By Ken McFarland, June 30, 2015:
- Some – perhaps many – of us who believe in God and His Word genuinely believe that His stated definition of marriage is that it be between one man and one woman.
- Having said that, some of us also believe that in serving both God and Caesar, we need to harmonize as fully as possible with the law of the land as legislated by Congress, as codified in the Constitution, and as interpreted by the Courts.
- When it comes to the recent Supreme Court decision concerning same-sex marriage, the Court has permitted it, not imposed or required it.
- Therefore, I am free, should I so choose, to go right on believing as a Christian in marriage as between one man and one woman. No one is depriving me of that right or taking away my “religious liberty” to believe it.
- Only in a case when the law of the land requires me, forces me, to make a decision contrary to God’s Law or my sincerely held Bible-based beliefs, must I then choose whom to obey. As a Christian, my obligation is thus clear. However, this Supreme Court ruling is not one of those times.
- Perhaps the closest to being forced by this ruling to choose between God’s will and the state’s decision is what a minister does when asked to perform a same-sex wedding. I see nothing in the ruling that would remove the minister’s freedom to choose . An Adventist pastor, for example, should still be free to choose not to perform such a marriage. Plenty of secular alternatives remain: judges, justices of the peace, etc.
- I believe that we Christians are greatly ill-served by expressing outrage and condemnation against the Supreme Court decision. We are called to live IN the world but not be OF the world, and we will never WIN the world with condemnation and disapproval and hate.
- We as Christians, in fact, have the privilege and obligations of accepting ALL into our midst. We are commanded to go even further than merely refraining from hating and condemning them – we are commanded to LOVE them. Same-sex couple. LGBTQIA people, yes, even sodomites and what we might wish to call egregious sinners.
- We are in fact forbidden to condemn those who engage in what we categorize as sins of the flesh, while we are still in the grip of the greater sins Jesus identified: pride, self-exaltation, rejection of others, “stoning” those with fleshly sins while we harbor even worse ones in our hearts. Only those clean of pride – only those who would die for someone before condemning them – can address the sins of another.
- We simply must abandon the fear that leads us to reject in an ever-tighter circle those who don’t look like us, act like us, believe like us, or practice their lives like us. Ultimately, that circle will be drawn around our own feet and no one else’s.
- Yes, there’s a great difference between hating the sin and loving the sinner. Do we ever get so caught up in excoriating the sin that we incinerate as well the sinner clinging to that sin? Perhaps if we truly spend our efforts – as Jesus commanded us – revealing and demonstrating His love, the sins would fall away of their own accord.
- Loving without limits is our commission. Unlimited by any sin or its hideousness, unlimited by how opposed it is to God and His will. Unlimited by how much we must fight back our inner hate and the revulsion we may feel. Only by this kind of love can we love as Jesus loves.
Ken McFarland is an Adventist author, Bible student and former vice president for editorial services at Pacific Press, the publishing house of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in North America.