Tag Archives: Honor Marriage

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

The True Image

During these forty days, I had the privilege of battling for Proposition 8 in several churches in CA, including my home church, St. Gregory’s Episcopal of Long Beach. Seated before the altar, I observed with new eyes the 40-foot representation of Jesus emerging in stained glass above the cross. His image, composed of thousands of pieces of exquisitely colored glass, blazed like fire as the sun shone through it.

Alone in that church, I encountered the living Christ.His tenderness matched His power. “His robe reached down to his feet, with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white as wool, his eyes like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace…His face was like the sun shining in all of its brilliance.”

“He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.”

(Rev. 1:13-16; 19:13)

It filled me with gratitude and awe. There I prayed, a cracked yet receptive bearer of that very image, now subject to Him in His stern splendor. Though I was once subject to gods that drove and derided me, greedy idols who wanted my blood, He won me through His blood so I could participate in the marvel of His design.

I prayed for that design. I asked that its glorious expression in marriage—one man for woman, committed to fidelity and permanence—would shine in this land as powerfully as the stained glass before me. I prayed that we would represent Him well in the land.

I prayed for my bride Annette, that Christ would strengthen me afresh that day to love her well. I considered her beauty and humility, her virtue, and my affections blazed in harmony with the glowing image before me.

I thanked God for the couples who have represented that image beautifully to me: my parents, Mike and Diane Nobrega, Kenn and Joannie Gulliksen, Christopher and Dorothy Greco, Morgan and Karen Davis, Bruce and Jan Babad, Dean and Chrystal Greer, Lloyd and Brenda Rindels, and others whose marital commitments have endured and surpassed any brokenness they have encountered along the way.

I need them; I need that witness of man for woman and woman for man. Our land needs that witness. Fatherless children need that witness. Those under the sway of sensual, greedy idols need that witness. The state does well to uphold that truth by insisting marriage retain its original meaning: man for woman, woman for man, pledged to permanence and fidelity. For the sake of their children. For the good of all.

I prayed that God would wake up the saints in CA to honor marriage by refusing its redefinition. Honor Marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

And I prayed: ‘Rouse us in this hour. Raise up a people who stand for righteousness in the land, who take seriously how You have chosen to manifest Yourself on earth, a people who honor marriage for the good of all.

Awaken the saints to stand for marriage and so restrain wickedness and judgment in the land. Through the passage of Proposition 8, show mercy and not judgment, O God.’

As I beheld the Risen Christ towering over me and yet lovingly beckoning to me in the church, I was reminded of the greater love story being played out in our midst: that of the Bridegroom King preparing for Himself a Bride. In a day when 7-year-olds in public schools are subject to tales of the marriage of two gay kings, we need to be reminded of this true love story–the divine drama of which human marriage is but a foretaste

“The Bible begins in Genesis with the marriage of the first man and woman, and ends in Revelation with another marriage, the marriage of Christ and His Church. The whole story of salvation is contained between the love initiated by the bridegroom and the response of the bride.” (Christopher West)

I prayed again: ‘Prepare a people for Yourself, O God. May we live what we advocate for the land. May Your mighty love empower us to love. Manifest who You are in how we love and honor one another. May we mirror with increasing clarity the greater love story You have designed for the whole of creation. As we love more nearly in harmony with You, the true image, make us ready for Your return. Prepare us for Yourself.’

“Hallelujah! For the Lord God Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!

For the wedding of the Lamb has come,

and the bride has made herself ready.

Find linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)

Rev. 19:6-8

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Awakening the Church, Persuading Men

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

“Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.” (2Cor. 5:11)

It is time for the Church to arise, humble in mercy, clear in truth—ready to act on behalf of righteousness. Paul continuously implores the church to lay aside the ‘darkness’ of the culture, referring to sexual immorality, and to arise in the light of God’s holiness. Paul urges us to shine on behalf of a people living in great darkness who will perish unless we take a stand for righteousness.

“And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now then when we first believed. The night is nearly over, the day is almost here. So let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11, 12)

“Wake up, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Be careful how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:14-16)

Paul urges us to become “blameless and pure, children without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, so we can shine like lights in the universe as we hold out the word of life.” (Phil. 2:15, 16)

Honoring marriage is one such ‘word of life.’ In light of the ‘gay marriage’ crisis, God is rousing us as the body of Christ to act–to act humbly and persuasively on behalf of marriage. We must make the truth known to our neighbors and colleagues, to risk being seen as ‘intolerant’ in order to fortify the most important relationship on earth.

We must awaken to the truth: marriage in CA is in peril. And its precarious position puts at risk all who are impacted by marriage: every single one of us.

We must act today by imploring all in our midst to vote YES on Proposition 8 and to ensure that we do the same. God has given us one chance to define marriage in the CA constitution as one man pledged for one woman. This is our only and last chance to do so. We must act now.

