Same-sex marriage

I hold no illusions of being a great author, nor of having better words than men more intelligent who study more than me, nor of feeling that I must put in my two cents on every issue.  So for the second time, this blog is mostly the words of another, a man I highly respect for his clear and compassionate convictions.  Steve Elliott, who “serves on the staff at First Alliance Church” presented the following on the Sunday of July 5, 2015 following the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.  Accompanying this text is a video with no relation to the subject of same-sex marriage.

This is the video of the FAC young men and women who went on a mountain hike with Jeremy Spainhour and a couple other adults . . . just to reorient them to following Jesus, or discipleship.  The “hike,” which was appropriately named “Into the Wild,” took them over 10 miles per day (16km), for at total of 53.7 miles (86.4km) and 11,358 feet (3,462m) of ascent  was in Colorado’s Weminuche Wilderness.

But for your consideration, a Christ-follower’s view of the June 26, 2015 Supreme Court ruling on Same-Sex Marriage:

“Before we go to prayer as a church this morning, I am compelled by my conscience as a pastor to express a few thoughts on the recent ruling by the Supreme Court which redefines the character and nature of marriage, ruling that same-sex marriage is now a legal right in every state of the union. The opinion that was rendered, while disappointing to followers of Jesus, does not however change the real truth about marriage. In Biblical terms, marriage is still a God-ordained, covenant relationship between a man and a woman.

“But what has changed with this ruling is the humanly created legal definition of marriage, which is now at variance with orthodox Biblical faith as it has been affirmed across the centuries and as it is embraced today by nearly two billion Christians in every nation on earth. Solomon wrote that “God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.” (Eccl. 7:29)

“So in one sense this ruling comes as no surprise. We should not expect that someone outside of a Christian world view should see things as we do. And to be candid, over history the church has always been at her best when she has not relied upon or had support from her culture and her courts.

“In dialogue with our Alliance president, Dr. John Stumbo, John remarked, ‘The current trajectory of our nation is a steady walk away from historic Christianity and Biblical teaching. Today’s ruling is yet one more marker on that dangerous trail.’

“However, in the Alliance family we hold Scripture as a higher authority than any human court. Like Peter said at his trial before the Sanhedrin in Acts 5, ‘We must obey God rather than man.’ (Acts 5:29) As the church of Jesus Christ we will never count on the courts or our culture to carry us or shelter us. As the church of Jesus Christ we will stand in the power of the Holy Spirit upon the bedrock of Scripture.

“So while commentators, politicians and judges may revise their understanding of marriage in response to the shifting trends and opinions of our culture, the followers of Jesus embrace God’s clear vision of marriage found in Matthew 19:4-6.

“Haven’t you read,” Jesus replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“In the weeks and months ahead, the Alliance National Office will analyze the ruling and determine what steps we ought to take to ensure our First Amendment rights as churches. We will work along with the National Association of Evangelicals, as well as with other denominations, some of whom we might not agree with on any number of other theological points but who share with us the historic Biblical view of marriage.

“But let me say this: as clergy in the Alliance, we will never perform marriages that are contrary to the Biblical standard set out by our Creator God and affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19. But also, we will respond with respect, compassion and the winsome love of Jesus Christ with those who do not share our values or our positions. We will not return evil for evil, but overcome evil with good. And we will never lose sight of the fact that regardless of who is on the Supreme Court, Jesus Christ is still Lord.

“So … how do we respond as the people of God? Well, over the past 35 years as a pastor, I have noticed a positive trend that we have wanted to be careful not to stigmatize single adults or marginalize people who have endured divorce by focusing on marriage as somehow being the ideal for human happiness. This is a grace-filled and life-giving position.

“But as I talk to single adults and divorced people, they want to see around them Biblical marriages that are healthy and strong and making it. So could it be that in our sensitivity to some we have subtly neglected affirming, celebrating and promoting the values and standards of Biblical marriage? We are well known for what we are against on this issue. But are we as well known for what we are for on this issue?

“Could it be that we have not said enough about what a Christian marriage fully is: a life-long covenant commitment of exclusive fidelity and faithfulness between a man and a woman? And how that is meant to be lived out and worked at?

“So perhaps this morning, the best initial way to respond to this ruling is to take a moment and honor the Biblical marriages in our church family. I want to invite our married couples to stand as I call out the number of years you have been married. 0-10. 10-20. 20-30. 30-40. (BTW, as of this morning, my Marilyn and I have been married 14,905 days so we are in the next group.) 40-50. Over 50. Let us honor their marriages with our applause. (editorial note: many stood with each group, a surprising amount even over 50 years!! 😉 )

“A lot has happened in our nation that is wrong and evil. The Supreme Court ruling was just one such setback. It is easy to be discouraged in times like these. But remember that the church has never belonged to the culture, even when it seemed to be. I encourage you to stay in the Word, to spend time in prayer and to live a life of love, just as you have always done. Hold fast and stay the course.

“So on this 4th of July weekend, let us now offer up prayers for our nation, which as the pledge of allegiance says is ‘one nation under God.’ Let us pray.”  Steve Elliott

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