Marriage is What Drives Us Apart Today

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

I’ll just get right down to it.

I do not plan to revisit this in future posts. This is not going to become a theme. However, since I have long placed my words on the public buffet table, there’s really no way to avoid the topic. Before we get any further along, allow me to quote John MacArthur, who I don’t agree with on many points of theology, but who expresses it best when he says:

Marriage is not the ultimate battleground, and our enemies are not the men and women who seek to destroy it (2 Corinthians 10:4). The battleground is the Gospel. Be careful not to replace patience, love, and prayer with bitterness, hatred, and politics.

So here we go.

I’m not going to go protest at a gay wedding. I’m not going to refuse to associate with gay people. I wouldn’t shun a gay couple if they moved in next door. I don’t feel the need to bring up the topics of gay marriage or homosexuality in every conversation, Facebook comment or blog post. I’m not going to seek out gay people so I can shout at them. These actions are not only pointless, they are caricatures of what it means to be a Christian.

I’ll keep behaving as I have behaved all along, thanks.

But none of that requires that I say that gay marriage is blessed by God. I’m not going to say that He “created” same-sex unions anymore than He “created” heterosexual promiscuity, the point being that He does not call us to continue living in what He defines as sin. Yes, God loves us as we are and He sent Christ to save us while we were still sinners. Praise Him for that! But that love? It is transformative. It does not say, “Oh, you just go ahead and keep doing what you want.”

The fact that I believe marriage is a God-designed institution made for one man and one woman doesn’t make me a bigot. It doesn’t make me hateful. It doesn’t mean I think I’m better than other people. It doesn’t make me sick or twisted.

All my stance on this issue means is that I am striving to be consistent in my doctrine.

My denomination has issued a statement affirming that which is laid out in our manual of practice. We also stand with the National Association of Evangelicals:

Statement from the Board of General Superintendents, Church of the Nazarene –

Societies across the globe are engaged in conversations to redefine marriage. Media debates, election-day balloting, and governmental court rulings have provided the platform for this redefinition. We believe a biblical view of marriage involves a monogamous, covenantal relationship between a man and a woman. Jesus said, “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4-6NIV).

Today the United States Supreme Court, in the 5-4 decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. We remind our people that while the civil law of yet another country has changed, divine truth has not changed. We will learn how this civil definition functions within the context of our constitutional and religious freedoms. Our commitment to the orthodox biblical Christian faith remains the same. We continue to call Nazarenes around the world to a life of holiness, characterized by holy love and expressed through the most rigorous and consistent lifestyle of sexual purity. We further call our people to a generosity and graciousness of spirit that extends kindness to those who do not share our belief. We pray that God will help us be examples of His truth in a world that needs to see God’s love demonstrated in word and deed more than ever.

Jerry D. Porter
J. K. Warrick
Eugénio R. Duarte
David W. Graves
David A. Busic
Gustavo A. Crocker

Statement from the National Association of Evangelicals –

God designed marriage for humanity. As first described in Genesis and later affirmed by Jesus, marriage is a God-ordained, covenant relationship between a man and a woman. This lifelong, sexually exclusive relationship brings children into the world and thus sustains the stewardship of the earth. Biblical marriage —­­ marked by faithfulness, sacrificial love and joy — displays the relationship between God and his people.[1]

While commentators, politicians and judges may revise their understanding of marriage in response to shifting societal trends, followers of Jesus should embrace his clear vision of marriage found in Matthew 19:4-6:

“Haven’t you read,” Jesus replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Nothing in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges opinion changes the truth about marriage. What has changed is the legal definition of marriage, which is now at variance with orthodox biblical faith as it has been affirmed across the centuries and as it is embraced today by nearly two billion Christians in every nation on earth.

In its role as a moral teacher, the law now misleads Americans about the true nature of marriage. Evangelicals and other followers of the Bible have a heightened opportunity to demonstrate the attractiveness of loving Christian marriages and families. Evangelicals should renew their commitment to the sacrificial love and covenantal faithfulness to which Jesus calls all husbands and wives.

As witnesses to the truth, evangelicals should be gracious and compassionate to those who do not share their views on marriage. Those who continue to embrace biblical teaching on marriage will increasingly appeal to the First Amendment protection not just for abstract belief, but for the practice of their faith. The National Association of Evangelicals calls on Congress to enact laws, on the president to implement policies, and on the courts to render judgments that uphold the freedom and human rights of all Americans.

More –

In the 5-4 decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) regrets the court’s shift away from the historic understanding of marriage, but recognizes that the truth about marriage has not changed.

“At the beginning of the Bible, God defined marriage. In the New Testament, Jesus described marriage. Neither asked the Supreme Court for a new definition or description,” said Leith Anderson, NAE president.

The NAE today released a statement about marriage in light of the court’s redefinition, which says in part:

Nothing in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges opinion changes the truth about marriage. What has changed is the legal definition of marriage, which is now at variance with orthodox biblical faith as it has been affirmed across the centuries and as it is embraced today by nearly two billion Christians in every nation on earth.

Anderson said, “As evangelicals, we look to the Bible — not the courts — for guidance on life. Marriage is a God-ordained, covenant relationship between a man and a woman. May this court decision be a clarion call to American evangelicals to proclaim and exhibit the good news about biblical marriage.”

The NAE recognizes that governments at times adopt policies that do not align with biblical values. However, those policies should not require those who follow the clear teachings of the Bible to change their beliefs or practices.

Anderson said, “As we respect a legal ruling with which we do not agree, we ask others to respect our faith and practices even when they disagree with us.”

