Last Friday, the Supreme Court effectively made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. And while there have already been enough articles and blog posts written on the subject to fill an entire library, we believe as elders that it’s important to take a moment to address a question that you won’t find answered in even the best of them: “What does all of this mean for Kossuth Street Baptist Church?” We take this question seriously, and we’re working even now to explore the steps we need to take as a church to clarify our policies in such a way as to prepare for potential legal challenges. But more importantly, we want to let you know where our church stands by offering five affirmations that will help us navigate these tumultuous times. All five are vital aspects of our response as a local church.
1. We affirm the sovereignty of God. As one friend and fellow church member put it in an email to me earlier this week, “God knew last Friday would come.” That may seem like an elementary statement, but it’s hugely important for us to understand. The Supreme Court doesn’t run the universe. God does. And because that is true, we need not succumb to fear or hopelessness. Whatever else we do, we must not lose sight of the Psalmist’s words: “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Ps. 115:3).
2. We affirm our own sinfulness. Jesus instructs me to remove the log in my own eye before pointing out the speck in yours. So before we talk about the sexual sins of our culture, we must be committed to confessing and seeking grace for our own sins. Unfaithfulness, abuse, lust, divorce, apathy, lovelessness: we must repent of these sins that taint our own marriages. After all, there’s more than one way to denigrate the divine institution of marriage, and unfortunately we’re guilty of many of them.
3. We affirm our LGBT neighbors as bearers of the image of God. Every man and woman—regardless of sexuality—has been uniquely formed and fashioned in the image of their Creator. This means that we owe all of our neighbors respect, dignity, and love. Although we will certainly find our beliefs at odds with many people around us, we refuse to let that serve as an excuse for hostility or lack of compassion. We are resolved to love, even in the face of differences.
4. We affirm a biblical and countercultural view of marriage. As Christians, the pressure to conform our beliefs to the shifting norms of American culture can be overwhelming. But we refuse to go along with popular opinion just because it’s popular. Our understanding of marriage comes from the One who created it. This means that we are resolved to teach, preach, and live out an ideal for marriage that the world will increasingly find strange and revolutionary: one man, one woman, in holy covenant before God.
5. We affirm an unchanged gospel and an unchanged mission. No Supreme Court decision can nullify the fact that Jesus died to save sinners. And no Supreme Court decision can prevent the church of Jesus Christ from declaring that message with boldness and love in our neighborhoods and among the nations. Our task is no different than it was before. We need not tuck our tails and run. The church will continue to wake up every morning and make disciples until Jesus comes back.
Have no doubt about it: there will be difficult days ahead. But by God’s grace, we will continue to affirm these five crucial realities as we serve and minister in an increasingly complex world. We are as excited as ever to be pastors. And we are as excited as ever to see what God will do in and through Kossuth Street Baptist Church. We are grateful to be ministering alongside you.