The reason for today’s show is to give my response to the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on same sex marriage. My primary audience for the show is one specific person. A person close to me, whom I love with all of my heart. This person is not gay, but they have asked the question, “How am I directly affected by the SCOTUS decision to legalize gay marriage? Why should I care?”
If you’re listening to this and have the same question, I encourage you to listen all the way through as I attempt to answer this very important question.
If, at the end of the show you disagree with me, that’s okay. We can agree to disagree and still love each other. As blown up as this topic has been, I still consider it a peripheral matter. It is not central to my Christian faith. Believing one way or the other on this topic will not make or break your salvation. We are saved by faith in Christ. That’s it. Everything else is peripheral. Of course, there is a lot packed into that statement, but at its core, the very nub of our salvation rests in faith in Him.
It occurs to me that this episode just might find its way into the ears of a few people who don’t know anything about the Lifespring! podcast or me. For those of you who are familiar with the show and/or me, do you mind if I spend a minute or two to introduce myself to the new folks? Thanks.
My name is Steve Webb, and I am your host. The very first episode of the Lifespring! podcast was published on November 13, 2004, making it the world’s first Christian all-podcast podcast. What that means is that I was the first to release a podcast of Christian content that was produced specifically for this medium. There were two or three other podcasts that were repurposed church sermons, but Lifespring! was the first podcast that was made just for this form of communication. The target audience was both believers and those curious about God. Almost immediately I began receiving email from around the world from people who had questions about God. Over the years, the shows I’ve produced at LifespringMedia.com have been downloaded millions of times. This show, the Lifespring! show used to be produced on a weekly basis, but it’s been years since that was the case. Life changes happen, right? These days I produce a daily Monday through Friday podcast called the Lifespring! Family Audio Bible, and I produce a weekly podcast of my church’s Sunday morning sermon. If you’re interested in looking into those in more detail, just go to LifespringMedia.com.
I’m not here today to do a commercial for the shows.
I could spend a lot more time telling you the history of the show and all the things that have grown out of it, but you can research it online if you want more info.
Ok. So who am I? The short answer is that I am a guy who came into podcasting in the dawning days of the medium because I love technology, I had a background in radio, and I am a committed follower of Jesus. That’s not to say that I am perfect or without my own faults, but my heart’s desire is to one day stand before Him and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I first made the decision to have a relationship with Jesus when I was sixteen years old. I’m now almost sixty-one. I wish I could tell you that I have lived the perfect Christian life, but I cannot. There have been more ups and downs in my walk with God than I care to remember. I am ashamed of the downs, and some of them have had life-long consequences, despite receiving God’s forgiveness. But through these times of failure, I have learned that our God is faithful, patient and loving. He has demonstrated that to me personally, and I guess this is a good place to start the discussion of the topic that is the reason for this podcast today.
Where to begin?
Perhaps here. Despite my own spiritual ups and downs, I have spent a great deal of time studying the Bible. As a matter of fact, I am currently working on my third time recording the entire Bible. So, unlike many who study portions of it, I have actually read every word of the Bible at least twice, and I’m not far from completing the third time. All that to say that when I discuss topics from the Bible, I can usually put the ideas into context. I don’t look at a topic or idea in the isolation of just one or two verses. I can see the Bible from the 30,000 foot perspective as well as microscopic view, dissecting the language of a single verse. I don’t have a formal seminary education, but I think that works in my favor much of the time. I’m not trained to interpret scripture through the lens of a particular denomination. I allow Scripture and the Holy Spirit to guide my understanding, and I have the works of generations of theologians at my disposal to help me through difficult passages when necessary. At those times where I am having difficulty understanding, I’ll read from a variety of theological viewpoints and ask the Holy Spirit to guide my thinking.
I guess I need to lay as a foundation the fact that I consider the Bible to be true. I consider it to be without error. I believe that God’s spirit inspired every single word that the original authors wrote. I believe that God meant it when He said, “I am the Lord, I do not change.” I believe that absolute truth does exist, and that it can be found in the pages of the Bible. I believe that there is only one true God, and that He gave us the Bible so that we could know of His love for us, and learn how we could discover the way that we can spend eternity with Him. That way is faith in Jesus Christ. The one who said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is no other way. From a human perspective, I wish there were. But as I said, I believe what the Bible says, and there is no other way revealed in those pages. Jesus is the only way.
If that seems harsh, you’ll have to take it up with God. But if you look at the price that He paid with His own blood, if you look at the countless ways He has demonstrated His love to mankind, you’ll see that it is not harsh at all. But I don’t want to get sidetracked, so I’ll move on.
