“To be an effective warrior in the battle for truth today, several old-fashioned, Christlike virtues are absolutely essential: biblical discernment, wisdom, fortitude, determination, endurance, skill in handling Scripture, strong convictions, the ability to speak candidly without waffling, and a willingness to enter into conflict.”—John MacArthur, The Truth War1
“Individuals should disapprove of and oppose homosexuality as immoral. Churches should decline membership and office to unrepentant homosexuals. States should restrain homosexuality rather than making it a civil right. We must equally insist that individuals not take a holier-than-thou attitude toward homosexual sin, that churches faithfully proclaim the good news of deliverance to homosexuals, and that the state not persecute them by entrapment, invasion of privacy, or intentionally selective and uneven attention…[Moreover,] contrary to common retort, disagreeing with homosexuals about their rights and disapproving of their behavior does not automatically make someone a bigot…Viewing something as immoral is not the same thing as being bigoted.” Greg L. Bahnsen, Homosexuality2
God created mankind in His image to act as His vice-regents on this earth. Human beings were given dominion on this earth as the Lord’s stewards. Meaning we are to do two things: 1) work, tending God’s creation to its utmost potential, 2) work in guarding/protecting God’s creation from sin. To do this was to obey the voice of God and live. To do its opposite was to rebel against God’s Word and die. In this sense then, living and dying are ethical realities. Our parents in the Garden refused to listen to our Maker’s instruction, resulting in their eviction from His blessed sanctuary. (Only God’s grace made a further relationship—coming to Him in humility—possible).
Since that historical event, a visible struggle has been witnessed between those who seek to bear the mark of God in their lives and those who prefer the mark of the serpent. Previously, I pointed to how the Lord dealt with the rebellion of His creatures in the past. Using water, fire and sword to execute judgment against the nations (peoples) who refuse to submit to His Law-Word.
Today, I want to briefly explain why that is the case and what is going on that has so many Christian pastors (and Christians in general) concerned here in North America; specifically, in our sister nation Canada, although, such trouble is not far from our own borders. Furthermore, I want to challenge believers in their understanding of civil government and what our response ought to look like. In my final post (forthcoming soon) I will address how we are to deal with the sins of others in light of our gospel commitment.
A Warning and a Protection Enacted…
After the flood, God added a warning to the children of Man:
“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Gen 9.6; ESV).
Life is precious and has dignity because God made us. We are not accidents. We are not products of a series of evolutionary events. Chance did not bring about man, God—the Creator of Heaven and Earth—did.
Genesis 9:6 lays out the groundwork for the death penalty. For to strike against a fellow image-bearer is to strike against the God who created them. Please understand that the death penalty is applied to more than physically slaying another individual. Do you not know that rape is considered the same sort of attack against a fellow image-bearer, against the God who gave them life (cf. Deut 22.26-27)?3 The depth of the commandment: “Thou shall not kill” (Exod 20.13) is greater than just not taking life, but also preserving life. We are to do all that we can to maintain the life and well-being of another individual.
What is sexual sin, if not a violation against the commandment of life? It is destructive to the life of an individual, a marriage, to the family, and in the end to society as a whole. Think about the ways that our current culture has twisted and perverted sex. Our technology makes it more prevalent, but we need to understand that what we are seeing in our culture is nothing new. Biblical revelation makes it quite clear that this has been done before.
This is why I cited various judgment passages from the Old Testament (Tanakh). I have no desire to jab my finger in the eye of another. Nor, do I want to cower in fear because my words, which are just a relaying of God’s Word to His image-bearing creatures, are offensive to some. However, speaking the truth in love means there will be times when others will not want to hear your message. Jesus Christ was crucified for nothing less; and yet, no one can deny that His words were spoken out of love. (That last comment alone is worthy of a lengthy discussion, but I must press forward).
Efforts of the Rainbow Coalition…
Recently you may have noticed that the alphabet soup “community” has gotten more brazen over the years. Initially, all they supposedly wanted was for us to tolerate their existence. To allow them to come out of the closet. But now they are gunning for our lives. They have attacked our places of business. They have invaded our educational institutions. They have attacked our concept of family, of marriage. Now they are gunning for our children. They demand that “sexual identity” reign supreme. Not just in their private lives, but in the public square. They are currently seeking political support in the hopes of drawing up legislation to further silence our voices and our freedoms. No longer do they seek toleration, but their true desire is to demonstrate their intolerance for our way of life.
They are driving home the narrative that male and female is a myth, a lie propagated to control the masses. It is argued that one can transition from the “gender” classification they were assigned at birth. Reason and rational thought have been replaced with feelings and intentions of the heart as if the truth of reality were determined by such things! For the human heart is “exceedingly wicked” (Jer 17.9), more so than an individual might know about themselves (Jer 17.10), and this “from our youth” (Gen 8.21)
The Overreach of the Canadian Government…
Now, this past December the Canadian government passed legislation at the national level that makes it illegal to speak against or attempt to correct the errors laden in these forms of sexual sin. No longer are you allowed to question or offer a gentle rebuke in the hopes of converting such an individual to Christ for that is now considered hateful, harmful, and worthy of getting your freedoms revoked. To offer counsel, to preach the gospel, to proclaim the truth about the reality of sexual sins, of previously unspoken perversions/abominations, may get you fined, jailed, or even worse…you may have your children taken from you.
What should we do?
We ought to do as we are commanded to do. Herein lies the issue of jurisdiction. Whose spoken law has legally binding authority on this issue? Who should Christians bow the knee to and whom should they oppose? Where is our allegiance supposed to be demonstrated and in what way?
Romans 13:1 says,
“Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exists are established by God” (emphasis added).
I was listening to Dr. Joe Boot this week and he made a point I thought was worth repeating. (Bear in mind that this is a paraphrase of his words.) He pointed out that it is our duty as Christians to proclaim the truth. But he cautioned,
“We are not preaching against the government. For as we are taught in Scripture God has established government. He has sanctioned it to act as His ministers in the civil sphere. What we do is preach against the abusive tyrants that are besmirching the name of God…that are trampling on His Word…that are distorting the truth in government.”4
God ordained governing bodies because of mankind’s sinfulness. They serve as an authority above the person in society, in order, to curb bad (evil) behavior while upholding the good (lawful) citizens. Notice that the apostle Paul says “governing authorities” in Romans 13:1. Not one governmental body, but many; a plurality of governing institutions have been ordained (instituted) by God to help govern the affairs of men and execute His vengeance against those who take His laws lightly. This is why Paul also says that leaders in governmental bodies serve as His ministers (Grk. term for deacon) in the public sphere (Rom 13.4, 6).
The limitation is two-fold in Romans 13:1-7. First, the citizens of this earth are limited in their sphere of individual authority in that they are responsible to do good (honor the law), and if not justice will be executed against them accordingly (cf. Deut 19.21). Second, the individuals in positions of authority (governance) is given the use of the sword (retributive justice) but are limited in their use of it as the exercise of the sword must comport with God’s law. The governor (regardless of his/her station) is not a law unto themselves.
As Gary DeMar explains,
“Ultimately, only God has the authority to govern. He does so because He is God, and His infinite wisdom and majesty are beyond compare. He grants authority to others to govern: ‘By Me kings reign, and rulers decree justice’ (Proverbs 8:15)… [Therefore,] all who rule receive their authority for the administration of justice and equity from God, Lord (Governor) of all creation.”5
It is here that we find a voice for the Christian to speak. No one government is absolute, they are by divine decree derivative having delegated powers. They are not all-encompassing, and therefore do not have absolute autonomy. They have a jurisdictional boundary by which they are able and likewise limited, to operate.
Thus, they have no right to write nor authorize legislation that attempts to supplant the truth of God. Marriage was ordained by God, and so too was sex, which is a part of the covenantal bed (cf. Heb 13.4). God alone has the right to define human identity and this He did in the beginning:
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1.27).
“…the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living person” (Gen 2.7).
“…the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘At last this is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man” (Gen 2.21-23).
Moreover, God defined marriage between a man and a woman and therefore, no other union is to be legally or lawfully recognized as marriage. And to those who claim that understanding marriage in this fashion is outdated or patriarchal, I respond it is based on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords:
“Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no person is to separate” (Matt 19.4-6; cf. Gen 2.24).
What teaching may we glean from this? What application(s) may be drawn from Jesus’ words? That God created only two “genders” from the beginning—male and female. That God made the woman for the man and by extension the man for the woman; thus sex is to be shared only between a man and a woman. In fact, the entire alphabet soup narrative is destroyed by this one teaching. For no governing authority is authorized to change the defining marks of what makes marriage, sex, or even the family—something that Christ also warns not to attempt to separate—are. God reserves that right.
And so, it is the duty of the Christian minister whether great or small to proclaim/preach this truth in opposition to the governing authorities above us that are attempting to pervert it. We are to warn them that God’s wrath was not silent in the past, and it will not be silent in our present state if they do not desist and repent from what they are doing right now!
1John MacArthur, The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 146.
2Greg L. Bahnsen, Homosexuality: A Biblical View (Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Press, 2011), Preface 1, 2. Using the term “homosexual” Bahnsen recognizes “…specific variations within sexual identity and orientation…” (p.1) and so it applies to a wider variety of practices within the LGBTQ? Community; something that continues to evolve over time at an increasingly rapid pace.
3The list of sins that struck the image of God in man are many. Either the sins were a direct assault on this image or indirect. This includes a long list of sexual sins (cf. Lev 18, 20), but others as well. For example, child sacrifice (Lev 20.1-5), kidnapping (Exod 21.16), chattel slavery (Deut 24.7), murder (Num 35.16-18), parental abuse (Exod 21.15; Deut 21.18-21), and in some cases the slanderous purger/malicious witness (Deut 19.19).
4When I say paraphrase I mean just that. This is the essence of what he said, but it is not a word-for-word transcription of his message to his listening audience. Therefore, if a person would like to hear Dr. Boot’s testimony I will provide the link to his website so that you may download his podcast and listen: https://www.ezrainstitute.ca/resource-library/podcast/biblical-sexuality-sermons/.
5Gary DeMar, God and Government (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2011), 56.