Three recent events illustrate the growing pressure on anyone who believes in the traditional (Biblical) definition of marriage and who believes that homosexuality is wrong.
On Monday, October 6, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the ruling of lower courts which had previously ruled that state laws banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. By refusing, without comment, to review the lower court rulings, the Supreme Court is allowing homosexual marriages to proceed in most states. Those states which do not allow such marriages will probably do so in the near future.
The city of Houston has subpoenaed a group of pastors and ordered them to turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. Any minister who fails to comply could be held in contempt of court. This confrontation is part of a larger dispute about Houston’s non-discrimination law.
The Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome from October 5-19 on the subject of family life has released a report of its early discussions. The report has created comments such as “stunning change”, “earthquake”, “betrayal”, and “one of the worst official documents drafted in Church history.” And these comments are from Catholics. Apparently a majority of the bishops hope to change the Catholic Church’s positions toward homosexuality, divorce, and couples living together apart from marriage. I am not an expert on Catholic teaching, so I will leave the details of Catholic teachings to others.
What I wish to point out is that the actions of the Supreme Court, the city of Houston, and the discussion among Bishops is another indication of the strong pressure today’s changing moral beliefs are having on what has traditionally been morally conservative people and the religious groups they belong to.
Despite the Catholic Church’s erroneous teachings on several doctrinal points, the Church has officially supported traditional marriage. If the Church adopts, even to a limited degree, some of the changes proposed by this Synod of Bishops, those Christians who still believe the Bible’s teaching on moral issues such as marriage, immorality, and homosexuality will find ourselves even more isolated and therefore pressured to change or modify our beliefs.
The attempts by the city of Houston are brash and dictatorial, and the action of the Supreme Court may seem disappointing, but these developments should not be unexpected.
These events should motivate us to think carefully about why we believe what we believe, not to change those beliefs, but to be prepared for the subtle and not-so subtle scorn of a world which is increasingly becoming like the world of Romans 1: not honoring God, futile speculations, darkened hearts, foolish, suppressing the truth by unrighteousness.
The moral issues of marriage and homosexuality are the watershed issues of our time, a challenge which we cannot escape. And I suspect the Lord does not want us to escape this challenge, for just as the world sinks into deeper rejection of the Lord, there must be some who will be salt and light. We cannot hide the light nor lose our salty power. The pressure is growing, but so are the opportunities for gospel witness.
Wally Morris is the pastor of Charity Baptist Church, Huntington, IN, and blogs at A Moment of Charity.