I have a Muslim friend who reflected on the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the legalization of same-sex marriage.
She chooses to hold back her joy, choosing to celebrate quietly.
She explains that her initial thoughts were bittersweet as she thought to celebrate would be to disobey the God for whom she keeps fasts and before whom she falls prostrate in prayer.
She initially felt a cognitive dissonance where her faith apparently stands in stark opposition to the societal beliefs she passionately wishes to advocate for.
She advocates for a deistic approach to Allah so she can be a Muslim who supports gay rights. She desires to be progressive and so she seeks to move away from the diction of ancient manuscripts and focus on empowerment for all marginalized individuals and to silence the close-minded people who wish to limit Islam to very specific, destructive constructs and adhere only to centuries-old traditions.
I explain her situation first, because there are some parallels between her situation and the position Christianity finds itself in.
Christianity is built on the foundation of the teachings of the Bible, particularly because it is centered on the birth, life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We affirm the authenticity and historicity of Genesis to Revelations because Jesus Himself affirms it. Why Jesus is so important is because He is humanity’s rightful Creator and our God alongside the Father and the Holy Spirit.
So yes, the Bible is centuries old, but why should that have an impact on the truthfulness of its claims? If the Bible is God’s Word to us, then would it not hold that the truths contained therein would be timeless, and thus binding for all generations in all ages?
However since the Bible is a collection of documents written in space-time human history, it is worth noting that we must take historical context into account as we derive lessons from the text.
Of particular interest of note for the LGBTQUIA community are those texts which call for the deaths of people who engage in same-sex behavior. It is certainly true that there are texts which call for the deaths of people who exercise their sexuality in this manner, but those texts are located in a particular historical context which no longer apply to our time because of other important historical circumstances that warrant the change.
God freed the people of Israel from Egyptian slavery by the hand of Moses and through this redeemed people He wanted to show the rest of the world a glimpse of what a restored relationship with Him would look like.
He created mankind male and female and gave them a sexuality that He rightfully expects of them to exercise in accordance with His divine design.
However, Adam and Eve sinned against God by disobeying Him and putting themselves in as the new object of worship instead of the Creator they were made in the image of.
Ever since then, God has been on a rescue mission and longs to be restored in relationship to the people He made. Fast forward to the Israel that He redeemed from Egypt.
God wanted to live among the people of Israel and bless them with His presence, but there was one problem: He is light and His people were made darkness by their sins, among them being the misuse of their God-given sexuality against His appointed order.
He gave them sacrificial rites so they could have an opportunity to enjoy His holy presence without dying in their iniquities. He also gave them rules to hold them accountable to His holy character. If they disobeyed His moral laws, they may have been punished by death because the punishment reflects the high value God has in His holiness. At the same time, if people sinned against God in the context of the Mosaic covenant, His holy presence would break out against them until they made appropriate steps to appease Him.
At the same time, God was looking forward to a day in which He would be able to provide a Savior for mankind so that He could be completely and totally be reconciled with mankind. Instead of the covenant He made with Israel through Moses, He would inaugurate a new covenant that truly brought His alienated people back in full measure.
That promised Savior would later be revealed as the man Jesus Christ, God the Son in the flesh.
The situation our God faced was this: He created people in His own image that He longed to be in relationship with. Those people disobeyed Him and inverted the created order and thus deserve a punishment in accordance to the magnitude of the crime they committed. Even though they stand condemned, God did not desire their deaths but longs that some might live instead. To this end, He sent His own Son to die on their behalf, so justice might be met and His people could live.
In other words, God needs to punish people for their sins because that is what His justice demands, but He so does not want to exercise that rightful prerogative, that He gave His own Son so that His people could live and be brought back to Himself.
Within this framework, the issue of our sexuality stands. When we use our God-given sexuality in ways that God has not ordained or approved, we incur the same judgment as other sinners. The penalty is death, but the people who enforce that penalty would not be the people of God as it once was under the Mosaic covenant, but the Lord Jesus Himself under the new covenant He ushers in through His death and resurrection.
What changed between the Mosaic covenant and the New covenant was not the standard, but the person who enforces the death penalty, and the means by which one can be forgiven.
The Lord Jesus, although He rightfully holds the power to enforce judgment on mankind for their sins, so does not want to exercise that right, that He has already given up His life on our behalf and rose from the dead so that we might see newness of life instead.
That being said, anyone who continues to use their sexuality in rebellion against God after so great a sacrifice has been made for their behalf would be profaning the Son’s sacrifice and would incur greater judgment unless they repent by means of the very sacrifice they scorn.
The death penalty should no longer be enforced by the people of God, but because it is enforced by the Lord himself, we would do well to pay attention to not continuing in our rebellion against Him, but rather pledge our faithful loyalty to Him in spirit and in truth.
God was the one who made each and every one of us. He alone knows what is best for us. So if He says that our sexuality is meant to be used in certain ways for His glory and our good, then He is right. If He has committed those truths in writing and passed them down throughout human history, then it follows that we have no right to change what has already been said and still holds true today. More than that, He desires that we see that obedience to His revealed will brings not death, pain, and displeasure, but joy that increases to overflowing abundance.