For instance, how will we at Hobart Baptist respond on that day when the first gay married couple walks in seeking a closer relationship with God? Will they receive a welcoming, hospitable response? Will they be accepted? I trust so, after all, every one of us “have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
But, that will not be the beginning of the journey for us. We still have to work out how to respond to de facto couples, and soon we will face the same issues with homosexual couples. How much involvement will we allow them before we encourage them to adopt the Christian sexual ethic, if ever? What will this mean for things like baptism, communion, church membership, leadership, etc. These are questions our American brothers and sisters already face and it won’t be long before we do too.
As we do, it will be important to see them as opportunities, not threats. God still loves the world, his kingdom will come and Jesus is still Lord. God is not caught off guard, even if we might be. Our best response is not to fear, or show despair or anger, but be sad. But we are not sad because God is offended. God is big and strong enough to handle human sin.
We will be sad because of the pain and suffering our community will ultimately experience. No person can predict the ramifications of this profound change to our understanding of marriage.
Yet the Bible says we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). No matter whether it is within our marriages, our churches, our children, our governments and our institutions, sin brings its own self-destructive rewards ultimately leading to God’s wrath (Colossians 3:5-6).
In a world suffering the ramifications of its sins, it is God’s people, the church, that are to be witnesses to God’s glory: compassion, graciousness, love and faithfulness (Exodus 34: 6-7), even despite our sinfulness.
Although our biblical view of marriage is bringing Christians into greater dispute with the prevailing culture, our mission hasn’t changed. No matter what happens, no matter how far our community moves from God’s desires, God still loves the world (John 3:16), and so must we.
When changes like this take place in our country, our charge is to pray for our communities, to love our neighbours and to share the hope we have within us.
Stephen L Baxter