Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Daily Message: Stand on the Word, Even When It's Not Popular ~ 2 Timothy 1:7-8

Today's study yields a message that couldn't come at a more appropriate time. It's funny how God's timing is so appropriate, that going through the apostle Paul's letters sequentially, one chapter at a time, and drawing on whatever passage in that daily reading jumps out at me, can apply itself so well to the specific events on a given day.

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled a key provision in the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. They didn't outright overturn the act and say that states must allow same-sex couples to marry, but they did say the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages that occurred under the laws of states where it is legal.

Before I go any farther, let me stop and make clear that I do not hate homosexuals. In fact, the Gospel tells us to love ALL people and I do. But the Bible also tells me I'm supposed to study and learn and teach the Word of God. And numerous places in the New Testament and the Old Testament treat homosexuality. When I read the Bible, it is my interpretation that such a lifestyle is ungodly and not to be condoned.

Remember, I did not say homosexuals should be condemned, persecuted, abused, etc. So, my deeply held religious beliefs demand that I teach the Word of God as I interpret it, and that I encourage others to live according to that interpretation. Therefore, in order to not be hypocritical, I cannot support same-sex marriage.

Now, know also that doesn't mean I'm going to protest courthouses or churches where such marriages occur. I'm not standing on street corners pointing at people and telling them they're going to Hell. That's not my job. But it is my duty, when I vote, or when I'm asked my opinion on the matter, to do and say what I believe the Bible says on the subject. That is simply that it is to be discouraged and is ungodly.

Now I love a good political debate, but I try to stay out of them on this blog. But my position on this matter is based on my interpretation of the Bible. That and the fact that I came across this passage, on this day when the Court's decision came down, leads me to address it here. I'm not going to debate the politics of it, but only state my position and defend the reason for doing so based on the passage below.

And hence, today's message.
" 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God." ~ 2 Timothy 1:7-8

My view and my stand is not popular today. I know that. In fact, it will likely draw a wave of tirades calling me all sorts of not-so-nice names. If so, I'll neither back down nor escalate the disagreement, lest I become a hypocrite.

Paul told Timothy in this passage that the spirit of God gives us the strength to overcome the fear to stand up for what is biblical, even when it's not the popular stance to take. But he also says we're to do so out of love, not hate, and we're to remain disciplined in the faith.

I've written often about Penn Jillette, an atheist comedian, and the video of him describing a Christian man's gift to him of a Bible. He goes on and on complimenting the man for his humility and the kind gesture, but what always stands out to me the most in this monologue is Penn's simple question, How much would you have to hate someone to not tell them about Jesus if you really believe He's the only path to eternal life, and the alternative is an eternity of suffering in Hell?

And that's exactly what Paul is telling us here, that if we really love people and believe that something they're doing is ungodly, we have to let them know. Not in a finger-in-the-face-you're-going-to-Hell kind of way, that's not how, but simply stating our belief and claiming the Bible as the authority for that belief is sufficient. He doesn't tell us to riot, or picket, or any thing except to stand firm and stand up for the Word of God.

It is possible to love someone and disagree with the way they live their lives. I can promise you I know this first hand, and what I'm referring to has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation. We have to stand up for what God tells us is right, but remain disciplined so that we do so in a way that doesn't invite people to call us un-Christ like.

Verse 8 reminds us why this is so difficult to do, because standing up for God and against the world promises to bring suffering down on our heads. I've had this debate many times, and rarely does it remain civilized, as the other side becomes almost rabid when they fail to change my mind. Standing up will bring down the wrath of many on the other side of this issue, but we are not to be ashamed to testify, regardless what it brings down on us.

For now, in my state and many others, same-sex marriages aren't recognized. The Court did not strike those laws down, only the way the federal government must view those same-sex couples married legally in a state where it is legally available. I fully expect the tide has turned on this issue in our nation, and that sooner rather than later that will change and all states will be forced to grant legal marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

But if it comes to a vote, I must, by my interpretation of the Word of God, vote against it. Otherwise, I'm a hypocrite.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

1 comment:

  1. Hi John. This is a good post. Same sex marriages are not permitted in my state either, but I'm worried that they may be soon.

    I think the sticking point is that "marriage" is a religious term meaning the joining together of one man and one woman for procreation. That's how the world survives. I DO NOT hate gays. They can certainly join in a relationship and have rights. But a "marriage" is how God wants the world to survive and prosper. Thanks, John. ~Victoria Marie Lees
    http://campingwithfivekids.blogspot.com

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