A little over two weeks past the Supreme Court’s announced its decision on legalizing gay marriage, it may be time to sit back and take a few breaths. 


President Harrison’s message to our churches, among other things, called for repentance among us all. That’s never a bad way to start. Initially, I wondered of what we needed to repent. It didn’t take long for things to flood the mind. How about our failure to live as good citizens in the kingdom of the left? Whenever gays have been subjected to violence, when they have been the butt of jokes, when they have been bullied or marginalized at school, have we defended and protected them? When 911 struck, a number of Toledo-area Christian church members surrounded the mosque in Perrysburg to discourage possible retaliation. While we certainly do not agree with Islam theologically, we do have an obligation to help the neighbor in distress. Those neighbors include homosexuals. Our tendency toward quietism has done us no favors.

How about our failure to keep the sin of homosexual behavior in balance? I would ask the bakers, the photographers, etc. who have refused to provide their services to gay wedding celebrations this question: “Have you also refused to provide services for those who are remarrying for less than Scriptural reasons? If those remarriages don’t bother you, perhaps you need to repent of that.” “Have you refused your services to those couples who have lived together prior to their getting married? Surely that arrangement does not have God’s approval either! Why have you not refused them as well (if in fact you have provided your services to them)?”

How about failure to trust in the Lord? One of our pastors reports that a gay activist responded to a Facebook post of his with threats that the LGBT community is going to come after dissenting churches to remove their tax-exempt status or see to it that students attending any of their church-related schools will be denied access to federal student loans. No question that a loss of tax-exempt status would be a game changer for the Church. No doubt that loss of federal student loans would adversely affect our Concordia University system. Amid such threats I am reminded of how Isaiah described the effect that the alliance of Aram and Ephraim had on Jerusalem: “the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.” It is precisely in times of uncertainty when we need to look to God for renewed faith and courage. “I will never fail you or forsake you” is a promise on which we may rely. It may be that some denominations (including ours) lose their tax-exempt status. It may be that our Concordia system closes. But it may also be that the public perception of the LGBT movement changes. Already one sympathizer has cautioned them not to overplay their hand and come across as strident bullies. They have succeeded so far not by strength of their own numbers, but by successfully enlisting the sympathies of heterosexuals. Whichever way things turn out, however local courts may decide issues, Christ has promised us that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. As Israel learned, however, repentance for its own sins is not to be ignored when engaging those who threatened.

Israel also learned that with the Lord there is forgiveness. Forgiveness for fear-mongering, forgiveness for lack of trust in Him, forgiveness for not taking all sins equally seriously, forgiveness for being bad neighbors. Confessing these to God does not reduce our insistence that homosexual behavior does not get a divine pass. Rather it restores to us a humility that, “O Lord, if you kept a record of sins, who could stand?” In Christ there is forgiveness of all sins thanks to His atoning death on the cross. And thanks to His resurrection, newness of life is a real possibility for all who have come short of the glory of God.