The disappointing decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Obergefell v. Hodges, which allows same sex marriage in all states regardless of the will of the people, prompted an outpouring of angst on social media sites. American Christians were stunned that SCOTUS delivered a ruling so at odds with Bible teaching. Suddenly Christians found themselves, again, on the losing end of a political decision. For some, it was certainly the end of the world. For others, it was an excuse to spew forth venom against a community of people with whom they disagreed.
During the social media storm, I read a blog from author Carey Nieuwofe offering a Canadian perspective on same-sex marriage. Titled Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders From a Canadian, the post was balanced and on target. I commend it to you. The post offers 5 ideas for American Christians to consider. His article caused me to think deeper about the decision and the reaction. From the seed of his post I offer 4 reasons why Christians should not be surprised at the decision or the joyous backlash from the LGBT community. [bctt tweet=”Christians should not be surprised at the SCOTUS decision”]
1. Jesus Was a Countercultural Icon
In his own day, Jesus countered the prevailing winds of society and government. He was never satisfied with the condition of the Jewish nation and he was never afraid to say so. In Matthew chapter 5, part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus countered current teaching and expanded on what was being practiced. 6 times Jesus said “but I say to you…” He took their standard and made it better. He took their culture to a higher level.
The scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and high priests were the leaders of the day. They set the tone for religious life among the Jews. Jesus saved his most scathing comments for them. In Matthew 23, he offers strong rebukes of these cultural leaders. 6 times Jesus says, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! One other time he calls them “blind guides.” He opposed their way of life and their teachings. He sought to counter them by offering a new and better way.
2. Jesus Was Hated by the Establishment
Because he was so vocal and well received by the common man, the leaders of the day hated Jesus. These leaders were first curious about this new call to renewal from John (Matthew 3:7-10) and then later sent to Jesus to learn more about him (John 3:1-2). Soon, however, they sought to discredit Jesus before his followers (Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11; Luke 10:25; John 8:6). At every turn Jesus bested their feeble attempts to embarrass him. It would take more than tricky questions to bring Jesus down. [bctt tweet=”Countercultural Jesus was hated by the establishment then and now.”]
A great miracle in Bethany proves the turning point for the established leadership of Judaism. Jesus called Lazarus back from the dead. The miracle could not be denied and more and more people began to follow after Jesus. The leaders were not pleased. “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (John 11:47-48). The high priest then uttered these dark words: “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish” (John 11:49-50). These were prophetic words concerning Jesus’ death.
The established leaders of the day despised Jesus so much that they schemed to kill him. They were successful. Their hatred had become murderous.
3. Don’t Be Surprised When the Establishment Hates You
It is not reasonable that the world would hate our Lord and love us. The established culture and governments of the day oppose us because they oppose our Lord.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me” (John 15:18-21). [bctt tweet=”It is not reasonable that the world would hate our Lord and love us”]
No surprises. The world is in the hands of the evil one (1 John 5:19).
We want to be faithful servants of Jesus. We also want to be accepted by the world. The two are not compatible. It hurts deeply when the world rejects us because of our faith. But know that it is nothing new. It happened to our Lord – it will happen to us.
4. We Are Not Like The World And Must Never Be
Part of our trouble is that we want desperately to be like the world so that we will be accepted. The idea of isolation frightens us and threatens many of the relationships we hold dear. But to be a Christian is to place every relationship on the altar of sacrifice. Jesus said that includes our family (Matthew 10:37). Paul surrendered everything for his relationship with Jesus (Philippians 3:4-11).
As Christians, we are first of all citizens of Christ’s kingdom, placed there by the power of God (Colossians 1:13). We are God’s people; we are God’s possession (1 Peter 2:9-10). We are only “strangers and exiles” in this life (1 Peter 2:11).
Our culture is growing darker and darker (2 Timothy 3:13). They will grow to hate truth (even more than they already do) and will despise those who speak the truth. Remember we are not the world. As for our nation, Christians do not need the USA; the USA needs Christians. Only by standing firm on the rock of truth can we lead people from darkness to light. When light mixes with darkness it always grows dim. [bctt tweet=”Christians do not need the USA; the USA needs Christians”]
We must reject the temptation to bow to societal and cultural pressures to conform. We must not change. But always stand firm.
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at preachersstudyblog.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.