This stuff actually matters
Three years ago this past week, the Supreme Court threw out the laws of most states and declared gay marriage to be the law of the land in the name of happiness. Since then, people of faith have been under a sustained assault by leftwing activists. Progressives have attacked florists, bakers, private schools, professors, and professionals for trying to live their faith in public, freely exercising their religion as the constitution allows.
Just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court protected one such Christian because Colorado showed burning hostility to him. This hostility is a trend, and most Christians in America are not prepared for what is coming. Their faith is weak, and their pastors avoid the subject of marriage altogether and often ignore sound Christian doctrine. But this stuff matters. Eternity matters for Christians and abandoning two thousand years of Christian doctrine because somebody is nice or you want to be liked, or surely God has changed his mind is bad theology.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. That is not just a quote, but fact for Christians. God himself ordained marriage in the beginning and made it between one man and one woman. His people did not always get it right, but God was clear. In the desert of Sinai, God expanded his moral laws and made it clear that sex outside of marriage is a sin and sex between two people of the same sex is, too.
Yes, it is true that God also issued other laws, including not wearing mixed fabrics and eating shellfish, but God was issuing three components of law. First, he issued the moral law founded in the Ten Commandments. Second, he issued ceremonial laws involving purification and cleanliness related to sin. Third, he issued civil law relevant to the governing of the tribes of Israel.
Fast forward to the New Testament and Jesus affirms the moral law is still in place; sets aside the ceremonial law as he is the living sacrifice for sin and we are made clean through him; and bound Christians to the laws of their state by rendering unto Caesar, unless Caesar demands Christians violate the moral law.
The issues of marriage, sex outside of marriage, and homosexuality are in the moral law, not the ceremonial or civil laws of the Old Testament. They still bind Christians. In fact, Christians accept “progressive revelation” whereby they acknowledge some things changed between the Old and New Testament. The position of women in society improved. The relation of slaves to master improved from servitude to family. Paul writes to Philemon to take back his slave Onesimus “as a beloved brother.” The New Testament more fully reveals the relationship of God’s people to God. We become “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” (Rom 8:17)
Though some things change from Old Testament to New, marriage remains between a man and a woman. Sex outside of marriage and homosexuality remain sins. Though some might quote “judge not lest ye be judged,” Jesus goes on to say in that very passage “to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Christians are supposed to discern. Christians are not supposed to embrace worldliness. Our lives, our sexual relationships and our personal relationships should not reflect the world but reflect God.
In the Roman era, pagans routinely left children at the city dumps to die. Christians defied Roman custom and rescued the children, raising them as their own. Christians also rejected Roman imperial sexual norms. Christians in the United States have not had to think about our sexual mores and behavior. As hostility to the faith grows, many will choose to be liked by the world instead of choosing to honoring God. They won’t want to be called bigots or homophobes or risk their livelihoods. But Christian sexual ethics still matter.
Erick Erickson is a
nationally syndicated columnist.