By Cal Jernigan
“The unthinkables of yesterday are the facts of today; the unthinkables of today will be the facts of tomorrow.”
These words were uttered over a quarter of a century ago by the late Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer. I can’t help but recall them as I have watched the developments of this past week.
I never imagined that we would see the White House lit up in rainbow colored lights celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling legitimizing same sex marriage. This was something that was simply unthinkable twenty five years ago. But it happened this week.
So what does it all mean? How are we to respond to this?
This changes everything, and in another sense, this changes nothing.
So how does this change everything? Let me quote Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as he so aptly summed it all up.
“[This decision] distorts the principles on which this Nation was founded. It will have inestimable consequences…”
Just what these inestimable consequences prove to be, only time will tell. I would argue America owes its unequaled prosperity throughout history to the principles on which it was founded. Others of course would disagree. But our plea to be “one nation, under God” has certainly guided our collective consciousness. Most would acknowledge these days are gone.
And in another sense this decision changes nothing. Why? Because morality cannot be legislated. The church can’t do it, and neither can the Supreme Court. Civil laws can govern those under its influence, but civil laws are not the highest moral laws. Said differently, the Supreme Court doesn’t have the authority to overrule Scripture.
Yet, here’s the personal dilemma each of us needs to resolve in our own mind. God’s Word is either true, or it is not. It is either what it claims to be, or it is not. Further, either God actually exists, or he doesn’t. If you believe God exists, then you must put supreme weight on his words and his instruction to us (as the Word reveals such things.).
Not surprisingly, I deeply and sincerely believe God exists and his Word is true. His Scripture is the fullest expression of truth. Jesus clearly explained that this truth will set us free. God’s desire for each of us is to live the most liberated lives possible. Thus, all his commands and prohibitions are not expressed for the sake of confining us, but rather to guide us into what it means to reach our greatest and most creative potential.
God gives us his instruction to protect us. It is for our good. It is not given arbitrarily or capriciously. Whatever will bless us–God provides and commands for us. Whatever will harm us–God prohibits and condemns for us.
Whenever we step outside his commands and prohibitions, we set ourselves up for the very pain and suffering this loving and compassionate God was trying to prevent us from having to endure. These are simply the inevitable consequences of our disregard for his wisdom. As a nation, we are now, more than ever, set up for such consequences.
And this is where this decision by the Supreme Court becomes a tremendous opportunity for believers to be a city set on a hill. How will the church respond to this? Will we respond with venomous condemnation and self-righteous judgment—further distancing ourselves from those we believe to be living outside the will of God? Is this what God would do? Or would we instead choose to express our Father’s love and compassion and commit to care for those who experience the pain that their choices have brought upon them? I would suggest God would do the latter. I suggest this is what we do. This is a time to lean into loving the gay community, not to lean away from it!
Lastly, for all who are prone to panic over the Supreme Court’s ruling, fearing that it will lead to the destruction of our society, can I remind you of one very important truth. The Word of God teaches that in the end, society will degenerate. Think about the following verses carefully.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5
I am NOT saying this indicates we are in the last days (although this might very well be the case), rather, what I am saying is that believers who know their Bibles should expect Scripture to tell it the way it is–to tell the truth. Whenever the last days come, it will not be looking brighter outside, but darker.
The light of God should shine the brightest when it’s the darkest night.