In 1987, Robert Bork, a Reagan nominee for a Supreme Court Justice and who was not confirmed by the Senate (some say, “he was borked”,) wrote a book about our culture’s decline entitled, “Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and America’s Decline.” I am going to use another metaphor. This week the Supreme Court heard arguments against the constitutionality of two issues: 1) California Proposition 8, which says that marriage is to be between a man and a woman; 2) the Defense of Marriage Act, which withholds federal recognition and benefits to couples in same sex relationships and was overwhelmingly passed by Congress in 1996 to “express moral disapproval of homosexuality.”
The Court will vote today (Friday) and the outcome will be pivotal to our culture’s entire value system not to mention its understanding of marriage, which has from our nation’s inception been based upon the biblical mandate of Creation. Although this day has been coming for decades (and is already here in some states), it is sobering to see the direction in which the Supreme Court is leaning. And it will be the height of irony that the very constitution which provides us with freedom to worship the God of the Bible will at the same time render unconstitutional His very definition of marriage. It should be acknowledged that this is not an issue for the theologically liberal Protestant who believes that God is still speaking, and this new understanding of marriage is part of Her/His message.
Our culture has clearly broken through the ice of God’s protective care and is now struggling for survival in the icy waters of its own moral decline. Eradicating gender from the marriage equation is the tipping point to more confusion. Mark my word, the “polyamorous” relationships of today will cry out for constitutional freedom and equality and will produce the polygamous marriages of tomorrow—and so on. This culture cannot rescue itself; it needs the Church which has been marginalized and viewed as “out of step.” What an opportunity to have an impact and be the salt and light described by Jesus! The Church in every age should be out of step with its culture and increasingly so as the culture suppresses what it intuitively knows to be true about God (Rom. 1:18, 19). However, the American Church has no footing or place to stand in order to stage a rescue. Its own moral track record has given it little credibility with which to speak to the sins of the culture or to show the higher road of following the commands of Scripture.
Its own performance within the arena of marriage and family has been slip-shod. The Church matches the culture in its divorce rate and probably in the numbers of people addicted to pornography, not to mention other sexual abuses. It has more of a reputation for toxic church-splits than for being a loving and cohesive community. We have failed not only to do justly and love mercy, but to walk humbly with our God. Our dying culture has little reason to believe that we can offer much of an alternative. Every time the Church tries to pull the culture out (through political activism, culture wars, or legalism), the ice cracks underfoot and the Church itself is in danger of also slipping into the water.
The only hope of rescuing someone who has fallen through the ice is for the rescuer to get face down on the ice and move toward the helpless victim. The only way the Church can rescue the culture is by getting face down before God in repentance and moving humbly and slowly toward the helplessness of our culture. “If my people…” You know the verse I mean in 2 Chron. 7:14. It is as the people of God humble themselves, pray, and seek the face of God; it is then that their sins will be forgiven and their land will be healed. For when we are humble, the ice won’t crack beneath the weight of our own sin and we can go out onto thin ice and extend our hand to those who are slowly freezing to death in the icy waters of moral decline.