Monday, June 29, 2015

Christians, practice what you preach

I want to follow what I wrote last week about marriage for the Opinion page with this encouragement and admonishment to the church. Because if we who call for the sanctity of marriage to be defended are assaulting it with our own sin, why should anyone listen? Matt Walsh sat down to write a scathing rant about how marriage is under attack in our culture, “But then I remembered a sign I saw on the side of the road that said, “Divorce for sale! Only 129 dollars!” Then, I remembered an article I read about the new phenomenon of divorce parties. “Divorce is the new single,” the divorce party planner tells us. Then, I remembered that there is one divorce every 13 seconds, or over 46,000 divorces a week in this country. And then I remembered no-fault divorce. I remembered that marriage is the only legal contract a person can break without the other party’s consent and without facing any legal repercussions.

Sobering words. Words that should cause the church to look at itself in the mirror. Wait, that’s one step removed. These words should cause you and me to look in the mirror. Marriage, like politics, is local. Your marriage and mine affects the culture by strengthening or weakening the fabric of the institution that God created. We defend marriage best when we defend it first in our own homes. That’s why the Bible says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled.”

If marriage is to be held in honor by all, then I would also admonish the church in three more ways. First to the young men in our churches: marry somebody. Don’t rush it, but don’t substitute trivial pursuits like “Call of Duty” for it, either. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.” I will be so bold as to say that if you are in a position to provide for a wife, spiritually, financially and emotionally, then you should be pursuing one.

Second, to the young married couples in the church: have children. Space does not permit the full measure of arguments why godly marriages should be producing and raising godly children. But I can show you at least seven reasons why and invite you to come and meet them sometime. The biggest and best reason is that “children are a heritage from the Lord.” Why would followers of Christ say “No, thank you” to one of His greatest gifts?

Third, to all in the church: We need to repent of our thoughts, words or actions that have made the Gospel a stench to others. This is my last admonishment, but it may the first in importance. Let’s be very careful not to adopt an “Us versus Them” mindset with those in the culture who have different ideas about marriage. Let’s also be very careful how we speak about this subject. Crude joking or harsh words do not represent Christ, do not qualify us as ambassadors of reconciliation, and do not tear down walls or create bridges.

We must stand for the truth. We must not compromise our convictions. We must not cave to the culture. But we also must not vilify those with whom we disagree, even when we have biblical grounds upon which we base our disagreement.

Jesus was not a friend of the Pharisees, the religious blowhards who held themselves up as examples to follow when they were nothing but hypocrites. Instead, Jesus was a friend of sinners, those who needed Him and knew they did.

We must follow His example.

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