Christian M. Stempert
June 20, 2012
Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, joined Focus on the Family president Jim Daly on the June 19 broadcast of Focus on the Family Radio to discuss the current debate on the issue of marriage.
Christians, Mohler said, don’t need to rely on Old Testament law, because, “The New Testament’s affirmation of God’s plan for human sexuality is far deeper and more comprehensive than what’s found in the Old Testament.” The issue isn’t that some Christians are stuck in outdated Old Testament law. “The reality is,” he said, “that when Jesus spoke of his own admiration for marriage, he said that God’s plan from the beginning was that it would be the union of a man and a woman.”
In Mohler’s view, we shouldn’t be surprised that the traditional Christian definition of marriage is under attack. “When we talk about marriage as Christians, we’re talking about something that’s central to the glory of God, central to human flourishing, and, of course, central to those who would wish to rob God of his glory.” The fact that this debate has even become so prominent is in part due to the church. “We have failed to teach what we should have been consistently teaching. And, quite honestly, we’ve failed in our responsibility to protect marriage against so many of those things that subvert it. Particularly,” he continued, “we should be ashamed by the church’s concession to the divorce culture, because you couldn’t possibly be talking about same-sex marriage” if the church had not give into secular culture on the issue of divorce.
According to Mohler, this debate is more than just an issue of doctrinal orthodoxy within the church. “There’s no doubt that religious liberty is now very much on the line. As a matter of fact, same-sex marriage is going to be the greatest challenge to religious liberty in our lifetimes.” Christian-run businesses have increasingly been coming under fire for refusing to accommodate homosexual couples in their private establishments. The issue in the First Amendment, explained Mohler, guarantees religious liberty, and that means “much more than just ‘freedom of worship.’”
Part of the problem in the current conflict, he conceded, may be the message that Christians are sending. “Sometimes in this cultural setting, it sounds like what Christians are saying is ‘you people are broken,’ when in reality what we need to say is ‘we are broken.’” Many times, Mohler said, “we don’t balance grace and truth.” But in our search for that balance, we have to be sure to remember the Word of God. “We have every right, in the public square, to speak on the basis of wisdom we know,” he said, referring to the Bible. “We may not be persuasive, we may not win the argument, but we are responsible to say what we know.”
Looking to the future, Mohler reminded his listeners: “There’s the danger that the Supreme Court could do something like it did in 1973 with Roe v. Wade on abortion, and simply find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. But this is not the kind of question that is going to go away anytime soon. And we’re going to have to be the people that are here, regardless of the courts, regardless of the laws, to say what we believe on the basis of the Scripture and God’s wisdom.”
Whatever the political results, Mohler said, the only way to truly win this battle is by winning the hearts and minds of those on the other side. “Those who have a different agenda and function with a different worldview, they might outmaneuver us, they may outvote us, but they shouldn’t be able to out-love us. We need to show love, whether we win or lose an argument, whether we win or lose a vote, or whether we win or lose a cultural direction.”