Matthew Parris calls himself a "gay atheist." After 62 percent of voters in Ireland approved gay marriage recently, he responded to the church's response. In his view, the Archbishop of Dublin's statement that the church needed to undertake a "reality check" was troubling and indicative of continued moral compromise. According to Parris, "the conservative Catholic's only proper response to news such as that from Dublin . . . is that 62 percent in a referendum does not cause a sin in the eyes of God to cease to be a sin."
He continues: "Can't these Christians see that the moral basis of their faith cannot be sought in the pollsters' arithmetic? Can a preponderance of public opinion reverse the polarity between virtues and vice?" Citing Moses' rejection of the Jewish community's idolatry in Exodus 32, he asks, "Would it have occurred for a moment to Moses (let alone God) that he'd better defer to (demon)-worship because that's what most of the Israelites wanted to do?"
Parris is right: a sin is a sin, no matter its popularity. (Tweet this) This is a fact Christians who defend biblical marriage will need to remember. As our culture moves increasingly away from biblical morality, our stances on cultural issues will become more and more unpopular and dangerous for us.
It's natural in this environment to become defensive, to adopt a siege mentality and view ourselves as persecuted victims. In such a "culture wars" mindset, those with whom we disagree are our enemies. We are in a zero-sum conflict in which one side must win and the other must lose.
Such a worldview brings certain advantages. It positions us as morally superior to our opponents. In fact, it enrolls us in an affirming community (an "Inner Ring," as C. S. Lewis described it) where we and our likeminded friends are right and all others are wrong. In so doing, it demonizes our critics while energizing our supporters and rallying them to our cause.
But Oswald Chambers warns: "You must constantly beware of anything that causes you to think of yourself as a superior person." St. Augustine was grateful to God "who first healed me of the lust of vindicating myself, so that You might forgive all the rest of my iniquities" (Confessions 10.58).
The "culture wars" of our day are not about winning and losing elections or court cases—they are about winning and losing souls. (Tweet this) Millennia after the Supreme Court has ceased to meet and the last gay pride march has ended, every person you know will be with God or separated from him. What we say to the moral issues of our day is vital, but so is the way we say it. Gay marriage matters enormously, but gay people matter more—eternally more.
So let's stand for biblical morality, but let's do so with biblical grace. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13:1). We are told by our Father to speak the truth, but to do so in love (Ephesians 4:15). Will you do both today?
Publication date: June 12, 2015
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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