5 Things Jesus Would Say About the SCOTUS Ruling

Pastor Matt Anderson

July 22, 2015
WWJS 2.0
We saw polar reactions following the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to legalize same-sex marriage in America. Many have taken to the streets and/or cyberspace to celebrate what they—and five of the nine Supreme Court justices—believe to be a fundamental human right. This modern equivalent of the Emancipation Proclamation, supporters believe, finally topples the once powerful statues of enslavement which have prevented countless people from living and loving in freedom. Meanwhile, the bulletin board on the other side of the political aisle is plastered with lamentation and woe, characterizing this decision as the final nail in our cultural coffin. Defeated intellectuals and dissident believers issue warnings of impending judgment, forecasting doom for society’s decisive pivot from its Judeo-Christian moorings.
What’s surprises me is how predictable these reflexes have been, instinctively emanating from entrenched perspectives that have for decades clashed like rapids within the meandering river of Western Culture. It’s almost as if the disparate reactions were pre-recorded and scheduled to post whenever the ruling came out.
But here’s the thing: Jesus was unpredictable.
His responses to moral puzzles always surprised His awestruck audience, catapulting them beyond the boundaries of their human narrowness, even when He agreed with them in part. Jesus alone embodies the complete, Divine perspective on life, which none of us are able to fully understand or articulate.
As impossible as it seems, shouldn’t Christ’s followers at least attempt to offer this sort of refreshing perspective? Shouldn’t we pause and ponder the question, What would Jesus say (the first cousin of the overused cliché WWJD) about this decision, rather than reacting predictably?
Indeed, if we were trace the trajectory of Jesus’ methodology for managing moral tension in order to extrapolate His values and vision to this time and place, what would He utter and what kind of faithful tone would He set? Here’s my best guess:
1. Turn to your own sin.
 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (I John 1:8). Often when sexual sin is discussed in Scripture, it’s meant not to single out a specific few but to convict all of us, turning believers inward for a glimpse of what’s wrong with humankind in general (Romans 2:1). It’s not that some people cheat their way through the game of life by sneaking the forbidden taste of erotic fruit, while the rest of us play by the rules, carry the load, and live boring lives for God. Sexual sin is an X-ray, a hidden camera that demonstratively captures the human soul engaged in an active rebellion against the One who created our bodies for His purposes. When we catch a glimpse of our own sinfulness, our instinct is to cover our shame by projecting it upon another person or group (whether gays or conservative Christians), when instead we should beg for mercy and place it upon the cross.
2. This decision is not as good or bad as you think.

God’s Kingdom has never relied upon political systems nor is it beholden to majority rule. From the very beginning, Christians thrived as a radical community living counter-culturally in hostile territory. Ask Chinese Christians if state persecution has squashed the massive underground church in East Asia. Ask Indian Christians why Islamic and Buddhist terrorism hasn’t prevented millions from embracing the Gospel from Calcutta to Mumbai. Ask Ethiopian Christians why they plant thousands of new churches when Muslim extremists have systematically burned their buildings to the ground. When the church enjoys a cozy relationship with the state, it tends to suffer and die (i.e. Constantinian Christendom and the Medieval Roman Church). However, the church is often strongest in hostile places, because there it relies upon God’s power and provision rather than the state’s. The SCOTUS decision is far from some kind of final defeat. It’s not as bad as you think.

 At the same time, those who celebrate the SCOTUS decision will quickly discover many unintended consequences and new battles. Many GLBTQ individuals and couples will reject marriage and monogamy as one-size-fits-all, outdated institutions (like we’ve already done with heterosexual marriage) or they’ll face the same challenges that heterosexual marriages do (and possibly some new ones). As Chief Justice John Roberts declared after the decision, the leap to polygamy would have been much easier to make according to both history and tradition. It’s therefore naïve not to anticipate the political debate about the numerical definition of marriage, now that we’ve legally severed the philosophical roots that framed the gender-based definition. We no longer have a rational, moral basis to define marriage and sexuality in a normative manner, which propels our society’s “ship” into uncharted waters to experiment with, argue about, and advocate for additional alternative lifestyles. Long after we’ve been buried under endless litigation surrounding wedding cakes, photographers, and caterers, society will experience more (not less) conflict about sex, related to such questions as how and when to indoctrinate children and the legitimization of ever-changing values and family structures. In reality, the Supreme Court decision solves and settles very little. Rather, it prompts and produces very much, triggering new waves of debate and division that will last for decades. This is far from some kind of final victory. It’s not as good as you think.

