Some of the very best comments and articles on the SCOTUS "marriage" decision

I really don't want my blog to be constantly pulled into what is happening in the culture because there are so many other blogs that do that quite well. That said, this was a big week. 

Here is a list of articles and quotes I've read on the SCOTUS decision as well as a few comments I made along the way. I hope they help as you try to wrap your head around what happened and how to respond. 

* John Piper: So-Called Same-Sex Marriage: Lamenting the New Calamity

  • Jesus died so that heterosexual and homosexual sinners might be saved. 
  • today this salvation from sinful sexual acts was not embraced. Instead there was massive institutionalization of sin.
  • This is what the highest court in our land did today — knowing these deeds are wrong, “yet approving those who practice them.” (Romans 1:29–32)
  • My reason for writing is to help the church feel the sorrow of these days. And the magnitude of the assault on God and his image in man.
  • The difference [between Christians and world] is: We weep over our sins. We don’t celebrate them. We don’t institutionalize them. We turn to Jesus for forgiveness and help. We cry to Jesus, “who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

* Kevin DeYoung: But What Does the Bible Say

This is an issue of Biblical authority. He says: 

  • You can’t marvel at the goodness of God’s creation, if there is no good design in how he created things.
  • Either the Bible is God’s Word or we are sufficiently godlike to determine which words stay and which words go.
  • The cultural breezes are blowing against us. The worldly winds are stiff in our faces. But the hard parts of the Bible are no less true for being less popular.
  • The Bible says what it says, so let us be honest enough to say whether we think what the Bible says is right or wrong.
  • If Jesus is right and the Scriptures were spoken by God himself (Matt. 19:4-5) and utterly unbreakable (John 10:35), then the place to start when it comes to something as fundamental as marriage is also the place to end, and that’s by asking the question “But what does the Bible say?”
  • As Christians living in the midst of controversy, we must keep three things open: our heads, our hearts, and our Bibles. Don’t settle for slogans and put-downs. Don’t look to bumper stickers and Facebook avatars for ethical direction. And don’t give up on the idea that God has a clear word and a good word on this issue. 

* RAY ORTLUND: What is marriage, according to the Bible

"Marriage is more than human romance, wonderful as that is.  It is more than close friendship, wonderful as that is.  Marriage is the display of Christ and his Bride in love together.  A beautiful, tender, thriving marriage makes the gospel visible on earth, bringing hope to people who have given up believing there could be any love anywhere for them.  That is why biblical marriage deserves our courageous loyalty and articulate defense today.  Its true meaning is understood and embodied and sustained only by the power of the gospel."

* D.A. CARSON: On the Desiring God Ask Pastor John podcast, Tony Reinke asks New Testament scholar and Gospel Coalition president D. A. Carson some great questions. It's well worth the listen! 

Some comments I made or quotes I shared..

Many are viewing this as "progress", which I just don't see. I don't see how "love wins" and I'm irritated that slogan was stolen because it's only God's love that ultimately wins, as evidenced in Christians who must respond in love as we encounter more and more hate in the coming days.

These next two quotes shed some light on how it is really progress: 

"Christianity has always thrived most as a life giving minority, not a political majority."  - Scott Sauls, who didn't share this directly on twitter on the matter but I recalled from recently reading his great book, Jesus Outside The Lines. 

"Taking all in all, this is a glorious time to be alive. Faithfulness to Jesus is becoming more obviously meaningful by the day."-Douglas Wilson 

Tony Reinke shared a portion of Scalia's comments which I found interesting: 

David Platt: "Of this, be sure: No declaration by a government can change a definition from God. (Gen. 2:24)"

Marriage in our nation is now "marriage." It's important for Christians to show the beauty of real marriage and draw a line in the sand here. Roberts' Dissent on overturning millennia of marriage: "Just who do we think we are?" David Platt: "Marriage will ultimately make it (Rev 19). Supreme Court justices cannot overturn or overcome the Supreme Judge of creation."

