About the Guest
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court made two historic rulings that favored same-sex marriage. In a special FamilyLife Today broadcast, Dennis Rainey says we may start with anger, but we must move beyond anger and sadness and back to a full confidence in the truth of the Gospel. Even though “truth has stumbled in the streets”, we must not lose heart. God’s victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ will never be invalidated by any court of man.
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court made two historic rulings that favored same-sex marriage.
Bob: With this week’s Supreme Court ruling on the status of marriage in America have we reached a new watershed? Are we headed in a direction from which there is no return?
This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, June 27th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk today about how we should process the news coming out of Washington about the definition of marriage. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. Those of you who tuned in to hear part two of Ron Deal’s message on blended families are going to have to find that program online at FamilyLifeToday.com because we have pre-empted what we had planned for today so we could talk about the news yesterday.
I’m just curious. Were you angry when you first heard the news about the Supreme Court decision on marriage?
Dennis: I was working at home and had just had a board meeting by phone yesterday morning and I have to say, Bob, my first thoughts and emotion was I was ticked. I thought, “How can the will of the people be overturned? How can we defend the rights of individuals and sacrifice the definition of what God created in marriage between a man and a woman?”
I was very angry, and then as I drove to work I almost wept. I really did. I got very, very sad. Frankly, I think that is where we have to go. I think we have to go to thinking about what we are inviting into our nation and upon the next generation as we tamper with the cultural DNA of marriage.
The Bible begins with a marriage and ends with a marriage. It’s always been between a man and a woman. There is no hate speech in that. It’s that our God created marriage and as the creator he can define it however he wants to define it. He chose to make it between a man and a woman. I think this is a time for the Christian community to grieve about our nation and I think it’s time for us to grieve in our families.
I think it’s time for us to begin to set a course of action for what we are going to do in response to this ruling.
Bob: I want to ask you about that course of action, but before we get there we have friends and neighbors who see the decision yesterday as a great victory for human rights. They’re saying this is a progressive move forward and that it actually brings full humanity to a class of people who have been cast aside for too long. How do we respond to something like that?
Dennis: I think first of all we have to defend human rights and we have to realize not everybody thinks like we do. I read recently in the Wall Street Journal that according to popular polls, upwards of up to sixty percent of the population now believes that same sex marriage is okay, that it is good.
Bob: In fact you’ve been reading this article in the Atlantic magazine this month explaining why people who are in traditional marriage can learn from the marriages of same sex couples.
Dennis: Yes, it’s everywhere and I really want to cut to the chase and say what now should we do? I think the first thing we have to do is--I don’t think we should run pointing our fingers at people with hate speech and derogatory comments and being unkind. We are ultimately talking about human beings made in the image of God who like any other human beings, like me and you, can make wrong choices. I think we have to love them and we have to speak with the grace of Jesus Christ.
I shared this morning with our staff as I spoke about this briefly. If there had been any other time in which I’d like to have been alive it would have been the time of Christ. I would like to have seen what love incarnate looked like. I’m in need of seeing that because I admit I don’t do a very good job of loving. I think a situation like this really stirs me up, not to love, but to express things that do not demonstrate the love of Christ to other people.
We have to keep in mind that it is the love of Christ that is going to call people out of these lifestyles where he chases them down and invites them into a relationship filled with grace and forgiveness and comfort and belonging to a family where other people have sinned in innumerable ways. Okay. This is just one way of which we have failed today.
I think the Christian community today has failed to love and I admit that for myself. I think what we have to do is train our kids to know how to do that, too. We have to teach them that our response to this must be love, but unwavering in our commitment to the truth of God’s Word, to what the Scriptures say.
Bob: You said to me earlier and I agree with you that fundamentally our response to what is going on here has to be a spiritual response. This issue is at its core an issue in the soul of human beings. We can fight it on a political level, but until we get to the root we’re not getting to the real issue.
