Love Wins

Unless you live under a rock you have been already been inundated by news stories, blog posts, Facebook status updates and tweets about the Supreme Court’s decision last Friday making homosexual marriage legal in the United States.I could comment at length on the decision itself, and perhaps at some point I will. In reality, most of what I would say has already been shared in this space before in my warnings about the slippery slope we are on and where that will lead once we step onto it. With Friday’s ruling I believe we have stepped fully onto that slope–not gingerly or cautiously, but jumped on with both feet. As we slide down that slope we will pick up momentum and there is, sadly, no telling what kind of condition we will be in when we come to a crashing stop at the bottom.

Perhaps the most common hashtag over the past few days has been this one: #LoveWins. I have no idea how many times it has been tweeted or otherwise posted around social media but I suspect it would be in the millions. President Obama and Vice President Biden both tweeted it. Hillary Clinton tweeted it with instructions on how to get a free bumper sticker from her presidential campaign that features the word HISTORY in the ubiquitous rainbow color scheme of the homosexual movement. Above the bumper sticker was the headline “All love is equal.” tweeted “It’s only a matter of time before #LoveWins worldwide.” Coca-Cola was one of many companies quick to embrace the ruling and be sure everyone knows that they celebrate the decision, and Facebook made it possible for uses to place a rainbow-colored overlay over their profile pictures in a show of support.

The problems here are almost innumerable, so I am not going to get into many of them. Let me just say this briefly. The definition of marriage, and the redefinition of marriage by SCOTUS, has nothing to do really with love. Love is both an emotion and a decision, and it is something that many people feel and have toward many other people. Whether or not someone loves someone else is not the only necessary ingredient for marriage. (Indeed, one could argue whether or not it even is a necessary ingredient, but that is a completely different conversation). That “love” seems to be what everyone is celebrating with this decision is part of that momentum with which we are hurtling down the slippery slope toward a high velocity collision at the bottom. If marriage will be based and defined solely on whether or not people love each other than we have–as I have warned repeatedly before–obliterated any grounds on which we could now restrict marriage to a man and a woman, two men or two women. How could we now say that if a man and three women love each other they cannot be married? How can we say that if an adult and child love each other they cannot be married? If someone claimed to be in love with a dog, how could we not allow that person to marry that dog? Anyway, enough on that; it is not really my point here today.

What troubles me most of all about the #LoveWins mess is that it distorts what love really is. I will not delve too deeply into that right now either, though. Instead, I want to focus on the fact the love won a long, long time ago. Actually, Love won, and God is Love. In the beginning, God created humans with a free will. If I were God, I would have seriously considered nixing that idea I think, particularly since God’s omniscience means He was well aware of what we would do with that free will. That free will led to Eve yielding to Satan’s temptation, Adam following her lead, and the sin nature that each of us is now born with. That free will God gave us paved the way for every sin we have ever committed, every decision we (collectively) have made to reject God completely or to reject His instructions and guidelines periodically or consistently. It was because God loves us that He gave us a free will; He would rather be loved by those who have chosen to love and follow Him than by legions of human robots who have no choice but to love and obey.

More importantly, God’s love is so great that when sin did separate us from Him He decided to send His only Son to pay a penalty we could never pay–a perfect, sinless blood sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. When Jesus Christ was crucified, paying for your sins and mine, when He was buried and rose again, conquering sin, death, hell and Satan, love won. Satan cannot win. He still fights on with dogged determination but even knows how the story ends. Our understanding of love from a human perspective is distorted, perverted and skewed by selfish desires and the pursuit of pleasure and happiness. God IS Love, and His love is unfathomable. We can understand it enough to appreciate it and accept it, but the realities of its scope and depth and breadth are incredible. I have addressed this here before as well, and it would be easier for to you just read God’s Love Is than for me to restate what I think has already been well articulated. What I want to leave with here is this: Yes, Love Won, but not on Friday when five people in black robes decided to redefine marriage. Love Won over two thousand years ago when Jesus Christ died, was buried and rose again. Love Won from the moment God spoke the universe into existence. The approval of a redefinition of marriage to allow homosexuals to marry is not evidence of love; rather, it is evidence of the workings of Satan and of man’s desire to remake truth to fit his own wants and whims. Despite our best efforts to ignore, change or destroy His Truth, God’s Truth and God’s Love are the same today as they have always been and as they will always be. Not because of the SCOTUS decision, but in spite of it, Love Wins.

Ruining the Beauty of God’s Creation

One of the beautiful realities about truth is that it is timeless. Sure, some truths are circumstantial and those will change as circumstances change. For example, last year it was true that my daughter was in fifth grade. Next year that will not be true. Those are circumstantial truths. Absolute truth, though, is unchanging (hence the use of “absolute”). God’s truth is absolute and therefore anyone writing or speaking about God’s truth is also presenting timeless truth–truth that will be just as true, just as accurate and just as relevant days, years, decades and even centuries after it was written or spoken.

More than ten years ago Ravi Zacharias wrote a book entitled Recapture the Wonder. On page 36 of the hardcover version of that book Zacharias wrote, “Anyone who thinks he or she can place the boundaries arbitrarily will either destroy the enchantment of life or else wear him- or herself into exhaustion. God’s commands are there to protect what life is truly about, not the other way around. Implementing that truth in our lives keeps us from losing the wonder.”

Because Zacharias was writing about absolute truth that statement is still accurate today. Yet, we live in a world that wholeheartedly embraces the idea of placing boundaries arbitrarily–moving them whenever convenient or desirable, or even eliminating them altogether. We see this perhaps most clearly in the area of sexual behavior. There is an ongoing effort to shift or erase all God-given boundaries of sexual behavior, including God’s design for marriage (between one man and one woman), God’s design for sex (between a married man and woman) and God’s design for gender (male or female, as He created each individual). Much as they may claim to be thrilled with their behavioral choices I believe that many of those individuals who champion this boundary realignment, and/or who live their lives based on the realignment, have in fact destroyed the enchantment of life and are working themselves into exhaustion. They put so much effort into trying to convince the world that their redefinition of what God created is normal and acceptable that they cannot possibly be enchanted by life any longer.

When anyone can, with a few clicks of the mouse, see any manner of sexual activity and perversion imaginable it is nearly impossible for there to be any wonder left about sex as God designed it. When the world embraces the idea of doing whatever feels good or desirable at the moment there can be no sense of enchantment remaining.

The inside flap of Zacharias’ book includes this statement: “Our sense of wonder is a blessing from God, given so that we would be continually amazed at His beauty and creation. But for many of us, our wonder has diminished through the years, and we doubt that we’ll ever be able to experience the overwhelming sense of awe we once had as children.” I would suggest that no small part of the reason for that is that, unlike children who are discovering the world for the first time and are enchanted with each new discovery, we adults are, collectively, seeking to eliminate anything that might be undiscovered or secret or private.

Imagine, for example, if the most beautiful sunrise, or sunset, you have ever seen was available every day, any time you want to see it–and to anyone in the world, not just you. The beauty of that sunrise or sunset would begin to fade. It would gradually become less special, less awe-inspiring, less desirable. It could easily become commonplace, ho-hum or boring. That is what the world is doing, or attempting to do, to God’s design for mankind. This effort to eliminate the special, the private–the sacred, even–is painfully obvious when it comes to sex but is evident in many other areas as well.

What we need to do is return to the truth that the boundaries, “God’s commands,” have been given to us “to protect what life is truly about, not the other way around.” If the human body and sexual behavior was supposed to be open and available for anyone to see God never would have created clothing for Adam and Eve after they sinned. If sex was supposed to be whenever, wherever and with whomever, God never would have given instruction that the man and the woman were to cleave to one another and enjoy sex within the boundaries of their marriage. If sex between men or between women was perfectly acceptable God never would have called it an abomination or referred to it as abandoning the “natural” relationship between men and women. We have allowed Satan to delude us into thinking that by throwing back the curtain and openly celebrating and flaunting any and all varieties of behavior we are in fact celebrating and enjoying life. Quite simply, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are we destroying the wonder and enchantment we are in fact ruining the beauty of God’s creation.

False Lights

My favorite vacation spot is the Outer Banks of North Carolina. These barrier islands are historically significant for several reasons. On Roanoke Island Sir Walter Raleigh attempted to establish the first permanent English colony in the New World. The colony disappeared, and is now commonly known as the “Lost Colony.” Several hundred years later the Wright Brothers went to the Outer Banks to fly their plane–the wind and sand creating ideal conditions for flight and safe landings. In between, the islands were a great spot for pirates to hide or rest. Ocracoke Island was the “home base” of the notorious Black Beard.

