Today the United States Supreme Court rendered a monumental decision legalizing same-sex “marriage” in all fifty states. We now stand in many ways as enemies of the State, antithetically opposed to its values and judgements. Our exile has suddenly become more apparent, and the place of our exile suddenly a bit more strange. Some would perhaps propose we are on the wrong side of history, remaining static, dogmatic and irrational as the world evolves and passes us by on its way to a new and brighter age. And yet it here, in exile, that the light of the gospel will win the day.
As the American church moves into this new and unfamiliar place in the country’s landscape, here are a few truths to help us orient, to help us get our bearings in our place of exile so that we might live here in a way that serves as a foretaste of the eternal kingdom that is to come.
Marriage belongs to God. Marriage does not belong to the State. It is not the Supreme Court’s, nor is it the public’s, to define. And God has made it clear in Scripture that marriage unites one man and one woman in a sacred, covenantal union.
Marriage pictures the gospel. God has designed marriage to picture the eternal reality of Christ and the church. David Platt notes, “Marriage is a living portrait drawn by a Divine Painter showing Christ’s love on the canvas of human culture.” God’s design of the marital union of a man and woman is intended to display the gospel like no other union can. There is a rightness to the union of a man and a woman in marriage because this relationship has been divinely appointed to glimpse the greater and truer reality of the gospel.
The biblical picture of marriage is necessary for gospel proclamation. Marriage is not tertiary or even secondary to gospel proclamation. It is central and essential according to Ephesians 5.22-33. Therefore, defending the biblical definition of marriage is necessary for an orthodox proclamation of the gospel.
The gospel saves sinners. Jesus came to save sinners—heterosexual and homosexual alike. All are in desperate, even at times unknowable, need for the grace He alone affords and extends without price or warrant.
The gospel divides. There has long been confusion in American culture over the distinction between the gospel and the culture at large. Wrongly, part of what it meant to be American was to be Christian. No longer. The gospel is a sword of division separating the church from the world. This moment in our county’s history serves to create an opportunity to clarify and cement the meaning of the gospel, and the contrast between the true gospel and the world has never been more clear.
The gospel produces humble love. Decisions such as the one rendered today—the approval and institutionalizing of sin—should cause us to weep knowing that the State has publicly diminished sinners’ need for the gospel. Today’s decision has left people hardened to their sin and to remain under the just wrath of God. We must act in love to correct the deceptive error of the State and humbly call people to repent and believe and find infinitely more in Christ than this world can offer.
The gospel will prevail. This is unchartered territory for the American church. But not for the gospel. The gospel was originally proclaimed in the exile of a manger, a cross outside the city gates and an empty tomb on the outskirts of town. The gospel began on the wrong side of history in the middle of the Caesar-worshiping Roman Empire. Yet where Rome has fallen, the gospel has remained. And where America has fallen, the gospel will endure. No amount of legislation or even persecution can halt the triumphant march of the gospel. Church history has proven so. And Scripture testifies so. The day is soon coming when the eternal, supreme marriage which all earthly marriages have anticipated will at last dawn. And as we, the bride of Christ prepare to meet our bridegroom the halls of the heavenly temple will resounds with the shout, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.”