House lawmakers voted to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker yesterday afternoon, the first time in US history that a speaker has been voted out. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R–NC) was then named the new temporary leader of the House. He closed the chamber and set a goal of voting on the next speaker next Wednesday. House business has been put on hold until then.
Meanwhile, another unprecedented event is unfolding away from the headlines with ramifications that are even more foundational for biblical Christians in a secularizing culture.
Pope signals support for blessing same-sex unions
After five conservative cardinals challenged Pope Francis to affirm current Catholic teaching on homosexuality ahead of an upcoming major synod, he issued a response which the Washington Post described this way: “Francis wrote that there are ‘situations’ that may not be ‘morally acceptable’ but where a priest can assess, on a case-by-case basis, whether blessings may be given—as long as such blessings are kept separate from the sacrament of marriage.”
The pope’s statement contradicts a 2021 Vatican statement confirming a ban on blessing same-sex couples because “God cannot bless sin.” It was welcomed by an LGBTQ+ advocate: “The allowance for pastoral ministers to bless same-gender couples implies that the church does indeed recognize that holy love can exist between same-gender couples, and the love of these couples mirrors the love of God.”
In other words, so long as we continue to teach the biblical doctrine that marriage is between one man and one woman, we can “bless” marriages that violate this doctrine, or so the pope seems to believe. This is the first time in church history that a pope has taken such a position on sexuality and marriage.
This on the heels of the Unconditional Conference held last weekend at Andy Stanley’s megachurch in suburban Atlanta, an event that generated such controversy that Rev. Stanley addressed it in his Sunday sermon. As Dr. Ryan Denison reported yesterday, the pastor stated clearly that “biblical marriage is between a man and a woman.” However, he noted, many same-sex couples “choose a same-sex marriage,” and now the church must decide “how we respond to their decision.”
His position is to uphold biblical marriage while welcoming into the congregation those who do not: “We don’t draw lines—we draw big circles. . . . We aren’t condoning sin, we are restoring relationships and we are literally saving lives.”
“If the trumpet does not sound a clear call”
One of my life texts is the exhortation to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The ESV Study Bible notes: “By the time that Jude wrote his letter, ‘the faith’ had already been fixed and established in the apostolic teaching of the early church, and therefore could not be changed, but was under attack and in need of defense.”
This apostolic teaching clearly addressed sexual sins: “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:24–25).
Consequently, “Their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (vv. 26–27). (For more on the Bible and homosexuality, please see my website article here.)
In light of such clear truth, we must “contend” for biblical faith even—and especially—when it is unpopular. We must not blur the truth for the sake of tolerance or inclusion. While Andy Stanley wants to “draw big circles,” there are some biblical lines we must not cross: “If the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8 NIV).
This is not just to “make a defense” of our faith (1 Peter 3:15)—it is also for the benefit of those who disagree. If “God is love” (1 John 4:8), his instructions are for our good, serving as guardrails that keep us from veering off the road to our own destruction.
Therefore, we are not being gracious when we “encircle” and condone what he forbids.
“Its power will wrong desires destroy”
Tomorrow I plan to discuss practical ways we can respond. For today, let’s embrace the hope of Christ that can forgive any sin and transform any heart.
Jesus “loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelation 1:5). Now we can “die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24) since “in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). However, like any other gift, forgiveness must be sought and received to be experienced.
Here’s a succinct way to make my point today: Our Father loves us as we are, but he loves us too much to leave us there.
The British hymn writer J. R. Peacey captured well the hope we offer the world:
Let in the light; all sin expose
To Christ, whose life no darkness knows.
Before the cross expectant kneel;
That Christ may judge, and judging heal.
Awake, and rise up from the dead,
And Christ his light on you will shed.
Its power will wrong desires destroy,
And your whole nature fill with joy.
Why do you need such power?
With whom will you share it today?
NOTE: The fall flash sale continues! All of our books are marked down by 40%. If you’ve yet to request your copy of Respectfully, I Disagree or How Does God See America? or The Coming Tsunami, I highly encourage you to do so today. Just use the code DFFALLSALE at checkout to redeem your 40% discount and stock up on biblical resources that speak into today’s culture. *Sale ends Friday.