexuality are the same spirits which befog the head and heart when it comes to the doctrine of creation, the historical accuracy of the Old Testament, the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus, the resurrection, the second coming, the reality of hell, the plight of those who do not know Christ, the necessity of the new birth, the full inspiration and authority of the Bible, and the centrality of a bloody cross.