While I praise God for the freedom we have endured, I realize the fleeting nature of this freedom and the reality that the times thought so far in the past may come to visit again. Our choice may soon become as stark as it was for those saints of bygone days, of whom the world was not worthy. An individual may have to decide whether to participate in the sinful choice of another and bake a cake, or to suffer loss of a business and possibly jail. A college may have to decide between changing religious convictions or losing federal funds, students, influence and prestige. A church may eventually be forced to stand on the authority of God's Word regardless of threats, intimidation, fines, and even confiscation of buildings and properties. If this sounds fantastic and apocalyptic, I challenge you to remember that only six and a half years ago it was the consensus of society and the politicians currently occupying the halls of government that gay marriage was not a constitutional right. It is now by no means a consensus and the consensus may soon go the other way. Then, what are we to do? Well, if you are a Bible-believer, the choice is clear and has already been made. I share a few principles below:
1. God is the author of marriage and is the only one who has the right to define it. Matthew 19:3-6 reveals Christ's answer about marriage, "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." It is as if this answer was spoken yesterday, commenting on the news of the day. Christ affirmed that God made us male and female only, He confirmed that marriage is to be between a male and a female, and He confirmed that it is God who truly joins them together in marriage. I have the authority of God's Word to unequivocally state that marriage is only between a man and a woman. That authority has never been derived from, or conceded to, any government. It rests with God alone.
2. We are commanded to keep ourselves pure and not participate in wrongdoing.
I Timothy 5:22 states, "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." II Corinthians 5:14-18 brings a stinging rebuke against participation in wrongdoing when it states: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." While I am to shed abroad the love of Christ, I am also to live in purity as a son of God. I cannot participate in something that will directly violate my faith and undermine the Word of God.
3. While we are to be subject to earthly authorities, we must first and foremost be obedient to God. The apostles faced a situation where, through no fault of their own, they were brought into directly conflict with their earthly authorities. They were standing in what was supposed to be God's house (the temple) preaching God's message by God's Spirit in God's will. The earthly authorities, who also claimed to be doing what God really wanted, threatened the apostles and commanded them to no longer speak of Christ. The reply in Acts 4:19-20 shows the responsibility of Christians in relation to earthly authorities: "But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." While earthly judges have authority, they are supposed to use that authority for what is right in the sight of God. They are supposed to govern mindful of the fact that there is a Judge of all the earth to Whom they will someday give an account of their judgment. They have the right to judge, but we have the responsibility to speak what we have seen and heard from God. It would be great if those judges in the apostles' days had listened, but they chose not to do so. They arrested the apostles again, beat them, and even plotted to kill them. The second time, Peter was far less accommodating in his reply. He simply stated this, "We ought to obey God rather than men." I do not wish to be brought into conflict with any earthly authorities. I would like to simply obey God's Word and live my life proclaiming the Word of God to reach others with the Gospel. I do not relish the idea of protests, imprisonment, fines, or anything that will disrupt my way of life. But, if I am faced with a decision, I realize that God's Word has actually already made the decision for me. An earthly judge has the authority to hand down a sentence, but only God has the authority to command me how to preach or what to believe. They may be able to recognize a relationship as a marriage when God says it is not, but they cannot force me to recognize that. The only way that "gay marriage" will ever be completely accepted is if every copy of God's Word is destroyed and every Bible-believing Christian is silenced. I will warn those who want to try it, though. In 2,000 years of church history, that tactic has never yet been successful. Again, I do not relish conflict or controversy. We want to live a quiet and peaceable life, but we ought to obey God.