Dennis: This is a battle for the souls of men and women. If we lose the battle in our own soul and cave in to what the flesh wants to do, to selfishness and hate, that’s not the solution. We first of all have to experience and demonstrate humility ourselves, not thinking more highly of ourselves, [not] thinking that because we are forgiven we are better than somebody.
We have to realize the great need of our nation today is to hear about the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, how he went to the cross to die for our sins, all of them; how he was raised again on the third day, and how he is seated at the right hand of God and offers forgiveness from all the shame--all the shame, no matter what you’ve done.
We are to be his ambassadors and messengers. We must remember we are the ones who must proclaim that message. If we lose the battle by giving in to hate speech or not respecting people, then we are going to lose our hearing and we are not going to be able to present the truth of what Jesus Christ came to do, which is redeem broken people.
Bob: We have some people who are saying, “Well, if the civil government wants to define marriage this way, I guess that is their prerogative. We should not hold the civil government to a religious standard. Let the church define it however they want to, but let the civil government define it the way they think best.” What is wrong with that way of thinking?
Dennis: Well, I think Jesus made it real clear. We are to be the salt and the light of the culture. We are to be the preservative of the culture. If the church loses its saltiness and if it doesn’t stand for the truth, it’s a matter of just completely giving over to governing authorities and letting them dictate moral standards or the lack of moral standards for our country. We have to stand strong in the Christian community.
I’ll tell you where it starts Bob: it starts at home. We’ve got to teach our children how to think about this because they are growing up in schools today with other boys and girls and other young men and women who put a face to homosexuality, to being gay.
To many of us who are a bit older, we may not have that many friends who are gay, so homosexuality does not have a face. But I promise you, to the average kid growing up in public school today, they know other children, other young people, who are gay and they have a face to it.
The tendency to cave in to compassion and to not hold fast to the truth of the Scripture is going to become increasingly difficult, especially with all that is being promoted in prime time television. We now have family time that is for all practical purposes a mockery of what a godly family ought to look like.
Bob: That is part of the propaganda of the culture.
Dennis: It really is. And it mocks men who are trying at any level to be a real man. It’s bizarre. It’s not worth our family’s time to turn it on. And yet, the majority of kids who are going to school today are watching that with their parents or without their parents and they are going to school and rubbing shoulders with our kids and our grandchildren.
What we have to realize as parents is that we have to prepare our sons and daughters to know how to think biblically and how to love biblically and how to follow Christ in the midst of this, how to speak the truth in love. Because if you don’t train them to do this, who is?
Bob: You said something and I just want you to clarify, because you said we should stand for truth and not cave in to compassion. You’re not suggesting that we should lack compassion.
Dennis: Absolutely not. We’ve got to be compassionate toward all people but compassion is not the ultimate standard. Truth is the ultimate standard.
In fact, in John 1 it says, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten come from God,” and he was full of what? “Grace,” which is relationship, love, compassion, and truth. There was only One Who perfectly held in tension grace and truth, compassion and a holy standard. Unfortunately, as broken human beings we are not doing it as good as Jesus did.
Dennis: But he did it perfectly. That is what we are called to do standing around the water cooler, talking to our next door neighbor. I think we have to be very shrewd right now, being wise, knowing that again, according to polls, over sixty percent of our country no longer embraces the biblical definition, the traditional definition of what has always been the definition in this country of marriage being between a man and a woman in a covenant relationship for a lifetime.
Bob: So, living as a minority in a culture that is now a majority culture related to gay marriage, how do we stand and how do we coach our kids? Here is the scenario I’m thinking of. Let’s say you’ve got a teenage son and he says, ”My friend, Jack, today told me he is gay. What should I do in my relationship with Jack?”
“Do Jack and I stay friends? Do I still have him over to the house? Do we still hang out together? Do I challenge him on what he is saying?” How does one 15-year-old engage with another 15-year-old, and what kind of conversation would you have with your son if that was what was going on at home?
Dennis: I’d first of all start with the mom and dad and I would ask them, “How is your marriage? How are you two doing in your relationship? Are you modeling for that 15-year-old son what a biblical marriage, a couple of sinners, who forgive and ask for forgiveness of one another, looks like?”
