Yesterday I went down to the Supreme Court of the United States. The nine justices of the Supreme Court yesterday heard a case concerning homosexual marriage. There is a couple from Michigan suing the state claiming that their state constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the equal protection law of the 14th amendment to the constitution.
It is no secret the Bible’s stance on homosexual marriage. The Bible clearly defines marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman [Matthew 19] – with sexual fidelity between that one man and one woman until death parts them. I am not here to rewrite things I have written before.
I went down to the steps of the Supreme Court – 1st, because I was invited to go down by a parishioner; but also to see the protest and engage with the protesters on both sides of this issue – to really get a handle on why people were down there, what their purpose in being there was, and to speak with human beings that are passionate about this issue.
Within this experience, I believe the Lord taught me a very valuable lesson. It is a lesson I would like to share – especially with those that confess faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
What I would like to do is share two conversations I had with two different people – from two completely divergent points of view.
At about 1030 am I was in the front of the Supreme court and there was a couple thousand people there. 80% of the people there, I would say, were in support of same-sex marriage. They were holding signs bearing the words, “equality for all” and flags that had, “equal signs” and the like. The great majority of the people there were kind, hospitable, and calm in their opinions. There were the sensationalized people – men in wedding dresses with their face painted, or a man in a tu tu, etc…but the majority of people there looked and acted respectfully.
On the other side of the issue were people holding signs concerning one man and one woman – signs that declared that every child deserves a mother and a father – and of course the obligatory signs of God’s judgment on the sodomites. There was also a man clothed in sack cloth declaring God’s judgment – and the obligatory people making fun of him and screaming at him. It was quite a morning.
But in the midst of the crowd I overheard a man telling another man that he was a pastor. I immediately decided that I wanted to talk with him. He was sitting down and I approached him and sat down next to him. He had a sign on his lap which read something along the lines of, “equality for all” and in his Green Bay cap was a flag with an equal sign. I began the conversation by putting my hand out to shake his – which he shook in return. I introduced myself as Chris, and I told him that I overheard him say that he was a pastor. I asked if he would be willing to speak with me, and he graciously said yes. Our entire conversation, I would say, was pleasant.
I began by saying that from the looks of it, as it pertains to him holding the sign that he had, that we were on different sides of this debate. I told him that I, too, was a pastor, and I wanted to talk with him. He was exceptionally cordial, and we began to talk. The conversation went something along the lines of this. I believe I remember that his name was Nathan.
ME: Nathan, can you tell me why you are in favor of same-sex marriage?
Nathan: Well….from my reading of the Bible, I see a God who is a God who is merciful, forgiving, and loving…and I just don’t see how God would condemn people for wanting someone to love, to share their life with, and have experiences with. I just can’t see how God would want people not to be able to love who they love….to choose the experiences they choose to have with one another.
ME: I also believe that God is a God of mercy and love. But I do want to ask a question Nathan – you believe in sin and evil right?
Nathan: Yes, I do.
ME: How can we know what sin is Nathan? I mean, how do we know that which is wrong and that which is right?
Nathan: [thinking] You know what…I’m not sure that I can answer that…I am a sinful human being, and I don’t know that I should judge anything like that…as Luther said, “I cannot by my own reason or strength come to know God….” So I’m not sure I can tell what is sin and what isn’t sin.
- It was at this point that I knew that Nathan was a Lutheran Pastor – he quoted the small catechism – at this point I shared that I too was a Lutheran Pastor – he from the ELCA and me from the LCMS. [Two different Lutheran denominations within the U.S.]
ME: Well Nathan, it’s clear to me that you’re familiar with the small catechism. Tell me, when we get to things like the 7th commandment – it’s about stealing. [as Lutherans number them] You know that stealing is wrong right?
Nathan: Yes, of course.
ME: And I’m assuming you know that hate, murder, blasphemy, etc…that this is all wrong – you know that?
