So then, my last post on the implications of Obergefell and the opportunities being given to us as Christians to hate sin and love sinners generated some good and reasonable questions worth following up on.
Here are a few of those along with a few more of my own:
1. Are you saying Christians should refuse all services to homosexuals?
No, I’m saying we should love all homosexuals and serve them like we serve any other human being who is a sinner. At the same time, like any other sinner who asks us to help them sin or celebrate their sin, we must refuse because that would be to do them harm rather than to bless them and do them good (Rom. 12:18-21). This is why Christians in every profession in every level of society should refuse to comply with Obergefell.
2. What’s the difference between issuing a marriage license to a fornicating heterosexual couple and issuing a marriage license to a fornicating homosexual couple?
In the first instance you are helping a couple out of a sinful situation into a more obedient situation. In the second instance you are helping a couple that’s already in rebellion go deeper in their defiance of God and His reality. That’s a big difference.
3. What’s the difference between baking a cake for a fornicating heterosexual couple and baking a cake for a fornicating homosexual couple?
Well, on the surface nothing. Christians should not object to baking cakes for abortion doctors or Muslims or members of the KKK or Dallas Cowboys fans. The difference that may arise in the process of doing business is related to the high handed nature of homosexual sin. Heterosexual sin is certainly sin, but homosexual sin is more obvious and noticeable. A man and woman holding hands may indicate fornication or it may not. A judgment of charity assumes it doesn’t. Two men holding hands almost certainly does indicate fornication. But again, Christians should not object to serving sinners (1 Cor. 5:10). Christians only object to being asked to help someone sin or celebrate their sin. Baking a cake for a homosexual is not a problem. Baking a cake so that they they can celebrate their “marriage” is a major problem, just like baking a bunch of cupcakes with swastikas for a KKK soiree would also be problematic.
4. So you’re saying that if a heterosexual couple walks into your hotel and says excitedly that this is the big night, their first night together, and in six months they’re going to get married — you’re saying you’d refuse them service?
5. But why? And if you were a barber, would you refuse to cut their hair too?
I’d refuse the couple who have announced that they are planning to commit fornication because they are explicitly asking me to help them sin. Just like I’d refuse to sell ammunition to a man who announces that he’s planning to go on a shooting spree. If a couple walked in for hair cuts and told me the same thing, I would be obliged to tell them what I think about their sin. But I would probably still cut their hair because a hair cut is a common human need and not an accessory to the crime. If they tell me they’re getting new hair cuts for disguises because they’ll be going on a shooting spree tomorrow, I smile and nod and call the cops.
6. But what about Obadiah hiding the faithful prophets in the cave from Ahab and Jezebel?
What about him?
7. Isn’t that an example of a different style of Christian living? One that’s less confrontational and more relational?
Well, it’s certainly an example of a different form of resistance, but Obadiah was taking a huge risk. In other words, you can tell what true resistance looks like because of what it could cost you. If Obadiah is being raised as an example for Christians to follow so that they don’t have to resist sin and tyranny, that’s a misapplication.
8. So what’s an analogous application of Obadiah’s resistance?
I would advise Christian social workers not to call homosexual couples for foster care placements, even if they’re technically on the list. Like Obadiah, they ought to hide the innocent from harm.
9. But won’t she get fired when the truth comes out?
Maybe. But if you aren’t risking anything then you aren’t resisting anything.
10. But aren’t Christians supposed to tell the truth and be obedient to their supervisors?
Yes, ordinarily. But the Bible is also filled with examples of faithful people resisting sin and tyranny through the use of godly deception and resistance. The Hebrew midwives saved the Hebrew baby boys and lied to Pharaoh and God blessed them for it. Rahab hid the spies and lied to the soldiers and God blessed her for it. Abigail went behind her evil husband’s back to prevent David from doing her husband harm.
11. But doesn’t this open the door to all kinds of immorality and lawlessness and chaos?
As opposed to what our culture is currently doing? But no it doesn’t because godly deception and disobedience is only done in submission to God’s law. Those who are trying to get us to help them sin or help them celebrate their sin are the lawless ones. They are trying to get us to embrace their chaos. We are resisting and refusing to comply because of our love of God’s law. God’s law is the way of life, the way of joy, they way of peace.
