CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

SCOTUS and Marriage: Spiritual Considerations

Jun 27, 2015

I have already penned two pieces on the SCOTUS decision to redefine and destroy marriage. I have looked at the very real implication for marriage, family and society, for the well-being of children, for religious freedom, and so on. I have quoted a wide-range of people on how this decision will adversely impact on all of us.

Those pieces are found here:
billmuehlenberg.com/2015/06/27/scotus-declares-war-on-marriage-and-family/
billmuehlenberg.com/2015/06/27/scotus-and-marriage-the-fallout/

But those of us who are Christians must think carefully and prayerfully about the biblical, theological and spiritual implications of all this. In many ways we are now in uncharted territory. Or, more specifically, we are now in a place that we have not been for a very long time: the place of being a persecuted minority in a hostile environment.

The early church of course went through all this and survived, and managed to spread the Christian faith around the world. For a millennia at least to speak of Western civilisation was to speak of Christian civilisation. But that is no more. We are not just in a post-Christian West, but a decidedly anti-Christian West.

We are much like the early church. Now we have to start afresh. We have to evangelise anew, disciple anew, and once again work for things like the proper understanding of marriage and family. All these battles were fought before, but now we are losing it all.

We are entering into a new paganism, and all the old Christian realities are being thrown in the air. We no longer have a Christian consensus, we no longer have a marriage culture, and we no longer have a belief in absolute truth and universal morality. So we must begin again.

There are other spiritual truths we need to keep in mind here. Here are just a few of them:

This is ultimately a spiritual battle

Behind all the political, legal, social, cultural and ideological battles being fought here, there is an underlining reality: this is a spiritual battle and this decision comes straight out of the pit of hell. We are only fooling ourselves if we think this fight will be won by more money, more activism, more lobbying, or more political action groups – not when we scotus 7are fighting the very demons of hell.

Now don’t get me wrong: all these things and more are vitally important, and we must engage at all levels. But the fundamental battle is being waged in the heavenlies, and unless we are fully right with God, shod with his armour, and girthed in prayer and spiritual warfare, we will never succeed.

God is sovereign

This decision, as horrific as it was, did not catch God by surprise. God has not stopped being sovereign and in control. His plans have not been thwarted, and he will one day return to bring just judgment at all those who shake their fists at him now, and think they can get away with it.

This has been a tremendous setback to the causes of faith, family and freedom, but it is not a setback to the ultimate outworking of God’s purposes. He will accomplish what he has set out to do. He has not stopped working, just because these five impudent judges have defied him and his will.

But knowing all this should never result in a fatalistic resignation: ‘Well, God is in control so I won’t sweat it. Que sera, sera.” No, his sovereignty does not take away our human responsibility. We have a battle on our hands and we must continue to fight. This is not the time for passive submission but courageous resistance.

Indeed, I have no time at all for those believers who jump for joy every time an evil event like this occurs and glibly proclaim, “Oh goodie, things are getting worse, so that means the Lord must be coming at any moment!” We should never rejoice when evil occurs, but be grieved in our spirits.

And even if he does come soon, we are told to occupy till he comes. We have work to do, and I disavow any selfish fatalism or irresponsibility in which believers just opt out of the battles and sit around with their bags packed, waiting to be called home.

We need God’s heart on this

I was still a relatively new Christian when SCOTUS handed down its demonic abortion decision in 1973. Had I been a bit more spiritually, morally and politically in tune, I would have grieved heavily then, as I am right now. My grief at the moment is so very heavy and palpable.

How must God feel as he witnesses such blatant rebellion, immorality, idolatry and wickedness? He has every right to judge America fully now. The words of R C Sproul sure ring true here: “God’s grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to his patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out.”

Since Romans 1 speaks of homosexuality being both a grievous sin, as well as God’s punishment on those who resist the truth in unrighteousness, we can say the same here: this decision was sin compounded, but it may also be an act of God’s judgment on a nation which has spat in God’s face and rejected him and his law. But even if it is his judgment, that does not absolve us to keep working for righteousness and Kingdom values.

We need to repent

There is only one thing worse – far worse – than the diabolical SCOTUS decision: the fact that probably most Christians don’t know about it or care about it. Our damnable apathy, callousness and indifference was a crucial reason why this deplorable decision went through. We cannot blame it all on the activists.

While there are certainly activist groups working overtime to destroy all that we hold near and dear, we really have brought all this upon ourselves. The churches have been in a sinful sleep, totally oblivious to the culture war raging all around them. Far too many Christians were silent, and worse yet, far too many pastors and Christian leaders said nothing and did nothing about this attack on God’s fundamental human institution of marriage and family.