The early church didn’t say, “Look what the world is coming to!” They said, “Look what has come into the world!” —Carl Henry (via @DrMoore)

Russell Moore: "On the wrong side of history? We started on the wrong side of history—a Roman Empire and a cross. Rome’s dead and Jesus is fine."

Feel free to share your comments/thoughts below. 

Cheers, and enjoy your weekend! 

CS Lewis: "The Devil is (in the long run) an ass"

Ray Ortlund, in his Proverbs book I'm going through, writes: 

"Wisdom does not theorize. Wisdom pays attention to the realities built into us by God our Creator. Wisdom humbly gives in to God’s design; it adapts and adjusts. A wise person notices, picks up on the clues, cuts with the grain, tears along the perforated line. Unwise people can be gifted, but they are trying to be healthy on junk food, or run high RPMs on low-octane gas, or get home by the wrong road, or swim against the stream of the universe. Sin is trying to succeed by ignoring reality. And that makes the devil the ultimate fool. He wants to reengineer the creation his own way. He is both evil and dumb. C. S. Lewis wrote, “The Devil is (in the long run) an ass.” But the book of Proverbs is where God speaks to us as our life coach, guiding us into the only real success that’s out there."

Unpacked:

  1. Wisdom is living in the real world as God designed it, unlike what many in our world are doing. They think they are wise, but don't realize they are in a deep, dark pit. Oddly, they find some satisfaction in this pit, but they often bump up against the sides, and have inklings things just aren't right and that there has to be more to life. But like the fool they are, they rather ignore God's wisdom and "swim against the steam of the universe." 
  2. God gives us ultimate Wisdom, evidenced in Christ and the Cross, guiding us out of the dark pit we were in and puts us on the path that truly flourishes. It's a path that ultimately leads to a desire to get others out of their pits and come live in the true reality and the only real success that's out there. Real wisdom, you see, always leads to humility and a desire to help and serve others out of the deep pits they are in. 

It's time to stop listening to the ass (worldly wisdom, culture). 

But First, Prayer! [Psalm 98]

Father in heaven, thank you for the marvelous demonstration of your steadfast love and faithfulness that was most gloriously displayed on the Cross for all the world to see. Your grace melts our hearts and we can't help but desire to worship you with music that adores you and a desire that the entire world join in our new song. You will judge the world, and indeed we know that those who deny your Son are judged already. All the ends of the earth have seen your salvation and are without excuse. We are all sinners equally deserving of your wrath, but praise you for showing us mercy! In Jesus beautiful name, Amen. 

Life's Most Seemingly Innocent But Dangerous Question

The dangerous question: What do you do?

When I meet someone new, this question rises to the top of the list as THE QUESTION to ask. I'm not much of a sports guy, so questions around work seem pretty logical, safe and easy. Apparently this four-word nicety I so often utter - just to have something to talk about - can be a conversation stopper instead! 

I think the reason why it's dangerous is because most people hate their jobs at some level and/or feel like it places them inside a box to be compared to others. People just don't want to become that vulnerable to others, at least not at first anyway.

What your really asking..

Millburn says that what we’re actually asking when we posit this question, albeit unknowingly, is:

How do you earn a paycheck? How much money do you make? What is your socioeconomic status? And based on that status, where do I fall on the socioeconomic ladder compared to you? Am I a rung above you? Below you? How should I judge you? Are you worth my time?

Now you can perhaps begin to see why it's so dangerous. But I think that is only if you wrap your identity up in work alone, which sadly, many do. Our culture has such an elevated view of work, so this is understandable. Work and identity, work and success, work and happiness all go tightly together in our culture. 

The good news about our crappy jobs

But the good news is that the Bible's view of work is even more elevated than our culture's view of work..and can actually redeem our work!

Identity, success and happiness can be had with work, of course, but for the Christian work can also be glorifying to God even when work doesn't link up with success and happiness as measured by the culture. 