Nathan: Of course
ME: So then you and I would agree that certain things are sinful. I think we’d also agree that we have some of these desires inside of us. I have hate sometimes, I have lust sometimes, I have greed sometimes – and that if you saw me acting those out – you would tell me, lovingly, that this was wrong – wouldn’t you?
Nathan: Yes – I would say that would be loving.
Me: So then really Nathan – the reason we’re divergent on this issue is that you think that same-sex attraction is good, ought to be celebrated, and affirmed. I believe that same-sex attraction is bad – that it does against nature and nature’s God’s best for humanity – so we’re both acting on what our idea of a loving God would demand. If someone is endangering themselves, it’s loving to tell them they’re endangering themselves. If what they want is good – then it’s loving to tell them that it’s good.
Nathan: That’s true.
[Some additional bullet points]
- Nathan shared that his daughter had come out as a lesbian; and he was there supporting his daughter’s right to love – and be loved – with whom she chose.
- I shared a story about a woman who was in a committed lesbian relationship for over three years – repented of her sin – and has produced children with her now husband of many years. The question I posed to Nathan was – who is right? If same-sex attraction is good, holy, and right – then that woman who broke another woman’s heart and ended that relationship would have given emotional and psychological pain to another for no good reason other than a false sense of repentance – if she was right than his own daughters’ attraction is wrong. Same-sex attraction is either wrong or right – it is either condemnable or not.
- We ended the conversation cordially – I believe it was healthy and good. We agreed to disagree on this issue. I do not have complete space to write our conversation in totality, but we did also address adultery, sexual sin, and the purpose of marriage. Is marriage simply a love contract between adults, or is there more to a marriage?
The main point is this –Homosexuality is either wrong or it is right….if It is wrong, it is loving to tell others it is wrong. If it is right – It is loving to affirm and celebrate the desire. The issue really is all wrapped up in whether homosexual desires are good or evil. My point is if the Bible is correct about hate being wrong, greed being wrong, lust being wrong, selfishness and pride being wrong, and the Bible is the source to which we appeal to find right and wrong – then homosexual tendencies are sinful as well; and they need to be repented of and Jesus needs to be embraced for forgiveness of this sin.
At this point I moved closer to the steps of the courthouse. I approached someone on the opposite end of this spectrum. He had a clerical collar on and he had a shirt over his clerical collar shirt which read and listed reasons why God would judge homosexuality and queers and how they were all under God’s immediate judgment.
- I introduced myself as Chris – he would introduce himself only as, “tears for children.” He would not give me his first name.
- He was very angry. He was a man of raw emotion. Our conversation went something along the lines of this:
ME: Can you tell me why you are here? What is your purpose for being here?
TFC: [Tears for children] I am here because this is Dragon City [DC – the Dragon being Satan – and basically saying DC is Satan’s city] and I am here to announce God’s judgment on homosexuality and homosexuals. In 37 states queer families are being taught as correct to our children – and the Supreme Court is about to make it legal in all 50 states. I weep for our children.
ME: Do you think that homosexuals can repent and believe in the Gospel – be saved – and receive Jesus Christ?
TFC: Well, what does the Bible say – homosexuals are likened to dogs and cannot enter God’s Temple – they stand condemned already and there is no hope for them.
I do not have space to go into the entire conversation, but while me and TFC agreed that homosexuality was sinful – TFC didn’t think there was hope for them. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t there to sway hearts and minds – he was there simply and forthrightly to condemn homosexuals. That is why he was there.
- I left both of these conversations civilly; but here’s the thing.
I left both of these conversations totally self-righteous in my heart. That’s a fact. It took a while for me to process this but I was self-congratulatory. With my conversation with Nathan I left thinking, “this guy is a pastor…and he can’t even tell the difference between wrong and right?” And with TFC I left thinking, “this guy is a self-righteous jerk who doesn’t even care about people that Jesus died to save!”
