Thoughts on the recent Supreme Court Decision on DOMA

Thoughts on DOMA

In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act

 Recently the SCUSA struck down the 3rd part of the DOMA passed by Congress several years ago in an attempt to define marriage as between a man and a woman at the federal level. This law did not restrict states from passing their own laws in regards to defining marriage. We have seen several states, pass legislation that allows same-sex partners to either marry or enter into “civil unions” which bestows practically all the benefits legally given to heterosexual married partners at the state level. Colorado has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but a new law allows civil unions, bestowing many of the same rights as marriage.

What does the SCUSA decision mean?

DOMA itself basically said states did not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where it was legal

  • For instance, my wife Casey and I were married in North Carolina, but our marriage has been recognized in Virginia, California and now Colorado
  • Similarly driver’s licenses are recognized across state lines no matter the issuing state.
  • DOMA deemed states were not required to recognize same-sex marriages in the same way

DOMA also states the federal government would only recognize marriages between a man and woman

  • The term “spouse” can not be applied to same-sex couples
  • This is important for several legal rights and in issues such as tax filing and protections

This so-called “third clause” is what SCUSA ruled on.

Two women, (Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer,) legally married in Canada and then moved to New York where their marriage was viewed as legal

  • Thea Spyer died leaving her rather substantial estate to her partner, Edith Windsor
  • The surviving partner attempted to claim the “spouse exemption” on the estate taxes
  • The IRS denied the exemption based on the 3rd clause of DOMA: a same-sex partner could not claim “spouse” status
  • Amounted to a payment to the IRS of nearly $400,000

SCUSA deemed the 3rd Clause unconstitutional in a 5-4 ruling, arguing it violates the 5th Amendment and deprived Edith Windsor of her liberty to be in a relationship with whom she chooses

It made no specific ruling on the legality of same-sex marriage at the federal level

  • The Court’s lack of ruling on this, basically choosing not to rule on this, means it is still up to each individual state to determine whether or not to legalize same-sex marriages or civil unions

While not going so far as to say the federal government deems same-sex marriage and civil unions legal (which is ultimately a function of the Congress), it is a step in that direction

What does this mean as a Christian?

First we must talk about the question of whether or not homosexuality is a sin.

All sex outside of heterosexual marriage is sin

  • Fornication, (sometimes referred to in the bible as “sexual immorality) or sex before marriage, is considered a sin. (Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21, Acts 15:20)
  • Adultery, sex while married with someone who is not your spouse is a sin. (Exodus 20:14, Matthew 5:27-28, 1 Cor. 6:9)
  • Homosexual activity is no more or less sinful than heterosexual sin outside of God’s plan, but it is still sin. (Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9)

Christians often have a bad habit of viewing homosexuality as “worse” than other sin

  • Christians tend to “go up in arms” against those living a homosexual lifestyle, but do very little towards the heterosexual couple that’s sleeping together outside of marriage
  • Christians also have a very bad habit of forgetting Romans 3:23, that says ALL have sinned and fallen short. I like to call this the “equal opportunity clause.”
  • We’re all in need of Jesus’ grace and forgiveness, all of mankind.

God’s design for sex is in heterosexual marriage

  • Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
  • Jesus reaffirms this verse in Mt. 19
  • Any sexual act outsides of this definition of marriage is sin

Also, we must understand, sin is anything that separates us from God and is a commitment of “cosmic treason” against the Creator

  • All sin leads to death (Romans 6:23)
  • Murder to gossip
  • Societal consequences may vary, but the spiritual consequences do not vary

At the same time:

  • Leviticus 20 specifically calls homosexual activity as a sin
  • Romans 1 says the same thing, specifically speaking to lesbianism as well

There is no caveat for “loving relationship” as a reason to defy the guidance God has given us when it comes to our bodies and our sexual activity

God made our bodies and declared heterosexual, marriage as good and the only right place for sex

So as Christians who believe the bible to be the word of God, this is what we believe in regards to homosexuality

  • Let me reiterate, at the same time, sin is sin…
  • active homosexuality is no worse or better than any other sin that all of mankind struggles with
  • I like to put it this way, little old Sister Sally that gossips about everyone is just as much a sinner as the mass murderer. Again, societal consequences may differ, but spiritual consequences do not.

How do we respond?

