How Christians should respond to the issue of gay 'marriage'comment (1)
January 9, 2014
By Pastor Steve Scoggins
Related Scripture: Proverbs 3:5-8
First Baptist Church, Opelika
April 21, 2013
I am laying aside our weekly study of the book of Acts to do something I rarely do on Sunday mornings: address the most discussed issue of this moment.
Gay "marriage" is being thrust upon us constantly by the media and in our courts. A message this week by Lee Strobel challenged pastors to equip their people to respond to the challenges to our faith. I felt impelled by the Holy Spirit to preach this sermon — not necessarily to spark debate on this issue, but to help the Christian in the pew know how to respond when this issue is raised.
Too often we Christians are known more for what we are against than who we are for. We are for people.
1. God loves every person (John 3:16).
Our calling is to tell the lost people of the world that God loves them. God’s love is the greatest power in existence to draw people to faith in Jesus! I believe many involved in gay and lesbian lifestyles are crying out to be loved. No love will ultimately fill the human heart except the love of God.
2. Every person is a sinner (Rom. 3:23).
Homosexuality is only one of many sins listed in the Bible. It is not singled out as being any worse than those sins you and I have often committed. Every one of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s high moral standards! But the amazing truth is that God still loves sinners:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8)
3. Since God loves fallen sinners, we must love fallen sinners (John 13:34).
We are commanded to love people the way God loves people. If I refuse to love someone because of his or her lifestyle, I have sinned.
4. God’s ways are the best ways to live.
(Ps. 19:7–8). “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes”
I no longer see the Bible only as a book of do’s and don’ts. The Bible is nothing less than the way the heavenly Father shares His heart with His children. Every time you find a “Thou Shalt Not…” in the Bible, it means, “Don’t hurt yourself.” Every time you find a “Thou Shalt…” in the Bible, it means, “This is the way to happiness.” Since we believe God’s ways are the best ways to live, the loving thing to do is to encourage people to walk in God’s ways.
The Bible does not teach gay "marriage."
Since the Bible does not teach gay marriage the real question for us Christians is: Will we be Biblical or not? Do we believe the Bible or do we reject what the Bible teaches? Since this is the issue, I believe the most important question is, Why do we believe and trust in the Bible?
1. The Bible is the most verified ancient book.
Archaeology has always backed up what the Bible teaches. The Bible is trustworthy in its accounts of history.
The New Testament is trustworthy eyewitness testimony of Jesus written by those who knew Him. Books like The DaVinci Code have tried to undermine our trust in the Bible, especially in the four Gospels. If you do the research, you will find that the historical evidence points to the fact that our four Gospels are the only true Gospel accounts about Jesus.
Here are a few facts about our New Testament:
- We have only seven ancient copies of Plato and the earliest one was copied 900 years after his death. We have only 20 copies of the Roman historian Tacitus and the earliest copy was made 1,000 years after his death.
- We have over 5,400 ancient copies of the New Testament with over 300 portions dating to within 140 years of the time they were written. In addition, we have quotes from New Testament books by Christian writers shortly after they were written. Clement, the pastor of Rome who was martyred in AD 95, quotes from Matthew, Mark and Luke. Ignatius, who was martyred in AD 110, quotes from 15 of the 27 books of the New Testament in his letters.
2.The number one reason we believe in the Bible? Our Lord Jesus believed in the Bible and trusted its truthfulness.Just look at how Jesus spoke about Bible facts:
- Jesus said Jonah actually was in the belly of a great fish (Matt. 12:40).
- Jesus said He believed the moral teachings of the Old Testament (Matt. 5:17–20)
- Jesus believed the Old Testament books were written by whom they were said to be written.
Since Jesus trusted the Bible, I can trust the Bible, too.
3. I trust what Jesus said about the Bible because Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. That verifies that what He says is authoritative.
Strong historical proof exists that Jesus has risen from the dead. Other historians of His day such as Josephus and Tacitus reported that Jesus was crucified and that His followers claimed He rose from the dead.
Here are a few things to consider about the resurrection.
a) The resurrection is the only logical explanation for the empty tomb.
The tomb was empty. If the enemies of Christ could have produced His body, they could have stopped the Christians from preaching His resurrection. The enemies of Christ never denied the tomb was empty. They bribed the guards to say, “While we were sleeping, the disciples stole the body.” There are several holes in this statement.
First, if they were sleeping, how would they know who stole anything?
Second, how could the disciples move a rock weighing several tons and steal the body without waking even one of the 16 guards? Also, a guard who slept on the job would be put to death.
Third, why would the disciples steal the body then spend their lives suffering for a lie and eventually dying for what they knew was not true.
b) Over 500 eyewitnesses saw Jesus risen from the dead (1 Cor. 15:6).
