Grace and truth vs. the high court

Published 9:03 pm Friday, July 17, 2015

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States, by a 5-4 decision, legalized gay marriage in America.

That five people can be given the power to do such a thing is incredible in itself. It raises all kinds of questions about the power of the court, as the four dissenting justices in the case made very clear. Indeed, as Chief Justice John Roberts stated in his dissent, the five justices who voted to legalize gay marriage were not even making legal or constitutional arguments!

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Chief Justice Roberts wrote this of the majority’s decision: “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment.” Now the rest of the nation has to live with their “act of will.”

But despite what these five people have said, one thing has absolutely not changed, and that is the way God defines marriage. After all, marriage is not a human idea or invention. It was designed and defined by God in Genesis 2:24, which says, “A man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Marriage, according to its Author, is to be monogamous and heterosexual.

In fact, the New Testament makes it clear that marriage is meant to be a picture of the relationship between Christ as the bridegroom and the church as his bride (Ephesians 5:31-32).

God’s vision for human sexuality is beautiful and grand. The Bible teaches that sex is the good gift of God. It is, however, a gift that comes with parameters — parameters that, like all of God’s commands, are given for our own good.

According to the Bible, sex is to be reserved for marriage, which God defines as the union of a husband and wife.

The question for those of us who take the Bible seriously is this: How should we then live in the culture of America in 2015?

First, we must not panic, but trust in a sovereign God. We do not honor God when we fret and worry. Yes, there are serious issues of religious liberty at stake. Every political candidate or officeholder should be asked very penetrating questions about where he or she stands on all issues related to religious liberty.

But if Christians are persecuted in America, it will not destroy the church. The Supreme Court cannot put Jesus Christ back in the tomb, and persecution only makes us stronger in our faith.

Second, Christians should live with grace and truth. Our Savior was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus was full of grace, full of compassion and full of mercy for sinners. But he also spoke the truth about sin.

The Bible is very clear that homosexual behavior is sinful (Romans 1 and several other texts). But in a way, none of us is “straight.” We are all broken and flawed people. We are all sinners.

No serious Christian celebrates his or her sin, nor can we celebrate the sins of others. Instead, we must love others, which includes loving them enough to speak the truth. And we must love God enough to stand on that truth.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.