Bob: Not a perfect. Not an ideal.
Dennis: No. No it’s not that at all. It’s an attempt to live out what the book teaches here. Are you doing that? Because first and foremost we have to pay attention to our own marriages and families, because if we lose them you don’t have any point to argue from in the first place. It’s still the truth of the Bible but our greatest apologetic, I think, is marriages and families that go the distance. They show the world how two imperfect people go live with one another for a lifetime and are committed to one another. So that is where I’d start first of all.
Then I would have a conversation with my son and I’d want to know how influential this young man is in my son’s life. If he was extremely powerful and very influential then I might want to cut off the relationship and make it difficult to spend time with him. Inviting him over to the house where he can hang out over there, absolutely. That’s an opportunity to interact with the young man and love on him and show him what a marriage and a family look like as God designed it.
We have to realize increasingly as we move into the 21st century that your most powerful witnessing tool, I believe, is going to be your marriage that first of all doesn’t just last but loves. As you engage your 15-year-old ask questions. “What do you think?”
With a 15-year-old I think we have to avoid preaching, and ask lots of questions that guide our son and daughter to the truth. We need to take them back to the book. Take them back to the Bible and say, “Our family has a Christian world view that believes in absolute truth. We believe in what the Bible says as being the inspired word of God. This is how God created it and the reason others can redefine it is that they don’t have the same world view.”
I understand how they get to where they are. It’s why you can’t argue this in a two-minute sound bite on Bill O’Reilly or some other talk show. This is not a two-minute sound bite discussion. This is a way-of-life discussion.
I think for Christians, for followers of Christ, the way to ultimately influence the culture, to be the salt and light, and to train their kids to do the same is to live out a godly marriage, teach our kids to think biblically, and to submit to what the Scriptures say. Be ready to defend it should they be asked to defend it. As they defend their definition of marriage, brace themselves to be persecuted.
Bob: When I was growing up there would be families in churches who would step forward and they would say, “We think God has called us to go to another land, to a pagan culture and to be missionaries.” I think we are living in a day where anyone who is a Christian in this culture is automatically a missionary in a culture that is increasingly moving away from any biblical standard.
Dennis: I think you are right. You’ve heard me say, we’ve talked about it privately, I think I probably mentioned this on FamilyLife Today but what I used to say is, I didn’t think I could ever go to jail for my faith in my lifetime. I did not think America was sliding south fast enough that I could ever be imprisoned for believing what I believe.
I want to tell you something. The ruling that occurred yesterday is a game changer. It’s a game changer. I think the pastors who teach the truth about marriage from the Scripture, this broadcast, I think there could be a day in the not-too-distant future where we could either be told to stop teaching it or face the consequences.
I’m thinking of Isaiah 59. I’ve read this before on FamilyLife Today but I’ve thought about it as this news came down. It says, “For our transgressions are multiplied before you, God, and our sins testify against us. For our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities.” It goes on to say, “Justice is turned back and righteousness stands afar off, for truth has stumbled in the public squares and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.”
Now I think this describes what just happened. Justice has been turned back. Righteousness stands afar off. It feels like we don’t have any influence at all, and that’s a lie, but it still feels that way. Truth has stumbled in the public square.
This book begins with the marriage of a man and a woman, Adam and Eve. God makes it very clear in Genesis 2: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife.”
Bob: “And the two become…”
Dennis: That’s how it was designed by God. The other is unnatural. The other is not designed by God to occur. I don’t say that with any hate in my voice. But the reality is, who is the creator of marriage? Is it man? Or is it God? If it is God, are we going to let him speak or are we going to re-craft his speech on his behalf?
I don’t think the solution here is calling everybody to tune into FamilyLife Today every day. I think the solution is to turn loose the body of Christ, followers of Christ, to begin to make a difference where they live and to uphold the biblical standard without apology in a kind, loving way.
