In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling establishing gay marriage as a Constitutional right, many of us evangelicals are experiencing a wash of emotions. My initial response was one of fear. Fear that this will someday result in me being fired from my secular job like that fire chief in Atlanta. By my calculations I still have nearly 40 years to go before I can retire, and the possibility that someday it will be determined that people who think like me shouldn’t work with the public is scary. This fear, warranted or not, is sinful and betrays a lack of confidence in God and in the people of God. I have since repented of it, and I remain committed to serving God publicly, come what may.
Apart from my renewed trust in God, I’ve come to realize that this decision from the Supreme Court is not all bad news. Like Joseph being sold into slavery, this too may result in unimaginable blessings in the future. Here are some that I’ve thought of:
Reaching the unreachable
Do you know why Southern Baptists take advantage of the World Cup and the Olympics to share the gospel? One big reason is that it allows us to share the gospel with people who might otherwise be inaccessible to us either because of their home country’s laws or because of the lack of a gospel witness in their community. Just as Massachusetts became a hub for “gay marriage tourism” in the wake of their initial decision to allow it over ten years ago, so too the U.S. can expect an influx of homosexual immigrants coming to the States to be married and experience the freedom and protection that our laws provide them. Many of these people will come from places with little or no gospel witness. We must stand ready to share the gospel with the lost this ruling will surely end up bringing to our communities.
Refugees of the sexual revolution
Wherever there is marriage, divorce does not follow far behind. Proponents of gay marriage may have reveled in victory on Friday, but if they are anything like their straight neighbors, many will eventually experience the agony of defeat that comes from a broken marriage and divorce. Christians will soon see themselves in the position to offer life and salvation to those whom Russell Moore calls “refugees of the sexual revolution.”
The restoration of Christian marriage
The fight over gay marriage was lost long before Friday’s ruling. It was lost when marriage ceased to be honored by all, and churches stopped exercising discipline over unbiblical divorce. Although I hold that divorce is permissible in some circumstances, the vast majority of divorces in the U.S. do not occur under these circumstances. By failing to exercise church discipline in these instances, marriage was undermined. Marriage is no longer a question of gay vs. straight in the eyes of our country. It’s a question of religious vs. secular. No doubt there will be some Christians who buy into the culture’s view that marriage is nothing more than a matter of equal rights. But I anticipate churches will elevate marriage higher than that, showing that it is a living parable representing Christ and the church. I anticipate the return of church discipline over unbiblical divorce. This honoring of marriage will be confusing to the world, but they will know that gay marriage cannot replicate it. And that may open some to the truth of the gospel.
The culling of false churches
I expect that over the next year we will see more news stories about churches and parachurch organizations changing their view on marriage to accord with the Supreme Court’s ruling. The media wants to see this, so when it happens, they will report it. Whether those churches continue to exist or shrivel up and die (as I hope they will), we will have a better sense of who is with us and who is not. We will know who we can work with and worship with and who we must cut ties with. This will be painful, but the vine must be pruned of dead branches if fruit is to grow. And grow it will.
These are only a few of the positives that may come from this. Do you have any additional ones that you see?