I know that the parents and grandparents of Protestant Reformed young people read Beacon Lights. The magazine is aimed at young people, but many others read it.
For all of you who read, I am scared.
But especially for you, young people, I am scared.
Maybe the reader of any age will think that is inappropriate for me to write an article that scares our young people. I disagree. Let me be clear: It is exactly my intent to scare my readers. In the words of Paul (Gal. 4:11), “I am afraid [for] you.” I’m so scared that I have disrupted the normal publication schedule of Beacon Lights. To insure the timely receipt of our magazine, we adhere quite rigidly to a publication schedule. In this instance, however, I have stretched the schedule by postponing the next article in my ongoing series of editorials regarding strangers and sojourners to make room for this article.
I have done this because I am scared. And I don’t scare easily. As the colloquial saying goes, “This is not my first rodeo.” I have observed six decades of history, and not much surprises me anymore.
So what am I talking about? Why am I alarmed?
On Friday, July 26, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a 5–4 decision legalizing same sex marriage in all fifty states of the union. This means that the marriage of two people of the same gender has the force of law throughout the nation. Many legal experts and almost all politically conservative people, along with most evangelical churches, believe that the court made law rather than interpreting it, as is their responsibility. No doubt the legal battle will continue into the future. But none of this really matters. The court has spoken.
This decision is the culmination of a long battle over same sex marriages. Those in favor of it based their argument largely on equal treatment under the law. Those against it insisted that marriage is between a man and a woman, not between man and man and between woman and woman. The battle has been fought for a long time on the state level. Some passed laws allowing same sex marriages, while others passed legislation forbidding it. The difference of opinion on this subject was reflected in the division among the various states. Those in favor of same sex marriage unrelentingly pressed their agenda in the state legislatures, in the state courts, in the governors’ offices, and finally in the Supreme Court, all with the aid and encouragement of liberal churches. To his everlasting discredit, we have been burdened with a wicked president who has consistently supported the LGBT agenda, which was a bit like throwing gas on a fire. Although the gays are statistically a small minority in this country, they made a lot of noise and used the courts to further their agenda.
And now they have won the day.
July 26 was a bad day for America. And it was a dark day for all Bible-believing people.
But all of this you already knew, young people, if you have paid the least attention to radio, television, and the social media.
The situation described above is not unique to the United States. The same battle has been or is being fought in other countries.
Recently the Republic of Ireland (ROI) voted by a margin of 62% to 38% to legalize same sex marriage (I am indebted to Rev. Martyn McGeown for some of this information). The ROI legalized same sex marriage not by judicial fiat, as did the U. S., but by a referendum of the population. We need to remember that Ireland is divided into Northern Ireland (NI), which is predominantly Protestant and still somewhat conservative, and the ROI, which is heavily Roman Catholic. Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, with Rev. Angus Stewart as pastor, is in NI, while Limerick Reformed Fellowship, under the leadership of Rev. McGeown, is located in the ROI. It is the ROI that voted in favor of same sex marriage. Rev. McGeown comments, “The people of Ireland chose to accept same sex marriage by a majority vote. It was not imposed on them by judges. That makes Ireland’s guilt very terrible. Ireland is the first country in the world to do this.”
Last summer, after attending the British Reformed Fellowship conference in Scotland, my wife Ruthellen and I went to Amsterdam for a couple of days before visiting other parts of Europe. When we exited the train station in downtown Amsterdam late at night, we unwittingly walked smack into a gay pride celebration. The huge plaza and the entire downtown streets were absolutely crammed with LGBTs. To say that we were uncomfortable would be an understatement. We were incredulous as we wandered the streets looking for our hotel. And to think this was the land of our Reformed ancestors!
However, the question that confronts you, young people, is not what has happened or what is happening, but what will happen. This is why I am frightened for you. Let’s face the facts: your parents and grandparents have already lived much or most of their lives. This does not mean that they can ignore the matter of same sex marriage. They too must deal with this issue in the present, if for no other reason that they must instruct you in the truth and encourage you to walk in it. But you are just beginning your young lives, and you will have to face the issue in the future.
Why is same sex marriage such an important issue? Why is it not just a matter of personal choice? Why is it not a question of equality under the law of the land? Because this is not the Bible’s teaching. We must let the scriptures speak to this. Many teachings of scripture could be brought forward, but I call attention to two.
The first is the creation ordinance. According to Genesis 1:27, God created people as male and female, which tells us that God’s intention was not to create people male and male or female and female, but as male and female. Genesis 2:21–24 records the creation of the woman out of the man; in verses 23–24 we read, “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they two shall be one flesh.” These verses teach clearly that marriage is between a man and a woman: woman and wife are the same.
The second is Romans 1:18–32. In verse 18 Paul teaches that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [suppress] the truth in unrighteousness.” He teaches that their unbelief is deliberate, for even from the creation they know God’s eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (vv. 19–22). They deliberately change the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things, changing the truth of God into a lie and worshiping the creature instead of the Creator (vv. 23, 25). Because they do so, God gives them up to vile affections, so that even their women change the natural use into that which is against nature, and the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burn in their lust one toward another, working that which is unseemly (vv. 26–27). Therefore God gives them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (v. 28).
Taken together, these two scripture passages teach that marriage between a man and a woman is an integral part of God’s creation ordinance. Homosexuality is a rejection of that basic, fundamental truth. According to Romans 1, homosexuality is the ultimate manifestation of reprobate man’s depravity. When an individual —or in this case, an entire nation— permits, legalizes, and encourages this sin, we know that we are living in the end times.
We must understand all of this in the context of God’s holiness. That God is holy means that he is perfect and pure; there is no sin or defilement in him. Because he is perfect, he is consecrated to himself. That God is holy also means that he demands that man must be holy as he is holy (1 Pet. 1:16); he must devote himself to the service of God by perfectly obeying God’s commandments. When man violates God’s will for him, God’s holiness reacts against him as his wrath, and his wrath is manifest as his punishment of man’s sin.
This means that there will be consequences of this decision. God does not wink at or ignore sin. When God’s holiness is offended, as it surely is in this instance, his burning wrath is inevitable. The exact form it will take we cannot know. Precisely when it will happen we cannot know. But happen it will. God’s judgment on America is sure. God’s judgment on the false church that has supported and encouraged the gay agenda is also sure. And God’s judgment will also be on those who rejoice over this decision, as did an editorial in the Grand Rapids Press: “The LGBT community and its supporters should enjoy and celebrate this moment. It is the culmination of a hard-fought battle, and one of the most significant wins for human rights.”
What open and unapologetic wickedness!
Another consequence of this decision will likely be a law against what is called “hate speech.” This is only common sense. If same sex marriage is the law of the land, it will not be long before Americans are forbidden to speak against equal rights for LGBTs. Canada, among other countries, already has such a law on the books. This law includes any speech, gestures, or conduct, writing, or display that is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against a protected individual or group. Just think of the possible consequences of such a law. I could be in trouble for writing this editorial. Ministers could be forbidden to preach the truth of the scriptures regarding same sex marriage and homosexuality in general. You young people could be prohibited from witnessing against this wickedness. We as Reformed Christians must discriminate against all forms of homosexuality in our words and actions because this is exactly what God does and what he requires of us. Yet the civil authorities have or will have the ability to forbid us from opposing this wickedness and to inflict punishment on those who violate this law.
Do you now begin to see why I am scared?
I am afraid that it will not be long before you young people will be confronted with a choice: either keep your mouths shut or face persecution.
What will you do?
By God’s grace and the power of faith I urge you never to compromise, but to stand fast for the truth of the scriptures in the face of the evil that is abroad in the land. There will be consequences, but we rest in the assurance that God will save his church to the very end. In that assurance we go forward, living as strangers and sojourners in this world, always looking toward the salvation that is ours when Christ returns.
Even now we can hear his footsteps.