But to begin to press back and get their friends and family members and neighbors and community to go through an event like The Art of Marriage®. Or to get some men together and take them through Stepping Up™. None of these tools, by the way, say anything about homosexuality or same-sex marriage. All of these tools speak about God’s design. We are known by what we are for. We’re not known by what we are against.
I think the solution here is for these tools to get in the hands of lay men and women to make a difference where they live. Why? Not just to sell something. It is to give you a tool for you to make a difference where you live and for those of you who say “I refuse to do nothing about this ruling.” What are we going to do about it?
I think we have to train our children in how to think and how to act and how to respond. Then I think as couples we have to decide are we going to do nothing or are we going to step out and make a difference in the lives of marriages and families in our community? To be the salt and the light where God has planted us, where he has called us to be the salt and the light.
Bob: Okay. So somebody shows up at work today or tomorrow and a coworker says, “So I guess you’re pretty mad about the Supreme Court ruling. I guess you’re pretty angry about it.” How would you respond to that?
Dennis: I might admit what I started the broadcast with. Well initially, I’d have to be authentic and let you know I was really disappointed and, yes, I was angry. But that gave way to grief, to a true sadness, a real sadness for our country, for my children, for my grandchildren. I want you to know I respect your beliefs. You may differ with me, but I really believe that marriage was designed by God and as the creator of marriage he has every right to define it the way he wants to define it.
Bob: Do you think we will look back on this ruling 40 years from now the way we look back on Roe vs Wade today?
Dennis: No question. There is no question. In fact, in my opinion this is going to open the door to some very bizarre lifestyles, some very unnatural things happening in our country that are shameful. I don’t think it is going to be my generation that bears the brunt of that. It will be my children’s children who are going to have to face some matters that really create a sadness of my soul, because I think children are going to suffer under this. I think our nation will suffer.
Bob: We have posted on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, a couple of articles that deal with the issue of same-sex marriage. How do we think about it biblically? How do we respond compassionately? How do we keep truth and grace in their proper tension?
I would encourage listeners to go to FamilyLifeToday.com to find those articles. You may want to print them out and read them together at home tonight. Read them with your teenagers and get some discussion going around this subject. This is a part of how you equip and engage the next generation and how we think biblically on this subject.
Dennis: And Bob, I might add this about this ruling, even if it does invite in a spiritual dark age or a darker time for our country, here is what I want our listeners to hear. We have the greatest truth that has ever been proclaimed on the planet. It’s the message of Christmas, Emmanuel, God with us.
He came and became flesh to live a perfect life and then go to the cross willfully, die as our sacrifice, raised on the third day, alive today having defeated death to offer eternal life, forgiveness from all the shame and all the guilt to whoever calls out to him in faith and in surrender. I just think that message can’t help but be a brighter message than the darkness.
We have the message. We are ambassadors. Let us not become fearful. Let us not cower in the corner. We know who has won the war. Has this skirmish been a loss? No question about it. But I have the rest of the book.
In Revelation it tells us who wins. God wins in the end. Our responsibility as followers of Christ is to be obedient in our day to live out his calling in our lives to the best of the power that he gives us, the Holy Spirit living within us, to represent him and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to all who will call upon him.
Frankly, although it is a sad time to be alive, it is also an exciting time to be alive, because who would have thought that starting a marriage and family ministry in 1976 would have ever been in the cross hairs of the bulls eye of the culture--of being counter cultural to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman in a covenant-keeping relationship for a lifetime? That was unthinkable in 1976 when we started this ministry, but it is not today.
Bob: Well, again, let me point our listeners to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, for more information, some articles that we have put together on this subject. And then keep listening to FamilyLife Today. We have programs scheduled for July and then again September where we are going to be dealing with the issue of homosexuality and how we can provide compassionate, biblical help to those who wrestle with that particular kind of sexual sin.
And we want to encourage you to be back tomorrow. We’re going to hear from Jeff and Stacy Kemp as they talk about being allies, teammates in a marriage relationship.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and help from Phil Krause. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. See you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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