I was listening to Justin Holcomb talk about a few classic scenes from the movie Chariots of Fire. Liddell's sister said he should become a missionary in China already and skip running, but Liddell response: "I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” You even see that as he smiles crossing the finish line with his head flailing back. 

Contrast that to Abraham, another runner, who as he's getting ready says, And now in one hour’s time I will be out there again. I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor, 4 feet wide, with 10 lonely seconds to justify my whole existence. But will I?”

"10 lonely seconds to justify my whole existence!" This is how so many justify their existence with the jobs and careers they have. Their identity is their job and a measure by which they gauge satisfaction, success, or happiness. 

Working to feel His pleasure

Work for Christians, when they have the right perspective, can be what running was to Eric Liddell!

The mundane secular job, the maddening effect it can have on us, can be overcome in Christ! We can redeem work when we have a sense of how God made us. We can remember we are really working for our Lord, desiring to put a smile on His face by a life that finds the most satisfaction in Him, especially in the painful jobs we often find ourselves in. 

Fact is, you don't have to think satisfaction will come if you swing 100% toward a sacred job (say as a missionary, preacher, etc). You can let the Gospel drip off of you where you are!

Are you a stay-at-home mom? You can do that and feel His pleasure! Don't look back on your day and think a bad day (or series of days!) makes a bad momma! Think how God has made you to do just this very job, at this very time, and to do it in a way that you feel His pleasure at the end of each and every day. 

Are you a plumber, a teacher, a garbage man, a nurse? You can do those jobs, feeling His pleasure as you do them! 

Are you a preacher? (making the point that God doesn't hold your secular job above the secular job - both of you are important parts of the Body of Christ). You can preach and pastor with a smile on your face and overcome all the obstacles and challenges and frustrations that go along with that calling too. 

The Theological Bankrupt American Church?

How many in America do you think actually hold a biblical worldview, defined as:

  • Belief that absolute moral truth exists
  • Bible is totally accurate
  • Satan is really real
  • Heaven isn't earned by good works
  • Jesus lived a sinless life
  • God created the world and now rules the universe today

Answer: only 9 percent, according to this Barna Survey.

Born-again Christians

Now then, the research also reveals that those labeled "born again Christians," were twice as likely as the average adult to possess a biblical worldview. What does 'twice as likely' look like? That's saying that only 19% of born again Christians held the the above worldview in it's entirety! 

Those in the born-again camp break down like this:

  • 79 percent of those identifying as “born again Christians” firmly believe the Bible is accurate in all its teachings
  • But only 46 percent of these “born agains” believe in absolute moral truth..
  • only 40 percent believe Satan is real..
  • only 47 percent strongly reject the idea that you can earn your way to heaven...
  • only 62 percent of the born-again Christians surveyed strongly believe that Jesus was sinless.

It reveals, as Jared Wilson noted, that over the last generation, "not only has America become less Christian, but professing Christians have become less Christian." This is astonishing and sobering news that to me reveals opportunity. 

Jared says the church is suffering terribly from theological bankruptcy, and I of course would agree! 

My thoughts? I have four, for now:

1. Jesus said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). The problem is many are diluting the real Jesus! They are watering Him down. People aren't meeting the real Jesus who not only gives scandalous grace but also many demands, if we would call him friend. 

John 15:12–15:

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Ray Ortlund was the first to introduce me to the idea of a "real Jesus" vs a "theoretical Jesus." He wrote

The real Jesus. The historical Jesus. The biblical Jesus. The Jesus who stands over all of us and tells us to repent. That unsettling Jesus is the one we want. Without him, nothing will ever change. With him, our hearts can finally crack open to the love of God. How can we disconnect with the Jesuses of our own invention and reconnect with the real Jesus?"

For too long the American church has lifted up a theoretical Jesus, a one-sided Jesus, a Jesus of our own invention, a Jesus who is more like a product than a Person. 

2. Paul said he determined to know nothing but Jesus and Him Crucified in the church of Corinth, and I'm sure he'd say the same to American churches. People not only need to see the real Jesus but they also need to know the cost of following Him, and then actual follow Him -- seeing the world as holding no treasure and Christ as the source of our satisfaction.

