From Our Team

John Hoogenhout

Words of thought from our Church Team

Same-Sex Marriage: Astonishing Mercy and Shocking Normalisation

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to legalise same-sex marriage. A few days later on ABC radio, I listened to an 11 year old girl interviewed about ‘same-sex marriage,’ where she explained she had two Mums and she wanted them to be allowed to marry.

What does Jesus say to us about this?

Here’s how John Piper answers that question as he responds to the Supreme Court decision:

Jesus died so that heterosexual and homosexual sinners might be saved. Jesus created sexuality, and has a clear will for how it is to be experienced in holiness and joy.

His will is that a man might leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and that the two become one flesh (Mark 10:6–9). In this union, sexuality finds its God-appointed meaning, whether in personal-physical unification, symbolic representation, sensual jubilation, or fruitful procreation. For those who have forsaken God’s path of sexual fulfilment, and walked into homosexual intercourse or heterosexual extramarital fornication or adultery, Jesus offers astonishing mercy.

Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
But today this salvation from sinful sexual acts was not embraced. Instead there was massive institutionalization of sin. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States of America has ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage.

The Bible is not silent about such decisions. Alongside its clearest explanation of the sin of homosexual intercourse (Romans 1:24–27) stands the indictment of the approval and institutionalisation of it. Though people know intuitively that homosexual acts (along with gossip, slander, insolence, haughtiness, boasting, faithlessness, heartlessness, ruthlessness) are sin, “they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:29–32). “I tell you even with tears, that many glory in their shame” (Philippians 3:18–19). This is what the highest court in our land did today — knowing these deeds are wrong, “yet approving those who practice them.”

My sense is that we do not realise what a calamity is happening around us. The new thing — new for America, and new for history — is not homosexuality. That brokenness has been here since we were all broken in the fall of man. (And there is a great distinction between the orientation and the act — just like there is a great difference between my orientation to pride and the act of boasting.)

What’s new is not even the celebration and approval of homosexual sin. Homosexual behaviour has been exploited, and revelled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia. What’s new is normalisation and institutionalisation. This is the new calamity.

My main reason for writing is not to mount a political counter-assault. I don’t think that is the calling of the church as such. My reason for writing is to help the church feel the sorrow of these days. And the magnitude of the assault on God and his image in man.

Christians, more clearly than others, can see the tidal wave of pain that is on the way. Sin carries in it its own misery: “Men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:27). And on top of sin’s self-destructive power comes, eventually, the final wrath of God: “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5–6). Christians know what is coming, not only because we see it in the Bible, but because we have tasted the sorrowful fruit of our own sins. We do not escape the truth that we reap what we sow. Our marriages, our children, our churches, our institutions — they are all troubled because of our sins.

The difference is: We weep over our sins. We don’t celebrate them. We don’t institutionalise them. We turn to Jesus for forgiveness and help. We cry to Jesus, “who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10). And in our best moments, we weep for the world, and for our own nation. In the days of Ezekiel, God put a mark of hope “on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in Jerusalem” (Ezekiel 9:4).

This is what I am writing for. Not political action, but love for the name of God and compassion for the city of destruction. “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.” (Psalm 119:136)
May we all, with humility and grace, influence our community with the truth and love of Jesus.

John Hoogenhout

Who are you, and where do you belong?
Who is the captain of your soul?

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