The typical Christian response usually falls on two sides

1)   Hardened, politicized war as seen in the early days of the pro-life movement

  • Not usually motivated by love
  • Violent, or at the least, vitriolic protest

2)   Conversely: allow culture to dictate theology, which usually results in moving away from orthodox Christianity in favor of “getting along”

Both are wrong

As Christians, I believe we must:

  • Hold to a biblical view of sex, marriage and family that is not condemning but enticing
  • Contend for love and heterosexual marriage to be seen as a beautiful and desirable thing
  • Cultivate caring relationships with those in the LGBT community so as to have a foundation to express the love, grace and acceptance of Jesus (this should be the case throughout our lives, not only with those of the LGBT community)
  • Lovingly stand firm on a biblical foundation, even though it is more and more outside the cultural norm, of one man, one woman, married for one lifetime
  • Understand the battle is spiritual not physical, according to Ephesians 6:12
    • The wrong response of a politicized war aims to battle the physical side of this issue and that’s not where the real war lies

Let’s fight the SPIRITUAL battle while lovingly and with care leading people to Jesus

Tagged , , , , ,

Easter at Summit

I’m very excited about the upcoming weekend to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and how we’re going to celebrate at Summit Church. Easter weekend encompasses an amazing amount of emotion and meaning. There is Maundy Thursday, the celebration of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples, showing them that to be great, one must serve. Then what is known as Good Friday, the remembrance of Jesus’ torturous death on the cross, in which he paid the price, the penalty for mankind’s sin and mistakes, giving His life so that we do not have to die spiritually. Then the unbelievable celebration on Easter morning, because Jesus rose from the dead, alive and in victory over death, taking our sin, then defeating the effects of sin and Satan’s goals of destruction in our life. Wow! For fun we’re also throwing in an Easter egg hunt on Saturday! The biblical significance? None really, but sometimes it’s good to come together as a family and just have fun, and we’re inviting our neighbors from all over Longmont to the Boulder County Fairgrounds to have fun with us.

Summit’s observance of the Easter weekend begins Friday night at 7pm with a video presentation of Jesus’ crucifixion. This will be a time of observance and reflection of the gravity of Jesus’ sacrifice. We are asking that you enter the church quietly, preparing your hearts’ for the presentation. We will conclude with a self-directed time of communion. There will also be childcare for ages birth-9, and we are asking for parents to utilize this as the material is somewhat graphic.

Image

We’ll then shift our focus to celebration on Saturday morning at 11am for our Easter Egg Hunt at the fairgrounds! There will be hot dogs, cotton candy, a bounce house and of course egg hunts for various ages with some special prizes. We’ll be at the picnic pavilion at the corner of Hover and Nelson, we hope to see you there!

Image

We finish the weekend celebrating Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb fully alive as Christ and Messiah, saving us from our own sin and eternal death. We’ve all messed up, when we’re honest with ourselves we know this to be true, and as hard as we may try, we just cannot save ourselves. Because Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross and rose from the dead defeating death we don’t have to save ourselves. Please join us as we celebrate all that Jesus has done for us on Easter morning, March 31 at 10am!

Image

Tagged , ,

Thoughts on Evil and God

In the wake of the evil in Newtown, CT

This is the outline of what I shared at my church, Summit Foursquare Church, in Longmont, CO. I wrote this down after reading several great articles on evil and God as well as my own pondering and prayer. I’ll be honest: when I first heard the news my first reaction was not one of love or grace, but anger. I have a 6-year old son (and a soon-to-be 9 year-old son along with a 4-year old daughter) and I realized I wanted to hurt the person responsible. That’s the truth of it. But I believe, God is good. Even in light of this tragedy…

The question is there as to how this could happen?

  • And if we’re so bold, how can God let this happen?
  • In this state (Colorado), there is the memory of Columbine and very recently Aurora

Why?

We can try and explain it sociologically

  • He was a troubled genius with mild autism
  • His parents divorce caused deep hurt
  • Some other reason that may emerge as the investigation continues…

But none of these can really explain why a 20 year old man would walk into an elementary school with forethought and intent and wantonly murder nearly 30 people mostly 6 and 7 year olds.

I believe when faced with these events we have to face a truth that we rarely deal with in our modern, supposedly enlightened culture: evil      

  • Evil is the end-result of sin and separation from a good and loving Creator
  • Paul writes in Ephesians 6 that there is a battle, and that battle isn’t with ourselves, it isn’t a battle of poverty, or angst, or a battle against a troubled childhood, it isn’t a battle of the mind or a battle of our emotions
  • It is a battle with evil, quite plainly, but perhaps not quite simply
  • There is God who is good and only good, and there is Satan who is evil and only evil, and mankind has given Satan a foothold in this world through our sin and rebellion against the Good God
  • That foothold leads to acts of pure evil as we witnessed this past week
  • It is a moral evil that is the result of a man’s decision

How can a good God allow this?