And then it hit me. My goal in these conversations with these people was to show that I was right. “Being right” – that was my goal. And I don’t think that was the goal of Jesus when He encountered people. This is shown in His ministry, and how His Apostle’s carried out His ministry, especially the Apostle Paul.
The Apostle Paul, before coming to know Christ, martyred Christians. The Scripture declares that he would breathe out murderous threats against Christians. He did not simply condemn Christians – he sought them out to arrest them, condemn them, and put them to death. All of this he was doing because he thought – he thought – he was doing it in service to God. He thought he was God’s righteous right hand of murder to the Christian.
Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus – and interestingly enough it was a drastic conversion. “Saul…why are you persecuting me?” Jesus reveals himself to Paul. Jesus takes Paul’s heart of stone and makes it a heart of flesh. He is saved – he is born-again, he is then baptized – and Paul becomes the greatest evangelist the world has ever known. He wrote at least 13 of the 27 New Testament books that we have. He was imprisoned, he was beaten, he was stoned, he was shipwrecked, he was persecuted for a great portion of his life witnessing the love of God in Christ.
And something that Paul writes in 1st Corinthians 9:20-22 I believe is imperative for us as Christians:
To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
Paul sacrificed some of his liberty in every situation – to the Jews he lived like a Jew, to the Greek, like the Greek, to those under the law, as under the law…etc – why?
Because his goal was to draw people closer to Jesus Christ. That was it. In every single thing he did that was his goal. His goal was never simply to be right – his goal was never to simply make people feel good – his goal was to draw people to Jesus – to make the true introduction. Why?
Because only Jesus can save.
Now, I want to be clear in the context – it was Paul that wrote Romans 1, 1st Timothy 1, and 1st Corinthians 6 – which clearly condemns homosexuality. He didn’t become homosexual to save homosexuals.
He also in Romans 1 condemns the arrogant and the proud – he didn’t become prideful to save the prideful.
What he is saying is that he kept the goal in mind – if people need to repent, he called them to repentance. If people needed compassion, he gave compassion. He sacrificed his own liberties in the Gospel to satisfy the goal – which was to save.
This is the attitude and heart of Jesus. Our Lord sacrificed much more than any Apostle or any man. He left the throne of grace in glory so that He could serve the very sinners that killed Him. He died. He was, and is, the sacrifice.
To draw them to Himself.
There are two questions I want us to ask ourselves as we engage other human beings. The 1st is this:
In my dealings with others Is it my goal to make sure the other person knows I’m right or draw them closer to Jesus Christ?
This is a great question for myself and TFC. I am not sure our goal was to bring people to Jesus. TFC needs to see the homosexuals as people Jesus died to save. Instead of anger, grief and sadness ought to strike him – and through that a heart of love for lost people that hopefully will draw people to the Lord. Yes, repentance of sin is necessary – but so is the hope of forgiveness offered in Christ.
Now, I want to broaden this past homosexuality. How many times in conversations with co-workers, with conversations with wives and husbands, children, neighbors…are we fighting just so that they know we’re right and they’re wrong…remember, we want to draw people to Jesus. Yes, this may take conviction – but it will come quite differently if we are trying to draw people closer to Jesus instead of simply, “making them see” that we are right
The 2nd question is equally important.
Is it my goal in my dealings with others to make the other person feel good about themselves and their decisions or ro draw them closer to Jesus Christ?
This is Nathan. I am convinced when we tell those in sin that they’re ok in sin – even our own children – we’re making them feel good in the moment, we don’t want to see any distress in their lives – but we’re sacrificing them having a real relationship with Jesus. When we do this we have tricked ourselves into thinking we are being nice for the others’ sake; but really we want me and them to be okay – and we’re sacrificing their relationship with Christ just to make them feel okay – and our relationship with them to feel okay.
I pray for a heart of Jesus – that was lived out by Paul – I just want to win them to Christ so that they might be saved. Lord, give me this heart. Amen.