So that’s the foundation. I’ve found that in any discussion, you have to start with an understanding of the basis of the logic that is being used.
Now to the question. Let me state it again. “How am I directly affected by the SCOTUS decision to legalize gay marriage? Why should I care?”
Let me say that God is not an angry old man who sits in Heaven looking for ways to spoil our fun. The things we find in scripture that are labelled as sin are there to help us, to keep us from hurting ourselves, or others, or humanity in general.
Let’s take a quick look at some things that the Bible considers sin.
Of course we should start with the Ten Commandments. This is an abbreviated form of what is found in the Old Testament (OT) books of Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21:
You shall have no other gods before Me.
You shall not make idols.
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet.
As you can see, some relate to our relationship to God, some our relationship to others, and the last is internal.
But the ten commandments are not all we have to go on in terms of what God calls sin. Let’s look at a list of sins from the New Testament (NT) book of Galatians, chapter 5, verses 19-21: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
Again, this list can be grouped into the three divisions I talked about a second ago.
There are other places that list other sins, of course. Since homosexuality is what we’re discussing today, I’ll quickly quote a few verses that deal with it.
In Genesis 19, two angels have come to the city of Sodom, to the home of a man named Lot. Sodom is an evil place, and Lot and his family have been singled out as the only ones worthy of saving from the destruction that God is going to bring down on the city because it is so evil. The angels are seen by the inhabitants of the city, and now we’ll read verses 5-9. “They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.”
Leviticus 18 lists several sexual sins, most of which are aimed at the heterosexual, but verse 22 says, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”
Leviticus 20 is similar to 18 in that it lists several sexual sins, most of which are heterosexual, but then there is this in verse 13, “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” I’ll note here that the punishment called for here is not reserved for only the homosexuals. The death penalty is called for seven other times in this chapter.
Of course, the OT is not the only place where homosexuality is condemned. In the NT book of Romans 1:26-27 we read, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
Also in the NT, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
I could go on with more, but you get the message. The teaching is clear, and in my opinion, those who try to say that the Bible doesn’t teach that homosexuality is a sin have to do some crazy verbal calisthenics to make their point.
Concerning the marriage part of the equation, God is the one who instituted marriage, and it was between a man and a woman. In the OT book of Genesis, chapter two, God said that it was not good for the man, Adam, to be alone. So God created a mate for him, a woman, Eve. And in verse 24 it says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
Every reference to any marriage in the Bible is between a man and a woman. There is not one instance involving a same-sex marriage. I’m not going to belabor this point.
So to the question at hand. How am I directly affected by the SCOTUS decision to legalize gay marriage? Why should I care?
Taken from a strictly secular point of view, in other words taking God out of the equation, I think the argument could be made that it doesn’t matter. Whatever two people do in the privacy of their own home doesn’t directly affect anyone else.
Thing is, we can’t take God out of the equation because God is the I AM. God is part of human affairs. He cares deeply about what we do, and He is involved in the affairs of man, like it or not.
Which brings up the issue of the so-called doctrine of separation of church and state. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this. But I will say that in order to have a proper understanding, you have to know that the United States was originally founded by people who fled to these shores so that they could have religious freedom. Freedom to choose their own religion. Freedom from a country who wanted to dictate what religion they would be.
The First Amendment to the Constitution says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
So the sixteen words pertaining to religion say this: The government cannot establish a religion or keep you from practicing yours. It doesn’t say that religion cannot affect government, only that government cannot affect religion. There is not a two way separation. Only a one way.
As a matter of fact, this nation’s laws were written with scripture in mind. There was an unmistakeable Judeo Christian influence in all of our laws until very recent history.
And because of that, God blessed the United States in terms of material wealth and political strength. As long as the official stance of the nation was aligned with God’s Law, He blessed us.
I’m going to get back to that in a minute, but let’s look back at how God dealt with His chosen people in the Bible.
Before there was an Israel, God told a man named Abram that from him would come a great nation. And this nation would be a blessing to the world.
God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, and his descendants did indeed become the nation of Israel, and from Israel came the Savior, Jesus Christ.
At one point in their history, they had become slaves to the king of Egypt, and they cried to God for delivery. God brought up Moses as a deliverer, and it was to Moses that the Ten Commandments were given. Along with them, God made an agreement with Moses that as long as they followed the Law, God would bless the nation and protect them.
Over their history, Israel has had good kings and bad kings. The good kings led the people according to God’s Law, the bad kings abandoned God. When they were ruled by good kings, God blessed them. When they were ruled by bad kings, eventually God would judge them harshly and the entire nation would be brought into slavery or suffer other consequences. Because of the decisions of just one man, their king. Was everyone in the country bad? No? Did everyone suffer though? Yes.
