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Trying to Respond Like Jesus to the SCOTUS Pronouncement on Same-Sex Marriage

3. The ruling itself reflects an illegitimate use of the Supreme Court’s power. In the dissenting words of John Roberts, this decision by the Court had nothing to do with the Constitution. Rather, it was the legislation of an agenda, the writing of a new law into our country by a body never commissioned to do so.

Some have said that we, the church, should not be making a big deal (if any) out of this, since this is only the granting of a civil right. We have to, it is said, acknowledge that not everyone in our country believes like we do and they should be free to follow the dictates of their consciences in matters of conviction or morality. That is, indeed, a principle we hold to very strongly, but it is not the issue in this case.

The questions in this case are not whether gay people should be free to be gay or to enter into whatever covenants with one another they wish. (They have had the freedom to do that for some time, a freedom we respect and would want to see upheld.) Rather, the questions in this case were (a) whether the state should institutionalize that relationship and, concomitantly, (b) whether the state possesses the ability to define, or redefine, marriage (as opposed to recognizing that the definition of marriage derives from sources of authority outside the state).

As to (a), this Supreme Court decision institutionalizes what God calls sin. The state has not taken a neutral position, but an affirming position—which God expressly condemns (Romans 1:32). This means that (b) the state has taken upon itself the right and responsibility to define marriage. This decision presupposes that the U.S. government recognizes no authority other than the state—that all things start and stop with the will of the people. This is a precarious position to be in, as it, ironically, puts all of our rights in jeopardy.

Our founding fathers recognized the basis of freedoms and rights to be the will of the Creator, not the will of the majority. As Thomas Jefferson said, rights that derive their authority from the mob can be removed by the mob. Only when our rights are seen as “endowed by our Creator” do they become “inalienable.” That God, not man, defines and bestows our most basic freedoms and institutions has been the bedrock of our Republic, and, subsequently, the basis of every significant societal reformation in our nation’s history. Martin Luther King, Jr. appealed not to the will of the majority for the equality of races, but to a higher law, the law of the Creator. Abandon the design of the Creator, and we have no higher authority than the changing will of the people, the tyranny of the majority. Ben Franklin famously quipped, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a lamb having grounds on which to contest the vote.”

4. As a church, we must speak about this with others in a tone that communicates the spirit of our Savior, who came not to judge but to save. We are not a community of the righteous condemning the sexually wayward, but fellow rebels redeemed by Jesus’ blood, calling out for others to experience the grace we’ve experienced. With the gay and lesbian community we share a common humanity; a common problem—sin; and a common hope—the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.

I was saddened to hear that one of our church members who lives with a same-sex attraction recently overheard someone saying, “There is a special place in hell for gay people.” Actually, there is a special place in hell for self-righteous people. We should never speak in a way that separates gay and lesbian people from us. If we are right with God, it is because we are forgiven. If we are awake, it is because God roused us from the sleep of death. We have absolutely nothing about which to boast—and that transforms our entire disposition. It is not enough to possess the truth of Christ, we must also reflect the spirit of Christ.

Furthermore, we cannot “give up” on our culture or withdraw from it, as tempting as that is right now. I have felt the impulse to throw up my hands and say, “To hell with the culture,” and to burrow myself into the Christian community, where I feel accepted and safe. But thank God Jesus did not do that with me. He entered our world, living and loving among us. We must enter our world as he did, sending our children into it as he did.

The Summit Church must continue to be a place where gay and lesbian people feel welcome as they seek repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, a place safe to “come out” with struggles of any kind. We must be the loudest advocates against acts of injustice or abuse of gay and lesbian people. They are us. And we must prepare ourselves to receive the refugees of this sexual revolution, for they will be many.

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J.D. Greear, Ph.D., is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.