Philippians 1:27 – Part 3

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.

1:27 (cont.) – Let us continue this explanation by using the cultural uproar concerning same-sex marriage.

What is the cause for this drift from the biblical description marriage?[1] To be blunt and straightforward, the church needs to recognize that this issue of contrasting biblical truth is beyond cultural differences. The culture does not agree with biblical truth because they do not believe the Bible to be true, and thus they do not submit themselves to the authority of the Bible. There are only a handful of options in regard to the biblical teaching on marriage: 1) the Bible is not the word of God, and the culture is free to disregard its authority concerning the institution of marriage, or 2) the Bible is the word of God, and the culture is held to the standards that it depicts.[2] Someone’s position (either option one or two) is the necessary presupposition to identify in any conversation of biblical ethics or definitions regarding marriage and family. If one does not believe the Bible to be the word of God, then there is a different route to take in regards to addressing the definition of marriage. The church cannot expect the culture to abide by the definition of marriage found in a book they do not believe to be true. The conversation of biblical accuracy and inerrancy may need to preface the conversation of its authority in regards to marriage.

What is the teaching of the Bible? The most apparent interpretation of the Bible, consistent with literal-grammatical hermeneutics, determines that God ordained marriage (cf. Genesis 2:24-25; Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9) to be between one man and woman (cf. Genesis 1:27; 2:24-25; Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9) to typify and model the relationship between Christ and His church (cf. Ephesians 5:22-23; Isaiah 54:5; Hosea 2:19; Revelation 19:7-9; 21:9-14). Marriage also includes procreation (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 127:3; Ephesians 6), the implementation of proper gender roles (cf. Genesis 2:18; Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9; Ephesians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Peter 3:1-7), happiness (cf. Proverbs 18:22; 20:6-7), an opportunity for sanctification (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:1-16), and it is an ‘honorable’ institution (Hebrews 13:4-7). Moreover, the Bible marks the act of homosexuality as sinful and worthy of God’s judgment throughout both the Old and New Testament (Genesis 19:1-11; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Jude 7). James B. DeYoung interestingly states, “The Bible is unique in its condemnation of all homosexual behavior.”[3] This is a ‘biblical ethic’ in the strictest sense.

Nevertheless, some say that these verses are simply misinterpreted. For our purposes here, it will suffice to say that the Bible is overwhelmingly clear in its condemnation of homosexual behavior, and to suggest otherwise requires a hermeneutic that is ultimately self-destructive and untenable to the submissive Christian.[4] The debate over biblical hermeneutics in regards to same-sex marriage and homosexuality will continually increase. However, there is a motive driving these misinterpretations. People are seeking to insert their desired truth into the text rather than submitting to the apparent and uncomfortable truth of the literal and grammatical reading of the text. Obviously, biblical clarity or adherence to the biblical texts is not ‘sufficient’ for the culture to change. Austerely, it is because there is an issue of authority. So we establish that the Bible is God’s word, but there is still a cultural rejection of what the Scriptures assert. So then, there is a third option: 3) the Bible is the word of God, but the culture is apathetic to its authority because they are apathetic to God’s authority.[5]

To convince the non-Christian of the Bible’s accuracy is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end. Even if the church can produce a persuasive argument for the Bible’s truthfulness, this will not solve the issue. Christians cannot be chiefly satisfied with convincing someone of the Bible’s inerrancy, because the aim is to present the Bible’s truth as to make room for a submissive heart, which is generated by the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Even deeper than the disregard to biblical authority, culture’s non-Christian ethics primarily stem from sinful hearts, set on rebelling against God and exchanging the glory of their creator. For the one who engages in homosexual conduct, their greatest need is not heterosexuality; their greatest lacking is the grace of God’s salvation rooted in the redemption of Jesus Christ found in His Scriptures. Homosexuality is a consequential issue; the sinner’s rebellious heart is the primary concern and the causal issue for disregard to biblical authority and all unethical behavior. As Rosaria Butterfield so profoundly explains in her autobiographical story of her conversion, heterosexuality is not the solution to homosexuality. The church is not seeking coverts from homosexuality, but rather converts from unbelief. Although Rosaria was redeemed from her homosexual lifestyle, she claims that the greatest work of God’s grace was His transformation of her rebellious heart.[6]

It can be concluded, the church’s concern with same-sex marriage is deeper than correcting a sinful behavior. The chief end of the church is to glorify God within the culture, which consists in pointing rebellious hearts to the gracious and sanctifying redemption of Jesus Christ. Same-sex marriage is only the result of this deep issue of the culture’s rejection of God and His gospel. The church must recognize the need in regards to its causation, or they will be left to insignificantly address symptoms, leaving the central concern – the sinful heart – endlessly surpassing the external ethical modifications.

Having identified the central and causal issue regarding culture’s devaluing and redefining of marriage, one can proceed to those items that the church can execute in addressing the culture’s need.

1) The church should not expect non-Christians to live out Christian ethics, and thus should not specifically cast judgment in this regard. ‘For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the churchwhom you are to judge? God judges those outside’ (1 Cor. 5:12-13a). To clarify, it is not wrong to compassionately alert a homosexual that they are sinners, but judgment is reserved for God; the Christian is permitted to exercise mercy and grace. When the Corinthians wanted to speak of judgment, Paul directed it back to the Christian congregation. Today, if the church wants to judge, let them judge the thirty-eight percent of Christian marriages that are getting divorced, disgracing the sanctity of marriage inasmuch, if not more, than same-sex couples.[7] For God has given us the responsibility for administering His grace, not His judgment (cf. Eph. 3:2).

