When I think about it, Holy Week was an appropriate time for the Supreme Court to be hearing cases that could decide the future of marriage in the United States. No other issue in my memory has thrown in such glaring light the divide between believers and unbelievers, the Word of God and the word of man.
Whatever the court decides, I smell defeat, like a mist from the turning tide. It’s a little like huddling with a tiny group of disciples 2,000 years ago during those desperate hours between Friday night and Sunday morning. Suddenly we’re in retreat, playing defense, giving ground. Don’t doubt for a minute that the goal of the other side is to push the Word of God out of the public square and lock it up in shiny sanctuaries.
And that’s actually the best-case scenario: With the legality of same-sex marriage, whether soon or late, will come confrontations, legal challenges, possible revocation of the favored status of churches (such as tax exemption), and the casting of the Bible as not only irrelevant but evil. I hear echoes of “How did this happen?” all around me—the best word for how we feel is “cornered.” Trapped in a narrowing circle while the wicked freely strut about outside (Psalm 12:8).
But—there’s that transformative conjunction: but—God has a plan. You can’t keep a good gospel down. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit pounced upon a tiny cluster of believers in a house and propelled them out into the street. The gates of hell would not prevail, and hell is the walled-off place, not the church. If you feel trapped, you need to change your perspective. They are the trapped ones, walled within their own delusions. Soon enough, all delusions fail and primal need reasserts itself: Who can show us any good? What is true? Where is love?
God’s love is always directed outward, first shared among Father and Son and Holy Spirit and then overflowing to us. In his book Delighting in the Trinity (IVP, 2012), Michael Reeves shows how this should revolutionize our view of service and evangelism:
“For when Jesus sends us, he is allowing us to share the missional, generous, outgoing shape of God’s own life. The writer of Hebrews puts it like this: ‘Jesus also suffered outside the city gate [that is, he went out beyond where the people of God are] to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp’ (Heb. 13:12-13). In other words, Jesus is found out there, in the place of rejection. That is where the Father has sent him, that he might bring sinners back as children. The Christian life is one of being where he is, of joining in how he has been sent.”
That’s not to say it will be easy—it wasn’t easy for Jesus. But to be outside in this conflict is better, freer, fresher, and ultimately more glorious than in.