Let me start by making one thing clear:
If a same-sex couple walked into a gathering of GraceLife Church (where I serve as a pastor), they would be welcomed, loved, and befriended just like any other person who connects with our church because they ARE just like any other person who connects with our church. We are all dependent on the same grace and in need of the same savior…Jesus.
However, this post is not about that. It’s about the Church’s response to culture in light of recent events.
The Church has allowed the government to use them as agents of the state when it comes to marriage. If marriage is an institution of the Church (and it IS), then perhaps we (the Church) should not act as agents of the state by signing marriage certificates as “officiants.” What if we went back to having a religious marriage/covenant ceremony to unite a couple in the eyes of God and then left it up to the couple to have their marriage recognized in the eyes of the state? Just a thought.
Now that same-sex “marriage” is legal, the government could hold churches and pastors to the same standards of equality that they would hold them to regarding race. Although the SCOTUS says that freedom of religion should be protected, when it comes to marriage, I am not sure if that opinion will remain in the near future. Basically, our government has set a precedent in the last 20 years that there are some things that trump freedom of religion. So how should the Church respond? I believe the answer is to stop acting as an agent of the state when it comes to marriage and get back to being the Church.
Culture has changed. I believe the only way forward for the Church is to focus on the mission of God, preach the Gospel, to embrace the reality that we are “strangers and aliens” in this land (1 Peter 2:10-12), and to stop acting as agents of the state. Some are going to get into the freedom of religion fight on the issue of same-sex marriage and I applaud their efforts. As for me, I am persuaded that we are now living in the reality of what it is to be “strangers and aliens” in our country. More than ever before, we (the Church) have to double down on mission and teach our people to live Kingdom values (Matthew 5-7) in a hostile culture.
I think this is a great turning point for the church. It may signify the beginning of the end for cultural Christianity in our country.