Category Archives: Culture

The DOMA Dilemma

On Wednesday, June 26, the Supreme Court made two rulings on marriage that will profoundly impact our culture. First, they dismissed Proposition 8 for lack of legal standing and sent it back to the State of California for further review. Second, they reversed the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and now offer full federal benefits to same sex couples.

Writing the Majority Opinion for United States v. Windsor, Justice Kennedy said DOMA “demeans” same sex couples and “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same sex couples.” He implies that any opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in animus or hatred.

This poses a real problem for Christians. We are not out to “hate” or “humiliate” anyone. Yet the Bible stipulates that marriage is created by God as a permanent union between one man and one woman:

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

(See also Gen. 1:27; Ps. 128:3-4; Mt. 19:4-9; Heb. 13:4)

Furthermore, the Bible says that even the slightest drift away from God’s law is “sin”:

James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

Thus, any departure from God’s holy standard of monogamous, heterosexual marriage is sin. This includes fornication, adultery, homosexuality, bisexuality, incest, polygamy, polyamory, bestiality, etc.

So here’s the dilemma. In striking down DOMA, the Supreme Court has declared same sex marriage to be a moral virtue and a constitutional right. Yet our conscience and convictions, informed by Scripture, dictate that same sex marriage is a moral evil and dishonoring to God. How should we respond?

When forced to choose between the two, we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Written by God, the Bible holds the trump card, and is the final arbiter of good and evil, right and wrong. When civil authorities declare something wrong to be right, we respectfully disagree and reserve our highest allegiance for God. Unlike human governments, His laws are always good, and His laws will never change.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether
Psalm 19:9

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Get Ready for Election Day

<!–[if pub]> 281 7772400 10058400 259 261 257 276 262 279 1 0?\KR2WRQPTJ:8!7S0/,<6P 5 1 0 285 282 1 False 0 0 0 0 -1 304800 243 True 128 77 255 3175 3175 70 True True True True True 278 134217728 1 1 -9999996.000000 -9999996.000000 8 Empty 13158 52479 6750207 13421772 10040166 26316 16777215 12 Desert <![endif]–><!–[if pub]> 22860000 22860000 (`@““““` 266 263 5 110185200 110185200 <![endif]–>Tuesday, November 6, is a watershed moment in our nation’s history. Here’s my advice for election day…

Pray. Let’s pray for wisdom, for peace, and for leaders who will fear God and keep His commandments (1 Tim. 2:1-4). Most importantly, pray for revival which is by far our nation’s greatest need.

Learn. Study the issues before entering the polling booth. Click here for a Presidential Voter Guide. For more info about candidates and propositions, go to: www.californiafamily.org and Robyn Nordell’s website.

Vote. Cast your vote on election day and thank God for the privilege of having a government that is still ‘of the people, by the people, for the people.’

Rest. Regardless of the outcome, you can rest in God’s sovereignty and remember that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior” (Phil. 3:20). As Bob Dylan sang, “we’re strangers in a land we’re passing through.”

photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net

National Day of Prayer

Religion and politics. We’ve all been warned not discuss these two topics in public. Bring one up, and the mood at the water cooler can go from casual to combative in about 2.5 seconds. But I’m going to breach etiquette and mention them both … in the same article.

First, politics. As we all know, this is an election year. Campaign flyers are flooding our mailbox. The California Primary Election is just around the corner, and six months from now, millions of Americans will gather at their local precinct to choose a leader for the next four years. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge observed, “All the opportunity for self-government through the rule of the people depends upon one single factor. That is the ballot box.” If you haven’t already, be sure to register and exercise your right to vote in our upcoming elections. It is our duty.

Now on to religion. I must confess, I’m not very fond of the word “religion.” It usually brings to mind cold ceremonies, empty rituals, and corrupt institutions. But if, by “religion,” we mean faith in God through Jesus Christ, it’s the most precious word on the planet.

Each of us has a political duty to vote. But we also have a religious duty: to pray for our country. The Apostle Paul says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. For kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV). Since my 18th birthday, I’ve never missed an election. But to my shame, I sometimes forget to pray for my leaders after they’re elected.

Elections are good, but prayer meetings are better. Elections shape history, but prayer affects the God of history. Prayer unites our hearts with the sovereign Lord of the universe who alone “changes times and seasons, removes kings and sets up kings” (Daniel 2:21).

Let’s pray that our elected officials will have wisdom and strength. Let’s pray for our schools, our military, our churches, our families, and our law enforcement. Most importantly, let’s pray for the spiritual needs of our nation — that more people will find true hope in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Tomorrow, we have a great opportunity to pray during the National Day of Prayer. On behalf of the other pastors of the Morongo Basin Evangelical Pastors Fellowship, I invite you to join us at Remembrance Park at Noon on Thursday May 3, 2012. But even if you can’t make this gathering, please pause for a few moments to pray for our nation and our community. After all, it is our duty.

This article first appeared in the Minister’s Message in today’s edition of our local newspaper, the Hi Desert Star.

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Augustine and the death of Bin Laden

If ever there was a “just war,” our nation’s pursuit of Osama Bin Laden would qualify. Here are Augustine’s comments on the necessity and limits of waging a “just war”…

For it is the wrongdoing of the opposing party [Al Qaeda] which compels the wise man [Coalition Forces] to wage just wars; and this wrong-doing, even though it gave rise to no war, would still be matter of grief to man because it is man’s wrong-doing.

Let every one, then, who thinks with pain on all these great evils, so horrible, so ruthless, acknowledge that this is misery. And if any one either endures or thinks of them without mental pain, this is a more miserable plight still, for he thinks himself happy because he has lost human feeling…

…For even they who make war desire nothing but victory,—desire, that is to say, to attain to peace with glory. For what else is victory than the conquest of those who resist us? and when this is done there is peace. It is therefore with the desire for peace that wars are waged… (Augustine, “City of God,” quoted from Philip Schaff, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. II, 407).

I think it’s appropriate to feel a mix of sorrow and gladness today as we reflect on the death of Osama bin Laden. On the one hand, we grieve the thought of anyone facing the prospect of eternity in hell, apart from Christ. On the other hand, when a battle was provoked by wrongdoing, and weapons were reluctantly taken up by the innocent nation, we should rejoice at the sight of justice and a little more peace in our world today.