An Evangelical Statement on Marriage: Here We Stand

The following statement is found at the Southern Baptist Conventions’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission website, where you can find other Christian resources in response to the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage. I fully affirm and joyfully signed this statement. Please consider the following my personal and official response to the SCOTUS ruling.

As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image. We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage represents what seems like the result of a half-century of witnessing marriage’s decline through divorce, cohabitation, and a worldview of almost limitless sexual freedom. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.

The Bible clearly teaches the enduring truth that marriage consists of one man and one woman. From Genesis to Revelation, the authority of Scripture witnesses to the nature of biblical marriage as uniquely bound to the complementarity of man and woman. This truth is not negotiable. The Lord Jesus himself said that marriage is from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6), so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Eph. 5:32). The Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage demonstrates mistaken judgment by disregarding what history and countless civilizations have passed on to us, but it also represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.

Evangelical churches must be faithful to the biblical witness on marriage regardless of the cultural shift. Evangelical churches in America now find themselves in a new moral landscape that calls us to minister in a context growing more hostile to a biblical sexual ethic. This is not new in the history of the church. From its earliest beginnings, whether on the margins of society or in a place of influence, the church is defined by the gospel. We insist that the gospel brings good news to all people, regardless of whether the culture considers the news good or not.

The gospel must inform our approach to public witness. As evangelicals animated by the good news that God offers reconciliation through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, we commit to:

• Respect and pray for our governing authorities even as we work through the democratic process to rebuild a culture of marriage (Romans 13:1-7);
• the truth about biblical marriage in a way that brings healing to a sexually broken culture;
• affirm the biblical mandate that all persons, including LGBT persons, are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect;
• love our neighbors regardless of whatever disagreements arise as a result of conflicting beliefs about marriage;
• live respectfully and civilly alongside those who may disagree with us for the sake of the common good;
• cultivate a common culture of religious liberty that allows the freedom to live and believe differently to prosper.

The redefinition of marriage should not entail the erosion of religious liberty. In the coming years, evangelical institutions could be pressed to sacrifice their sacred beliefs about marriage and sexuality in order to accommodate whatever demands the culture and law require. We do not have the option to meet those demands without violating our consciences and surrendering the gospel. We will not allow the government to coerce or infringe upon the rights of institutions to live by the sacred belief that only men and women can enter into marriage.

The gospel of Jesus Christ determines the shape and tone of our ministry. Christian theology considers its teachings about marriage both timeless and unchanging, and therefore we must stand firm in this belief. Outrage and panic are not the responses of those confident in the promises of a reigning Christ Jesus. While we believe the Supreme Court has erred in its ruling, we pledge to stand steadfastly, faithfully witnessing to the biblical teaching that marriage is the chief cornerstone of society, designed to unite men, women, and children. We promise to proclaim and live this truth at all costs, with convictions that are communicated with kindness and love

A Prayer Following the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

Dear God,

Great and awesome God, there is no one like you. Your power is unlimited and you are good to your very core. Everything about you is holy and perfect. You are just and righteous in all your ways. You are clothed in splendor and majesty. You are in control of everyone and everything – nothing escapes your purview.

Your people have sinned. I have sinned. We have done wrong and rebelled against your commands. We have turned aside from your law and we have called what is wrong right (Isaiah 5:20). Your words have been read in our churches, in public, and in our homes and yet we have spurned your grace and kindness in order to go our own way. You spoke in order to save us from despair but we thought we knew better than you. We have not listened or obeyed you. We have pushed you away.

We confess the sin of pride, adultery, and divorce. Your way is for a man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife so that the two become one flesh (Mark 10:6-9). Your commands were given as guardrails to prevent us from careening into the caverns of our misery and depression. You have told your people that you hate divorce and yet we have divorced our husbands and wives and we have acted unfaithfully. We trade partners like it is nothing. Our schoolteachers are asked to educate children who come from broken homes. They are asked to do miracles with test scores when the children do not even know whom their fathers are – the modern day equivalent of making more bricks with less straw (Exodus 5:7-8). We have made a mess of our families so that many younger people refuse even to marry in favor of living together. We have a generation that suspects that no one can remain married for a lifetime, refusing the vows of marriage in favor of a lifetime of serial monogamy. The cynicism of this generation is ours and ours alone. We have forsaken your way. We deserve to pay for our sins.

We confess the sin of pornography and lust before you. Nude and seminude images are everywhere in our day. Marketers cannot sell cereal without appealing to sex and parading pornographic images in front of everyone. Erotic images are in checkout stands, splashed across Internet pages, and paraded in front of television screens. Men have treated woman as if they are playthings and women have suffered the consequences. We confess the sin of violence and domestic abuse that our evil fantasies have produced. We confess mothers refusing to teach their daughters decency, wearing clothes in public that are not appropriate. We confess the sin of lust. We confess our worship of sexual pleasure. We have lost decency itself. We deserve to pay for our sins.

We confess the sin of pride and homosexuality. In past days, there was a clear line between what was right and wrong but that is no more. Today we have blurred these lines and teach our children to be gender-neutral. We have refused to make moral judgments and traded your standards for a revolving door of moral opinions. We live in a day where truth is “spinned” and we refuse to blush. You made us in your image as man and woman but we have rejected and spurned your way, feeling like we are smarter than you. All across our land we celebrate our sin and flaunt it. We confess our pride and arrogance before you. We as a nation are committing moral and spiritual suicide. We have reached the lowest rung on the moral ladder and broken through it, hell-bent on inventing new evil. Satan is delighted with us and we deserve to pay for our sins.