12. So you’re saying you hate homosexuals?
No, homosexuals are made in the image of God, and I am responsible to love and honor God’s image in them. What I object to is how homosexuals hate themselves. Sodomy is masochism — it is delighting in self-inflicted abuse and humiliation. People do this to themselves because they love death. Many times this is because they were abused, mistreated, shamed, and exploited by others. This gives me a great deal of compassion for them. Like a doctor who refuses to lie to a terminal cancer patient, Christians refuse to lie to homosexuals who are running headlong toward death. But we refuse to lie to them because God in His mercy refused to lie to us. He told us the truth about our sin, our death-wish, and if there is hope for us then there is hope for every kind of sinner.
13. But didn’t Jesus say not to judge?
No, Jesus said to beware that the standard you use to judge others will be applied back to you (Matt. 7:1-2). If I object to a man murdering another man, I’m judging that act of murder as evil and sinful. If a doctor tells a patient that she needs to stop smoking so many cigarettes, is that judgmental or an act of kindness? The problem with judging other people is when either the standard is something irrational (like saying that men with red beards are morons) or when we are beating somebody over the head with a standard that we don’t meet by a long shot (like Planned Parenthood claiming to care about women and families). But when the standard is God’s standard we don’t have the option of ignoring it or changing it. The only option is repentance and truth telling. This is why Jesus says that before you try to take the speck out of your brother’s eye, first remove the log from your own eye. The Bible teaches that we must measure ourselves first, judge ourselves first, and be stricter with ourselves first. But if it’s God’s standard, and your brother is in sin, go to him and seek to restore him, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted (Gal. 6:1).
14. So do you think homosexuals should be stoned?
First of all, stoning criminals was a method of capital punishment that was probably symbolically related to the conquest of the Promised Land and isn’t binding on the world today. But it is still the job of civil magistrates to apply biblical justice with wisdom (Rom. 13). The only crime the Bible requires the death penalty for is first degree murder (Gen. 9:5-6). But some other crimes also rise to a certain level of intentional scorn and defacing of the image of God, crimes like rape, kidnapping, child rape, and certain forms of homosexuality would fall under that category. The Bible also gives instances of godly suppression of homosexuality, as during the reigns of Asa and Jehoshaphat and Josiah (1 Kgs. 15:12, 22:46, 2 Kgs. 23:7). However, what Christians should be most interested in is seeing the Christian Church grow a biblical backbone enough to tell the truth about all sexual sin to the point of significant repentance and revival, particularly in the homosexual community. I hope to see churches increasingly full of former homosexuals repenting, coming to the Lord, and walking in newness of life.
15. What about Naaman bowing in the Temple of Rimmon? Isn’t that an instance where God allows an exception to helping sinners sin?
First off, even if it is an exception (which I don’t think it is), that’s no excuse for what we should consider normal. Our ordinary stance would still remain that we must not help men sin. Second, Naaman doesn’t ask for permission or a blessing to perform his duties to the Syrian king, he asks for “pardon” (2 Kgs. 5:18). The same Hebrew word is used throughout the Hebrew scriptures to describe sin being forgiven (e.g. Ex. 34:9, Lev. 4:20, Num. 14:19-20, 1 Kgs 8:30, etc.). In other words, Naaman is not asking for an exception. He’s asking for forgiveness. He has just sworn loyalty to the God of Israel, particularly promising to only worship Him and no other gods. Asking for pardon and forgiveness presupposes that it isn’t acceptable — at the very least it’s breaking his vow. Last, American Christians are hardly in an analogous situation to Naaman the Syrian. Even if for the sake of argument, we grant that Elisha gives Naaman some kind of exception, he’s still a brand new believer. It would be something more like a Chinese man professing faith in Christ and being baptized and when he gets ready to leave for the summer to go home to face his antagonistic atheistic parents begging me for permission not to tell his family yet. He promises to pray and read his Bible regularly, but he just isn’t ready to face the immediate explosion of anger and ostracism, perhaps even complete shunning that is likely to commence. While I might wish that his conversion would include the courage to face these fears, I could also imagine situations where you grant that permission for the time being, praying that his faith would increase and mature.
16. So if Christians should do their best not to help people sin or celebrate their sin, how hard should Christians work to know whether someone is in sin?
