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Righteousness, not ‘rights’
September 10, 2012
by Pastor Russell Doebler, Hope Community Church, Howard Lake

This November, Minnesotans will be asked to vote on an amendment to the state constitution regarding the legal definition of marriage. If passed, the only valid union will be between one man and one woman.

I normally stay out of the political arena because I have so many other plates spinning. I’m grateful for Christian leaders and pastors who assume a role of influence in our legal and political systems, but God has called me to work on other things at this time.

However, I’m speaking out on this issue because it is not just a political one. Since the Bible has had a definition for marriage for over 3,000 years, this issue is beyond politics. It’s beyond ethics and morals. This is a spiritual issue.

The Bible defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman: “A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife” (Genesis 2:24). Both the Old and New Testaments cite homosexual behavior as sin. Now, this isn’t the only sexual sin the Bible mentions. Also named are rape, incest, adultery, extramarital sex, and all the other things we would expect. Even lust is included with adultery.

I admit that Christians have focused on homosexual sin, while ignoring sexual sins that have crept into the church, even the pulpit. The percentage of pastors who use pornography is staggering, and many studies show that more than 10 percent of pastors have had sex with a member of their congregation.

I’m neither a gay-basher nor homophobic. God loves homosexuals. He also loves people who use pornography or who have consenting, extramarital sex. But God is also a holy God, who has established a standard of right and wrong which we benefit from following. Vary from it, and we suffer the consequences.

So, my reason for writing on this topic is not to judge anyone. Rather, I want to draw attention to the specific arguments surrounding the vote you have the opportunity to make in November.

Most importantly, don’t be confused by the wording. A “yes” vote means that you are in favor of the Biblical definition of marriage between a man and woman. A “no” vote means you think homosexual marriage should be legal.

However, I have seen a number of signs saying something to the effect of, “Vote ‘no’ to protect marriage.” But I would say the opposite, that voting “yes” protects marriage – Biblical marriage. What those signs really mean is, “Vote ‘no’ to protect the right to marry as we please.” In other words, they would say voting “yes” limits our rights to marry.

Is that true? Would the right to marry be limited with this amendment? Certainly. I do not deny it. But we have to understand that freedom does not mean removing limits so we can do whatever we want. Every law written places certain limits on our “freedom.” But without those limits, the resulting anarchy would destroy our freedom.

Not all boundaries are restricting. God’s boundaries, as defined in Scripture, create a safe place in which freedom can be truly enjoyed. It’s like a paratrooper. He is bound to his parachute, but he doesn’t look bound at all as he is flying freely through the air. In fact, it is his bondage to the parachute that creates his freedom to jump from an airplane and defy death.

The truth is, even if this amendment is voted down and Minnesotans are “free” to conduct homosexual marriages, restrictions to marriage will still exist – restrictions that will limit our “rights.” For example, it is illegal in Minnesota for an adult to marry a 14-year-old. But what if the teenager wants to be married? It’s a restriction of freedom meant to protect her. And what about polygamy? It’s currently illegal, and will continue to be illegal, even if this amendment to “limit our rights” is cast down.

Voting “no” will not remove all restrictions. Restrictions will remain. The question is: Which restrictions should our society maintain? I choose the Bible as my standard. What is your standard?

At the end of the day, the issue isn’t about rights, but about righteousness – God’s definition of conduct. This November, I urge you to vote in agreement with Biblical principles.