Eric Schumacher is the pastor of Northbrook Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and good friend of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Today we post the second of his excellent two-part series responding to the recent judicial actions in Iowa attempting to redefine marriage.
To the Church
On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a state law limiting marriage to a man and a woman violates the constitutional rights of equal protection. Licenses will be issued to homosexual couples as early as April 24. The state of Iowa follows Massachusetts and Connecticut in legalizing homosexual "marriage."
In light of this, I would exhort the church to three things:
First, we must honor biblical marriage in the church and in the home.
God commands that marriage be honored (Hebrews 13:4). He is not pleased when it is attacked (Malachi 2:16).
Legalized homosexual "marriage" is not the only way that marriage is attacked and dishonored.
Marriage is attacked when church members go undisciplined for fornication and adultery. Marriage is dishonored through abusive husbands and disrespectful wives, through the use of internet pornography and the reading of smutty novels.
Marriage is honored when biblical roles for husbands and wives are humbly and joyfully taught, modeled and encouraged. Marriage is protected when pastors ask tough questions of potential and current members about the divorce they are pursuing and the children they have abandoned. Marriage is honored when pastors follow biblical standards when considering which ceremonies to officiate.
Second, we must speak through the humility of repentance.
Let's be honest. Much of the church's knee-jerk response to legalized homosexual "marriage" smacks of homophobia and hypocrisy.
For decades, local churches in America have winked at, ignored, tolerated and even approved of fornication, adultery and unbiblical divorce among its membership. The unrepentant have not been lovingly rebuked and disciplined. Rather, we have allowed marriage to be dishonored by our members, our leaders, our benefactors and our children-so long as that dishonoring comes in a manner acceptable to our broader culture.
We are uncomfortable with practicing homosexuals, in ways that we are not uncomfortable with practicing fornicators, adulterers and covenant-renders. And so, not out of a love for the Gospel, but out of a love for social comfort, we balk at gay "marriage."
So long as we allow marriage to be dishonored by those on our church rolls, we have no credible voice with which to speak against the dishonoring of marriage by those in our state.
The humility of repentance will grant our outcry the ring of truth.
Third, we must patiently and kindly preach the Gospel.
The heart of legalized homosexual "marriage" is not bucking against societal norms perceived to be antiquated. The heart of homosexual sin-like all sin-is hatred of the glory of God, especially as it is revealed in the good news of Jesus Christ.
The antidote to our situation, therefore, is not a simple "marriage amendment."
Government is established by God to approve of what is good. I do hope and pray that our state's constitution is amended to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. I've encouraged my legislators to pursue it.
Nevertheless, we know that changing a state's constitution does not change a man's constitution. The kingdom of God does not come through the steel sword of the state, but through the sword of Spirit. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
Therefore, we must proclaim the saving reign of God through his Son Jesus Christ. We must speak of the eternal Son of God who became man and lived a sinless life. We must proclaim his crucifixion, in which he bore the wrath of God to take away the sin of the world. We must herald his resurrection from the dead and his reign at the right hand of God, from whence he will come again as judge.
It is through the proclamation of this message that God washes, sanctifies, and justifies homosexuals, adulterers, drunkards and idolaters-as some of us once were (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
We do this not with shouting, arrogant quarreling and picket-signs proclaiming that "God hates fags." Rather, we must be kind, patient and gentle, praying that "God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:24-26).