I was asked to write a blog article recently for the wesbite of the church that I work for but unfortunately the subject I chose upset several people and resulted in attitudes and accusations toward me, amongst others, of being homophobic. The blog article is pasted underneath this one and has subsequently been taken down from the church website.
As you will see, the point of the article was to encourage readers to consider some key areas of theology (as I am) relevant to our world scene today:
1) How does God really feel about recent legislation to re-define marriage? (My Conviction)
2) The Sovereignty of God
3) The biblical and timeless grounds for a relationship between what we are seeing in the world (including extreme weather), of wars, uprisings and the prideful disdain of God and His word. (Spurgeon helps us with this in the sermon link I provide, even in the year 2014).
Unfortunately, the fact that I have even entertained the possibility of God being sufficiently grieved by something as serious as a redefinition of marriage to result in judgement in a nation, resulted in a steady flow of ungracious and anonymous unpleasantness from supposed brothers and sisters. At the end of the day, I don’t know if there is any relationship between the holiness and sanctity of marriage being dismantled and the extreme weather this year, but I can’t assume that there isn’t (because I believe God is deeply offended by marriage being redefined) and I’d like to have a loving conversation about it.
It is a sensitive and difficult subject and I agree that the time and place of the debate is important too, but does this line of enquiry (in the tone that I did, below) excuse or warrant the type of response I received? Was it really the enquiry landing on a blog on a church website (vetted by Vicar and Op’s Manager) that was the issue? Or rather was the offence from anonymous folk with the actual questions/perspectives that were raised? Isn’t the real problem that we think far too lowly of marriage and, therefore, Jesus?
What does this tell me?
A) That we must be committed to being kind, loving and respectful of our brothers and sisters even when we disagree with their stance, or, in this case, disagree with their questions and lines of enquiry before conclusions are reached.
B) That the issues of judgment, God’s sovereignty, and the seriousness of marriage being redefined is not open for civil discussion by some.
C) As pastors, leaders, preachers, teachers, worshippers of another Kingdom, we must be prepared for this type of accusation and misunderstanding if we are to righteously take a stand against the direction that our Nation, and other Nations of the world, are choosing. But the responsibility of whether the church actually takes a stand against unrighteousness remains our decision to make. Eventually we will have to decide which side of the fence we are going to live on.
Finally, I am genuinely very sorry for causing offence or misunderstanding for anyone
When the Oceans Rise
Being a Devonian, my heart has gone out to the West Country in this first part of 2014, with the sustained bad weather and the wettest winter on record since 1766. I’ve been particularly moved after listening to some of the interviews from residents who have lost their homes entirely or been under water for weeks and weeks. The stress and upset are difficult to imagine, not to mention the fear particularly for older people.
I guess all of this really came to light on Christmas Eve when thousands of people were stranded at Gatwick Airport because of the dowsing deluge, and the first signs that our river banks were at breaking point and that the fragile transport infrastructures of the UK simply couldn’t handle what was happening.
If I’m being brutally honest, I have found myself on a couple of occasions prayerfully wondering and asking Jesus ‘what is going on?‘. The sheer scale of the weather damage and the volume of water drenching the ground (particularly in Somerset) has been difficult to take in. And, of course, it’s easy for the situation to slip from our minds and prayers while the floods don’t make the news headlines, when all the while the folk are still suffering. It is going to take weeks, if not months, for the water levels and the damage caused to return to normal and Cornwall is essentially cut off from the rest of the UK with the railway in Dawlish still obliterated (try to visit it one day if you can – the railway from Exeter to Paignton along that route is difficult to beat for beauty).
The main point I’m coming to though is back to my wondering about ‘Jesus, what is going on?‘.
On January 18th 2014, the Guardian Newspaper reported that David Silvester, a former Tory MP (defecting recently to UKIP), claimed that Britain’s recent storms and floods are “divine retribution for the government’s decision to legalise gay marriage.” While I struggle with the language Mr Silvester used – ie. that the storms were divine retribution for David Cameron’s arrogance towards the gospel – I have wondered if some of what Mr Silvester has written is true and biblical.
The Bible does explicitly say that a Nation will rise and fall on righteousness (Proverbs 14:34) and the UK government’s decision to legalise so called ‘same-sex marriage’ is not pertaining to biblical righteousness, whatever spin you put on it. The Bible is more black and white than it is grey.
I’ll finish this brief piece by simply asking some questions for consideration and pointing you to a sermon to read from the great CH Spurgeon, preached on Sunday morning, August 17th 1856:
- How bothered do you think God is that the UK has passed a Bill that is directly opposed to biblical truth about marriage?
- What is your theological viewpoint on the Sovereignty of God?
- Do you think there is any connection between what we are seeing in the world (whether natural disasters, wars, rumours of wars, uprisings, revolutions) and the general disregard that the Nations of the world have for Yahweh?
Be blessed and be prayerful.