Pastor Britt: "The Heart Of The Matter: Cutting Through The Lies Being Told About The Church In Regards To The Covenant Of Marriage".
What follows is a paraphrase of that message:
There are some times when the Lord will tap me on the shoulder and say, 'I have a job for you to do!' And when the Boss talks, I listen! And it is often not a pleasant experience that He has in store for me. He told me that I need to talk about marriage. Talk about a controversial subject? It is a hot topic in the news today, with the Supreme Court to hear arguments concerning the legality of same-sex marriage this week. But today we are going to hear the Gospel from the Boss!
This is not me talking; this is Him! And He lets us know that we will be held accountable for our actions! I have always considered it to be a privilege to perform marriage ceremonies. And when doing weddings, I never know what is going to happen! I often tell the bride and groom to look at each other, NOT me!! I am already in the 'club'! I had one groom vomiting before the ceremony! As I addressed another young man during the ceremony, he scrunched his face up, and I thought we had a runner!! Another young man hesitated in responding as I directed; I got lost in the narrative and began to panic until he finally responded! And I once did the unforgivable - I called a bride by the wrong name!! She forgave me, and she even attends services here at New Beginnings. My biggest joy was when a couple came to see me to get married to each other for a second time! They had been through many difficulties, and their first marriage ended in divorce. But they somehow got back together; they were two broken hearts on the mend. They were both in tears during the entire ceremony!
Now, I am not up here to give a political speech. I am here to deliver a sermon. Have you ever seen the Murray Povich show? Katie, bring me the envelope, please!! We start with several statements: (1) the church does not accept LGBT people. True? NO, it is a lie! (2) The church is judgmental of LGBT people. True? NO, it is a lie! (3) The church is bigoted. True? NO, it is a lie! (4) The church is guilty of being hateful and insensitive. True? NO, it is a lie! Who is guilty of spreading all of these lies about the church's relationship with the LGBT community? Satan! Our society has transitioned from one of 'self-control' to one of 'self-expression'. For example, we went from 'no sex before marriage' to 'safe sex at any time'. As a society, we try to redefine everything. Another example is driving and stopping at stop signs. We were taught to stop. But some have argued that stop signs outlined in white are only optional, and that one only needs to slow down at such signs! We have taken rules that have been in place for a long time and changed them to fit the times. The same is true of marriage.
God's definition of marriage is found in the second chapter of the Bible, in the Book of Genesis. God decided to make a companion suitable for man. So when Adam fell into a deep sleep, God took one of his ribs and made a woman. This woman was taken directly from Adam's flesh and bone. As a result, God created the family unit. Scripture tells us that man will leave his father and mother, and cling to his wife. This is God's definition of marriage between a man and a woman. This is God's Word, not my word. Jesus was asked about this covenant of marriage, and the idea of divorce. Jesus said that God made male and female, and united them as one in marriage. And let no one put asunder those who have been joined together. When we are born and join our family that is actually the first community to which we belong. From this family unit, this small community, we learn how to live with one another.
The church does NOT discriminate based upon sexual orientation, or for any other reason. But the Bible, in the Book of Leviticus, tells us that homosexuality is a sin. If homosexuality is a sin, then same-sex marriage violates God's definition of marriage. That is why we do not perform same-sex marriages. AT THE SAME TIME, we do NOT judge others! We know from Romans, Chapter 3, that ALL of us have sinned and fallen short in the eyes of God. Matthew 7:1 tells us to 'Judge not, that you be not judged.' It is NOT our job to judge others; that responsibility belongs solely to God. We are ALL sinners. If you judge others and are harshly critical of them, you will be harshly treated on the Day of Judgment.
Of course, we have all seen the "hate" that exists on this issue. How do we counter that? We practice what Jesus taught us - we are to love others as we love ourselves. Jesus did not hate anybody. He told us that hatred and anger toward others is just as bad as trying to kill them. Romans, Chapter 12, teaches us that we must 'really' love others, and that hatred is wrong. It is okay to hate the sin, but we must love the sinner. Look at our Faith Statement here at New Beginnings. It states that the Bible is our discipline. Suppose a couple comes to me to be married, and I learn that one of them is still married to a third person, or that one of them is abusing the other. Should I marry them? No, because of the sins being committed.
I use the same standard across the board. Do we have ushers standing at our doors, asking those who enter for their sexual preference? No! We do NOT want to turn anybody away from attending here. There is no authority from God that empowers us to pass judgment on anybody. Jesus hates our sins, but He loves us all. We are likewise to love everybody. We are in the business of helping others. It is our job as Christians to share the Good News with everybody. We have never singled out anybody for any sin! We instead have invited everybody to come in and join us.
We understand that there are a LOT of hurting people out there. We tell them that Jesus is the answer to all of their problems. As Christians, we are not judgmental. Our job is to love others, and to bring them into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. Our country is in a lot of upheaval over the issue of same-sex marriage. This is NOT a time to shout and yell at each other. It is instead a time for us to ask Jesus to help us love one another, and to stop all of the bickering.