“Pandora’s Box Has Been Opened!”
(Thoughts on the Supreme Court Decision (June 26, 2015) to legalize same sex marriage)
Excerpts from a sermon preached on Sunday, June 28, 2015 at Hebron Baptist Church, Denham Springs, Louierpts from a sermon preached on Sunday, June 28, 2015 at Hebron Baptist Church, Denham Springs, Lnt to "ecalime church has thsiana by Pastor Joe Alain.
In classical Greek Mythology, Pandora was the first woman on Earth. Zeus ordered Hephaestus to create her. So he did, using water and earth. According to Hesiod, when Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus took vengeance by presenting Pandora to Prometheus’ brother Epimetheus. When Epimetheus and Pandora got married, Zeus presented the newlyweds with a jar that he said to not open. Out of curiosity, Pandora opened the jar, releasing death and many other evils into the world.
When I first received a news alert this past Friday morning about the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage, my heart sank. Like many, I too thought that this was very much a likely outcome, but seeing it in print took me back. I felt sad, distraught, and then angry because of the great harm that people made in God’s image will experience as a result of this encouragement to abandon historical and biblical values. My first thought was that Pandora’s Box has been opened. “What have we done,” “What have we unleashed on our nation that will impact negatively future generations?” The government’s primary responsibility is to protect its citizens, to protect life, not sanction actions that will destroy its citizens. Pandora’s Box has been opened! “What will be next?” Polygamy? Why not! On what basis will the government withhold that “individual freedom”? Or what about one day taking an animal or a droid as your spouse? We laugh at this but we’re not all that far from these scenarios.
The Devolving of Man
Man in his wisdom thinks he is evolving but apart from God he is devolving! Romans 1:21-22 describes are current plight. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” On Friday, “Love didn’t Win.” It’s not love that won, it’s narcissistic behavior that won. What we said is that “We love ourselves and we love our sins. And no one will get in the way of fulfilling our fleshly worldly desires, no matter the costs to family or society, not even God will stop us!”
Welcome to first century Rome where everything goes! In Rome there was little regard for human life or biblical norms of sexuality. Unwanted children could simply be thrown out, discarded, sacrificed. We’ve already accepted the normalcy of child sacrifices in our culture, that’s what we’re doing by killing babies in the mother’s womb. Rome also had an “anything goes” view of morality, all under the guise of “personal freedoms, no one’s getting hurt.” Homosexuality was rampant, even among some of the emperors. Rome fell like most ancient world powers because of their pride, unholy and ungodly practices, and because of their apathy. Most powerful nations throughout history that have fallen have fallen from within.
“A date which will live in infamy,” is how FDR, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt described the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. And not to detract from that great tragedy, let me add that June 26th will also take its place in history right along with the day of the Roe v. Wade decision, January 22, 1973 legalizing abortion, as dates that will live in infamy.
The Limits of Individual Autonomy
What men have said is that they know better than the creator God. Man has believed the oldest lie, that you really are your own God! “Did God really say?” the serpent asked Eve (Gen. 3:1). One of the key expressions in the court’s decision given by Justice Anthony Kennedy to redefine marriage (which is what has happened) is “personal autonomy.” Just how far as a society do we want to push the envelope of “individual autonomy”? Do we not limit our autonomy for the greater good of our culture to some extent? Do we not sacrifice some of our autonomy to live at peace with one another in our society? Or do we simply not worry about the impact of our actions upon anyone else? Try living completely autonomously dictated solely by your wishes. It doesn’t work, society cannot operate in that way. Individual autonomy is “never absolute.”
Individual autonomy without any kind of moral base will lead to the justification of anything and everything. Autonomy must be balanced with moral law. Even nations that do not have a Christian world view understand this truth, that there is a moral law, a sense of “oughtness,” a sense of right and wrong. “I’m free” but my freedom must be exercised from some kind of moral foundation. Otherwise, we descend into chaos. The consciences of many today are “seared” (1 Tim. 4:2). What that means is that as you continue to turn away from truth, your conscience begins to excuse you rather than accuse you. And you find that you plunge deeper and deeper into sin and consequently, farther away from God.
Far from God is how Paul described the condition of those who persists in their turning a deaf ear to the voice of God. Three times Paul says that God “gave them over” to their sinful desires (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). In verse 28 it says that “God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” The truth is that God will let you have what you want but when you get it you will not want it! Why does God let us go on in this state? Does He hate us? No, He loves us but He loves us too much to violate our freedom. God wants us to love Him freely, not because we are forced to love Him. It seems to me that we are rapidly approaching life as it was represented in the closing words of the book of Judges in the Bible. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25). When there is no king of your life, you in effect become the default king and the results are always tragic.