This isn’t God’s desire

  • Some may use this as an argument that God is either non-existent or that He is not truly good

But God’s original plan of Creation has been broken by the choices of His greatest Creation: us

In Genesis 3 we read that Adam and Eve walked side by side with God in intimate relationship

  • Everything was good
  • Just as God had created
  • Just as God had intended

But God in His love and goodness did something else: He gave His greatest Creation an incredible gift

  • The freedom to make decisions
  • We are not mind-numbed automatons that God created for His fancy as playthings
  • We have a spirit and a soul and choice
  • God is love, and desires for His creation to love Him
    • To love is to make a choice

With that choice comes options

  • Adam and Eve had everything they could possibly want
  • But Satan came into that Garden and began to exert his purely evil influence to destroy this peace God had created
  • He taunted Eve and then Adam with a choice to defy God
  • So through Satanic influence, but human choice, evil came into our reality

Because God is good, and man became not good, we were separated from direct relationship with God until Jesus came to pay the price for our evil

But evil still exists

Why doesn’t God obliterate evil…

I don’t know

But I know that we as humans value freedom over slavery

With that freedom comes the ability to do great good, but also the ability to make evil decisions

The best example we have is watching children grow up

  • I want to control my children’s every decision
  • But I don’t-and sometimes they do some really stupid things
  • But true joy as a parent is when we see our children freely make good decisions
  • I believe it is the same for God

He has chosen to let us choose…

Why doesn’t God intervene?

I don’t know…

But we’re in good company

Writers of the bible asked this question too without receiving good answers

  • Jeremiah
  • Habakkuk
  • Job in Job 40, God specifically tells Job he cannot understand the ways of God
  • In Luke 18 Jesus predicts his torture and death and the disciples did not understand why, the meaning was hidden from them
    • Imagine them: Jesus has done amazing works and claimed to be God, why in the world would He need to die, to be tortured…from their perspective it made no sense….
    • But in this God showed He is ultimately good

God does not always answer “why” but He does show himself good

God, in His goodness, is with us in our suffering

Additionally, this is a God who came down to live as a man so he could share in our suffering and then be fully able to comfort us in our suffering

His cousin Lazarus died and Jesus wept, he grieved

This is not some aloof god hidden on some cloud swept lofty peak

  • This is the God Incarnate who lived and suffered and died for us and then rose from the dead to now comfort us in our suffering, because He knows suffering first-hand

…for good

Romans 8:28

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

The disciples didn’t understand why Jesus would have to be tortured and killed

God’s original plan at Creation was not for His son to have to die as the penalty for mankind’s sin

But we know that Jesus’ death worked for the good of all mankind

God can make this tragedy turn out for some kind of good

We may not see it, or understand it, but it is what I choose to hold on to in the midst of this uncertain world

Philip Yancey, the author, says, “…it seems that the only alternative to disappointment with God is disappointment without him.”

  • What he means is this: we must acknowledge disappointment will happen in this life
  • We can choose to walk through it alone and hopeless without God
  • Or we can choose to walk through it holding on to the eternal plan and love with a God who intimately knows our pain and suffering having experienced it for himself

This is perhaps not a fully satisfying response, but I can tell you, it is for me

In John 6 Jesus has chased away many of his followers with talk of life and death and he turns to his disciples:

“Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. “

 I choose to hold on to the eternal promise of Jesus

  • He’s done too much in my life
  • He’s done too much good for me to walk away
  • He’s forgiven too much sin in my life
  • The cross is too real to me and is enough to overcome the evil actions of mankind
  • I choose to trust Him and His love
Tagged , , , , ,

New church, new site!

Very excited to be in Longmont, CO pastoring Summit Foursquare Church! Incredible legacy and history and an incredible future in store! Check out what’s happening at our brand new website!

Preaching at Grace Covenant-Cornelius, NC

Preaching at Grace Covenant-Cornelius, NC

I was honored to be a part of the Red Letter Living series at Grace Covenant-Cornelius, NC in June 2012. You can check out the sermon on Vimeo from the link.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,349 other followers