It depends on who they are. If your four year old son asks you for matches, and you ask why, and he casually shrugs his shoulders and says, oh, nothing. You should be highly suspicious and do some investigating. If a man stumbles in off the street with a long tale of woe and the thick stench of booze on his breath and asks for five dollars for gas, I would offer to take him to the gas station to fill up a gas can and then drive him to his car to fill it with gas (while being careful to ensure he was sober before actually filling his tank). But if he insists that would be too much trouble and he’ll just take the cash, I have good reason to refuse on these grounds. I would also object to giving a suicidal man a bullet for his gun or a length of rope. I am under orders to do all men good. And I will not assist any man in doing himself or others harm, if I can help it. But for the most part, in ordinary life, you offer your services cheerfully and generously to all men, fulfilling the duties set before you by your supervisors. But since we are Christians, we are constantly awake and watchful so that we might be prepared to do good to all men. Ordinarily, we ought to assume the best, hope the best, believe the best and serve our neighbors with no extraordinary interrogation. But wisdom and common sense will also demand that we occasionally ask questions, and when we are confronted with plain-as-day folly and sin, we should cheerfully refuse to help and not go along with it.
17. In your last post you suggested that court clerks should cheerfully refuse to issue marriage licenses to homosexuals. Why should clerks resist rather than resign?
While I don’t think it’s a sin to resign, I think it’s a strategic mistake. What our country and states and cities need are good people manning the barricades. That means we should stand at our posts until God removes us. If you get fired, that’s your cue to move on. But Daniel and his three friends ran into piles of trouble in Babylon for refusing to comply with all the shenanigans of the pagan nobles and by God’s grace and blessing they managed to get promoted. That’s what we should be praying for and hoping for. Some Christians will get booted, and that will be their promotion — their reward will be great in heaven. And their families and friends and churches should be prepared to throw special celebrations because Jesus said that we are to rejoice exceedingly when we are persecuted for righteousness sake. But I also think we should not underestimate the persuasive power of courage and integrity. When a man or woman stands their ground for the sake of Christ, it will draw ire from some, but it will draw greater respect from others. We should stand our ground and refuse to comply with tyrannical Obergefell-ish decrees and trust the Lord to give us the best promotion.
18. Is there a difference between applying for and accepting a job now and already finding yourself in that position?
Yes, certainly. You should go into any field with your eyes open. Vocations like law enforcement, the military, politics, medical professions, various sports, television, movies, entertainment, and (apparently now) court clerks, etc. (and many others) bring with them peculiar and acute temptations and pressures. This does not mean that they are thereby unlawful, but a Christian needs to know what they’re up against. And that means weighing the likelihood that your Christian faith will require various levels of resistance and disobedience to your superiors. If you find yourself in a lawful profession that is becoming increasingly antagonistic, I would encourage people to stay put for as long as they can (see #17). Some Christians falsely think that if they compromise to get into the system they will be able to be salt and light inside, but that’s rarely true. Usually the compromise needed to get in is enough to castrate your ability to threaten anyone. On the other hand, we do need faithful Christians in every sector of society ready to resist all sin and injustice. So I recommend the Daniel method: be up front about your convictions and trust the Lord to grant you favor and place you in the right position (Dan. 1:8ff). We need Obadiahs willing to risk their lives and vocations for Jesus but not at the cost of their own souls.
19. This isn’t about Obergefell, but isn’t it inconsistent to be pro-life and support the death penalty?
Actually it is related to Obergefell, but no, it isn’t inconsistent.
20. Really? Why not? How is it connected to Oberefell? And do you really trust the society that funds Planned Parenthood and legislates Gay Mirage to render justice to criminals?
The reason it isn’t inconsistent is because human life belongs to God. It bears His image and likeness. He gives all human life, and only He may lawfully authorize taking it. So unborn children, the elderly, and the disabled bear that image and ought to be afforded all the dignity and honor and legal protections due every human being. The connection is that ironically, Obergefell is a judicial mandate commanding the American states to join in the dishonoring of the image of God in men and women, which is an embrace of death. This is why our resistance of Obergefell is a principled pro-life stance. Monogamous marriage between one man and one woman is not just a tradition but an affirmation of the image of God in all human beings and therefore an affirmation of life. But God has spoken clearly that a person who intentionally takes another human being’s life has forfeited his own. And it is both cruel to the murderer and to the community where that act of violence takes place not to execute the murderer. The death penalty actually shows a great deal more honor to the image of God in a murderer than sentencing him to decades of hellish existence in a cage like an animal. That’s cruel and unusual.
And finally, no I don’t trust a society that funds Planned Parenthood or mandates Gay Mirage to judge justly. But I don’t think that disobeying God is the answer to injustice. You don’t solve one wrong with another wrong. Yes, that could mean the death penalty for innocent people; it could even mean the death penalty for Christians. But we need to return to God’s word not further the origami exegesis of Scripture that already plagues our land. And thankfully, for the present, despite all of our sin and folly, there are still many good men and women rendering justice in our land.