Today’s Supreme Court decision striking down the main parts of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) is probably the biggest overarching social decision since Roe v. Wade. As Evangelicals, we’ve seen this day approaching for some time. In our own State (North Carolina), we voted last year to define marriage as an institution exclusive to heterosexual relationships, while, in that time, six other States (Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, and Washington) have allowed a provision for homosexual marriage in some way. While States still have the right to define marriage as they like, there will be a day not too far off when homosexual marriage will be the law of the land.
So what does this really mean? I think that it’s very easy to react to events like this and think that the world is crumbling around us. Like every human event, we must turn to God’s Word to guide us in our thinking. God is a God of comfort (2 Corinthians 1) and of peace, therefore anything that comes our way should never take what God has guaranteed us through Christ.
So here are my thoughts:
1. The sky isn’t falling, but the landscape is. Will there be far-reaching effects of this decision that will make being a Christian in the public square more difficult? Possibly. I believe that Christians that hold government jobs may see some kind of discrimination or discipline if they speak up and say that they believe homosexuality is a sin. Also, I think we’ll see more and more Christians lose their jobs over this issue in the future. Schools that are run by the government will now also have to make every effort to make homosexuality normal. If you’d like to see what this looks like, there’s an article by a pro-family group in Massachusetts: http://www.massresistance.org/docs/marriage/effects_of_ssm_2012/index.html.
Even with all these things true, God is still in control and still on the throne (see Psalm 2 and 47). So will our nation look different? Yes. But is the church doomed? No. Jesus promised us that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church. If history has shown us anything, it is that the church grows and thrives under greater persecution. The deeper the darkness, the greater the contrast light has. The church will have plentiful opportunities to shine the light of the gospel in an ever-growing dark world.
2. I’m not stressing, but praying – Daniel is a great example of someone who lived in a completely pagan culture, yet glorified God with his life. When a new law was made that outlawed prayer to anyone but the king (Daniel 6), Daniel quietly, yet bravely, went up to his room, opened up the window and prayed to the God of Heaven. He didn’t freak out and hide, or organize a protest or start a newsletter, he prayed. He defied the law of the land in grace and humility. He was willing to face persecution and punishment, because he believed that, as the writer of Hebrews puts it, “God had provided something better for us”.
3. We won’t win the cultural battles through human means. Psalm 20:7 states that some trust in horses, and others trust in chariots, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. What that means is that all the other nations around Israel were putting their faith in something that had capable, but limited strength. Horses and chariots were the greatest military weapons of the day. Israel wasn’t supposed to even have weapons like the nations of their day (Deut. 17:16). I love what God tells his people in Deuteronomy 20:1, “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord you God, who brought you up out of Egypt will be with you.” That’s powerful. God loves it when the odds are stacked against His people because when He destroys the work of the enemy, nobody else gets the glory but Him. The powers in this world are not greater than all-powerful God.
We will not overcome the cultural darkness through elections and family-friendly television shows. We will overcome the darkness through the power of the gospel. Let’s use the one thing that will change the heart and not just the behavior of the people around us.
4. I have joy and hope because of what Jesus has done, not what my government does. Christians for almost 2,000 years have woken up every morning under oppressive regimes and wicked cultures. When Paul wrote about rejoicing always in Philippians, he wasn’t just thinking of those Christians that lived in a nation governed by Judeo-Christian values and a constitutional republic that guaranteed freedom of religion. When Paul and Silas were thrown in jail in Acts 16 for preaching the gospel, they sang hymns. If you have Jesus, no one should be able to take away your joy and hope, because those are secured through Christ. So rejoice today in the great opportunities you and your family will have to share the light of the gospel in a dark society.