In case the Supreme Court wants his opinion, last week Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman publicly announced he’s on board with gay marriage. Perhaps the timing was a political signal to the justices about two big cases arriving on their docket this week: sustain or strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (which then Congressman Portman voted for in 1996), and sustain or strike down California’s Prop 8 by which California voters banned gay marriage in the state.
Senator Portman is a political conservative whom the Romney campaign considered for the VP slot last year. He credits his change of heart to a his college-aged son coming out to the family in 2009. This is nothing new; parents are understandably affected by what their children believe and do, and often adjust their own beliefs and decisions to promote and enjoy ongoing family harmony. Furthermore, politicians down through the ages and across the political spectrum have an uncanny knack for telling which the way the wind is blowing–or soon will.
But the theological underpinnings given for the change, are ominous . The Senator admitted: I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.
Elsewhere I have written why as a Christian I oppose legalizing gay marriage [click here]. That is not my concern here, but rather the fallacy and the lie that helped this dad square his old faith with his new view. First, the lie: every one of the 7 billion people on the planet arechildren of God. This is widely believed and professed–even among some evangelical Christians. But if a little boy comes up to me and pulls on my pantleg saying, “Daddy, Daddy”, does that make him my son? Wouldn’t a father be the one who knows best who is his son or daughter–not the other way around?
…to all who did receive him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12). Receiving Jesus and believing on Him are prerequisites to becoming a child of God. Whether the senator or his son is a child of God are not mine to determine. But not everyone qualifies. 1 John 3:10 claims that … it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. God’s apostle couldn’t be more clear: of all 7 billion people, some belong to God, and some to the devil. Which reminds me of the fingers Jesus one day pried loose from his pantlegs You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires (John 8:44).
Now the fallacy: letting the commands that God gave His children be silenced by the Bible’s so-called “overarching themes of love and compassion”. It is true that God says of Himself that He is compassionate, and slow to anger. But it does not nullify specific commands such as “You shall not bear false witness”.
This is the same argument that Rob Bell and others have used to paper over the many mentions of hell in the Bible. But just as God blessed his people by rescuing them from Egypt, He judged them for their disobedience (see Numbers 25:1-9, 21:4-9 as two examples among many). Should someone protest that “that’s the OT” as if God had an original character defect which has been surgically repaired, remember the NT deaths of Ananias & Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11.
Most importantly, the way the senator views God’s love and compassion would make nonsense of the death the Father choreographed for His Son. How evil God would be if he asked Jesus to die unnecessarily? If the wages of sin aren’t death; if God’s wrath against sin is just something made up by squinty-eyed and hypocritical Pharisees who want to spoil everyone’s fun.
The enormity of grace that some homosexual advocates credit God for having, is real. In fact, our estimates of God’s grace are probably too small rather than too big. However, the Bible never portrays God’s grace as a license for teenagers to shoplift; or husbands to cheat on wives, or workers to goof off on the job, or two men to copulate (Rom.6:1-2). Grace is the unmerited favor of God extended to all kinds of sinners–WHO REPENT, who turn away from a former embrace of it. And grace that continues to be extended as sinners fall, get up again, fall, get up again, fall…
The night grows darker and darker as professing believers write their own Bibles. Look back, look ahead: Jesus always comes to earth in judgment. The first time was not to bring it but to bear it by dying for sinners. The second time He will unleash the full fury of a God who is offended by those who thumb their noses at His Son’s death and embrace their sin, even as God–in severe mercy, tries to rescue them (Rev.9:21). Yes, God is love; but not only love; He is holy too.