On Saturday, June 20, the constitutional language of the Presbyterian Church (USA) will officially change allowing for same-sex marriages to be performed by PCUSA ministers in PCUSA churches. The Supreme Court of the United States is expected to issue its ruling on the matter this month as well. “Where do you stand on same-sex marriage?” has become the modern day litmus test and the answer results in a delimiting of many relationships.
Fueling the cultural confusion is the failure of the people of the Church to stand with compassionate conviction on the unchanging truth of God’s revealed Word. Even those who historically have regarded the Bible as the final authority on issues of moral behavior, self-described “evangelicals,” are not all answering the question in the same way.
Just this past week a particularly influential “evangelical” shifted allegiance and aligned with the pro-same-sex marriage movement. His name is David Neff and he served in recent years as the Editor of Christianity Today. CT has issued a statement distinguishing itself from Neff’s position and illuminated the ongoing challenge same-sex marriage poses for “evangelicals.”
The current Editor-in-Chief of CT, Mark Galli, posted an editorial responding to Neff’s reversal. Galli’s response illuminates the ongoing challenge this issue poses for “evangelicals.”
“At CT, we’re saddened that David has come to this conclusion,” Galli wrote. “Saddened because we firmly believe that the Bible teaches that God intends the most intimate of covenant relationships to be enjoyed exclusively by a man and a woman.”
Galli added, “We at CT are sorry when fellow evangelicals modify their views to accord with the current secular understanding on this matter. We’ll continue to be sorry, because over the next many years, there will be many who will similarly reverse themselves on sexual ethics.”
The issue becomes how do evangelicals find a unified voice on other issues of mutual concern if their mind and voice are so divided on the issue of same-sex marriage.?
As CT editor, Neff served in prominent leadership posts in other organizations. Notably, Neff served in leadership in the National Association of Evangelicals which seeks to provide a unified platform for evangelicals to impact culture. Does Neff’s same-sex marriage advocacy now put him outside of the definition that the NAE uses to define itself? Asked another way, by the NAE’s own definition of what it means to be an evangelical, is Neff still one?
The NAE’s statement of faith begins by acknowledging that “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.” So, having disregarded the plain teaching of the Bible on the subject of same-sex sexual expression, is Neff still an evangelical?
Neff’s endorsement of the NAE appears prominently on the organization’s website between Russell Moore, Steve Moore and John Ortberg. Where does each of these men stand on this issue? Therein may lie the larger question.
Like it or not, the answer to the question of “where do you stand on same-sex marriage?” is becoming a litmus test for Christians in the culture today.
I agree with Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Ky., observes that:
“This is a moment of decision, and every evangelical believer, congregation, denomination, and institution will have to answer. There will be no place to hide. The forces driving this revolution in morality will not allow evasion or equivocation. Every pastor, every church, and every Christian organization will soon be forced to declare an allegiance to the Scriptures and to the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexual morality, or to affirm loyalty to the sexual revolution. That revolution did not start with same-sex marriage, and it will not end there. But marriage is the most urgent issue of the day, and the moment of decision has arrived.”
The sands of time and circumstance and public opinion are always shifting. But as Christians, that is not where we find our footing nor is sand where we take our stand. In fact, God has something to say about all this.
Ephesians 2:1-20 (ESV) is worthy of consideration as you decide where to stand.
1And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the bodya and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.b 4Butc God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
11Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,d but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God bye the Spirit.