The NAE calls on evangelicals to be gracious and compassionate to those who do not share their views on marriage and to also advocate for liberty for all who desire to live out their faith. The NAE calls on Congress to enact laws, on the president to implement policies, and on the courts to render judgments that uphold the freedom and human rights of all Americans.

I look to God for direction in all things. His word tells me that the faith has always been counter-cultural. Following Christ has always meant being out of step with the world at large. He defines what is right and what is wrong and will never be knocked off of His throne. Additionally, I am to navigate life with both sobriety and joy, treating everyone I come into contact with as a person, a human being, an image-bearer – whether they agree with me or not.

Nothing else needs to be said.

My journey to faith. (15)

You Can Trust God

Trust in the Lord with all your (9)

Gentle Reader,

I had a different post in mind for today, something about basic logic and the insanity of our world. These words may yet come at a later time, but right now I simply don’t have the energy or the brain power for them. As the meme says, “I can’t brain today. I has the dumb.”

Truth is, I feel pretty awful. Chris and I went out to celebrate our anniversary on Saturday, which was cut short by my sudden desire to either faint or vomit. Both seemed like viable options. (As of today, I have done neither and I really wish I would. I think I’d feel better). My liver or at least the space around my liver is swollen and painful. Can’t really eat. There’s pressure behind my eyes; not quite a headache but enough to be irritating. Yesterday afternoon I fell asleep on the couch and didn’t realize it. Didn’t even hear my husband moving around or the dogs barking, which is unheard of for a light sleeper like me.

I don’t know what’s going on. Since I had a CT scan to check on all this stuff last Friday morning, I’m hoping that the timing of that test and this attack/flare-up/whatever has been orchestrated by God so that my doctor can easily diagnose and treat the problem. I’ll be seeing him on Wednesday.

So, instead of some sarcasm, I give you this:

You can trust God.

You can.

It would be easy for me to stop trusting God. It would be easy for me to become furious with Him. Why won’t He heal me? Why won’t He release me from this? Why do I have to suffer? All legitimate questions, really. All questions that I suspect each one of us will have to wrestle with before shedding these tents of flesh.

I don’t know the answers to those questions. Well, I know about things like the effects of sin. I know how genetic mutations arise and how they are never a good thing (so much for naturalistic evolution). What I don’t know is why this is happening to me. I don’t know why this has been allowed or why it’s part of the plan.

But I do know that I can trust God. It’s the hard choice. Sometimes excruciatingly hard. Yet when I want to let go of the cliff-face and drop into the sea of despair below, the beauty of His dear face above arrests me. His voice urges me on. His hand grips mine, no matter my weakness. He grants me eyes to see something good, something eternal, in the midst of the battering storm.

When the tsunami comes, He covers my body with His.

When the winds howl, He pulls the hood tight over my head.

When the pain stabs at my side, He holds me close.

He has not abandoned me. He never will.

Be encouraged today. Whatever you face, however bleak it seems, you can trust God.

My journey to faith. (15)

My Daddy

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

My dad pretty much never poses for pictures and my mom would kill me if I post the one family photo I do have on my computer, hence Stock Photo of Man Staring Contemplatively into the Middle Distance.

Gentle Reader,

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Compassion Bloggers post, so I’m glad I caught this month’s prompt. In celebration of Father’s Day, we were asked to answer three questions:

What would the ideal day with your Heavenly Father look like?

If you had an hour alone with God and could ask Him only one question, what would it be?

And with Father’s Day right around the corner…

What’s that one day or one moment with your earthly father that stands out?

The best part about these questions is that they reduce to the normally-verbose me (verbose in written form, at least) to simple answers.

My ideal with day with God: Sitting with Him in the shade of a giant tree, next to a clear, rushing river. Listening to Him talk about how and why He made the delicate flowers that blanket the meadow just behind us. Climbing up into His lap and listening to His heart beat. I wouldn’t want to say anything at all. Like a lovesick puppy-dog, I would just want to be with Him.

One question I would ask Him: There are many, but the one that stands out right now has to do with my brother. I would want to know why God allowed Him to suffer so much physical pain.

Stand-out moment with my earthly dad: Again there are many, but since my wedding anniversary was just two days ago, I remember how he held my hand tight just before we made that long trek up the aisle and into a new chapter of the story. He began to speak in a low voice, as he does, so that only I could hear. “We can leave right now if you want to. We can go get a hamburger.” Then at the reception he rocked out with me to our father-daughter dance song, “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seeger. That’s love, man. That’s love.

Father’s Day can bring up a lot of emotions. Relationships are strained or non-existent. Orphans wonder about biological dads and thank God for the dads who stepped in to raise them. Right now, my mom struggles as her father trudges through the tough valley of the shadow with pancreatic cancer.

Some fathers are distant and noncommunicative. Others are brutal in their violence. Some strive to be men of integrity, raising their children with love and care. There are funny dads and quiet dads, rough-and-tumble dads and gentle dads. Then there are the “other fathers,” the men like my husband who pour themselves into the lives of all the children they meet. They become safe people who help support and guide the little ones.

Father’s Day can poke at wounds and cause a strange mixture of sorrow and gratefulness to well up in our hearts. We mourn what is not and smile at what is. We thank God for the men, whoever they are, who wrap us in bear hugs and rise up to protect us. And yet we need more. We need something deeper than a human dad. And our dad’s need that something, too.

We need God. We need Abba. The Eternal Daddy. The one who holds the men who break when their children are ill. The one who holds the men who don’t know how to love. The one who holds the kids of all ages who feel the love and the confusion, the sorrow and the joy. So whatever we feel this Father’s Day, whatever the relationship we have with our dad’s, we must rest in this: Our Abba, our Daddy, is ever-near. Where our earthly fathers fail, He never does.

My journey to faith. (15)