2) The church should not solely make this a legislative or governmental issue. From the Christian perspective, same-sex marriage is mainly a moral issue, not first and foremost a legal one. Yes, a society cannot have legislation apart from morality; the emphasis, however, must be on the deeper issue – i.e., the moral decision that is guiding the legislative opinion. Do not disregard the legislative element, but do not let it rule the deliberation.[8]

In the simplest sense, the church cannot change the hearts of those within the culture. The Holy Spirit is ultimately responsible for the salvation of sinners. Nonetheless, God has ordained it so that His bride is the instrument for the Spirit’s conviction, because is through the church that the gospel is preached. Thus it is permitted to speak in a way that the church can actively pursue the salvation of those non-Christians in culture. The church’s engagement with culture must be rooted in their dependency on the Spirit and proclamation of the gospel; and within their dependency on the Spirit, the church will not seek to shortsightedly implement ethical standards on the culture apart from the Spirit’s greatest concern – i.e., the sinner’s salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Faith is the aim, not behavioral modification. Yes, above ethics, the Christian is seeking to implement biblical faith in the heart and mind of the non-Christian (all within the dependency of the Holy Spirit, of course). For Christianity, faith is necessary to virtue; it is the essence of Christian ethics and the decisive predecessor to pleasing God. ‘Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin’ (Romans 14:23). ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’ (Hebrews 11:6). “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Romans 8:7). It is impossible for those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ to act virtuously. If the church aims at anything resultant to faith (ethics), their efforts will be spiritually futile. Faith unites man to God; God is good. If man is not united to God, who is the source and emanation of all goodness, then they are left with shallow and false imitations of virtue. Conclusively, the church must interact with the culture towards its greatest need (lack of faith), by the power of the Spirit, whose greatest work is stirring faith in the hearts of people through the proclamation of the gospel. This is the only means for the church to uphold the sanctity of the biblical institution of marriage.

The Holy Spirit moving Christians to actively engage in the Great Commission will only solve this issue. The church must be reaching out in love and compassion, showing the culture that Christian marriage is an aspect of “human flourishing,” not simply a list of rules that they desire to tyrannically impose on others.[9] The means to correction is evangelical in nature, and the greatest evangelism is Christians growing in sanctification. Christians must desire to ‘only’ (μόνον, monon) live in a manner worthy of the gospel, and one of the greatest pictures of the worth of the gospel is found in the marriage relationship (cf. Eph. 5:22-23). If the Christian wants to impact the culture’s view of the value of marriage, let them begin by exulting in the gospel picture of their own marriage, with the husband loving the wife, and the wife submitting to the husband. The greatest testament to God and one of the best manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s work of faith is the sanctification of God’s children. You see how 1:27 becomes the heading under which all Christian ethics submissively fall under, and it turn becomes the crux of our evangelistic pursuit?


[1] For a great discussion concerning the progressive drift from Biblical values concerning marriage, see: William L. Kynes, “The Marriage Debate: a Public Theology of Marriage,” Trinity Journal 28, no. 2 (2007): 187-190.

[2] The debate as to whether it a homosexual is born with the sexual orientation is really beside the point. Indeed if the homosexual was ‘born that way,’ the whole Christian understanding of hamartiology, anthropology, and the gospel does not exclude the necessity for man to contradict his natural desires. C. S. Lewis explains in a letter to Sheldon Vanauken: “our speculations on the cause of the abnormality are not what matters and we must be content with ignorance. The disciples were not told why (in terms of efficient cause) the man was born blind (John 9:1-3): only the final cause – that the works of God should be made manifest in him. This suggests that in homosexuality, as in every other tribulation, those works can be made manifest: i.e. that every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will ‘turn the necessity to glorious gain.’” Quotation found in Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy (New York: HarperOne, 2009), 146-148.

[3] James DeYoung, Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic & Professional, 2000), 14.

[4] For a great response to opposing interpretations of the Bible concerning homosexuality, see: John Goldingay, Grant LeMarquand, George R. Sumner, and Daniel Westberg, “The Traditionalist Response.” Anglican Theological Review 93, no. 1 (2011): 94.

[5] As a Christian, one should realize that this is impossible; nevertheless, it appears that liberal scholars are seeking to preserve this ideal.

[6] Rosaria’s story can be found in her book Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith (Pittsburgh, PA: Crown & Covenant Pub, 2012).

[7] Statistic taken from: Bradley R.E. Wright, Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and Other Lies You’ve Been Told, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2010), p. 133.

[8] For a great discussion on the state’s interest marriage, see Kynes, “The Marriage Debate: a Public Theology of Marriage,” 198-203.

[9] Lisa Fullam, “Toward a Virtue of Ethics of Marriage: Augustine and Aquinas on Friendship in Marriage,” Theological Studies 73, no. 3 (2012): 691.

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One thought on “Philippians 1:27 – Part 3

  1. Taylor…..Great article here of the truth of God’s word on same sex marriage.There is no denying what the will of God is in the life of the believer, and it is basically summed up easily that two men nor two woman are unable to reproduce therefore the earth would not be able to be populated as God wants for his people. You gave many wonderful scriptures to hold to that truth and it was good to see.God Bless You in your journey of teaching his truth to the nations through the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your life!
    Julia
    P.S.Thank You for reading post(“The Rock”)found on the I’m not ashamed of the gospel website . If your interested in other posts I’ve written check out
    http://precioussheepofrenown.wordpress.com

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