While I enjoy a variety of Christian worship styles, I find particularly beautiful high church Anglican (Episcopalian) worship. I've been enthralled worshiping Christ at St. Paul's in London, at Westminster Abbey, Christ Church in Oxford, and at the National Cathedral in DC. The music, the liturgy, the majesty and beauty of the buildings combine to provide an extraordinary experience.
I was privileged to attend Chuck Colson's memorial service at the National Cathedral last year; the somber dignity of the program in that holy sanctuary honored him richly.
So my heart sank last week when I saw the news---that now our National Cathedral will begin performing same sex weddings.
What happens at the National Cathedral is a reflection of the nation's spiritual state. In his First Inaugural address, George Washington said: "…we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained."
What is he saying? The father of our country (also an Anglican/Episcopalian) was saying that we can't expect God to bless us as a nation if we openly defy God's own laws.
We say God bless America---but we're defying God's laws left and right.
The Bible is very clear that homosexual behavior is wrong, as are adultery and pre-marital sex.
The Bible is also clear that we're all sinners and can find forgiveness and redemption through Christ. But this begins with recognizing we are all sinners and need a savior to forgive us and transform our lives. A same sex wedding begins with the premise that repentance is not needed. People may approve of that, but does God? If the Bible is no longer the source and authority for the church, what is?
Suppose the National Cathedral were to have special services to consecrate swingers---to put their imprimatur on adultery. It would be wrong. Even if a majority of Americans approved it, the Lord would not. (I saw a recent headline that said the number of Americans who see homosexual behavior as wrong shrank recently from 44% to 37%.)
The good news is that God's love reaches people in a variety of situations, and redemption is happening (under the radar, in many cases). In my work as a TV producer for Christian television and as a radio talk host, I've had the privilege of interviewing a couple dozen ex-homosexuals and lesbians. These are great men and women who have had the courage to share their testimony of how Christ changed them from the inside out. They represent thousands of Americans alive today who have been so transformed.
I remember one of them said to me: "On Sunday I was in church, looking all prim and proper, directing the choir. On Monday, I was at park restrooms, looking for sexual hits."
He also said, "People in our culture do not know that homosexuals and lesbians can change. It is a critical message, an important message, and must be spoken."
But, of course, we're becoming so politically correct in our society that soon it could be viewed as a hate crime for an ex-homosexual to share his story of how Jesus changed him or her.
The spouse of one of the ex-homosexuals said to me, "If anybody says that you cannot change from homosexual orientation to heterosexual orientation, they're either ignorant or they're lying."
Another man told our viewers: "I never dreamed that the orientation would go away, that it would change, that it would get me to the point in my life where it's not a temptation anymore." His experience is apparently not the case of all ex-homosexuals, but it was true for him.
Putting this in the larger context, the Bible prohibits all sexual relationships outside of marriage. God's idea is one man and one woman, as stated in Genesis 2:24: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." God's commands are for our good and protection.
Today people sometimes say that Jesus never condemned homosexual behavior. This only shows their ignorance of the Bible. When He condemned "pornea," He certainly condemned homosexuality to His first century Jewish audience. Jesus condemned "pornea" in Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:21, from which our modern word pornography is derived.
This word, "pornea," is translated as "sexual immorality" in some of our English translations, but it really stands for a multitude of sexual sins---condemned in the Old Testament law: pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, incest, and bestiality. To say Jesus approved of homosexual behavior is an argument by silence, and it falls short of the facts.
Our society can embrace the unrepentant, practicing homosexual lifestyle all we want, but we're only fooling ourselves if we think God approves.
No matter how beautiful and aesthetically pleasing a worship service may be, if it's premise contradicts the clear teaching of the Bible, then how could God be pleased?
May God bless America---with repentance and a Third Great Awakening.