In last Sunday’s sermon I mentioned a Facebook note I recently posted. The subject is not homosexuality or the gay marriage issue, but rather authority, and specifically, the authority of Scripture.
I recognize there is a difference between the law of the land and our own view of right and wrong. Quite frankly I find it more understandable when some people of faith say that they are personally against an issue such as homosexuality and gay marriage, but do not believe the law of the land should legally forbid it. I may or may not agree with them, but I expect that our civil law will not and should not be equal to the will of God as revealed in Scripture. Some actions, while sinful in the eyes of God, may not be illegal in the eyes of the State.
The current movement, however, is toward acceptance of gay marriage, both—as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it—”personally and as a matter of policy and law.” Entertainer Carrie Underwood said that her Christian faith is what moved her to accept it. Sen. Rob Portman said when he found out his son is gay it put things in a different perspective. This week Christian minister and author Rob Bell said the church needs to “adapt” to the society and accept that “this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.” And just recently a Methodist church here in Winston-Salem decided to no longer perform any weddings until their denomination approves same sex marriage.
The one thing that all these have in common—no Biblical teaching that supports their view.
And to me that is the much bigger issue. What/Who do we go to for our authority in determining questions like these? Our feelings? Our family? Our society? For the Christian, there can be only one answer. We must go to the Bible, the inspired and authoritative Word of God. Granted, while the Bible is authoritative, our understanding and interpretations are not, and so we approach the task of study and decision with genuine humility and serious effort. But we must decide something when it comes to our values, lifestyle, and choices. We must respond based on what we understand is the teaching of Scripture.
What some others seem to be saying is that the teaching of Scripture does not factor in to the decision. Except to say that Jesus loves all. Which is true. What they leave out is that He loves us so much He refused to allow people to continue a destructive, sinful lifestyle without a word of confrontation and warning from the Lord. While He did not throw the first stone at the woman caught in the act of adultery, neither did He accept her lifestyle, telling her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
For us, the Scripture teaching still matters, and will always matter. When our hearts are leading us a different direction, to be faithful to Christ we must follow Scripture. When our society is pulling us a different direction, to be faithful to our Lord we must follow His Word.
Ultimately, we expect the world to act like the world. But we are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world so we must let our lights shine. Always with love, gentleness, humility and respect. Always “speaking the truth in love.”
To move away from the inspiration and authority of Scripture not only puts us contrary to God’s will, it leaves us to be slaves to whatever the popular teaching of the day is, whatever the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” are tempting us to do. The Christian is told to honor the inspired, authoritative Scripture and willingly, gratefully, even joyfully deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus, being slaves to righteousness not sin, servants of Christ not self.