Jesus said: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily." 

Piper says: "For the Christian the cross of Christ is not merely a past place of substitution. It is also a present place of daily execution.

Simply put we are not a cross-centered group of Christians in America. Too many think of the cross as a mere event in history, failing to see it as a way of life. Jesus said to take up our cross DAILY! 

3. It shouldn't be surprising. Just as God softens hearts, we see the same gospel hardening hearts as well. 

DA Carson says: "This is why gospel preaching is so amazing. We offer the gospel to all. We let the gospel-lion out of its cage to do its work in separating sheep from goats, vessels of mercy from vessels of wrath. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing (non-elect), but to us who are being saved (elect) it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18)."

Tim Keller says we only have four options before us: Jesus is one of the following: Lord, Lunatic, Liar, or a Legend. Only four possibilities. Many seem him as merely a legend...as a great moral teacher...some even recognize that he changed the world, but they wouldn't go so far as saying He is Lord: that he has the exclusive way to God. And I would say any view other than seeing Him as Lord is revealing a hardened heart toward Christ. 

4. Which leads me to this thought: I'd be curious if there is a survey like this that would reveal how many believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead? Because if you believe he rose from the dead, then you'd have to accept all that he said. You'd have to see Him as Lord of all, and I think all the other biblical world-views would be easily embraced. 

What are your thoughts on this survey? I'd love to hear them! 

Advice for Christian Readers: 3 Tips from Charles Spurgeon

“Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and reread them…digest them. Let them go into your very self. Peruse a good book several times and make notes and analyses of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed. Little learning and much pride comes from hasty reading. Some men are disabled from thinking by their putting meditation away for the sake of much reading. In reading let your motto be ‘much not many.’ ― Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students

The recipe Spurgeon gives us readers: 

  1. Minimal - You need to read, but read fewer books well. 
  2. Master - one book thoroughly mastered is much better. 
  3. Meditate - don't ever forsake meditation just to read many books.

One rule I keep for myself is not to finish books I don't like. Life's just too short to waste time on crappy books. That said, if it's good book that is affecting me, that's cue to slow down and simmer in the words..to remember "much [learning] not many [books]." As a heavy daily podcast listener, I see my need to slow down there too to avoid pride. 

 

The Impulse To Write

I saw this quote from Piper in my feed last week and it came at a time where I was losing clarity on what I'm called to. Of course I know I'm called to many things, but the itch specifically to write again came back after I saw it. 


Living only for Justice?

I was listening to panel discussion titled "Biblical Foundations for Seeking God's Justice in a Sinful World." 

Here's how John Piper ended it:

"The Gospel unleashes in the world a commitment NOT to live for justice but to live for more than justice. Justice is minimalist. A life devoted to treating people as they deserve is not a christian life. God in the gospel treated us better than we deserve. That's not justice. WE DON'T GET JUSTICE in the Gospel. God got justice in the gospel. We get grace. And He unleashes on the world a people in churches who treat each other way beyond justice. You shouldn't walk through the day or through your life thinking, "How can I be just? How can I be just? How can I be just?" You should be thinking, "How can I be gracious? loving? kind? love my enemy? go the extra mile?.." The Gospel unleashes way beyond justice. Christians shouldn't be known mainly as the justice people. That's minimalist. You start there and then you go beyond. Christ will be known in the culture when we treat people better than they deserve not as they deserve." 

And I love earlier how he said, "not to sound too dovish up here..I think we ought to take out Boko Haram. Just take him out. It's overdue. When I say we, I don't mean the Christian church. (several laughs and at interjection of thought of church interceding he said "if no one else will..I mean there's 300 girls..I'm not into war. I hate that kind of thing. And when it gets away and over and over again I think romans 13 exists for something and that the police in the country and the military and the national level carries the sword not in vain and there's certain kinds of stuff that should be reacted to with very swift violence." Later: "I don't really know whether America should police the world."