This is not the end – we still have work to do

The end of the world has not come with this diabolical decision. It may be the end of America as we know it, but it may not yet be the end of all things. God is still at work around the world, and even though the US is going down the tubes fast, great things are still happening elsewhere.

So the Lord may well tarry, in which case we have a job on our hands. This is just one battle, and it is not the whole war. We must redouble our efforts. We must pray like never before and work like never before. Now is not the time to go on vacation.

Civil disobedience

Because most American Christians have slept through the sexual revolution, now their only recourse to remain true disciples of Jesus Christ may be civil disobedience. We must resist bad, anti-Christian laws and stand true for God. This will likely be real costly, but we have no other choice. I make the case for Christian civil disobedience here:
billmuehlenberg.com/2008/11/02/christians-and-civil-disobedience/

Let me finish with a few thoughts from John Piper:

My main reason for writing is not to mount a political counter-assault. I don’t think that is the calling of the church as such. My reason for writing is to help the church feel the sorrow of these days. And the magnitude of the assault on God and his image in man.
Christians, more clearly than others, can see the tidal wave of pain that is on the way. Sin carries in it its own misery: “Men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:27).
And on top of sin’s self-destructive power comes, eventually, the final wrath of God: “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5–6).
Christians know what is coming, not only because we see it in the Bible, but because we have tasted the sorrowful fruit of our own sins. We do not escape the truth that we reap what we sow. Our marriages, our children, our churches, our institutions — they are all troubled because of our sins.
The difference is: We weep over our sins. We don’t celebrate them. We don’t institutionalize them. We turn to Jesus for forgiveness and help. We cry to Jesus, “who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
And in our best moments, we weep for the world, and for our own nation. In the days of Ezekiel, God put a mark of hope “on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in Jerusalem” (Ezekiel 9:4).
This is what I am writing for. Not political action, but love for the name of God and compassion for the city of destruction. “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.” (Psalm 119:136)

www.desiringgod.org/articles/so-called-same-sex-marriage

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23 Responses to SCOTUS and Marriage: Spiritual Considerations

  • Thanks Bill! We all need such wisdom & en’courage’ment at this time.

  • As Christians we accept evil as inevitable and we know that God is in total control.

    As Christians citizens with democratic rights, the gloves are off.

  • “For we struggle … against principalities, powers and rulers in high places.” My greatest concern is that much of the church is unaware of their enemy and how to combat him; our cloistered communities of faith have devoted themselves to comfort, consumption and a powerless gospel, when a thorough understanding of our enemy and his tactics, and more importantly how to assail him through the weapons we have been given is required. A robust faith, knowledge of the word, a life led by the Spirit of God, a fearless desire to run into the battle (rather than away). Jesus taught his disciples how to share the good news, heal and deliver people. Not too much of that going on I’m afraid.

  • Men of righteousness, Disciples of Christ gird up your Loins with the Armour of Righteousness, the Helmet and Buckler of Faith with Shield of Truth to go before. We are Christian Soldiers with Standard of Christ going on before. The Enemy wears no Uniform but all Men who heed not God’s Laws are aligned with the great Enemy of mankind Satan. We are fighting for our Personal and Spiritual Freedoms. We are fighting for our God, Families and the Foundations of all Humanity. We are fighting for the Truth that Marriage is the Union of one Man and one Woman as blessed by God for the betterment of all Society. We are all that God has in this War of attrition against Satan and his unholy Hordes.

    I trust in God and his Holy purposes and will fight with all my might, mind and strength to aide Him in achieving his Will for all Mankind. If we are prepared we shall never fear. This is God’s Kingdom with Satan the Usurper and only the diligent and righteous shall inherit jointly with Christ all that God hath.

    Leigh D Stebbins

  • So let’s not just wring our hands and wail, people; let’s get cracking!

    A former classmate of mine called Cathy has organized home rosaries* with letter writing sessions to follow. She provides pens and paper but encourages people to bring their own so that there’s a variety of inks and papers and envelopes.

    Former independent Tony Windsor told me that politicians ignore petitions (too easy for people to sign) but quake at phonecalls and especially handwritten letters.

    Why? Because a handwritten letter is proof that a real person is so pi**ed off that they’ve taken the time to put pen to paper and buy a stamp.

    So let’s emulate my classmate, Cathy. Invite people into your homes, pray, and with a nice pot of tea get cracking writing those letters!

    * Catholics don’t worship Mary; we revere her as the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ as I think all Christians should.

    In any case this is not the time for Catholics and the protestant denominations to bicker. It’s time to unite around our Lord Jesus Christ. When you consider that that there are more Christians than there are homosexual activists it’s beyond shameful that the latter are winning. We have not been watchful as the Lord commanded so many times, have we?