3. Do justly and love kindness.


He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness… (Micah 6:8). While most of us have strong beliefs about such things as life, marriage, faith, and sexuality, people often come to regret the means by which they share those beliefs, given that others reject their viewpoint simply because of the manner in which it was conveyed. Historically speaking, enough blood has been shed and pain inflicted by both theists and atheists alike who neglect a simple, Biblical axiom: acting right is just as—if not more—important than being right.

But we must go far beyond the avoidance of wrongdoing. We must aim to love like Jesus did. Many Christians are concerned about this “new law,” assuming that more of our family members, neighbors and coworkers will marry a member of the same gender and/or adopt children. But Jesus also gave us a “new law,” which was intended to define us as His followers: I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). If one believes, based on Scripture, that homosexual relationships are “wrong,” one cannot reject Jesus’ Biblical injunction to love one’s neighbor. Jesus himself was a friend of sinners, a doctor who came to call not the righteous, but sinners (that’s us) to repentance (Luke 5:32). How then can we follow Him if our would-be churches become fortresses designed to protect sinners from sinners? How can we serve as the salt and light of the earth without constantly speaking peace and extending goodwill to people who have good reason to assume that we’re at war with them? If we’re worried above all else about compromising our faith, families, or churches by relating to and caring about people who make “sinful” decisions, we’ll have no friends left. Worse yet, we won’t enjoy opportunities to serve as good Samaritans or experience the thrill of throwing surprise parties for prodigal sons. Yes my friends, I’m absolutely convinced that Jesus would remind us to love kindness, now more than ever.
4. Be humble.
and to walk humbly with your God (the rest of Micah 6:8). Jesus demands that we trade hubris for humility. Some of us have waited to speak on this decision, based in part upon the humility demanded by human history’s wake of moral failure. We’ve seen societies crumble while clinging to outdated norms, and others decay after embracing new ones. Let us never lose the ability to acknowledge the limitations of our human perspective. We can and should hold firmly to our convictions without forfeiting the modesty befitting of people whose actions will impact our grandchildren, for better or worse. For God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
5. I am still the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Jesus affirmed God’s created intentions for marriage and sexuality. He pushed away from divorce as anything but a tragic option (Matt 19:1-9), and from extramarital sex and polygamy as incompatible with God’s “yes” for the gift of sex (Matt 5:19; Mark 7:21; John 8:11; John 4:18). Across the Scriptures, we’re constantly pointed back to God’s original intent in Genesis 1-2, in which a man and woman are enabled through the gift of sex to unite, procreate, and symbolically preview the joy, unity and pleasure of the approaching Kingdom of God. But Jesus, NOT sex, is central to God’s vision for the universe. God positioned sex at the periphery, anticipating a day when marriage and sex dissolve into the grand reality that they were intended to help bring about (Matt 22:30). Sex matters immensely in the meantime, but nothing like Jesus does. Jesus went so far as to recommend castration if sex threatens to take center stage in our life, identity, and decisions (Matt 19:10-12; Matt 5:27-30). Sex is not and should not be so important that it stands in the way of our following the Son of God, who lived a celibate life before giving it up on the cross for us. Sex is not the great solution or apex of life; it’s a temporary, carefully designed and often misused tool, intended nonetheless as a good gift for a God’s unfinished creation. Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, and Jesus Christ alone, is the hope of the world and every human in it. Jesus Christ alone can heal our brokenness and reorient our lives around God’s good plans. So if we stop talking about Jesus’ power and love because we’re too busy having or arguing about sex, we’ve thrown the Babe in the manger out with the bathwater. We will absolutely lose our way if we forget the Way.
Matt Anderson is the Lead Pastor of Surprise Church in Bismarck, ND, where he lives with his wife, Lacee and their three children. He’s also the author of Running Mate, a political thriller.