Matt 24:3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”It seems we are now patently moving on to the second wave of birth-pains, a shift to a fundamental polarisation and hostility that targets those whose loyalty is to the Living God in the face of the risen Christ. Driven, by deceptions that put lies for truth and dismiss the truth as lies, put wrong for right and call right wrong, and more in a topsy-turvy chaos of moral confusion.
4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away[a] and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. [ESV]
In that context, I must reflect on the US Supreme Court ruling yesterday that its freedom of religious objection clause seems to be subtly defective. For, as Matt Barber notes:
The majority opinion emphasized that this newfangled “right” to “gay marriage” should not be construed to trump religious liberty:The problem here is first, that there is a difference between speaking and acting on convictions. This is multiplied by a circumstance where . . . in a context of might and manipulation making "right" manifest in the law-twisting that has already happened to manufacture this counterfeit right . . . words, however promising, fall under the cynical proverb that "a promise is a comfort to a fool."
“Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.”I’m not naïve. We’ll have to see what this actually means in coming years, but when filtered through any honest reading of the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause, what it means is that Christians cannot be forced to violate their conscience through compulsory participation in, or recognition of, counterfeit “gay weddings” or “marriages.”
Of course there’s nothing honest about the five liberals on this court, and Chief Justice Roberts makes that point in his dissent. He expresses skepticism as to the majority’s sincerity: “The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to ‘advocate’ and ‘teach’ their views of marriage,” he writes. “The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to ‘exercise‘ religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.”
“Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage,” he continues. “[W]hen, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court.”
Little doubt indeed.
As many of us have long warned, all this “gay marriage” nonsense was never about “marriage equality.” It was, and remains, a spiritual battle camouflaged in the formal attire of judicial and public policy wrangling. It was always about forcing Christ’s faithful followers, under penalty of law, to abandon biblical truth and embrace sexual sin. The goal of “LGBT” activists and secular progressives has long been to pit the government directly against the free exercise of religion – Christianity in particular – and to silence all dissent . . .
So, smooth words like this offer little or no comfort.
I see, that US Sen. Ted Cruz has suggested: “In order to provide the people themselves with a constitutional remedy to the problem of judicial activism and the means for throwing off judicial tyrants, I am proposing an amendment to the United States Constitution that would subject the Justices of the Supreme Court to periodic judicial-retention elections.”
That offers some hope, though perhaps a forlorn one: it is quite difficult to get an amendment through, and the existing provision of impeachment seems to be effectively broken.
A deeper level of analysis reflects on how the Kingdom of God interacts with the key institutions in the kingdoms of man, as the discipleship mandate seeks to teach the gospel-truth and call for a gospel-based lifestyle. It will be convenient to look at the seven mountains simplified picture of the resulting challenge to fill all of life with the grace, light and blessing of Christ:
We are clearly looking at a clash involving Government, the Media, Education, Family and Religion.
One, where Bible-based Christian Faith took a major governmental defeat yesterday, one with global consequences given the significance of the USA. (For us in the Caribbean, we must realise that there is a point to the saying that if the Americans sneeze, we get flu.)
Underlying, is the issue of worldviews and cultural agendas driven by long run intellectual forces.
For that, prof Paul Kengor of Grove City College, has some sobering thoughts:
The typical American who supports gay marriage has friendly motives, looking to extend a new “right” or new “freedom” to a new group. I get that. I don’t agree, but I understand. Unfortunately, these Americans don’t realize that, for the far left, gay marriage is the Trojan horse to achieve what the earliest communists called the “abolition of the family.” To many Americans, gay marriage is about “marriage equality,” but to the far left, it’s about the final takedown of the family that it has long desired . . . .The late Francis Schaeffer (with adjustments and extensions) helps us develop a deeper understanding of even deeper civilisational roots, through his line of despair analysis:
I very carefully state that this isn’t a conspiracy. I want to be clear on this. Liberals, please do not caricature me and my argument. We do a disservice to the truth when we boil down complex things to simple caricature. However, just as we can easily overstate things, we can also easily understate them, and to do the latter, likewise, would be a mistake here.
What the left has steadfastly said and written and done to marriage and the family over the last two centuries cannot be ignored. Those actions have been undeniable contributing factors – along with many other factors – that in part help explain where we are today.
