Reflections on SCOTUS Obergefell Opinion #1
By: Dr. Harry Reeder
September 8, 2015 2:46 PM
WHAT ABOUT OUTRAGE?
OUTRAGE: an extremely strong reaction of anger, shock or indignation.
On June 26th, 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in a legal fabrication affirmed the charade of same-sex marriage as a “foundational right to those who have chosen to use their personal liberty to self-identify as a homosexual” as articulated by Justice Anthony Kennedy. The absence of any legal support for this obviously politically motivated opinion was embarrassing but not prohibitive for the pre-determined agenda of the 5 judges providing a one justice margin to defeat the 4 opposing justices and unravel a God-given foundational institution which has stood the test of time for thousands of years. Since this is now being trumpeted as the “law of the land”, how should individual Christians and Christ’s church respond? This blog is the first of a series written primarily for the dear church I pastor and then others who might be interested.
While following the posts of many in the wake of this opinion whom I admire and respect, I have been both instructed and encouraged by their exhortations and insights. But I confess there are two admonitions repeated consistently which I am unable to embrace or affirm.
One admonition is that Christians must not respond to with “outrage” and the other is that the way evangelical churches do ministry should not be affected as we move forward in the lengthening shadow of this judicial opinion. Two blogs pointedly declared that the church should simply respond by staying the course and keep doing what we were doing prior the ruling. In a word, we should simply keep doing “business as usual.” So what is the response to these recommendations as to how we should or should not respond? This is mine.
Recently a member of the church I am privileged to serve sent me a Resolution written in response to the SCOTUS opinion with a question as to why I had not signed it. What they did not know was not only had I read it and deeply desired to sign it but could not for one reason.
The resolution overall was well done but it contained one admonition that I could not in good conscience support. The admonition was specific. “Outrage” was deemed to be inconsistent with confidence “in the promises of a reigning Christ.” To sign the resolution and be out of accord with what was clearly a crucial concern and confident assertion would have been both dishonest and dishonoring to the originator of the resolution and the signatories. In a word I found myself in a dilemma. I wanted to sign it for multiple reasons. It contains much that is extraordinarily helpful and insightful. Furthermore the author is a true Christian statesman whom I personally admire and the list of supporters is filled with the names of many whom I know and respect. Beyond that I firmly believe such a statement needs to be made. So why not sign? While the resolution clearly stated that Christians “confident in the promises of a reigning Christ” should not respond with “outrage,” I was and I continue to be “outraged.” So either I am not “confident in the promises of a reigning Christ” or the resolution is to some degree incorrect concerning whether or not Christians can be or even should be “outraged.”
I actually think it is right to be outraged. In addition I actually think Christians at times ought to be outraged, not ashamed of being outraged, nor assume that outrage is inconsistent with the work of God’s grace in our life. As an example I recently listened to a Planned Parenthood video in which a leader calmly over lunch and sipping wine discussed how to kill a baby in the womb in a manner that allowed the abortionist to salvage body parts for sale. I was and I am outraged and believe I should be. Likewise I am also outraged by the SCOTUS opinion and the Kennedy “considered opinion.”
Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked who forsake your law. Psalm 119:53
But having proposed that there is a place and even a necessity for Christian outrage in response to this ruling, I would also affirm the need for the concern and care expressed in the Biblical warnings against sinful outrage. There is a reason the Scripture calls us to be “slow to anger,” “not to let the sun go down upon your anger” and “be angry yet do not sin,” etc. Obviously there is a sinful outrage that must be shunned because of its faulty origin and/or its resulting sinful behavior. Therefore authentic Christian outrage will be and must be rightly directed. Outrage birthed from self-righteousness and arrogance inevitably leads to the destructive effects of the sinful “anger of man” and must be avoided at all costs. But there is an outrage affirmed in Scripture which rightly burns within the hearts of God’s people even as imperfect followers of Christ. When the God of glory and all that He holds dear is mocked with impunity and that which He has called holy is desecrated, the God-given emotion of outrage rightly directed is appropriate. So where would authentic Christian outrage lead?
God-honoring and God-given outrage inevitably leads us first to grief and lament and then ultimately to repentance. I am fully aware that God needs neither me nor my outrage to secure His glory and honor. Furthermore I am also aware that Supreme Court decisions will not thwart God’s purposes nor ultimately diminish His glory and that in the final analysis this judicial travesty will be used in God’s sovereign purposes for His glory and our good. So….
I am not outraged because God needs me to be but because I need to be. It is increasingly obvious what this opinion reveals about our culture and even more what it reveals about the impotency of the contemporary evangelical church in this culture. It is equally obvious where this decision will lead unless God’s people repent and the God of grace sends a heaven-sent revival to His church in this nation and from that revived church another Gospel awakening.
