Wednesday, July 03, 2013
“Gay Marriage”: It’s All the Church’s Fault
Before you read the rest of this post, take the time to read David Innes’s post here: http://www.worldmag.com/2013/07/the_long_road_to_same_sex_marriage. This post is typical of a number of posts I have seen in the days since the publication of the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the Defense of Marriage Act. The substance of Dr. Innes’s post is that the whole thing is really the church’s fault (see his last paragraph). If the church had just done a better job, this would never have happened. I beg to differ.
My view is that had it not been for the church, it all would have happened a lot sooner, and a lot more completely. It’s not that I think the church has done a spectacular job. It hasn't. But when has the church ever done a spectacular job? The church has always been a weak and conflicted institution, sustained, propagated, and expanded by the grace of God working through imperfectly sanctified people.
But the church lives (as Isaiah did) in the midst of unclean people. People whose hearts are deceitful and twisted (Jer 17:9). The unconverted man has no love for God, and no love for his law. Laws and cultures may keep man’s inherent wickedness in check, but that wickedness will come out. And when cultures degrade, the natural wickedness of man becomes more apparent, and less likely to be held in check. See Augustine, City of God, Book 2, Chapter 20 for a description of Roman society on Augustine’s day. It sounds pretty modern. (It can be read here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf102.iv.II_1.20.html).
Perhaps an illustration will help. In the Book of Numbers, we get the sorry story of the people of Israel in the wilderness. It is a time of frequent rebellion against the Law of God. A whole generation dies in the wilderness due to its disobedience. By the end of chapter 21, they are camped on the borders of the land ruled by Balak. We know, because we've read the preceding material, what a mess the people of Israel is. But Balak is terrified. He sees the people of God as an immediate threat to his well-being and to the well-being of his country (see Num 22:11). And they are.
In like manner, the unconverted world sees the church as Balak saw the people of Israel. As a unified horde, come to deprive them of their indulgences. They do not see the weakness. They do not see the disobedience. They do not see the disunity. What they see is a body of people come to destroy their well-being (as they see it). The church terrifies the unbeliever. The unbeliever will do anything he can to destroy the church. Yet the church remains, a light in the darkness, the salt of the earth. We in the church too often fail to understand the church in this way, and we need to correct our understanding.
No, “gay marriage” is not the church’s fault. “Gay marriage” is the end result of an individualistic libertarian culture whose war cry has been, “Stay out of my bedroom, and away from my chemical indulgences.” The church remains. Her testimony remains. And this (“gay marriage”) shall pass in time. Only what is of God will remain.