Unless you’re living in a cave, you have heard that the Supreme Court of the United States has made marriage a fundamental right for all consenting adults, whatever the gender of the spouses might be. Some celebrate this decision as a victory for personal equality and societal justice; others lament it as indicative of moral decline and biblical infidelity. Along with the Apostle Paul, I have nothing to say to the former group. “What have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13).
So to those of you who are inside the Church by faith in Jesus Christ, I would say this: Christ is on His throne. He is not shocked. He is not surprised. His plans have not failed. All things are proceeding as He has ordained since the foundation of the world. Your citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20); your salvation is eternally secure (Romans 8:38-39); the world and everything in it belong to Jesus (Hebrews 1:2). When He returns, He will hand it over to His Father, and the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ (Revelation 11:15). In short, the sky is not falling.
Let’s not act as though it is. I understand that the heart of every true Christian beats for the honor of the Lord, and we rightly grieve when the world calls good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20). We lament the loss of social institutions that once reflected and upheld biblical morality, and we recognize that our society is, according to Romans 1, being “given over” to its desires, as God is pulling back His restraining hand, allowing men to descend further and further into idolatry, narcissism, and immorality. Our society has become the people of Psalm 2:2 who “take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us,’” for our society now sees both the natural and spiritual laws of God as unwarrantedly prohibitive—God is a real downer on our desire to do what we want when we want with whom we want.
When, however, have unbelievers not done this? Maybe the shock and anger that Christians are expressing has to do with the rapidity with which these changes have taken place. Maybe we feel betrayed by the Supreme Court—an institution that is supposed to uphold what is right rather than to redefine it. Maybe we grieve that the church is progressively being marginalized within a society in which it once held a position of centrality and respect. Whatever the case, I am reminded of the hymnist, who admonishes, “Put not your trust in princes, nor for help on man depend; he shall die, to dust returning, and his purposes shall end.” Nations rise; nations fall. Christ remains (Revelation 22:13).
Will life get more difficult in the coming years for the Church? I believe that it will. Churches will divide over their willingness to endorse—and possibly suffer for—biblical morality. Discipleship, which for many years has come with very little social cost, will carry an increasingly burdensome price tag, as those who live and speak for Christ in a pluralistic and amoral society will suffer scorn. Labeled “haters,” and increasingly compared to racists and sexists and other “ists,” the Church will quickly slough off its chaff, as marginal believers voluntarily fall away, while true believers are strengthened through the crucible of persecution (Acts 4:23-31). The Church will be smaller, but it will also be much healthier, and will eventually exercise a much more powerful witness because of it.
The Church of Jesus Christ has survived and thrived under dictatorships and kingdoms and empires and communism, just as much as it has under democracies and republics. No human attempt to destroy the Church has ever succeeded, nor will it, for the Church is not a mere human institution; it is a divinely ordained and empowered wrecking ball, against which the gates of hell fall again and again (Matthew 16:18). The Church too often takes the mentality of a bullied child, who is cornered and outnumbered in a school bathroom. Rather than cower in fear, however, we ought to feel pity for the bullies, for while they come at us with merely human weapons, we come at them “in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45). In the end, it will be the Church that is still standing.
Therefore be encouraged, child of God, and “Let God be true, and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). The world is chafing against the Lord, and sometimes those of us who are Christians desire to defend Him against their attacks. Often we do so by ranting on social media. But the Lion can defend Himself. In fact, it is He who defends you.
Get off Facebook; get in the Word. We have work to do.
Russell St. John is the Senior Pastor of Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church. You can read more at Russ' Blog, TOPC TOPics.