I am outraged that a nation claiming to be “under God” now legally, institutionally as well as culturally mocks the God of glory. Therefore, I lament that this ruling not only positions this nation under God’s judgment but reveals that we are already under the judgment of God.
Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die they not only do them they give approval to those who practice them. Therefore God gave them over.
I am outraged that the sanctities of God’s creation ordinances, crucial to human flourishing are being mocked. The sanctity of life legally and culturally disregarded for decades is now accelerated by mocking the sanctity of marriage. The sanctity of sexuality is being mocked with the illusion of same-sex marriage. We now have a SCOTUS opinion which has nothing to do with marriage equality but everything to do with marriage redefinition in order to affirm as natural and normal the unnatural and abnormal acts of homosexuality. Therefore, I lament the cultural loss of a God designed blessing affirming a monogamous, heterosexual, conjugal, life-long covenant of marriage – God’s gift in creation and common grace foundational to the well-being of humanity. But even more importantly the prostitution of the Covenant of marriage distorts that which was designed by God to reveal the unbreakable love secured by redeeming grace which Christ enjoys with His covenant people having left his Father to cleave to His Bride, the Church. I lament what this unsustainable view of marriage will inevitably produce in the cultural carnage of marital anarchy as inevitably the Divinely-designed foundation block for society – the family — is destroyed. I lament the disastrous effects upon children raised in fatherless or motherless homes embracing as normal sexual anarchy.
For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother to cleave to his wife. Consequently they are no longer two but one.
I am outraged at the mocking of the sanctity of sexuality – designed to affirm and bless the sacred covenant of marriage. This God-designed and God-delivered gift is now legally and culturally mocked not only by heterosexual promiscuity – the sinful practice of natural sex – but now also by the legal affirmation of homosexual perversion – the sinful practice of unnatural sex. Therefore, I lament we have distorted marriage to affirm distorted sexuality.
Let the marriage bed be held in honor by all. Fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
I am outraged by the undeniable fact that today’s self-absorbed church having succumbed to doctrinal deviancy, pastor celebrity-ism, church growth pragmatism compounded by the preaching of a muted gospel of dwarfed grace has trivialized the past blessings of Gospel Awakenings visited upon this country by the sovereign grace of God. I lament the response of isolation by some churches (we will simply do marriage right in the church thus making a creation ordinance a church ordinance to facilitate a retreat from the public square and loving their neighbor); and I lament accommodation by other churches (thinking that being silent about truth is the way you love people in the bondage of sin and it is permissible to treat as irrelevant the public, social and legal mocking of God and His creation ordinances). I lament this cultural and ecclesiastical apostasy has occurred during my watch as a Gospel minister.
This is how one should regard us as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Finally, I am outraged that there exists a legal judicial opinion affirming the cultural nonsense that men and women have the freedom and ability to create their own identity in life and that choices of sexual anarchy are valid declarations of life identity. Let’s be clear no Supreme Court ruling, academic myopia, philosophical pandering, or cosmetic surgery can ever remove the guilt and shame of denying who we are by virtue of creation even as we culturally sophisticate ourselves into imbecility to suppress the knowledge of God. Thus, I lament that moral relativism and unchallenged Darwinian evolution has so pervaded this culture that men and women no longer hear the truth proclaimed from pulpits that they are created in the image of God – imago Dei – with dignity. Furthermore I lament that the contemporary Church has not only been complicit by its silence but also by its accommodation of cultural idolatry which destroys human dignity. Even worse has been its proclamation of a one-dimensional Gospel, a therapeutic Gospel or the American made blasphemous prosperity gospel, instead of the robust multi-dimensional Gospel. A Gospel proclaiming to sinners come to Christ and be saved from sin’s guilt and power and find your identity in Him. It is this Christ-exalting, sinner-saving Gospel which by the power of the Holy Spirit steadily makes His church a life boat for sinners and a death trap for sin as one “grows in the grace and knowledge of Christ” that must be heard from the pulpits and in the streets again.
But, not only must outrage lead to lament, it must also lead to repentance. There is no way we can respond to this moment by doing what we have been doing – “business as usual.” We must repent. It must begin with me. Yes, it is true and accurate that our God-given message, God-given means and God-given mission and ministry is unchanged and must not be compromised nor edited in response to the issues of the day. But there is no way we can continue to do “business as usual.” This cultural death spiral which is inevitable when Gospel rivers of redeeming grace and common grace no longer flow from Christ’s church into the culture is the result of the way which we are or are not “doing business.” The “salt” has lost its “saltiness” and the “light” is “shrouded.” Therefore we no longer speak “truth in love.”
Christian outrage is crucial and right but must lead to lament and lament must lead to repentance. May the God of Glory and Grace be pleased to give Christ’s church a heaven-sent revival leading to a Christ-exalting, Spirit-empowered, Bible-shaped, prayer-saturated Gospel Awakening flooding every corner of this nation again but like never before. O Lord again.