A New York pastor made it clear to his congregation on Sunday that the legalization of gay marriage in New York is not an event Christians can just overlook or be unaffected by.
The passage of a bill allowing gays and lesbians to marry by the state Senate on Friday, in fact, should leave Christians grieving – grieving that "our God has been offended, ... that a lifestyle has had a stamp of approval put on it by our government in Albany that really is an extremely dangerous lifestyle," said Pastor Art Kohl of Faith Bible Baptist Church.
The Eden, N.Y., pastor had an entirely different sermon planned for Sunday but given the recent event, he felt he couldn't ignore the issue despite the distance he usually keeps from anything political.
In the weeks leading up to the vote on the gay marriage bill in the state assembly and then the Senate, Kohl had busied himself in prayer, fasting and contacting lawmakers and mailing booklets he created containing passages in the Bible that address homosexuality.
Unfortunately, on the other side, there were liberal clergymen – or false prophets, as Kohl described them – convincing senators that God made homosexuals that way and that they have a right to be married.
The bill passed in the Senate late Friday with four Republicans voting "yes." Governor Andrew Cuomo immediately signed it into law. The measure will take effect on July 24.
Speaking from the pulpit of his independent Baptist church, Kohl lamented, "What has happened in Albany this week ... was not only an affront to me but it was also an affront to a holy God."
"It was a cold, hard slap [in] God's face by the assembly men and women in Albany who voted for it and the senators," he stated plainly. "They spit in the very face of a holy God who alone can define what marriage is."
Kohl prefaced his sermon with a note that Christians should not hate anyone.
"It seems we hate and we get angry at certain sins and love and coddle and pet other sins and befriend them if we're not careful," he said. "We ought not to hate the sinner but we ought to hate the sin."
He also stressed the holiness of the institution of marriage.
"We believe it's sacred. We believe it's holy, at least I do; more importantly, God does. God instituted marriage. It was His first institution on earth."
With that said, he emphasized that this was not the will of God as some have pondered.
"I want to go on record and say this was not God's will. This was man's will. This was a group of senators and assembly men and women who have departed from ... God and from the Word of God."
Though grieving the event, Kohl said he is not down in his faith. Rather, he's more saddened that "our God has been offended."
With the approval of gay marriage in his state, the Baptist pastor is even more convinced that the end of the world is drawing near.
"The events of Friday night grieved my heart but strengthened my faith in biblical prophecy because our Lord said it would be like this just before he comes," he preached.
"The time is at hand," he said, preaching from Revelation 1.
There's nothing unclear in the last book of the Bible, he indicated. It's not a book of mystery or parables but of "revelation" and it's no mystery what events will come to pass in the last days, he noted.
"What happened in New York this week could just be anecdotal. I'm not trying to promote ... that we interpret the Bible from a New Yorker's perspective but certainly New York has become like a Sodom and Gomorrah ... with the approval of assembly men and women, senators and the governor now."
What has Kohl bewildered is that the government is approving a behavior that is obviously dangerous. The pastor pointed to statistics showing that the majority of people who are infected or who have died of AIDS are gay men.
"This is dangerous. This is unhealthy. This is deadly," he stated. "We've got to instruct every teacher, ... every pastor, ... every senator; ... we've got to get everybody to start crying out and say 'don't have anything to do with this behavior.'
"That's how I think."
What Kohl isn't confused about, however, is what will happen as a result of the approval of gay marriage. Despite the provision of religious protections, Kohl is convinced that the consequences "are going to be horrific."
"Already, there have been great warnings about discrimination lawsuits in New York state," he lamented. "Any conservative or Christian business man or woman who should object on the grounds of their religion to provide services is setting themselves up for discrimination lawsuits."
"You would not believe how complex this is going to be."
"You see, people thought Friday they got what they [wanted]. No, they haven't come close to getting what they want. This is just their foot in the door."
Along with lawsuits, Kohl expects many Christians will be tested by this issue and "cave in."
"Someday, God's going to have the last word," the pastor said to "amen's." "Someday, they'll speak no more."
"Mark my words, God will have the last word."