Going to Church with Supreme Disappointment. You know what I mean. It was just a few weeks ago. On Friday morning, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States of America declared in a 5-4 decision that a constitutional right to homosexual marriage exists and must be protected in every corner of this nation. Somehow, every Christian in America had to pick ourselves up from getting kicked in the gut with that news and walk into church 48 hours later.
As a pastor, I had the duty not only to personally do that, but to lead and pastor a congregation full of Christians who are bewildered, confused, disappointed, discouraged, fearful, mourning, and so on. I wondered as I was walking to church that morning, “What was it like to worship in 1973, the Sunday after the murder of abortion was legalized by the Supreme Court?” Since I was not born yet, I do not personally know, but the record of this publication is interesting. For all of 1973 and 1974, only two times is “abortion” even referred to in the Reformed Herald (and only in passing). I won’t venture a conclusion as to why that is. I certainly know that the members of the Reformed Church in the U.S. disagreed with abortion in 1973. Did they not understand how revolutionary such a decision was, and what would happen in the decades after it? Were they so busy fighting the good fight of faith in other areas that they didn’t focus on this issue that consumed the politics and culture of the society at large?
In any case, we must not repeat that history. We mention it in this Editorial. We also note that, EVEN BEFORE this tragic decision to legalize homosexual marriage, our Synod had studied God’s Word on these matters in recent years, published a study paper available for sale on Amazon.com (Promoting a Biblical Sexual Morality, published June 27, 2013), and taken a position on Marriage and Sexuality to provide pastoral advice and witness to our churches and the world. In May 2015, we also applied these issues to our Constitution and to our Standing Rules. Forty years from now, wherever Christians are on this planet, they will know that the RCUS recognized the Supreme Disappointment of June 26, 2015. It is a day when the nation’s brightest intellectual minds, the ones entrusted with the final word on what is just and legal for American citizens, declared that they know better than God what marriage is. No longer do the enemies of God simply question Him like Satan when he told Eve, “Has God really said???” For the majority of the Supreme Court, God (whoever or whatever He/She/It is) has said that homosexual marriage is right, just, and full of dignity.
So, what do we Christians do with this supreme disappointment? What do we do, knowing that all sorts of infringements on our religious liberty are coming? Dear Christian, we do what God’s people have always done. We worship. We worship our Creator, Redeemer, and Judge. We worship because we remember. We remember God’s promise to His elect, like that found in Malachi 3:6: “For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed.” Though earth’s judges may change, though popular opinion may change, the Lord Who created us and the institution of marriage does not change.
God’s unchanging character applies to more issues than whether humans have the right to change the definition of marriage. The promise in Malachi is that we will not be consumed by wrath because of His unchanging character. Though the world may pour out its wrath upon us for not being ‘tolerant’ of deviant lifestyles, God’s wrath is the real danger that any human needs to find a way to deal with. There is, of course, only one way to get right with God and escape His wrath. He has declared that in His unchanging Word. Worship is the very place that we have learned this gospel. So, no matter what disappointments threaten us or our world, we continue to worship God, where we are refreshed by the Gospel that only by true faith in Jesus Christ can the sinner escape God’s Wrath. That is a truth that is comforting to any sinner, including those guilty of any sort of sexual sin, whether it be homosexuality or any other of the Biblically forbidden uses of our sexuality. The God Who does not change has promised that all who have faith in Christ will not be consumed. Christ has already been consumed for us, bearing the guilt and shamefulness of all our sins on His cross.
How do you worship with Supreme Disappointment? You remember Who God is. This has never been easy for the Christian. Yet it is our joyful calling. We read in Psalm 73:2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. . . 17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end. 18 Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. . . 25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. 26 My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Rev. Kyle A. Sorensen, Manitowoc, Wisconsin