Which Way?

compass_on_map

My Cub Scout pack recently planned a hiking trip.  One of the things we went over with the scouts was a list of things they should bring.  Among the suggested items was a compass.  According to Google, a compass is “an instrument containing a magnetized pointer that shows the direction of magnetic north and bearings from it.”  It is the ability to get our bearings which keeps us on track and heading in the right direction.  It is hard to reach your destination if you can’t get your bearings.

In life, we have 2 options when it comes to getting our bearings as they relate to morals.  We can get our bearings of right and wrong from what men say or what God says.  Today, we are getting more pressure than any time in my lifetime to adjust our sense of right and wrong based on the ideas of the crowd.  Editorialists, bloggers, celebrities, and politicians have called upon churches to redefine our standard of what we call sin.  The problem with that idea is that it would require us to edit God’s word and go against what He has declared.   Solomon wrote, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12 NKJV  To adjust our moral compass due to the pressure of men would be the same as “fixing” a compass so that it no longer points north.  You may like the new direction you are traveling, but the destination will not be close to where you wanted to be.

The true north of morality is an absolute fact given to us by God.  When God has decreed something in His word, we are not free to change it based on society’s whims.  God’s standards of right and wrong are unwavering.

Our job is to adjust to the compass, not try to make it adjust to us.  We must live out what He has declared and lovingly call others to come along with us.  We all have adjustments to make.  Every day we are confronted with pressure from the world and our sin natures to go along with them.  When God has spoken on the subject the issue should be settled.  If the Word says no, then our answer must be no.  If one path is in keeping with the principles of the Bible and other compromises them, we just stay on the path of God’s word.

My prayer for us all is that we will courageously stick with the compass of God’s word for our lives and not accept a false way.

Why all the fuss?

As I write this, I feel like I am standing in the in the middle of a frozen pond in east Texas. For those who may not know, ponds don’t often freeze here and when they do, only a bunch of crazy cousins, who shall remain nameless, would dare each other to walk across it.

I have seen a flood of opinions, protests, social media posts etc. on the subject I am addressing.  Churches and pastors are divided on the subject, just like our nation is.  The issue is same sex marriage. So why do some Christians make such a fuss? That is what I want to address.

A wedding ceremony, as performed currently, is a blend of the civil and the sacred.  In a “church wedding”, God and the assembled church and guests are called upon to bear witness to vows being exchanged.  The Bible says that God takes vows seriously.  To break them in the time of the Old Testament, was to call down the wrath of God.  At its heart, a wedding performed by a minister is a church service.   To Christians, it is squarely a matter of religious belief and practice. The civil side is covered by laws in various ways depending on the state.  The states have recognized a preacher’s sacred service as fulfilling the requirements of the civil laws, which essentially are both parties giving consent and the state official (pastor in this case) declaring them married.  In many countries, the two services are separate and have always been, but here, they are together for those choosing a “church wedding”.  One can still have just a civil service at the justice of the peace’s office.

When a church and pastor feel the Scripture speaks as to who are eligible to marry, they have always had the right to say no to the ceremony.  I know of pastor’s who make their decision after counseling with couples.  They will not participate in a service by witnessing vows which they sense are likely to be broken.  Some will only perform ceremonies for 2 members of the church, or only for two Christians, etc.

The problem facing churches and pastors today with this merged civil and sacred service is that if the Supreme Court rules in June that same sex couples have an undeniable right to marriage, it may remove their right to the free expression of religion.  When a state enacts a law, it can include exceptions from participating in services for religious reasons.  The court could in one decision throw out all state laws which upheld traditional marriage and those which allowed religious exemptions.  If push comes to shove, then lawsuits could be brought against any church or pastor who understands the Bible to say marriage is between one man and one woman and thus declines to participate in such a religious ceremony.

This issue has far reaching ramifications for freedom of religion. If SCOTUS redefines marriage, Christians will face a choice.  Obey God or men.  The only correct answer must be the same as the apostles in Acts 5:29 “But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men.” HCSB