Summary: How do we affirm God’s definition of marriage, hold to God’s standard for sexual purity, continually emphasize mercy and forgiveness, follow Jesus’ model in relationship with those ostracized, and above all be loving?
What Should We Think About Gay Marriage in Canada?
January 30, 2005
Before I begin, I want to first acknowledge and thank Lisa Nadon and Leanne Attwell for their help researching today’s topic.
Most of you have seen the headlines in the newspapers this past week, and we are expecting our minority government to introduce legislation to change the legal definition of marriage in Canada in the next week or so, with the intent that marriage in all of Canada will no longer be defined as “between a man and a woman” but rather as “between any two persons”.
What should we, as a group of Christians, think about this issue? What does the Bible say? How can we meet the goal of this sermon series on contemporary issues, which is that God would “transform (us) into new (people) by changing the way (we) think.” (Rom 12:2, NLT)?
Last Sunday we began on the topic of marriage by looking at Genesis 2. My main point last week was that marriage was God’s idea, and that God created marriage before sin ever entered the world, and that our view of marriage and our definition of marriage comes from God’s perfect creation. Of course, like everything else in the universe we know, the sin of mankind corrupted the marriage relationship, but we must still always recognize that God created and defined marriage in the garden of Eden. I finished last week by challenging you to fight for marriage – for your own marriage – to make it as great as God intended and desires it to be.
As we begin a look at the specific topic of homosexual marriage, let us start with the Bible. I see the key Biblical principles that apply as these:
1. God defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Gen. 2. Since that was last week’s whole sermon, I won’t say any more than that today.
2. God created sex, and then confined it to the marriage relationship. Any sexual act committed outside of marriage (as God defined it) is sinful. Why? Because sex within marriage is the only way for it to be a good, positive, pure, Godly, act that brings two committed life-partners together in a safe, enjoyable, life-creating and life affirming way – and sex in any other context is ultimately destructive to us. That is why God calls all sexual activity outside of marriage sin. So yes, this includes homosexual activity, just like it includes premarital sexual activity and extra-marital sexual activity. All of those will be profoundly negative in our lives, and destroy God’s design for us. God’s plan for sex is in many places in Scripture, here is one example: Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
3. “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). Any principle that identifies sin and judgment needs to be quickly followed by the principle of forgiveness. In our society, sexual purity is an increasingly rare thing – many people even here this morning have sinned sexually, and understand the guilt and condemnation and destructive power of sex outside of the safety of marriage. Listening in to Jesus, who said that “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28), that would likely apply to all of us. If you are in that group, you need to know this principle, that “mercy triumphs over judgment,” and you need to know that through confession and repentance you will be completely forgiven, you will be healed of the wounds that were caused by sexual sin, and you will be set free from the bondage that very often results from deviation from God’s perfect design for sex. That is the truth of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
4. Jesus came for “sinners”. Any study of the life of Jesus will come to this conclusion. Jesus’ entire ministry was characterized by how he loved the unlovable, touched the unclean, included the outcasts, and brought good news to all of those who were not in the mainstream of society. Jesus broke through all of the “rules of polite society” and associated with all the people who didn’t fit, and Jesus loved them. And that love was so strong and good and pure that many of the people who felt it were eternally changed.
Consider, for example, Zacchaeus, in Luke 19:1-10. “Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.