For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13 NLT)
This past week the news and social media have been abuzz about the recent non-decision of the US Supreme Court on the ban of “gay marriage”. As I understand it, this decision to make no decision on the issue has paved the way to make same-sex marriage legal across the United States. It was a mere hours before there were people applying for marriage licenses and actually getting married under this newly lifted ban, with the WV Attorney General saying they had no other choice than to allow the issuance of the licenses. This news was a shocking surprise to many folks, myself included; if you had asked me (or many other Mountain State residents) a year ago, or less, if this would happen here I would have said no. But then I didn’t think it would become the national “phenomenon” it has either. The lifting of this ban is taking “holy” out of holy matrimony – and it is not acceptable according to God’s Word, no matter what any other person or official thinks or says. It is my hope in this lesson today to arm you better to answer questions you may well encounter, possibly in your own mind even, as this country rushes to embrace yet another ungodly act under the ruse of tolerance.
Marriage is an institution that God Himself ordained at the beginning of human history, the charter of which is Gen 2:24
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. The Hebrew word rendered as “wife” is Strong’s number H802 and is defined as:
1) woman, wife, female
1a) woman (opposite of man)
1b) wife (woman married to a man)
1c) female (of animals)
1d) each, every (feminine pronoun)
There are no vagaries in this statement, there is nothing to misunderstand or misconstrue, honestly, here. Yes, the woman was made to be a companion and helper to the man but the intent and purpose of marriage was and is procreation; God did not give Adam another man to be his helper and companion. Another point we will make here is on polygamy: being true in all of its way, God’s Word tells us of polygamy but never approves of it. The accounts of Scripture always include the good, the bad, and the ugly of what happened, not whitewashing the “story” to make the “heroes” look better than they were, fallen folks, just as capable of sin as you and I.
In the New Testament, Jesus repeats and reinforces the definition of marriage and then goes on to broaden our understanding of it:
Mat 19:4-6 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, (5) And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? (6) Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (In Mark 10:5-9 Jesus repeats these words).
And the Greek word He used is at least as equally powerful: G1135- a woman; specifically a wife. The New Testament uses this same word time and again to mean one thing – a woman married to a man; nowhere, however, do we read of a same-sex marriage. Crystal-clearly, Scripture tells us that marriage is for one man and one woman.
I think that almost everyone has heard of the account of Sodom and Gomorrah and the angry wrath God displayed at their sins. I am fairly sure that we have all heard and/or read of the Bible saying that a man shall not lay with (or know) another man, too. I don’t think anyone will disagree that Scripture speaks clearly and strongly against this act. A few verses from both the Old and New Testaments to illustrate what God’s Word actually says about this are:
Lev 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
Gen 19:5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
1Ki 14:24 And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.
Romans 1:26-27 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: (27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
1Co 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
1 Timothy 1:9-10 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, (10) For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
Jud 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
To make it a bit clearer, possibly, without going through the meaning word-byword- of the translated words that are not familiar to most of us, I thought it prudent to include a modern translation (ESV) of each passage from the New Testament quoted above; I include the NT only here because we are under the NT Covenant of Grace but the position of God on the issue has always been the same.
Rom 1:26-27 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; (27) and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
1Co 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
1Ti 1:9-10 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, (10) the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,
Jud 1:7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
But there are those that will try to excuse it away as cultural misunderstandings. For instance, there was a lot of male prostitution that took place as a form of idolatry, a truth that Scripture and history bares out. And they are many who will say that people are “born that way”, thus laying blame at God’s feet rather than taking responsibility for their actions. What do I mean by that? I mean that each and every one of us is born into a fallen world as fallen, depraved humans. I mean that we all have the capacity to lie, steal, murder, blaspheme, and, yes, commit moral and fleshly sin, too. The difference is whose who exercise their freewill to choose not to commit the sins or who do and take responsibility for them now (because at Judgment we will all be held accountable for our unrepentant deeds). God is “no respecter of persons” and He is no respecter of sins either. We may think of telling a lie as a much smaller offense than committing murder but God sees them all the same – as sin. And fornicators and adulterers will receive that same punishment as murders in the end. People in all ages or times have always tried to come up with a way to explain away their sins – idolatry then and genetics now – but God’s Word is clear about the sin, the condemnation, and the judgment of the sins.
Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Interestingly enough, the word translated as “whoremonger” is the Greek word pornos (G4205) and means something that is probably different than you might expect:
1) a man who prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire
2) a male prostitute
3) a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator
We all have the capacity or ability to commit all kinds of different sin. And even though it isn’t “politically correct” to say so, homosexuality is a sin according to God’s Word. Same-sex relationships are not only sin but they certainly are not eligible to be called marriages according to the Bible, regardless of what “man” may say. But there are other, greater issues at stake here; those who participate in and/or condone these acts will ultimately have to answer before God for their actions and decisions.
As of my writing this, as far as I know, it is not illegal for an ordained minister to refuse to perform one of these ceremonies. Nor, as far as I’m aware, is it illegal for a church to refuse to allow one of these ceremonies to take place on their property. But I fear this is a very temporary situation. And with the proclivity many of the liberal groups and individuals to press against anyone, person or organization, that refuses to confirm to their agendas it seems to me only a matter of time before some kind of legal battle will be brought against the “offender” in the name of equality and tolerance. This very idea should make us think very hardly how we will react when this inevitably happens.
And then there is the way that the world is blaspheming the very term that Christ uses to speak of His relationship with the church. John the Baptist said of Christ and the church:
John 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
Jesus used the term of Himself:
Mark 2:19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
The Apostle Paul develops the idea more in his writings:
2Co 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Eph 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
And again in Revelation the writer says:
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
Rev 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Again and again the Word of God uses this most holy, sanctified ceremony to symbolize Christ Jesus’ relationship with the church, not just in the few passages quoted here. Now the world wants to blaspheme the term God Himself coined, that we hold so dear in our faith, to describe the joining of one man and one woman and the metaphor for Christ and His church by using it to describe a most unbiblical act.
We, the Church, the Bride, must arm ourselves with knowledge of what God says on this subject. I am not advocating any type of hate, disrespectful language, any political agenda nothing of the kind. I do believe that we must look at this subject, and all things, through the lens of God’s Word and what He says about it. And we must stand strong in what the Bible teaches. We must be able to provide biblical answers to those who question why we do not support or approve of this unholy union.
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
But before we can do this we have to have a solid knowledge of Scripture on the subject, rightly dividing the truth.
2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
I said earlier that God does not differentiate or rank sins; and He doesn’t. I also said that I was in no way making a political statement, attempting to cause pain or hurt, incite violence or “hate speech”, nor any other such thing; and I am not. What I hope is that this will open hearts and minds to see that the person living in this lifestyle is just as lost as the drunkard, the addict, the thief, or any other person living in sin; they are no better nor worse in God’s eyes. And to that end it is my sincere desire that when we find ourselves in this situation or conversation we will handle it with gentleness and meekness, although unwaveringly. I doubt very much that Jesus would agree with us ostracizing, being unnecessarily harsh with, or outright rejecting them; that is not how He treated sinners during His earthly ministry and it isn’t how He treated us when we, too, were lost, just as lost as these folks are.