Why gay marriage is good & bad for the church
Whoa… hold it right there. How in the world could gay marriage be GOOD for the church? Trevin Wax shares the good and the bad. Here’s a short synopsis: Christians believe marriage is defined by God and recognized by government. But many today believe marriage is defined by government and must be recognized by all. For this reason, I’m not optimistic about the trends concerning marriage and family in the United States after the Supreme Court’s gay marriage rulings on June 26. Neither am I sure of what all this means for those who, in good conscience, stand against the tide. But I am optimistic about the church of Jesus Christ. We’ve been through societal transformations before, and we’re sure to go through them again. The conversion of Constantine to Christianity in 313 A.D., for example, was certainly good for the church. (We didn’t have to worry about being fed to the lions in the Coliseum anymore.) But many aspects of the church/state marriage turned out to be bad for the church. (True Christianity suffered under the weight of the state’s corrupting power.) Some see the positive aspects of that fourth-century societal transformation as far outweighing the bad (author/theologian Peter Leithart, for example), while others see the bad far outweighing the good (theologian/ethicist Stanley Hauerwas). The truth is, Constantine’s conversion was both good and bad for the church. Now let’s turn to our society’s redefinition of marriage. If we truly believe Romans 8:28 that somehow, in some way, God is working all things for the good of those who love Him, then even when the culture swerves in an opposing direction, we ought to expect both benefits and challenges. Among them: 1. The loss of a culture of marriage The bad news: When you look at other countries that legalized same-sex marriage decades ago, you notice a dramatic reduction in the number of people getting married. In all likelihood, we will soon resemble our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world: We will stand out for being the very thing that our grandparents would have thought ordinary. One of God’s greatest gifts to us in common grace (the institution of marriage) will be disregarded, leading to a number of societal ills and further breakdown of the family. The good news: In our churches, we have the opportunity to show the world a better way. To show the world what biblical manhood and womanhood looks like. To show the world the difference between a covenant and a contract, the difference between commitment based on feeling and a covenant based on faith. 2. Threats to religious liberty The bad news: As the norm of marriage shifts, individual Christians will find themselves in situations where they face penalties for refusing to violate their conscience. We’ve already seen this take place when Christian caterers, for example, feel conflicted about taking part in a same-sex wedding. Threats to religious liberty are not good news for the church because they cause us to spend time and energy in preserving “space” for us to live according to our religious convictions without fear of reprisal. The good news: These threats may bring about in the church a much-needed change of mindset. It’s time we recognized we are no longer the “moral majority” and embrace our identity as the “missional minority.” 3. The cost of conviction The bad news: Being a convictional Christian, especially in matters related to sexuality, morality and marriage, likely will mean the loss of cultural clout and respectability. We will pay a personal and social cost for our beliefs, and we need to be prepared. The good news: Sociologist Rodney Stark has shown that one of the most powerful engines of early church growth was the fact that membership cost something. Why? For one, paying a social cost tends to screen out those who would fain religiosity in order to receive respect from society. Also, knowing you are the minority and may be ostracized for your views increases the level of commitment and participation of those who follow Christ. Read ALL of Trevin’s thoughts here: Why gay marriage is good & bad for the church. What do YOU think? And how will the gay marriage ruling affect things in YOUR own LOCAL church? Todd If you like keeping up on stories like this one, you’ll LOVE Ministry Briefing. Check out the new edition just released… we cover over 250 current events and cultural trends that you need to read about. Download for your iPhone, iPad, Android, Smartphone, Tablet, or computer now!