Thursday, October 6, 2016

Marriage and Questions of Final Authority

"Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God." 
-- Acts 4:19

Perhaps Chief Justice John Roberts said it best as he responded to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last year to legalize gay marriage in all fifty states: “Who do we think we are?” It’s a valid question because—as Roberts sees it—in one fell swoop five of his colleagues treaded upon the democratic process, states’ rights, the Constitution and a several-thousand-year-old cornerstone of civilized society. The Supreme Court’s marriage decision certainly does beg the question: “Who do we think we are?”

Our great nation was founded upon the premise that our basic human rights are God-given, and our Constitution was shaped and influenced by the Bible more than any other book. Many Americans try to argue that the United States has never been a “Christian nation,” but the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. From the Pilgrims’ Mayflower Compact to the U.S. Constitution to the Supreme Court’s Trinity Decision of 1892, there is ample evidence that America was founded as a Christian nation upon the timeless principles of Scripture. And America’s political leaders and justices—for the first 170 years of our nation’s history—understood this and legislated accordingly.

But in recent years, America’s political leaders have moved further and further away from our nation’s Christian foundation and have begun moving—with ever-increasing speed and intensity—toward full-fledged secularism. So, have we reached a point where America has become a “post-Christian” nation? Although I hate to admit it, I believe so.

Corporate Bible reading and prayer have both been illegal in public schools for over fifty years. The Bible is no longer held as the source of absolute truth in the public square, the Capitol building or the White House. Prayers are heavily censored and—to a large extent—are just a matter of polite formality in city halls and state capitals across the nation. And Christian pastors and Christian business owners who were once respected and esteemed by elected officials are being ridiculed and prosecuted for refusing to ride the ever-growing wave of moral relativism and secularism.

Ultimately, each of us who claims to follow Christ as Lord and Savior has an important question to answer: Who is the final authority in my life? In Acts 4 when two of Jesus’ apostles, Peter and John, were commanded by the Jerusalem authorities to stop preaching and teaching about Jesus, they responded with these timeless words: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.”

Obviously, Peter and John had already made their decision: If the religious and political authorities were asking them to say or do something that was contrary to what God Himself had asked them to say or do, they would obey God without batting an eye. God had called them to submit to the governing authorities up to the point that the authorities began asking them to say or do things that were against God’s word. At that point, civil disobedience was the most God-honoring response.

So, let me ask you: Who or what is the final authority in your life? Is your life theocentric (God-centered) and bibliocentric (Bible-centered) or is it anthropocentric (man-centered) and egocentric (self-centered)? In other words, are God and His word the final authority on what is right and wrong, or are you the final authority?

Sadly, the Supreme Court’s ruling last year revealed a weak link in many Christians’ views on final authority. Many Christians—knowing full well that God condemns homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments—have chosen to ignore that reality and make the case that homosexual marriage should be praised and supported. By doing so, they have lowered the authority of God’s word while exalting their own authority. Many Christians—knowing full well that God created marriage to be a committed covenant relationship between one man and one woman—have chosen to reject His created design for marriage and redesign it themselves. Which begs the question, “Who do we think we are?”

In the grand scheme of things, there are hundreds, even thousands, of moral decisions that we will make over the next few years about what is right or wrong. And with each of these decisions, you and I will have to determine who or what is the final moral authority: our secular culture, our President, the U.S. Supreme Court, Hollywood, our friends and family, ourselves or God’s word.

It goes without saying: the final authority for me is God and His word. Therefore, I must both embrace and speak His truth in love. Even when God’s laws are hard to accept, even when they feel restrictive, even when they go against the flow of our secular culture and nation’s leaders, even when speaking them generates an impassioned backlash from media moguls—God and His word are the final authority in my life. If you call Jesus “Lord,” the same should be true of you.

Dane Davis is the lead pastor of First Christian Church of Victorville and the author of Holy Huldah! Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of. To hear Pastor Dane's messages or for more information about the church, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment