Next Tuesday Tennessee will be in the national spotlight as the office of our state’s Attorney General will be arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court the wisdom of our state’s marriage laws. Over recent months I’ve been asked what I think Christians should do if we “lose.” Well, here are my initial thoughts.
I want my first response to be like that of my namesake, David, the King of Israel, a man after God’s own heart. There was a time when he felt as desperate over a situation in his life as I now feel about marriage and the future of our country.
When informed by the prophet that the son he’d conceived through his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba would die, David lay prostrate on the ground, wept, prayed, and fasted for his child’s life, even to the point that his counselors were afraid of how he would respond once he learned that his child had, indeed, died. But when God’s judgment was complete, this is what we’re told of the King’s response:
“Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat” (2 Samuel 12:20).
And that should be my response, too, because, like King David, I will know that God is just as sovereign and just as righteous and true in all His ways as He was the day before, and He is, therefore, just as worthy of my trust, my worship, my service, and my affections as He was the day before.
My second response will be to encourage the Church to make an honest evaluation of the situation, as did Nehemiah, who, after examining the walls of Jerusalem, said to his fellow Israelites:
“You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach” (Nehemiah 2:17).
You see, in my opinion, the Church needs to realize the distress that it, not just the culture, is in.
I honestly believe the Church is in distress not so much because the culture is falling down around it as it is because the Church’s own walls have fallen down and its gates have been destroyed. The people who most need a “sermon” about the law of God are the people of God.
When Moses charged the people of God with keeping the law of God as they entered the Promised Land, he said this:
“I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’” (Deuteronomy 4:5,6).
Notice that what was to commend to the watching world the wisdom of God’s law was the beauty—the shalom—that they observed in the lives of and relationships among those who kept the law of God. It was the fruit of keeping God’s law that would lead others to want to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
When I read that a few years ago and then considered the rate of divorce and adultery and sexual sin within the Church, I couldn’t help but wonder if we, the people of God, have demonstrated enough beauty in our marriages to commend to the people around us the wisdom of God’s design for marriage. I fear the discussion we’re having in Court on Tuesday would suggest the answer is “No.”
And that leads to my third response. I’ll re-commit myself to making sure my own marriage is worthy of emulation by those who would observe it and encourage other Christians to make sure they do the same. It may not be the quick way forward that some would want, but it just may be the most effective one.
— David Fowler, President, Family Action Council of Tennessee