Can you imagine a trial where 500 people went to the stands and not only testified that they had seen someone commit the crime but stated they were willing to die rather than change their testimonies?
c) The changed lives after the resurrection point to the fact that it occurred.
Before the Resurrection, Peter was a coward who denied Christ. Afterwards, he was a bold preacher willing to suffer for Christ.
Before he met the risen Christ, Paul persecuted Christians. Afterwards, he became the greatest missionary of his day.
Before the Resurrection, Jesus’ brothers, James and Jude, did not believe in Jesus. Afterward, they became Christian leaders who wrote books of the New Testament.
The real issue behind whether or not you believe in the Bible is whether or not you accept the lordship of Jesus.
We must have the same attitude toward moral issues that Jesus had.
A standard argument used by gay activists to legitimize homosexual actions is that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality. This is an “argument from silence.” There were a lot of issues that Jesus never mentioned. Jesus never condemned pedophilia or bestiality. Would anyone dare conclude that Jesus’ silence equals condoning those practices?
Here are the facts about what Jesus did teach:
1. Jesus said He agreed with the moral standards of the Old Testament.
(Matt. 5:19) Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
The Old Testament condemned homosexual actions. Jesus said, “I agree.”
2. Jesus never lowered any moral standards of the Old Testament. He always raised them.
In Matthew 5, Jesus said that hating someone is the same as murder. He H``HHHHHe also taught that a man who lusts after a woman has committed adultery with her in God’s eyes. Thus, He raised the bar for moral standards even higher than it was in the Old Testament!
3. Jesus endorsed heterosexual marriage (Matt. 19:4-6).
Jesus said marriage was between a man and a woman. Followers of Jesus should not change His definition of marriage.
A note to Christians on the issue of “marriage” in our day.
We have become a self-centered culture. This goes against the fundamental teaching of the Bible that we are called to love selflessly. One of the primary purposes for marriage is to create a loving atmosphere to raise children. Children need loving parents of both sexes who will raise them in a loving and safe environment.
Proof that God wants children to have both a mother and a father is found in the Christmas story. Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus (God was), and he tried to abandon Mary when he found out she was pregnant. God sent an angel after Joseph to convince him to stay and take Mary as his wife and raise this boy as his own. The heavenly Father wanted His Son to have both an earthly father and mother.
1. Ultimately, it is God’s responsibility through the Holy Spirit to convince people of God’s truth.
If I think I can change someone’s mind simply by winning arguments, I have underestimated the depth of our sin problems. If God does not open our minds, we will never believe the truth. If someone believes in the Bible and believes in Jesus, it is only because he or she was enabled to do so by the Holy Spirit:
John 16:7-8, 13: But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. … .But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.
If I want people to come to believe in Jesus and the Bible, the best thing I can do is to pray for them rather than to argue with them. If you believe in Jesus and the Bible, you should bow your head right now and thank God for giving you the assurance that both Jesus and the Bible are true. That very assurance came from God.
2. We Christians must concentrate on dealing with the real problems instead of just the “fruit” problems of a lost culture.
Homosexuality and gay "marriage" are not the main problems of our day. People don’t need “right” opinions on these issues as much as they need a right relationship with God! Lost people act and think like lost people because they are lost people.
I would rather not take a day and deal with an issue like this. I can’t wait to get back to teaching the Bible and just talking about Jesus next week. I don’t want to engage in arguments over side issues of culture with people who want to argue. I long to do one thing: to tell people how wonderful Jesus is and get them to trust in and follow Him.
3. We Christians must speak with great humility when we deal with this subject.
There is a sense in which the Christian church has lost some of its right to speak on this issue. We say we believe that God has set apart heterosexual marriage as a sacred institution. Yet the divorce rate among Christians is so high, no wonder people are not listening to us! How can we say God’s way is the best way to live when we so often end our marriages for other than Biblical reasons?
But the main reason we must speak with humility is that we should realize our own lives are far from what God expects them to be. The longer I walk with Christ, the more I realize what a sinner I am. If my thought life were displayed before you now, I would slink away in shame and hope I would never see any of you again! A lot of logs in my eyes need to be dealt with before I begin pulling specks out of other people’s eyes.
An old saying is still true: “Christian witnessing is simply when one beggar tells another beggar where to find bread.” As many times as I have blown it, I am amazed God still loves me. God didn’t make me promise to shape up before He sent Jesus to die for me. While I was still a sinner, Christ died for me! All God wants is for us to come to Him humbly, trust in Jesus, and allow His Holy Spirit to come inside us and begin the work of changing us from the inside out. Have you opened your heart to Jesus yet?