Orange is the New Blue
In our current situation what has happened is that five Supreme Court justices have taken it upon themselves to redefine the historical institution of marriage which predates the founding of our country and every civilization. It’s as if nine persons looked at a cloudless sky and four said it was blue and five saw orange so they took a vote to say that the color of the sky is the color orange. Actually, the five saw a rainbow, but it wasn’t the rainbow of Genesis 9:12-17. By the way, I’m thinking about starting a “Reclaim the Rainbow” campaign (lol).
In all seriousness, returning home this past Saturday (6/27/15) from central Louisiana, I witnessed a beautiful rainbow over Baton Rouge. My first thought in seeing this wonderful event in nature was not “gay pride,” but pride and awe over our loving and faithful Creator. According to Genesis 9:12-17, the rainbow is a sign of God’s covenant, a covenant of great hope to save and preserve life, a covenant that we understand finds fulfillment in the New Testament in Jesus Christ. Jesus has come to bring us life and life to the full (Jn. 10:19). He brings lasting hope, light and love. The rainbow reminds us of God’s faithfulness and mighty power to save. I chose to “Reclaim the Rainbow” not to disparage any group of people, but because I’m not ready to concede the beauty of the rainbow as the primary symbol that it is, a symbol of lasting hope and life in Jesus Christ.
In what occurred in this decision, we’re not talking about the creation of “civil unions,” which would have been one way out of the moral morass that has been created. A civil union would not redefine marriage, it would simply allow persons to legally partner with whoever they wish. But some same sex couples do not want a civil union, they want to be recognized as married couples. They want to redefine marriage. They want to call what’s blue, orange.
Our Diminishing Religious Liberties
Many Christians who have much more knowledge than I do have expressed in very thoughtful ways how this decision is going to call into question the religious liberties that churches have enjoyed for over 100 years. The Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act of 1894 is the first legislative action that guarantees that non-profit organizations are tax exempt. Legislation since then has only affirmed, expanded and clarified churches as tax exempt. But what will happen in the future when churches and there ministers refuse to perform marriages for same sex couples? It’s only a matter of time before there will be a “test case.” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., in his dissent, saw a broader threat from the majority opinion. His words may be prophetic. “It [the decision and their arguments] will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy,” Justice Alito wrote. “In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”
Wake Up Call
If there ever was a wake-up call for the church to be the church, it’s now! For too long, we as conservatives have put our hopes on the political system. Every time we are disappointed because political leaders are limited in their abilities to make change, and politics really cannot change people’s hearts. I’m reminded that it was Ronald Reagan, one of the most politically conservative presidents in recent memory who appointed Supreme Court Justice Kennedy!
The church must start living like the church and stop playing church. I don’t mean that we need to “stand up” and shout down people. I mean we need to “stand up” by living out this Christian faith with all our heart and soul. Is our home glorifying God? Is our marriage what God wants it to be? Are we serious about our Christian faith? Are we passing the torch of faith to our children, to our neighbors, to our world? In the church today we are too often focused on getting our needs met and not really being concerned about living and sharing our faith to a broken and sinful world. We have to get our house in order and really start taking our Christian faith seriously. We have to model biblical values and a God’s “better way” in our own lives.
There is a silver lining in all of this. After Pandora opened the jar unleashing the evils, she hastened to close the container, the one beneficial item that escaped was "Elpis" (usually translated "hope"). What hope has been unleashed in all this? It is that the light shines the brightest in the darkest of nights. When it gets dark outside, the church is able to come together and shine brightly. We are the light of the world. We have the message of hope, of truth, of life. We have the message of Jesus who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn. 14:6). And while the thief comes to rob, kill and destroy, Jesus has come to give us life and life more abundantly (Jn. 10:10). And when lives come up empty and they will because sin never satisfies, the real church of the living God will be there with the truth of Jesus that sets people free and brings real hope and life.
The Psalmist asked a probing question, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). The very next verse says, “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord is on his heavenly throne” (11:4). And “the Lord is righteous, he loves justice” (11:7). What can the righteous do? The righteous can know that God is still God, He’s still on His throne, and He still desires to bring His righteousness, His true love to all people. We can look up, we can pray, and we can be light in a darkened world, bringing real and lasting “hope.”
Let me encourage you who are here today and who are struggling with sin. To the one who is enslaved by habits of destruction, sins of the mind and flesh, God says that I will wash you clean, I will give you a new heart! “If anyone is in Christ, he or she will be a new creation, the old will pass away, and the new will come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Listen to the description of believers prior to Christ and what God in Christ has done from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, ESV. What He has done for us, He will do for all who turn to the Lord!
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And 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.
Praise God for His saving grace, for His washing us clean, for making us new!
For His Glory, By His Grace!