I remember not long ago when it was possible to teach the Bible on most any number of moral faith issues and not be considered in the least political. Times have changed, and by that I mean this: Teaching the same Biblical, moral guidelines I would have taught 30 years ago, now brings an almost instinctive reaction that I am being political. And somehow, in spite of the bible’s prophetic tradition (and Jesus was a prophet), this is supposedly off limits. What has changed? What has changed is not the Bible’s teaching or me, but the political climate.
When Jesus said, “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” He did not give His apostles or followers a Spirit of utterance who would suddenly go mute when politics were involved! Jesus instead said, “And you shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak. For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you” (Matthew 10:18-20). And this the disciples of Christ did, speaking not simply about personal salvation but matters of right and wrong. For instance, Paul came before Roman Procurator Felix and said, “He reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment” (Acts 24:24). Paul sounded a great deal like Jesus’ forerunner, John the Baptist, who was commended most highly as a prophet by Jesus (saying there was “None greater born of women.”) “And with many other exhortations he (John) preached good news to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison” (Luke 3:18ff). Didn’t John know not to get into teaching about the stricter Biblical sexual ethics to politicians? How could he have been so impractical? How could he have been more faithful?
So my work remains much like Paul’s, “teaching the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). This involves emphasizing what God emphasizes as well as being careful not to omit difficult or challenging teachings. I am called to preach God’s Word, “ready in season or out of season” (2 Tim 4:2), meaning there are times the Word might be “out of season,” that is, not what folks might want to hear at the time.
It is in this context that I comment on the recent Supreme Court decision. A good thing about the Supreme Court decision Wednesday is how much it followed along what David Boyd prayed among us Sunday. He asked that the court not “impose a false definition of marriage on the nation.” And this did not happen, although the majority of California voters would detect an imposition. As a faithful, Biblical and moral comment on the matter, I could do no better than what was said by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. So I heartily commend his comments to you.
“The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California’s Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.
Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father. Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it.”
Well said Archbishop Dolan. I reiterate that my job is to promote God’s revealed truth, no matter what the fallout. In taking a stand on the ancient yet life-giving Word of God, there is no way in our present climate I can avoid being politically offensive to some. That is the moral of the story. Though I might be relegated to the “back of the bus,” I will not be quiet. LH