Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage
The United States Supreme Court ruled on Friday, June 26, 2015, that homosexual marriage is now legal in this country – it is the law of the land. Many are thrilled with the Supreme Court’s decision, believing it is a welcome correction for justice. Many more are deeply grieved by it, and see it calling into question the covenant of marriage that the vast majority of Christianity has believed was instituted by God when He created man and woman, as revealed in Genesis 2, and affirmed by both Jesus and the Apostle Paul.
This is a very challenging time. This Supreme Court ruling affects almost every family in our church, directly or through family and friends. However, Christians in Gateway’s family run the risk of focusing on what we’ve won or lost, versus recognizing what we’ve always had in Jesus Christ and the love we’re called to share with all. Ultimately, as the Apostle Paul told us, “…we are citizens of heaven…” (Phil. 3:20). Heaven will never disappoint us. When we stay focused on the problems of this world, we too often forget the promise and hope we have in the world to come.
Let’s remember that no matter which way this decision had gone, neither the Supreme Court, nor Congress, nor the President of the United States, offer the final word for faith and practice for followers of Jesus Christ. Their decision this week flies in the face of two thousand years of Christian practice and belief, as well as the majority of the two billion plus Christians on our planet today. Yet, even if they had affirmed the historic, biblically-based understanding of marriage, they still do not serve as the Christian’s authority for faith and practice. We live in a world where culture is increasingly challenging historic and biblical norms of sexuality in many areas. Yet, in response to the religious authorities, who were demanding that Peter and the Apostles be quiet about their faith in Christ and his resurrection, they said, “…‘We must obey God rather than any human authority.’” (Acts 5:29) We follow Jesus Christ, the Bible is our life manual, and we seek to uphold the highest value of God’s love.
In light of this, I wanted to clarify where Gateway stands with some thoughts I’ve shared many times over the years as folks have asked where our church stands on homosexuality and gay marriage.
First, I want to affirm that we accept everyone for who they are, including homosexuals. We welcome gays and lesbians to our services. We believe all individuals are created by God and are of infinite value and worth. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. I understand this kind of love to mean “choosing to accept someone for who they are and sacrificially work for their good.” Acceptance to me means I care about someone even if they are different from me by any and all the ways people are different, including sexual orientation and sexual practice. I cannot ask them to be different before I will accept them and care for them. That’s not unconditional love. That’s not the way we are called to live when we choose to follow Christ. We are strongly opposed to any kind of hate-filled speech that attempts to reduce the God-given value and worth of any human being.
We also believe the Bible is God’s inspired Word for our lives, and through the Bible we understand that a sexual relationship (not orientation) for members of the same sex is outside God’s plan for His people. We also believe this is true for members of the opposite sex who are not married (and this is much more prevalent in our culture today). The fact is, as the Bible says, all of us fall short of God’s glory and we all need His grace. All of us. That includes me. My life isn’t perfect, and I am in no position to cast stones at anyone. I am a fellow traveler with everyone else who walks through our doors. We all fall short in different areas, but we all fall short and need the grace of God found in Jesus Christ. Every day I try to hold my life up to Christ’s as the measuring stick, and as I do that in my daily prayer time, I ask him to reveal to me where I have fallen short, forgive me in those areas where I don’t measure up, and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to work in me to become more like Christ. I ask all of us to listen to Christ and let him show us the way. I have made a decision in my life to trust Christ, wherever he leads me. I have discovered that sometimes trusting and following Christ lies outside of where our culture or even my feelings point me. But I have come to the conclusion that the teachings in God’s Word are as real as the laws in the physical sciences, and ultimately there are consequences when I try to go around them.
There's an idea we’ve used around here that I think speaks to this situation and many others: We don’t push behavior modification so much as we point folks to spiritual transformation. What that means to me is that our goal is to lead each person who comes through our doors to become “fully devoted followers of Christ.” To grow closer and closer to Christ, to become more and more like him. If we do that, we'll allow God's Spirit to help people decide what that looks like in their own lives, according to God’s Word and His plan for our lives.
What I hope you hear is that we want to love everyone who walks through our doors. We have gays and lesbians attending Gateway. And, we also have people who have felt same-sex attractions who have chosen to change their lifestyles to be celibate in their singleness. But, all are welcome here to hear and experience the life-changing power of the Gospel (which we all need)!
Gateway continues to understand that marriage, as created and instituted by God, is a covenant between one man and one woman. These are the only kinds of marriages our pastors will perform. But, at the same time we will continue ministering to all those who call Gateway their church home. This ruling really does not affect our mission in any way.
Some may interpret these positions to be mean or hateful, though we sincerely do not believe they are. We believe we are called to lift up God’s standards as life’s norms, even as every one of us fails them in at least some ways. We believe this is actually the most loving thing we can do, because we believe it is God’s design for our very best in life and reflects the character of God Himself. We want Gateway to be a welcoming place, a place of love and grace and truth that enables us “to lead everyday people to become fully devoted followers of Christ.” This is, ultimately, our mission, and this is where we will continue to pour our focus, our energy, our resources, and our prayers. We invite you to join in with us in this mission for planet earth!
Pray for all of us, and for our nation! And “Let love be your highest goal!…” (1 Cor. 14:1)
Blessings to you!
Pastor, Gateway Community Church