By Doug Beacham
On June 26 the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell v Hodges ruled that same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States. In response, the IPHC released an article (http://iphc.org/gso/2015/06/26/iphc-response-to-us-supreme-court-ruling-on-marriage/) and a Position Paper (http://iphc.org/position-papers/) joining almost every other Pentecostal, evangelical, Orthodox Christian, and Roman Catholic church in condemning this ruling.
In light of the continuing moral shift in western nations, it is appropriate that the Holy Spirit has led the IPHC to cast its vision as “A Place of Hope and A People of Promise.” This year our core value emphasis has been “We Prayerfully Value Pentecost.” Next year, our core value emphasis will be “We Prayerfully Value Holiness.” Over the months of July, August, and September of this year, our attention is given to the fruit of the Spirit. I believe the Holy Spirit, who already knows the future, has been preparing us to minister and thrive in these dark days.
Besides the initial response of the church, I have personally weighed my own thoughts and responses over these weeks. I have prayerfully sought to weigh them in light of the fruit of the Spirit. From Galatians 5:22 we know the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In Ephesians 5:9 the Apostle Paul clustered righteousness and truth with goodness.
In light of this scriptural and cultural engagement, I humbly and prayerfully offer some reflections with you regarding these matters.
1. We hold that the Bible, God’s revealed Word, clearly teaches that homosexuality is a sin. In fact, it is described as an abomination
(Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). It is more than simply missing the mark of God’s perfect will; it is a perversion of God’s purposes for men and women. It is one of the clearly identified reasons why God removes His protective hand from nations (Leviticus 18:24; Romans 1:26, 28).
2. Marriage, with its cultural variants, has nonetheless always been between male and female. Before now, no one has erred in identifying same-sex relationships as marriage. Personally, and as a movement, we only recognize marriage as being between a man and a woman.
3. I realize that most of us live in nations where government and religion have distinct roles. For the most part, we agree in distinguishing those distinct areas. However, as with other issues that are ultimately spiritual in nature (e.g., poverty, racial violence, abortion and sexual slavery), people of faith have a responsibility to speak openly and freely regarding the statutes of the Living God. Governments may separate church and state, but the Ruler of nations has no such constraints.
4. I remind the global IPHC family, especially those of us living in nations where these practices are encouraged, that as ministers we only perform and participate in marriages between a man and a woman. I refer you to the IPHC Manual for more information.
5. I remind us that our congregational, denominational, and institutional properties are only to be used for weddings and like celebrations between a man and a woman. Again, I refer you to the IPHC Manual.
6. Our affirmation of biblical marriage does not make us intolerant, bigoted or hateful. We unequivocally reject such accusations and consider such accusations an attempt to intimidate and silence our witness to the truth.
7. Our commitment to truth is actually an expression of our Christian love for our neighbors. If we hated our neighbors, we would not share with them God’s truth and warn them of the due penalty of their actions (Romans 1:27). It is because we ourselves know the redeeming power of Christ’s love, that we prayerfully and gracefully speak the truth in love.
8. We do not ask God to judge and destroy those who choose to live in homosexual relationships. Rather, we chose to stand as Abraham did in Genesis 18:17–32, appealing to God’s just and righteous character to save the cities and the people where this sin, among other sins, was so manifest. We do this because we know God’s nature. He is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). We accept that God’s long-suffering is meant to bear fruit in our lives through our patience in prayer and love.
9. God’s law, the Torah, is not arbitrary or unloving. In fact, the Torah, further manifested in the person of the Messiah Jesus, holds love and commandment together for the sake of life and blessing (Psalm 19:7–14; John 13:34; 14:15, 21, 24, 31; 15:10; Romans 13:8–10; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Galatians 5:13, 14; Philippians 1:9; 1 Timothy 1:5; 4:12; 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 2:5).
10. While homosexuality and this particular court decision have been the major focus of this article, I am keenly aware of our failure as followers of Jesus to live holy, pure, covenant-keeping lives. We have allowed immorality to be treated as something we just can’t help. We have allowed the leaven of worldliness to corrupt our holy witness in the world. We have substituted a religion of self-fulfillment and happiness for the life-giving message of denying ourselves and following Christ (Matthew 16:24). We have offered cheap-grace to each other rather than the disciplines of holy living that manifest the power of God. If we desire redemption for our land, then let us submit to God’s judgment over His house, beginning with us (1 Peter 4:17). As I have stated before and after this court decision, we do not live in fear, dismay, anger, or bitterness. We live as followers of Jesus Christ, manifesting His love and truth to all we encounter.
This article was published in the August 2015 issue of Encourage.