Today was a landmark day in Minnesota, as it was the day that the state senate voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill has only to be signed by Governor Dayton, which he will do within the week, and the law will take effect August 1, 2013.
This news comes during the week in which I am preparing a sermon on Matthew 5.4: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." And in Ecclesiastes 3.4 it says there is "a time to mourn."
There is reason to mourn in Minnesota on this day, I believe.
There is reason to mourn, because the mayor of St. Paul apparently has the free reign to do this, an utterly and blatantly divisive and irresponsible thing to do, regardless of how you feel on the issue.
There is reason to mourn, because so many professing Christians are either falsely converted, or are so ignorant in the faith, that they believe homosexuality is a biblically viable lifestyle, exposing what seems to be a significant lack of good teaching (or an abundance of bad teaching) by the church.
There is reason to mourn, because I can't talk about this issue without my peers thinking I'm a hateful bigot. There is reason to mourn, because this reality is discouraging me from bringing my opinions to the marketplace of ideas - something that should never happen in a free society.
There is reason to mourn, because our society has come to the point that it believes that moral truth is decided by a majority opinion, and not by God.
There is reason to mourn, because this issue has become such a political hot button that it was shoved through the legislature as quickly as possible while other issues, many of which are arguably more worthy of the time and attention of our lawmakers, remain unaddressed.
There is reason to mourn, because the people of our state (and our country) seem to be less and less able to think rationally and logically, and instead are prone make decisions based on pragmatism and emotion. There is reason to mourn, because at recently as 5 years ago the vast majority of our state and country were vehemently opposed to gay marriage. What happened? How was such a drastic change accomplished in such a short period of time? I suspect it has something to do with the reason listed above.
There is reason to mourn, because it has become increasingly clear that God is removing his hand of grace from the collective mind of our country.
There is reason to mourn, because this legislation is further proof that much of the modern American church has failed in its job of proclaiming the gospel of grace.
There is reason to mourn, because the legalization of gay marriage will have untold and largely unknown effects on the worldview development of children, including my own.
There is reason to mourn, because the legalization of gay marriage is the first step down a slippery slope toward the validation of other sexually deviant practices, further confusing the idea of marriage and further encouraging people to venture deeper and deeper into depraved and destructive lifestyles that hurt the people in them, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
There is reason to mourn, because the legalization of gay marriage is the a new frontier for the infringement of religious liberty in our land.
There you have it. I think there are several reasons why this is a time of mourning, and not just as Americans or Minnesotans, but as Christians - as the church.
At the beginning of this post I referenced Matthew 5.4, in which Jesus says, "Blessed are those who mourn..." But he doesn't end there. He speaks a word of comfort as well. But for right now I'm going to let the sting of the reality that is gay marriage sit with me a while, and allow it to sting. It needs to sting all of us: the church, the world, and everyone in between. There is a time for mourning, and this is it.
And let us all take heed of James 4.8-10 - me, you, and everyone else in our state and our country: "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you."