Consider the stakes if we do not stop ‘gay marriage’:

Opens Doors to Radical Social Influence upon our Youth: Massachusetts initiated gay marriage in 2003 and their public schools began to instruct youth accordingly. That includes a story book read to 2nd graders on 2 princes who marry, kiss each other, and become ‘King and King.’ Recently, a public school in San Francisco escorted a first grade class on a field trip to City Hall in order to witness a lesbian wedding officiated by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Opens Doors to Other Types of Marriage: If gender becomes negotiable in the definition of marriage, then why not number of marital partners, or age of consent in marriage? Though we cannot imagine that now, could you have imagined gay marriage even ten years ago? Proponents of polygamy are currently battling for legal recognition using the exact same arguments employed by ‘gay marriage’ advocates.

Man has never been able to keep to one level of evil; the road goes down and down.

C.K. Chesterton

Opens Doors to ‘Gay Marriage’ throughout the USA: CA is arguably the most powerful state in the USA. Its Supreme Court decisions usually become standard decisions throughout the other states. If we allow the Court decision to stand, a flood of judicial and legislative activity on behalf of ‘gay marriage’ will drench the nation.

If we stop it, then we restrain that flood. The choice is ours.

Opens Doors to ‘Gay Marriage’ throughout the Globe: As I travel abroad, I am keenly aware that a host of other nations have ‘gay marriage’ legislation in the works. They are looking to CA. Especially Christians who may feel less powerful politically than we do in the USA. Given a chance to act, will CA act on behalf of God’s will for marriage?

The question other nations raise is this: can a faith-filled nation like the USA counter the radical gay agenda? If we will not do it, what hope do they have of countering forces over which they may have less power?

What will CA do? Will we the people arise and refuse ‘gay marriage?’ Doing so sets a precedent for our nation and for the nations of the earth. By honoring marriage, we set a precedent that honors God and His creation. By not refusing ‘gay marriage’, we set a precedent for perversion.

Honor Marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“Father, the state of marriage, the state of CA, the United States, and the nations of the earth hang in the balance. Rouse Your saints, O God. Awaken the righteous from their sleep. As we fear You, O God, let us also persuade men in this critical hour. Shine on us as we arise in righteousness on behalf of marriage. Be glorified in our prayers and actions. May we demonstrate mercy mixed with godly fear through upholding marriage in the state of CA.”

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Repenting unto Mercy

In the battle for marriage, I am inclined toward the sin of the Church at Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7). Working hard, persevering, identifying falsehood (the church’s strengths; vs.2, 3) mean little if one loses his first love.

And that has been my challenge in this battle. In fighting for God’s honor in defending marriage as one man for one woman, have I lost touch with God? The other day, I felt that familiar conviction: ‘Are my works for Him overtaking my devotion to Him? Is a political battle with all of its complexities and strife superseding the one true thing: Christ alone, the true image of God in humanity from which marriage draws its meaning?’

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” (v.4) I must return to that place at His feet, even and especially as the battle for marriage intensifies. The ‘Martha’ in me, ‘worried and anxious about many things’, must become more like her sister ‘Mary’ who seated at His feet and listening to Jesus found the one true thing ‘that would not be taken from her’. (Luke 10:38-42)

“Remember the height from which you have fallen!” (v. 5a) To me, that height is mercy: how God in Christ bridged the gap between my native perversion and His design for my life. That height is pure mercy. Nothing else sets us free from the debt, the gap, those inexplicable distortions of humanity that distance us from His purposes for our humanity.

Only mercy sets us free to know Him and those purposes. I must return to that place where He first met me, and where He calls me to live—that place at His feet where I receive mercy afresh. There I marvel and devote myself afresh to Him out of gratitude.

I agree with the Psalmist when he says: “I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call upon Him as long as I live…The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, He saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” (PS 116: 1, 2, 5-7)

I was in great need; I am in great need, and through mercy, my soul can rest, even and especially in battle. I remember the height from which I have fallen. I remember mercy, and my soul is restored.

“Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Rev.3:5b) Mercy received becomes the basis for giving mercy away. I pray that I will be true to the call to make a way for all broken image-bearers who seek healing in Jesus’ name. I pray that they would find it in Christ’s body—to discover mercy in the church instead of judgment.

I pray through the ‘gay marriage’ crisis that churches throughout the land would wake up to their responsibility to offer transformation to broken ones, especially to those with same-sex attraction.

I pray for the truthful fundamentalists who tend to conceal their own need for mercy. May they confess their own sins boldly and receive a double portion of mercy in turn! May they then give it away generously to the broken in their midst. And for the tentative ‘emergent’ church, may she wake up to her need to give a clear and forthright answer to those struggling with homosexuality. May she see the mercilessness of not giving an answer and so placing souls at risk of further destruction!

Let mercy have its perfect way in our churches. Let us repent and do the first things—welcoming broken ones with the truth that makes mercy pure and powerful, able to save and restore lives.

Then let mercy restore us for such a time as this. A time to battle for marriage. We battle in mercy for the upholding of marriage as one man pledged to one woman. We do this on behalf of generations to come.

