FIRST-PERSON: Stand for marriage
Editor's note: Marriage Protection Sunday -- in which churches will address the issue of "gay marriage" and a proposed constitutional marriage amendment -- is June 4.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Many have seen ABC TV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" where they tear down a house and rebuild it. Unfortunately, there has been another Extreme Makeover happening to the American home. Some are trying to tear down traditional marriage and redefine it.
Bible-believing Christians were shocked as we witnessed the so called "Massachusetts marriages" and "San Francisco ceremonies" where two men or two women were "married" and kissed one another for the cameras. Homosexual activists have been very effective in promoting their extreme makeover of the family. From 1990-2000, the number of homosexual households has skyrocketed by more than 400 percent, and we are only one Supreme Court decision away from legalizing "same-sex marriage" all across America.
Allow me to offer a message outline and encourage you to challenge your church to stand for biblical marriage. (The full text of this message is available at http://baptist2baptist.net/b2barticle.asp?ID=289)
-- The Divine Pattern
What is the divine pattern, God's original intention for marriage and the home? Go back to Genesis. For example, Genesis 1:27: "So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female." Aren't you glad God created Adam and Eve -- he fully masculine and she fully feminine? Thank God for that difference. The two genders were meant to complete each other physically, emotionally and in every other way. Also, both genders are needed for a healthy home. As James Dobson notes, "More than ten thousand studies have concluded that kids do best when they are raised by mothers and fathers."
In Genesis 2:24, God further declares: "This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh." One man and one woman in a marriage relationship for life is the divine pattern. When a marriage follows God's design, it is good for everyone -- men, women, children, the community, the country and the world. By the way, before taking a public stand for marriage we ought to renew our commitment to live out the biblical principles of marriage.
Think about it. Every civilization in history is built upon the institution of marriage. It is the foundation of human social order. The welfare of children, the propagation of the faith, the wellbeing of society and the orderliness of civilization are all dependent upon the stability of marriage according to the divine pattern. When this God-given pattern is undermined, the whole superstructure of society becomes unstable. Any deviation from the divine pattern invites disaster. Heterosexuality is the divine pattern.
-- The Deceptive Perversion.
Second, there is a deceptive perversion. What is the deceptive perversion? It is any sexual sin outside of the marriage relationship, but for the purposes of this message outline I want to focus on one sin in particular: homosexuality. The Word of God, which does not err, is brutally clear. Leviticus 18:22 says: "You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable." Leviticus 20:13 says: "If a man sleeps with a man as with a woman, they have both committed an abomination. They must be put to death; their blood is on their own hands." Homosexuality is an abomination to God. This is the strongest biblical word for the denunciation of sin, the proof of which is in God's own version of the Extreme Makeover at Sodom and Gomorrah, which were destroyed in a hail of fire and brimstone.
Again, why is homosexuality a sin? Because it is open rebellion against the divine pattern, the created order of God. Some say: "Well, that's Old Testament." Yet Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-18: "Don't assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished."
While the ritual, sacrificial and ceremonial laws were rendered obsolete by Christ's life, death and resurrection (see Hebrews 8:13), the moral law remains in force. And that moral law calls homosexuality an abomination. In fact, Jesus basically condemned homosexuality by affirming the divine pattern for marriage in Matthew 19:4, where he quotes from Genesis. When you get into the letters of Paul (Romans 1:18, 26-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:10), Peter (2 Peter 2:6ff), and Jude (v. 7), there is even more confirmation. Homosexuality is a deceptive perversion.
-- The Definitive Problem.
Third, there is a definitive problem. Some homosexuals claim: "We were born this way; it is in our genes; God made us gay." They cite "gay gene" studies predominantly conducted by homosexuals that have been repudiated by credible research. Yet these same biased and discredited studies have been widely publicized by the liberal media as true and factual. They essentially practice Joseph Goebel's Nazi philosophy of propaganda, which is basically this: Tell a lie loud enough and long enough and eventually most mindless Americans will believe it.
Get this straight: God did not make anybody homosexual. The Bible declares that the definitive problem is ours: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). "We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way ..." (Isaiah 53:6). Every one of us has a sin nature that twists and perverts God-given desires not only toward homosexuality, but toward all sorts of sexual sin, such as promiscuity, adultery, pedophilia, bestiality etc. In fact, our sinful nature pulls us down into all manner of evil, not just sexual sin. That's the definitive problem.
-- The Destructive Program.
Fourth, there is a destructive program. The goals of the of the radical homosexual agenda include universal acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, gaining special privileges and rights in the laws, "sensitivity training" of our children through public education, silencing critics in the clergy and Christian media, and securing the legal benefits of marriage and parenting for any two people of the same gender.
Homosexual activists have been marching from victory to victory in the entertainment arena, the educational arena and the legal arena. Don't think so? Does "Brokeback Mountain" ring a bell? What about "Will and Grace" and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy?" What about books in the public school classroom such as "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "Daddy's New Roommate"? What about the recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned the nation's remaining sodomy laws? What about the Massachusetts "marriages" and the movement to make "homosexual marriage" legal all across the United States? Need I say more?
Homosexuals have come out of the closet and into the classrooms, into the courtrooms, into the Congress, and even into churches demanding special recognition and rights. The ultimate prize is marriage. Let's just ask the question: Why not "gay marriage?" What damage could be done by allowing two consenting adults of the same gender to join a relationship and sanction it as "marriage?"
We already know the answer to that question. Take a look at the Scandinavian countries that embraced de-facto "gay marriage" back in the '90s. The vast majority of couples there are choosing simply to live together instead of getting married, figuring that if marriage means anything then marriage means nothing. In Norway, there are reports of upwards of 80 percent of firstborn children conceived out of wedlock. In Sweden, Pastor Ake Green was arrested for using God's Word to preach on the sin of homosexuality. (He was later acquitted.) The results of the Scandinavian experiment have been devastating. Do we really want that for America? There is a destructive program.
-- The Determined Plan.
Finally, as Christ-followers, we need a determined plan of action. Admittedly, most of us have been bystanders to this point, silently watching these events transpire without any thought to Jesus' command to be stinging salt and shining light. As Edmund Burke is often quoted: "All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." It is time for Christ-followers to get involved, lift our voices and call America to repentance before it is too late. For just as the fire of judgment fell on Sodom and Gomorrah, judgment will fall on America. In light of the Extreme Home Makeover that is taking place, what should we do?
Here are several action steps we can determine to take as Christian citizens:
Action Step 1: Pray for God's mercy on a nation that is sliding toward Sodom. Pray that God's Spirit will revive a church that is worldly. The promises of 2 Chronicles 7:14 depend on God's people humbling themselves, seeking the face of God in prayer and turning from sin to biblical righteousness.
Action Step 2: Practice the biblical principles for a healthy marriage as a positive witness. Don't skip this one. Getting a hearing in the culture depends on our credibility. When the divorce rate among professing Christians is essentially the same as that of the world, we have little credibility with which to call the world to repentance, even if they are trying to redefine the family.
Action Step 3: Perform an active role as salt and light in our "government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
-- Consider support for the Marriage Protection Amendment that will be debated in Congress the first week in June.
-- Call your senators and representative. Visit www.faithandfamily.com, enter your zip code, and follow the prompts. Let them know how you feel about the definition of marriage and the need to protect it.
-- Vote your values. Visit www.ivotevalues.com, register to vote, help register your friends and then prayerfully consider voting for candidates who share your biblical values.
Action Step 4: Proclaim the promise found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God's kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God's kingdom. Some of you were like this ...." Notice that it is past tense, and what comes next speaks of God's amazing grace: "But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." That is Good News!
Jesus alone can break the strongholds of sin and offer freedom and forgiveness and hope. For when we turn from our sins and turn to Christ, He will change our desires, He will change our passions, and He will change everything about us. Second Corinthians 5:17 says: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come." And that is the promise of God we need to share with everybody, everywhere, regardless of their sin. You can be a new person in Christ Jesus!
Let us live and preach that message. Let us love people who are trapped in sinful and destructive lifestyles. Let us stand for God's plan for marriage.
Kenyn M. Cureton is vice president for convention relations for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.
For more information about the national debate over "gay marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage