God Has Not Called Us to Be Silent… or Vague

Standard

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I don’t know where this saying came from, but many of us have heard it as children and probably shared it (or at least wanted to share it) with others. I generally like to keep things positive online, sharing something funny or helpful or posting something from my studies. However, lately I’ve spoken out quite a great deal about the recent issues that are bombarding us from every media outlet: the gay marriage SCOTUS ruling, Bruce Jenner, and most recently, Planned Parenthood. I know that people generally would rather read positive, encouraging things on Facebook. I certainly get more likes and comments when I share “nice” things online. I’ve even been unfriended for the things I choose to say and share (this isn’t persecution, by the way). So why so serious? I’m glad you asked.

There are generally two extreme responses from the church concerning these kinds of issues and I’m sympathetic to both to a degree. One is to become angry and use the pulpit as a sounding board against the evils of society. This approach does little good. It generally abandons any Great Commission emphasis and only serves to calcify those already convinced of their view. It is a blowing-off of steam that accomplishes next to nothing. The other response is one of minimalizing at best and ignorance and avoidance at worst.

Many churches and pastors have reacted against the political activist response to the point that they don’t even want to deal with issues that are perceived as “political.” I get it. I really do. However, evil is evil, even if it has political baggage. Sometimes the refusal to speak to these issues comes from a less conscientious motivation. Some churches heavily rely on corporate excitement and momentum. Calling gay marriage a sin harshes the mellow. Demonstrating the evil of abortion doesn’t generate excitement. The pastors that lead such churches generally try to connect with their congregation with an abundance of funny stories and culturally relevant illustrations and it would be difficult to tackle these issues in their typical manner. Such churches and leaders will typically shy away from cultural issues because they want to remain “true to the mission” or they want people to “know what we’re for, not what we’re against.”

We expository preachers don’t get a pass here, either. Preaching verse-by-verse through a book or a through a large section of Scripture is in my opinion, the most faithful way for a pastor to preach to a congregation. However, it is sometimes easy for us to continue in our exposition on Psalm 23 rather than prepare a specific sermon for such a time as this. We boast that expository preaching declares the whole counsel of God, but “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). Sometimes, it’s just time to speak specifically to what is at hand. Also, it is difficult to sufficiently tackle contemporary issues with a strict verse-by-verse model. There are no texts specifically on abortion or about internet pornography. Sometimes these sermons have to be crafted with special care.

But why tackle these issues? Why not remain true to the mission and not get involved in politics? Shouldn’t we just try to win people and stop ostracizing and polarizing with our political stances? First, let me say that marriage and sanctity of life were theological and moral issues long before they became politicized. The fact is, we aren’t invading the government’s territory, the government is encroaching on the church’s territory. I’m all for less political involvement by the church, but sin is sin and the truth is the truth. This isn’t a partisan issue, it is a gospel issue.

Secondly, we have a responsibility to speak concerning these issues. John Piper recently tweeted “They weren’t martyred because they were vague.” I love this. John the Baptist baptized thousands in the river Jordan. He called individuals to repentance and was beginning a spiritual revolution that was upsetting all of Judea. But it wasn’t until his message of repentance got very specific toward Herod’s unlawful marriage that he was imprisoned and subsequently beheaded. We have a responsibility to serve as a prophetic voice to the culture around us. If the church does not set forth God’s perspective on the issues at hand, who will? We also have a responsibility to serve as a voice of perspective to the congregations that God has entrusted to us as pastors. Any Christian minister that has not provided his congregation with a biblical perspective on these issues in light of the times is not a faithful minister and is more concerned with the bodies in the pews than the souls in his care. Those who sit in the pews not only need assurance of the truthfulness of Scripture and what Scripture says to these issues, but they also need help to process what is happening around them from a biblical perspective without erring into panic or apathy.

May God grant us as pastors and believers in the inevitably difficult days ahead of us to speak with prophetic voice both to the opponents of truth and to the believers reeling from the many voices on both sides of the argument. May we not lose sight of the Great Commission and may we commit to evangelism and missions with a laser focus, knowing that we are calling people to repent and abandon the sin and philosophy of this present world order.

 

 

Same-Sex Marriage Resources for Churches and Pastors

Standard

Screenshot 2015-07-12 17.44.27

Since the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage, I’ve been trying to gather as many helpful resources as I can find for churches and pastors. I’ve gathered these to share with the pastors of the Union Association of Baptists where I serve as Director of Missions, but I realize that other pastors and churches would find these useful as well. Please feel free to share these with other pastors and churches who will benefit from this information.

PREPARING AND PROTECTING THE CHURCH

http://stephencraigrice.com/2015/06/30/4-steps-churches-pastors-take/

http://erlc.com/article/what-your-church-needs-to-knowand-doabout-the-courts-marriage-ruling

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Protecting_Your_Ministry_ADF_ERLC.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/KBC.Sample-Church-Wedding-Policy.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Church-Wedding-Policy.Cornerstrone.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Wedding-Policy.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Facility-Use-Policy.Alliance-Defending-Freedom.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/KBC.Sample-Membership-Policy.pdf

PARENTING AND GAY MARRIAGE

http://cbmw.org/public-square/parenting-in-a-gay-marriage-world-what-should-christians-parents-do/

http://www.russellmoore.com/2015/06/29/how-should-you-talk-to-your-children-about-same-sex-marriage/

INFORMATION ABOUT THE SUPREME COURT RULING

http://erlc.com/article/50-key-quotes-from-the-supreme-courts-same-sex-marriage-ruling

http://erlc.com/article/explainer-what-you-should-know-about-the-supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-ru

ANSWERING THE GAY MARRIAGE ARGUMENTS

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/What-You-Need-To-Know-About-Marriage-Booklet.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Addressing_Gay_Marriage_Arguments.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Why_Marriage_Matters.pdf

http://www.sbts.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2010/09/homosexuality-and-the-bible.pdf

http://www.sbts.edu/god-and-the-gay-christian/

MISCELLANEOUS

http://www.kybaptist.org/protecting-biblical-marriage/

Proceed With Conviction: Same-Sex Marriage in the USA

Standard

b599a34c0d512e42e3f5277e172bbebcd745dd98This weekend, Americans will celebrate Independence Day. For many of us however, our celebration is darkened by the shadow of the Supreme Court ruling that redefined marriage for every American this past Friday. News like this tends to affect us in two ways: first we have an emotional response of anger, sadness, or shock. Secondly we have a sense of duty to do something; a feeling that we need to respond somehow. I think it is helpful for Christians first to zoom out and get an appropriate, wide-scope, biblical vision to give us perspective. Then in light of that we need to define specifically what our reaction should be and how we will proceed going forward.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS A VIOLATION OF GOD’S DESIGN

We need to first acknowledge that legalization of same-sex marriage is a multi-layered, sinful decision. It is sinful because it accepts as good something God has declared to be sin. The Scripture is clear that homosexuality is sinful behavior (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In addition to plain statements of prohibition, there are many other negative examples, such as the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 13:13; 19:1-38).

Not only does the legalization of same-sex marriage normalize sin, it elevates it to the sacred dimension of matrimony, thus polluting and diminishing the social concept of marriage. Marriage is a lifetime commitment between one man and one woman that is patterned after the relationship of Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22-33).

Same-sex marriage also destroys the biblical structure of family. Children should be raised by a masculine father and a feminine mother who model proper gender roles and adult behavior. Even the fertilization of an egg requires sexual complementarity. As Christians, we must acknowledge the sinful nature of same-sex marriage.

HOW SHOULD WE PROCEED?

Affirm God’s sovereignty in heaven and earth. This decision did not catch God off guard. He may very well be using this situation to purify His church and to rekindle our devotion to Him.

Pray for our nation’s leaders, the church, and the lost. We should pray for those who lead our nation as they make decisions that set the course for the nation. We should pray that God would grant wisdom to the church in these difficult days as well as courage to continue the work of the Great Commission. Of course, we pray for those who do not know Christ that they will be turned from darkness to light.

Speak with prophetic voice concerning national sin. While we learn how to best engage the culture over these tough issues, let us always speak the truth of God concerning sin. The call of salvation is a call to repentance. We must speak truth in the midst of a sea of lies.

Model the gospel in our marriages and families. Too long we have preached against homosexuality without removing the log from our own eyes. Let us sanctify our homes and marriages to reflect the glory of God. We are living in a day when simply living in biblical, covenant marriage will be a radical testimony to the gospel. Let’s faithfully represent Christ and the Church.

Recommit ourselves to the Great Commission. The church’s mission is not political activism, but global evangelism. The gospel doesn’t work from top down, it works from bottom up. We are to be making disciples of Jesus Christ. This is how we bring about the reign of God on this side of the second coming.

Prepare to minister to refugees of the sexual revolution. There are going to be people hurt from the fallout of same-sex marriages and the church needs to be wise enough to prepare to receive them. There will be people connected to families in our churches who will obtain same-sex marriages. We need to be ready to confront with the gospel and minister faithfully.

Live in anticipation for God’s coming kingdom. We should not panic. Jesus is coming and this moment in time is just another tick on the clock that brings us closer to his appearing. Live as though God is completely in control and is bringing history to its appropriate end – because this is exactly what He is doing.

HELPFUL LINKS

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/06/26/why-the-church-should-neither-cave-nor-panic-about-the-decision-on-gay-marriage/

http://erlc.com/erlc/scotus

http://www.kybaptist.org/protecting-biblical-marriage/

http://cbmw.org/public-square/parenting-in-a-gay-marriage-world-what-should-christians-parents-do/