  • Jay Richards has a good piece out too – “The Supreme Court Redefines Marriage: What We Must Do”

    “Of course the Supreme Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over reality. It never has. Marriage is what it is, and the high court has now set American jurisprudence against human nature itself. The decision is bound to have effects on some Americans’ views, however. Those whose attitudes are shaped more by social impression than conviction will go along. Some supposedly conservative politicians will buckle like cheap lawn chairs, perhaps growing weary of fighting a trend they’ve been told is inevitable. It’s a lie. They shouldn’t believe it, and neither should you!”

    https://stream.org/the-supreme-court-has-issued-edict-this-is-what-we-must-do/

  • How few will understand the consequences of what the Supreme Court actually did do yesterday. Actually I would say, most will not give a damn what they did.
    Thank you for highlighting all you have written these last few days. I can see that you holiday break was well timed.
    Please keep on exposing what is coming from the pits of hell.
    Woo to those that think he’ll will be a fabulous place.
    Wilhelmus Heggers Bridgetown W.A.

  • Thank you, Bill. Just posted to Facebook with this comment: Excellent article by another of my favorite commentators. Very balanced. And Christians definitely need to find balance – to thread a very tricky needle – in this critical moment in history.

  • Well said Bill.

  • Thanks – that is truly the best expression of what’s in our hearts – that deep sorrow. It’s truly a sad day, yet the good thing is all the wolves in sheep’s clothing will start coming to light, and once that’s cleansed then the church will start occupying in a greater capacity.

  • Must admit I agree re the handwritten letters; would be helpful to have an appropriate USA address to write to. In the meantime, those outside U.S have access to this petition (whether they do any good or not);
    Congress: pass marriage amendment now
    https://www.lifesitenews.com/petitions/congress-pass-marriage-amendment-now

  • It is so sad to see philosophies like those of the Christian Enlightenment Philosopher, John Locke who back in the 1600s pushed the ideas of equality (including that for women) and whose thinking is known to have influenced the US Constitution, being so misused so as to treat homosexual relationships as equal to marriage on the basis that they are “similarly situated”. I have little doubt that this is the biggest set back to real equality and justice that Christian Culture has ever endured. Will reason prevail? Will people see the nonsense of saying that because some people don’t procreate then procreation is not the primary basis of marriage? I don’t know but from the spiritual basis it is clear that the forces of evil are using all the weapons of deception at their disposal. The sad fact is that, not just homosexuality but all sin tends to be immutable until you come to the point of repentance. It is immutable because people do not want it to be muted. Will people have the brains to recognize the conflict between the claimed genetic basis for homosexuality and the studies with separated identical twins? On one side or the other, the claims made are completely false and at the moment, society seems to think that those whose religion preaches truth and love are the ones lying and promoting hate. No matter how Justice Kennedy tries to sugar coat it, the inevitable conclusion from this judgement is that, according to the Constitution created by Christian culture, Christians are lying, hateful bigots. Such is the power of deception.

  • Antonia,
    I have said it before that the Devil needs to bind the strongman of the house first and this is exactly what happened in Ireland. It is reported that fifteen priests promoted SS’M’ and the Irish Bishop refused to condemn the “yes” vote. I certainly don’t wish to condemn the Catholic Church but every time I see churches failing it is inevitably due to them putting their own laws above God’s. The idea of celibacy for priests, while being an honourable one, is not one which is mandated by the scriptures. Peter himself had a wife and children. Instead of dealing with the homosexuals and promoters of sin within the priesthood and replacing them with heterosexual, married priests of honourable standing the Pope is now looking at loosening divorce rulings and pushing the Catholic Church’s credentials in poverty eradication, to try to improve the Catholic Church’s image. While overcoming evil with good is completely scriptural, I do not believe it will sort out the Catholic Church’s problems. I first came across the problems with homosexuality in the Catholic Church over thirty years ago but as yet, very little has been done. I and many others know that there are powerful forces for good within the Catholic Church and I certainly pray for their continued growth and empowerment but this is a battle that people of moral persuasion will have to fight on many fronts.

  • Thanks Dency – yes I have said much the same about how this will separate the sheep from the goats, eg:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/04/04/culture-wars-lets-look-at-the-bright-side/

  • Someone who also says this is going to separate the wheat from the chaff:
    http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50295-it-s-time-to-stand-up-and-be-counted

  • But you’ve missed one point. You seem to be writing to Christians who have no involvement in the civil government, which, of course, is the vast majority of Christians. What about Christians who are public officials? How do they respond? Do they simply say, “Oh well, the Supreme Court has spoken, and now I must betray the people and allow the wolves to ravage them.” Do they simply say, “Yes, the Supreme Court has exceeded its authority and unconstitutionally ordered states to do evil, but I have no obligation to stand for what’s right in the civil, constitutional square.” Or do they have a responsibility to stand up to the tyranny? What does the Church teach them on this matter?

  • That discussion at https://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/11/02/christians-and-civil-disobedience/ is just that – quick and generic. I’m saying that’s not good enough. There is a difference between civil disobedience (better termed as “God obedience”) by the citizen and the duty of a civil magistrate who is duty bound to obey the law and honor God and remain faithful to the citizens he serves, even if a higher civil magistrate tells him to do otherwise. Daniel is a better example of what to do than Pontius Pilate, who said, “Well, I don’t want to offend the emperor, so I’ll betray my duty and justice and have an innocent man executed.” That is where the Church has fallen down. Why can’t the Church tell the lesser magistrates who want to do the right thing: “We will stand with you if you stand with God, the Constitution, the rule of law, and tell a rogue, tyrannical court that it has gone beyond its authority. Isn’t that their duty at that point? We are not citizens of some kind of military-type of top-down hierarchy, where you simply obey, Nazi-like, those above you. We are a representative democratic republic where the people have a say, for Christ’s sake [not meant in vain, but in all seriousness].

  • I should add that “interposition” by the intermediate civil magistrate is what I was referring to in my previous post.

  • Michael Weeks says that the Catholic Church should abandon the celibate priesthood, replacing them it with a heterosexual married priesthood. First of all, the Church has good reasons for maintaining a celibate priesthood, and most Catholics value it highly. See:
    http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/why-a-celibate-priesthood

    If the celibacy is supposedly the cause of sexual abuse among the Catholic clergy, why then are there just as many, or perhaps more, cases of sexual abuse in Protestant denominations and in secular organisations? In fact most sexual abuse occurs in the home. The reason why the secular media concentrate on sexual abuse in the Church is that it regards the Church as a major obstacle to the implementation of its neo-Marxist agenda and is therefore desperately seeking to discredit the Church.

    There is good evidence to suggest that the Church and other organisations were infiltrated by a networks of homosexuals from the 1960’s onwards, who sought to use it to gain sexual access to children. However, it is unfair of Mr Weeks to suggest that the Church has done nothing to counteract this. The Catholic Church has had very effective measures in place for about the last twenty years to prevent child sexual abuse. Also, under the previous Pope, the Vatican instituted a policy of removing candidates for the priesthood from seminaries who exhibit homosexual tendencies, because same-sex attraction is a psychological disorder, and such people are not fit to become pastors.

    Lastly, the Church cannot loosen divorce rulings because the Church cannot grant divorces. Married couples are in a binding covenant which the Church cannot break.

    I hope and pray that we Catholics and Protestants put our bickering aside and stand together to defend the institution of marriage.

  • Hi Mark,

    I sincerely mean no offense on this delicate issue and I understand the Catholic Church itself has been the subject of unrelenting and unwarranted criticism which I in no way support nor condone. I neither said the Catholic Church has done “nothing” nor that celibacy was not a good idea but I have, however, seen extremely competent and well qualified people excluded from the Catholic priesthood because they were or became married. The Pope, unfortunately from my perspective, has chosen to even promote people lately that have beliefs that are outside orthodoxy and from my perspective, to do this instead of having priests that are allowed to marry is very wrong. There is a well known shortage of people willing to enter the priesthood and with the problems of some priests not supporting orthodox doctrine, in Ireland for example which I personally was extremely disaffected by, something needs to be done and I suggest that there are a huge number of Catholics who agree with me.

    This is simply not sectarian bickering but without definite action there is real danger within the Catholic ranks (as you also alluded to.) The Catholic Church has even moved in the direction of freeing up this requirement, I believe, in its annexation of other churches so again, it has nothing to do with sectarianism.

    Yes the Protestant church has just as much to answer for as is easily demonstrated by the Anglican Church and others and now is definitely not the time to bicker and we need moral people to stand together. It is clearly a time of separating the wheat from the chaff. I do apologize, however, for any offense as it was not intended.

    You also raise an important point in that most sexual abuse occurs in the home. This is also the most difficult to find and prevent. I find it astounding that the deceivers have have been able to exploit the child abuse problem within the Catholic Church to discredit the Church and to thereby promote homosexual “marriage.” The hypocrisy should be obvious.

  • Michael, Catholic diocese that were once recalcitrant are beginning to return to orthodoxy, and in recent years there has been a significant increase in ordinations of young orthodox priests. The Good Shepherd Seminary in Sydney, for example, is full. History shows that when Holy Mother Church is persecuted she becomes stronger.

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