The pattern with the nation of Israel is: 1) God brings blessing to them, 2) they forget God and they go their own way, 3) they suffer the consequences of their rebellion, 4) they cry out to God for deliverance, at which time they once more follow His Law, 5) God forgives them, and 6) the cycle is repeated.
It’s important to note that there is always at least a few people who remain faithful to God in every generation. But get this, they still suffer the same consequences as the entire nation.
This cycle has happened time after time in the history of Israel, a nation chosen by God.
Now, back to the good ol’ US of A. My last statement was: As long as the official stance of the nation was aligned with God’s Law, He blessed us.
But in 1962 SCOTUS made the decision to remove prayer from public schools. And in my mind, this is what began the decline of the United States and their abandoning of God.
It didn’t happen overnight, but I have witnessed in my life the steady erosion of the moral fabric of a nation in decline. I do not think that it is a coincidence that the Supreme Court decision in 1962 to remove prayer eventually came to that same body sanctioning homosexual marriage.
The birth rate for teenaged unwed girls has skyrocketed since 1962, as has sexually transmitted disease, divorce rates, SAT scores have gone down, violent crime rates are up, reports of child abuse are up, and on and on it goes.
All of these consequences do have a direct impact on every person in the United States in the form of increased taxes, not to mention those who are victims of crime, or those who are products of a weakened school system, etc.
As with a rebellious Israel, there will come a time where God will turn his back on the U.S. and allow us to truly suffer. It’s been happening, and the recent decision by SCOTUS to sanction homosexual marriage is just one more movement away from God.
Is this the final straw? I have no way of knowing. Does it affect you directly? I believe it does. You’ve heard the phrase, “No man is an island?” It’s true. And when God brings His judgement on America, every American will suffer.
But I think you know that this is not the end of the story.
As I was reading my Facebook feed when the SCOTUS decision came down, I saw many happy people who agreed with the decision write the words “Love wins!”
At least on those two words we can agree, although those agreeing with the decision are sadly on the wrong side of what will eventually come to our nation.
Listen carefully, please. In every case of God’s judgement against Israel, the reason for the judgement was to bring them back to Himself so that He could bless them. God is always grieved when He has to punish. He gets no joy from that. As a dad, I understand that. When my kids were small, I sometimes had to punish them. That was always the worst part of being a parent. I would much rather laugh and play with my kids than punish them.
As God promised in the OT book of 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land,” I believe that the same holds true for us today.
God’s love wins. God’s love has already won. The end has already been written. History just hasn’t caught up with it yet.
Perhaps I’ll talk about that on another episode of the Lifespring Podcast.
Now it’s your turn. What say you? Believe me, I know that there is much more to be said on this topic. I think I hit the high points. I know I left some things out.
One thing I didn’t talk about, but do think it’s important to touch on is this: Homosexuality is no different than any other sin in the eyes of God. People exaggerate it for a myriad of reasons. The only reason I singled it out today is because this Supreme Court decision was so consequential. I would be making the same argument if they had made it legal to (fill in any other sin you want here).
Also, let me reiterate that I acknowledge my own sin. I have been through a divorce. And I acknowledge my share of culpability in that divorce.
I’m not throwing stones in a glass house. I’m just trying to bring understanding of what the Bible says about the consequences of a nation turning from God.
I don’t expect to be liked, but I do hope to be understood and perhaps treated with the same respect that I give to my friends who are homosexual. Yes, I have gay friends. No I don’t hate them, nor am I afraid of them. I am not a homophobe.
Just as I have friends who overeat, are divorced, gossip and sometimes drink too much. God will deal with them in His own way, and I will continue to be the person He calls me to be.
If you do have a comment, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll tell you now that hate mail will be filtered out. I have not been hateful to you, and I won’t read hate mail.
You can also comment on the show notes page at scotus.lifespringmedia.com. Same rules there, too. This is my website, and I don’t have to allow hateful comments. You can disagree with me, but you must be respectful.
I’m on twitter at _stevewebb_. Use #LifespringMedia.
God’s desire for you is to know Him, because that is what you were made for. The Bible says that God is love. And because He loves you, He will allow you to choose to follow Him or reject Him. I can tell you that following Him is the best thing I have ever done. My life without Him was unhappy and unmanageable. With Him at the center, I have an enduring peace, despite the difficulties that come into my life. I have experienced His love, and I want that for you, too.
Thanks for listening. Stay subscribed. You never know when another Lifespring! will come down the pipe. Until then, may God bless your richly. I’m Steve Webb. Bye.