I am far from the first to say it, but let me say it. These are increasingly perilous times for Christians. Which deepens my gratefulness over spending so much time with Jesus these days (by way of Luke's thorough and detailed account of his story), because I think quite a few of us have forgotten how clear he is about what it will mean to follow him. That is, if we are fully following him.
Take, for instance, the moment that Peter boldly declared who he believed Jesus to be,
The Messiah, the Annointed One, of God! (Luke 9:18)
While Peter doesn't fully understand exactly what he is saying, there is no confusion about what he believes in that moment. He believes Jesus to be the King, the long-awaited forever-king from the Davidic line. The One who would rule forever, and make all things new and right. It was what Peter had been taught since he was a little boy. It was what Gabriel and the angels had declared.
[Jesus] will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Luke 1:32-33)
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah, the Master. (Luke 2:11)
The problem was, Peter has misunderstood the King standing before him. So Jesus begins to set things straight.
And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."
You see, Peter thought that Jesus as the Messiah meant power, rule, and overthrow of the powers that be, as the way to the coming of the kingdom of God....now.
But Jesus makes clear that the way of the kingdom of God, now, for the Messiah, will be suffering, loss, rejection, and death. And if it is that way for the Master, it must be that way for the follower. For the present. For the kingdom is now, but not yet.
So until the King returns (to conquer the way Peter hoped he would then, and I wish he would now), our times will be filled with peril. They will be filled with suffering, loss, rejection, and for some, even death.
Because there are many, who are not of Jesus, who will not appreciate the words of Jesus. But friends, we must not be ashamed of his words (9:26). For, to be ashamed of the words of the King, is to be ashamed of the King, and to bear the shame of the King on the last day. Therefore, in order to put steel in your spine in the present, think of the future. If you try to save your life you will lose it. Be willing to lose your life, and you'll save it.
Which brings us to today.
I believe that the issue of same-sex marriage is merely the presenting issue of a much larger and deeper American societal and cultural rejection of our King and his teachings. I believe that a storm is coming. And I believe that it is not time to batten down the hatches in fear, but to "...be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13), and lovingly proclaim the truth.
So over the next few articles, I plan to share some thoughts of how we should think, speak, live in these times, using the particular issue of same-sex marriage and homosexuality as a case study. I'll do so with some of my own musings, but I am also going to point you to some other very helpful voices, like Doug Wilson, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Rod Dreher. More important than any of our voices, I am going to point you to the voice of the Master, found in the Scriptures.
Today I begin with C.S. Lewis. Below is a letter written to Sheldon Vanauken, who had written for counsel on how to counsel students with questions about Christianity and homosexuality.
May God guide us to wisdom and boldness as we share the good news of the King and his Kingdom.
First, to map out the boundaries within which all discussion must go on, I take it for certain that the physical satisfaction of homosexual desires is sin. This leaves the homosexual no worse off than any normal person who is, for whatever reason, prevented from marrying.
Second, 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.’ Of course, the first step must be to accept any privations which, if so disabled, we can’t lawfully get. The homosexual has to accept sexual abstinence just as the poor man has to forego otherwise lawful pleasures because he would be unjust to his wife and children if he took them. That is merely a negative condition.
What should the positive life of the homosexual be? I wish I had a letter which a pious male homosexual, now dead, once wrote to me—but of course it was the sort of letter one takes care to destroy. He believed that his necessity could be turned to spiritual gain: that there were certain kinds of sympathy and understanding, a certain social role which mere men and mere women could not give. But it is all horribly vague and long ago. Perhaps any homosexual who humbly accepts his cross and puts himself under Divine guidance will, however, be shown the way. I am sure that any attempt to evade it (e.g. by mock or quasi-marriage with a member of one’s own sex even if this does not lead to any carnal act) is the wrong way. Jealousy (this another homosexual admitted to me) is far more rampant and deadly among them than among us. And I don’t think little concessions like wearing the clothes of the other sex in private is the right line, either. It is the duties, burdens, the characteristic virtues of the other sex, I suspect, which the patient must try to cultivate. I have mentioned humility because male homosexuals (I don’t know about women) are rather apt, the moment they find you don’t treat them with horror and contempt, to rush to the opposite pole and start implying that they are somehow superior to the normal type.
I wish I could be more definite. All I have really said is that, like all other tribulations, it must be offered to God and His guidance how to use it must be sought.
(letter courtesy of Justin Taylor)