Same-sex marriage is not a Marxist plot. It is, however, a crucial final blow to marriage – the only blow that will enable a formal, legal redefinition that will unravel the institution . . . . [W]hat the left has steadfastly done to marriage and the family over the last two centuries – from Marx and Engels and early utopian socialists like Robert Owen and Charles Fourier to modern cultural Marxists and secular progressives – cannot be ignored. The current rapid redefinition of the male-female marital and parental bond that has undergirded civilization for multiple millennia is the end-road of a steady evolution that should not be viewed entirely separate from some very successful attacks by the communist left and radical left generally. The journey had many prior destinations. A people do not just one morning wake up and ditch the sacred and natural character of the male-female marital union that served their parents, grandparents, great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents. Ground had been plowed to ready this soil . . . .
Anyone advocating something as culturally unthinkable as male-male or female-female “marriage,” in any time other than ours, from the ancient Greeks and Romans of 2,000 years ago to the Democrat and Republican parties of just 20 years ago, would have been laughed at – maybe even hauled off by the authorities as dangerous public menaces. Marx and Engels were under surveillance by the governments in their countries simply for arguing for non-monogamous marriage. Even gay people weren’t thinking they’d soon live in a culture where not only was the mainstream population supportive of gay marriage but where liberals – our great champions of “tolerance” and “diversity” – would be suing, picketing, boycotting, demonizing and dehumanizing a Baptist grandma who begs them not to force her to make a cake for a gay wedding. Marx and Engels and even wild cultural Marxists like Herbert Marcuse and Wilhelm Reich – who broke down sexual barriers in areas like homosexuality and bisexuality – would be rolling over in their graves. Nonetheless, they would be thrilled to see that every-day (non-communist) Americans have finally found a vehicle to assist the long-time communist dream of (to quote the Communist Manifesto) “the abolition of the family.”
That is, when nature is made autonomous from grace creating a split-level world in which the world of thought locks God out, nature gobbles up grace:
This then leads us to the challenge of costly prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership:
We now come full circle to Matt 24: those who profit from or are locked into a lifestyle that depends on a worldview in rebellion against God, will often find such a challenge utterly unwelcome and in too many cases will react with hostility.
It is then all too tempting to resort to blame and shoot at the messenger tactics, projecting their own hostility on those who challenge a culture of hell-bent sinful marches of folly heading for disaster.
Again, God loves and seeks to redeem the world, through Christ.
Thus, we need to recognise that we have spiritual cancer, sin.
A devastating diagnosis, and one that calls for radical spiritual surgery, starting with facing the truth of the diagnosis.
Clinging to a fatal disease is absurd.
But, absurdity is at the heart of deception.
Where, we need to recognise also that truth is not hate, it is truth -- the only sound basis for hope . . . however painful and unwelcome the prospect of spiritual surgery is.
This brings the issue of standing for the defense of the truth of the gospel to the fore.
1 Peter 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you . . .
2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.Paul:
17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[i] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.
21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Cor 10: 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ [who is "the way, the truth and the life . . . "]
Jesus, in grim warning to the deeply deceived:
John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”And of course, many have been led to dismiss the gospel. Let me again call attention to some reasons for the credibility of the gospel, including inviting us to watch:
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel from Slaves4Christ on Vimeo.
Truth and right under God are now on the table, and in a context where the degree of polarisation just shot up by a quantum leap.
So, the question is in the scriptural challenge: today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.
Like unto this, we must burn into our hearts a classic diagnostic text of warning and of hope:
1 Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
F/N c: 1 Corinthians 6:9 The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts
(And this book may help those caught up in the notion that same sex attraction and behaviour are genetically in-stamped unchangeable behaviours. In a nutshell, such media-spread, lab coat clad myths are far from the truth and never had serious evidential basis. We are, after all responsibly free, morally governed creatures. But, that points straight to God as the IS who grounds OUGHT, and for too many any absurdity is preferable to such unpalatable truth. But what is credible and well warranted as truth has little to do with what we may wish were so. Truth says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not. Truth puts us in contact with reality: sin-cancer may be unpalatable truth, but if we are to survive spiritually, we have to face the diagnosis and act on it.)
So, now, we are at kairos, and must face a decision, individually, as families and communities, as societies and as a civilisation: we are diagnosed with sin-cancer, what will we do about it?
For sure, blaming and attacking the messenger telling us we have to face the diagnosis, undergo radical spiritual surgery then recovery and reformation of life is not a reasonable response.
If we are wrong, show us how.
(But note, millions of us can show the healed spiritual scars and testify as to successful treatment by Dr Jesus.)
The day of decision is upon us, and so far we are weighed in the balances and found wanting.
It is time to face and act on -- not attack -- the truth. END