We confess our arrogance and lack of love for sinners. Just like the Pharisees, we have lifted up ourselves as better than others. We have failed to recognize that pride can slip in the back door and make us “moral” self-righteous sinners. We have thought of ourselves as morally superior to others and spoken hateful things to hurting people. Many of us have perversely enjoyed discussing how deplorable society around us. We have truly failed to understand that if were not for the grace of God we would be miserable wretches. We have failed to truly grasp the power of your grace. Our churches have failed to reach out to the hurting and offer them the hope of the gospel of your grace. We have turned inward in selfishness with inflated egos of self-righteousness, refusing to welcome sinners. Instead, we have looked down our noses at other sinners thinking we are better than others. We deserve to pay for our sins.

We recognize that there is pain and misery in our midst. Families are hurting, couples are suffering, and singles are often lonely and bewildered. All of this sadness while our children go abandoned. We hang our heads in shame and know that the consequences and misery of our sin is ours alone (Galatians 6:7). We confess that your wrath is just and righteous. Righteousness belongs to you but to us belongs open shame (Daniel 9:7). We confess that each one of us have rebelled against you.

But we plead with you to forgive us, Lord, for we are ashamed of what we have become. We blush to even lift our faces to you for our sins rise high above us (Ezra 9:6). Please do forsake us. Please do not give us what we deserve. We weep before you and turn to Jesus for forgiveness, for hope, and for help. For your sake, we ask that you save us from our sins and give mercy to your people. Make your face shine upon us again. Lord, pay attention to the prayers of your people.

We beg you to make our nation’s laws reflect your principles. Give us justice based on your laws. Grant us judges that are courageous and truthful. Give us men and women of God who seek the best for our nation by humbling themselves before you. Do not let wickedness rule in our land so that poor are marginalized and the helpless have no solace (Proverbs 29:2). Do not delay, Lord, but hear our cries for mercy.

Restore us to walk in your way and grant us repentance (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Turn your people, your church, and our nation back to walk in sexual faithfulness. Turn us away from wandering eyes and move our hearts to follow after you in faithfulness to one another. Rid us of lust, pornography, divorce, adultery, and homosexuality. Lord, hear our cries for mercy. Do not delay but act for your sake because we are your people, who are called by your name.

Place your hand on our marriages and make them strong again. O Father, give us godly families! Raise up fathers and mothers who humbly confess their sin before you and seek your grace. Cause husbands to love their wives as your Son loved his church (Ephesians 5:25). Be merciful to the women and wives of our land and provide them meek, loving fathers who will protect them. Give us wise sages for mothers who teach modesty and inner-beauty to the next generation of young ladies. We ask that you compel us to restore the hour of family worship throughout the nation. Lord, we ask that you do not delay but act for your sake because we are your people, who are called by your name.

Shine brightly in our churches so they would welcome sinners with your love. Provide us leaders who speak, live, and breath the gospel of your grace and righteousness throughout our land. Give us men who are more afraid of offending you than suffering the displeasure of others – we do not need more people pleasers! Steel us against suffering that evil men bring our way and give us strength to stand for righteousness and truth. May your very presence descend on us as we read the words of God (Isaiah 55:11). Live again in your people with power and conviction as we long to see the muscle of the Holy Spirit in our churches again! Do this, Lord, for your glory so that many people may worship you. Speed up your coming to us, O Lord, for we are in desperate need. Lord, hear our cries for mercy. Do not delay but come quickly to help your people. For your sake, revive us. For your glory, shape us.

In Jesus’ Name I ask you for this,

Amen.

The Importance of Baptism

Baptism is important. Of all the things Jesus could have started His ministry with and ended His ministry with, He started it by being baptized and concluded it by commanding the church to make disciples and baptize others. Since baptism bookends the earthly ministry of the Son of God, that alone should tell us baptism is a big deal. Again, Baptism is important.

What Does Baptism Mean?

If you went back in time, two thousand years ago to the days of Jesus, you would hear a Greek word used in every day language to describe a variety of situations. That Greek word is “baptizo”. The word meant to immerse, dip, or dunk. It was used to describe ships that sunk in the sea or cloth that was dyed in a certain color. One ancient Jewish historian even described a man that was murdered by baptism. In other words, he was drowned. For a long period of time the word “baptizo” had no religious significance whatsoever. Women baptized their dishes. Sinking ships were baptized into the sea. Kids playing in a river dunked or baptized each other.

But the word changed with John the Baptizer: “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). John said baptism is an outward sign of an inward repentance. In fact, he became so identified with the new meaning of this word they began to call him “John The Baptizer” or “John The Baptist.” John did something in a religious setting that had never been seen before. He baptized people who wanted to repent from their sin and place their faith in God.

It is important to see how John baptized the Lord Jesus. Mark 1:9 tells us “Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan.” Literally, it means He was baptized “into the Jordan.” Mark 1:10 says “And when he came up out of the water …” Why did John have to have so much water? The reason is because to be baptized you have to go down into the water, just like Jesus did (see also John 3:23). In order to be biblically baptized, you have to be “buried” beneath the water and rise up out of the water. Paul describes baptism like this: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Should you be Baptized?

Without exception, the only kind of baptism that was practiced in the New Testament was what we call today “Believers Baptism.” This act of baptism is the way you profess your faith in Christ. In the Bible two things always go together – belief and baptism. And, it is important to note, they always go together in that order. Every time you read about someone being baptized in the New Testament, it was only after they believed, only after they had committed their heart to God – never before (Acts 2:41; 8:12; 10:44, 47-48). A person is never baptized in order to be saved. A person is baptized because they have been saved. People are baptized because they want to show that they have been saved.