One of the towns, or villages, on the island is named Nags Head. Legend has it that “wreckers” would hang lanterns around the necks of mules – colloquially called “nags” – and walk them very slowly up and down the beach. The intent was that ships at sea would see the light from the lantern and interpret it to be ships at rest or at anchor, hopefully prompting them to turn in seeking a place of rest. Instead they would run aground and then be plundered by the wreckers on shore.

Whether or not this legend is true, it provides an excellent illustration of what the devil is up to in our world today and indeed has been up to ever since the very first sin. He loves to try to lure us with “false lights” that seem to be very attractive, appearing to offer us safety or success.

I am also a fan of lighthouses. There are several of them on the Outer Banks and I have enjoyed climbing to the top of three of them. But they are great illustrations of what Christians are to be in the world.

They are also a great example of what Jesus Christ is. In John 8:12, of course, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” Interestingly, in Matthew 5:14, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” So lighthouses are a great illustration of both Jesus Christ and Christians.

Satan, on the other hand, is characterized by darkness. Darkness is not attractive. The Bible says men love darkness rather than light, of course, because in our sin nature we enjoy the supposed-secrecy that darkness allows. But when we are looking for something, trying to find our way, we look for the light. The light can guide us out of darkness. It can direct us to safety. It can reveal dangers. Satan has no light to offer – so he imitates light in an effort to cause us to wreck, just like the wreckers at Nags Head.

There are many examples in our world of false lights. The reality is, they all follow the same pattern as Satan’s very first temptation of Eve. He asked her, “Did God really say not to eat of this tree?” And Eve said, “Yes, we cannot eat of it or touch it or we will die.” And Satan said to her, “You will not surely die. You will become like God!”

Satan takes the truth, perverts it and tries to make it appear attractive, like something to be desired – just like the wreckers at Nags Head used a light to appear attractive, but really was designed to lure the ships into running aground in order to plunder them.

We could no doubt think of many contemporary examples of Satan’s lies masquerading as truth…

• Homosexuality is just an alternate lifestyle, people are born that way, God created them that way, or it is just a sexual preference;
• Abortion is not the killing of baby; it is just a clump of cells or it is just a woman making a private decision about her body;
• Gender is arbitrary, it just depends on whether you feel like a man or a woman, not on the anatomy you were born with;
• Marriage does not have to be between a man and a woman – it could be a man and a man or a woman and a woman (or many other redefinitions which are soon to come);
• Premarital sex is not wrong, it is just part of growing up or part of exploring your sexuality;
• Marijuana is not dangerous (see previous post for more on this one);
• Integrity just depends on the situation – if you really need a good grade and you didn’t have time to study just copy off someone else’s paper or, better yet, just plagiarize it (as just one example);
• You don’t have to obey your parents when they are old and not with it.

We could go on, but what it comes down to is, Do what makes you happy! That is the mantra of the world in which we live.

The concepts of right and wrong have changed radically even just within my lifetime…and I am not that old!

This is the world in which we live. This is a bleak and depressing picture. Yet it provides the backdrop for why God’s Truth is so very important today. We have to hold firmly and diligently to God’s truth because it does not change. The world around us is nothing but shifting sand. There is no stability! On the other hand, Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” There is no changing with God!

The Truth – genuine light – does not change. Jesus said He is the light of the world; He does not change, His light does not change. He also said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” There’s no change there, no debate, no question, no alternate pathway.

There is a classic story that no doubt some of you have heard before, but it fits well with what I am trying to get at here.

Max Lucado quotes Frank Koch telling this story:

Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.

Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing reported, “Light, bearing on the starboard bow.”

“Is it steady or moving astern?” the captain called out.

The lookout replied, “Steady, Captain,” which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.

The captain then called to the signalman, “Signal that ship: ‘We are on a collision course, advise you change course twenty degrees.'”

Back came the signal, “Advisable for you to change course twenty degrees.”

The captain said, “Send: “I’m a captain, change course twenty degrees.'”

“I’m a seaman second-class,” came the reply. “You had better change course twenty degrees.”

By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, “Send: ‘I’m a battleship. Change course twenty degrees.'”

Back came the flashing light, “I’m a lighthouse.”

We changed course.

The light from lighthouses provides direction for safe passage and also warns of danger. God’s truth does exactly the same thing. We must learn and be familiar with God’s truth in order to identify dangers and stay on the right path. It is through God-given discernment (the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives) that we can differentiate between false lights and the true Light.