The Heav’n rescued land

In the short story “No Refuge Could Save” by Isaac Asimov, the main character exposes a German spy by quizzing him on the third verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” When the suspected spy reveals that he knows the lyrics to the third verse, he blew his own cover. Why? Because no American knows the third verse of the “Star Spangled Banner.” Americans only know the first verse. Only a spy would know any of the lyrics beyond that.

The story is correct. Americans don’t know the second, third, or fourth verses of the National Anthem. By custom and tradition, we only ever sing the first verse. So the other verses have been all but forgotten.

Still, the last verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner” would repay a careful reading. It goes like this:

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Happy 4th!

2

What your average evangelical is concerned about after Obergefell

The video above is from a Roman Catholic group, but I can testify that many evangelical Christians are feeling the same way these folks are.

I am a pastor, and the testimonies in this video sound very similar to what I have been hearing from the folks in my church. Our members by and large don’t have questions about the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality and marriage. They get that. Nor do they have questions about their obligation to love their neighbor, to seek their good, and to be at peace with everyone (Mark 12:29; Luke 6:33; Rom. 12:18). They get all of that. Continue Reading →

16

How the propaganda works

The LA Times reports that Mississippi’s Attorney General has put a halt to gay marriage in that state in spite of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalizing gay marriage. This is no surprise. Everyone knew that the high Court’s decision wouldn’t come down without some resistance. A similar thing is happening in Texas right now as well.

But it’s important to note that the AG’s effort is not going to work. At least not permanently. At best, this is a delaying tactic. Gay marriage will go forward in Mississippi just like it will in every other state of the union. Continue Reading →

78

A word to pastors preaching in the aftermath of Obergefell v. Hodges

I am a pastor. I preach the word of God regularly to the congregation that I serve. And this morning I am thinking about and praying for other pastors across the country who will be ascending the sacred desk tomorrow morning to deliver a message to God’s people. Some of them are wondering what to say in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that seems designed to marginalize our ancient faith. I don’t know that I have anything particularly earth-shattering to offer here, but I would like to encourage you pastors in several specific ways as you prepare. Continue Reading →

33

Praising grace and gay marriage all in one day

Of all the spectacles we witnessed today, perhaps the one that stood out to me most is the President of the United States. Early today, he stood in the Rose Garden praising gay marriage (watch below). A few short hours later, he stood in a Christian worship service praising the grace of God (watch above). In a single day, praising Jesus in the assembly and denying him in the Rose Garden. From the same lips, a confession of life-giving truth and of soul-destroying error. This ought not be (James 3:10). Continue Reading →

33

Naïve evangelicals trying to avoid the reproaches of Christ

Evangelicals, it is time to take heed and be wise. Your must-read of the day is David French, who writes:

Especially among Evangelicals, there is a naïve belief that if only we were winsome enough, kind enough, and compassionate enough, the culture would welcome us with open arms. But now our love — expressed in the fullness of a Gospel that identifies homosexual conduct as sin but then provides eternal hope through justification and sanctification — is hate.

Christians who’ve not suffered for their faith often romanticize persecution. They imagine themselves willing to lose their jobs, their liberty, or even their lives for standing up for the Gospel. Yet when the moment comes, at least here in the United States, they often find that they simply can’t abide being called “hateful.” It creates a desperate, panicked response. “No, you don’t understand. I’m not like those people — the religious right.” Thus, at the end of the day, a church that descends from apostles who withstood beatings finds itself unable to withstand tweetings. Social scorn is worse than the lash.

This is the era of sexual liberty — the marriage of hedonism to meaning — and the establishment of a new civic religion. The black-robed priesthood has spoken. Will the church bow before their new masters?

Here’s the bottom line. No amount of niceness, of social justice advocating, of human-trafficking opposition, of listening to the right bands, of wearing the right clothes, of poverty relief, of reading N. T. Wright—or whatever cool Christian stuff you can align with—will remove the reproach of Christ from you if you choose to follow his teaching on sexuality. You are on a fool’s errand if you are trying. If you are trying to save your life, you will lose it. But if you will lose your life for his sake, you will find it (Matthew 16:25).

Better to have Jesus and his reproaches than to not have him at all (Mark 8:34).

39

Politico: “It’s time to legalize polygamy”

Traditional marriage supporters have long made the case that the argument for gay marriage can also be used to advance polygamous marriage. Chief Justice John Roberts agrees on page 22 of his powerful dissent:

Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective “two” in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one.

And now just today, Politico has a long-form think-piece making the case for polygamy. Here’s an excerpt:

Polyamory is a fact. People are living in group relationships today. The question is not whether they will continue on in those relationships. The question is whether we will grant to them the same basic recognition we grant to other adults: that love makes marriage, and that the right to marry is exactly that, a right…

While important legal and practical questions remain unresolved, with the Supreme Court’s ruling and broad public support, marriage equality is here to stay. Soon, it will be time to turn the attention of social liberalism to the next horizon. Given that many of us have argued, to great effect, that deference to tradition is not a legitimate reason to restrict marriage rights to groups that want them, the next step seems clear. We should turn our efforts towards the legal recognition of marriages between more than two partners. It’s time to legalize polygamy.

The next stage of the sexual revolution always seems implausible until it is no longer implausible. Here we are. It turns out that the slope is indeed slippery.

9

Newspaper no longer accepting opinion pieces opposing gay marriage

A Pennsylvania newspaper has just announced that it will no longer accept op-eds and letters to the editor that are critical of gay marriage. Here’s what the editors say in their statement:

And this news organization now crosses another threshold.

As a result of Friday’s ruling, PennLive/The Patriot-News will very strictly limit op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage. 

These unions are now the law of the land. And we would not entertain such criticisms that these unions are morally wrong or unnatural any more than we would entertain criticisms of interracial marriage or those claiming that women are less equal than men in the eyes of the law.

Did you get that? The Supreme Court has spoken, and that settles it. This means that the editors will not even entertain the possibility that the Supreme Court could be wrong. It’s a good thing they weren’t around when Dred Scott v. Sandford or Plessy v. Ferguson were decided. On their current principles, the editors would not have tolerated any dissent to slavery and segregation.

I agree with Albert Mohler that this kind of silliness represents the closing of the American mind. It’s not a serious argument but a bald attempt to silence and marginalize people who believe in traditional marriage. If you can’t win an argument, you shout down your opponents—or at least turn off their mic. And that’s what is happening here.

Expect to see more of it in days to come. You can also expect the American mind to be closing at the exact same pace as public forums begin to exclude opposing voices. So it begins.

UPDATE 6/27/15: I’m glad to see that the editor has walked this back. Read it here.

9

A prophetic word from eleven years ago about today

Eleven years ago, John Piper delivered a message about “Discerning the Will of God Concerning Homosexuality and Marriage.” The message made an impression on me, and for many years now I’ve been reading a portion of this sermon every semester to my undergraduate hermeneutics students.

I share the message now because it is astonishing to me how prophetic it is in light of the decision handed down by the Supreme Court today. The Supreme Court by a narrow 5-4 ruling redefined marriage for all 50 states. In doing so, it usurped the authority of the states and imposed a fraudulent “meaning” onto the Constitution.

You can read the manuscript excerpt below, but I recommend that you listen to the audio. There is much more in the audio version than in what appears in the manuscript. Keep in mind that this was eleven years ago: Continue Reading →

8

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes