This past week, the announcements of the Supreme Court in regards to Obamacare and same-sex marriage created lots of conversation. There have been happy people and sad people. There were people who felt that this was the best news for the health of the Americans and there were people who saw this as the financial collapse of the USA, since we will not be able to pay for all the entitlements that we give ourselves. The White House was lit in rainbow colors at night in celebration of the marriage decision and there have been both jubilations and protests against this political action. There were people in agreement that we are a nation of laws, while having different ways of viewing the law as the 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision demonstrated. There have been people who claimed to be biblical but interpreted the Scriptures differently from other believers, as one Christian denomination voted this week to perform same-sex marriage.
The old refrain tells us that love makes the world go round. This deeply affects the relationships we establish with one another. Yet, how we define love either makes us move forward or stumble on the way.
One of the conversations about love in the Bible was when Jesus discussed the increasing divorce in His day. At that time, the patriarchal system was dominant and a man could divorce his wife over serious issues such as adultery or trifles such as being displeased by the meals that she provided. The Jews could say that this practice was allowed by one of the godliest people, the one who was the giver of the laws that governed the lives of the Israelites – namely Moses. The answer that Jesus gave his contemporaries was twofold – Moses gave you this easement because of the hardness (sinfulness) of your heart and secondly that from the beginning it was not so (Matthew 19:8). The creation ordinance of marriage was for one man married to one woman for all their lives. The fact that humanity has changed and created new patterns does not cancel God’s original purpose, which continues to stay the same even in the face of the decision of the Supreme Court. God ordained marriage between one man and one woman for the duration of their lives together.
We are not the first nor will we be the last nation rejecting God’s laws in our national behavior. In the book of Samuel, we read that the Israelites came to Samuel and they wanted a king like the other nations. Instead of listening to the voice of the prophet speaking on behalf of God, they looked at how the other nations were organized and decided that they wanted a king too. The prophet Samuel took it personally, thinking they have rejected him. God comes and tells him that they have not rejected the prophet, but they have rejected God’s law. (1 Samuel 8:7) There are times when we as individuals accept or reject God’s laws. There are times when nations as entities accept or reject God’s laws.
In discussion with some of my friends who are for same-sex marriage and have celebrated the decision of the Supreme Court, they pointed out to me that I should be able to rejoice because same-sex couples can rejoice in the deep love that they have for one another. Would I, as a happily married heterosexual deny the same love that I enjoy with my wife? Love, they tell me, is all that counts. Solomon thought the same thing. The author of 1 Kings writes that Solomon loved many foreign women (11:1). As a matter of fact he loved more women than any king before him or after him – 700 wives and 300 concubines. Who could stop the wisest of the wise, the greatest of the greats, the virilest of the virile from loving? What prophet could tell him that it was wrong to love? Love is all that matters!
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In the beginning of 1 Chronicles, the chronicler writes about the splendor of the kingdom of Solomon. He later tells us that the many princesses who he loved turned his heart away from God and concludes with these words: “Solomon did evil in the sight of God and did not fully follow the Lord as did his father David.” As a result of this, the Kingdom of Israel built by David was decimated as ten of the tribes of Israel sided with a rebel, instead of with the son of Solomon. Solomon thought that by loving so many women he was expanding the Kingdom of Israel, but the opposite happened. The kingdom that he gave to his son was reduced to two tribes.
In Today’s Christian Woman, psychologist Jill Slattery writes that, in last week’s decision, people have taken two of God’s attributes and played one against the other – God’s holiness and God’s love. We have dichotomized God. However, the God who loved Adam and Eve and made them in His image and placed them in Eden was also the holy God who cast them out of the Garden of Paradise after their disobedience. He continued to love them but, because of His holiness, He also disciplined them. For in the beginning, God set His laws and He watches over them so that we will fulfill them or be destroyed by them. For in the words of Jesus, “In the beginning it was not so!”