Fighting for marriage in our land is an act of mercy for them. Protecting marriage helps ensure the stability and dignity of children now and to come.

And it restrains the hand of God who must respond to our rebellion if ‘gay marriage’ is allowed to continue. God desires to have mercy and not judgment. But He must act if His image is perverted by any state or nation. ‘Gay marriage’ fundamentally assaults the highest expression of God’s creation: humanity as male and female. To battle for the end of ‘gay marriage’ in CA invites God’s mercy; to concede to it incites trouble.

Let us together do what we did at first. Let us receive mercy afresh, and let us offer it generously to all in need. Right now CA is in need of mercy: mercy to fight for what is right in order that God would have mercy on the land.

Honor Marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“Let marriage in its true definition prevail O God; let marriage in its true form provide for generations to come. May our good battle on behalf of marriage ‘defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless, and maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed.’ May it ‘rescue the weak and the needy, and deliver them from the hand of the wicked.’ (Ps 82: 3, 4)”

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Exposing True Lies

I scoured the obituary of the well-known lawyer, a Christian who in the sixties and seventies had successfully defending laws protecting Christianity and prohibiting rights for gays. Had he lived today, he would have fought hard for Prop. 8.

What stunned me was a small note at the end of his story. Toward the end of his life, he had been arrested in a public park for soliciting an undercover male cop.

Have we seen this before? More than we would like to admit: a Republican senator who boasted about family values but could neither stay out of the airport men’s room nor admit he had a homosexual addiction problem once caught; the conservative family man—Ted Haggard—who led the National Association of Evangelicals while fostering a drug-addled relationship with a male prostitute for several years before being exposed.

Nothing new under the sun. On the one hand, truthful men, who on the other hand never faced and dealt with profound conflicts of desire in their own lives.

Such is the divide in many conservative Christian communities, both spiritual and political. Their high truth quotient is not matched by the reality that truthful people have problems that require the merciful care of the community.

That involves grace, and much space for everyone involved to admit how deep and painful and shameful homosexuality is. Not out there in the godless world but in here, the Bible-believing congregation where beloved men and women face that conflict of desire daily. And if they don’t face it daily before spouses, and friends, and pastors, guess what? They will act it out in hotel rooms, airport stalls, and public parks.

Maybe the very churches that most support Proposition 8 also perpetuate the myth that the problem isn’t ours, the Church’s. That is a lie. Homosexual tendencies are equal opportunities offenders. A tendency may not be sin, but in many of these conservative communities there still exists little room to say: ‘Hey, I am in conflict. Help me!’

Rich in truth, these communities remain oblivious to the veins of brokenness that lie beneath their ordered biblical world. That very split then fuels an ordinate disdain for homosexuality. It is the same conflict that undergirds the gay community: knowing something is wrong, not admitting it, and then coping with the conflict by asserting their ‘rightness.’

The difference with the conservative church? We do have truth on our side—the unchanging design of the Creator. What many of these communities lack is their need for a Redeemer, right where they hurt. And nothing hurts more than the admission of how painful and deep homosexual tendencies are amid the believing community.

Yet that is where redemption begins: an admission of broken ground, dirt capable of drinking in rain from heaven. Blind eyes, yet critical and squinting, finally opened to the truth of what is going on: Jesus descending into this family’s disordered life!

No other way to real order, real healing, the raising up, in fits and starts, of the true image of God in our midst. It transforms truth for conservatives from law on page or ballot to an earthy, full-bodied miracle of God’s mercy.

If the aforementioned figures in the conservative world would have held fast to their convictions while dealing openly with their weaknesses, we would not only be spared countless scandals, we would have an unshakable message of truth tempered by mercy.

First a message for the conservative church culture: a courageous model for our young people of how to actually face and walk with dignity out of homosexuality. Then for the gay community: ‘Jesus provides a kinder, gentler way. For all who seek that Way, let us walk it together.’

Perhaps our political convictions would be less shrill and self-satisfied, our declarations tempered by the truth of our own dependency on grace. That would strengthen our witness of God’s holiness and design. It would please the Lord.

Honor Marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me.” (Rev. 3: 17-22)

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Marriage Disciplines the Greed of the Gay Community

Gay activists are relentless in their push for full embrace in the culture. And ‘gay marriage’ is the prize for attaining ‘normal.’

Throughout my adult life in ministry to the homosexual, I have witnessed the evolution of this relentless drive. What began in the seventies as mild anti-discrimination laws protecting gays has become in the 21st century a radical insistence: we want full rights and privileges on par with heterosexuals. In other words, we want marriage and family.

At denominational conventions, city hall and school board meetings, on college campuses, in churches, at our conferences, I have witnessed the drive of gay activists toward full inclusion. Somehow, someone‘s decision to pursue a particular course of sexual identification and pleasure becomes the obligation of society to bless it.

Today, we are doing just that. We confirm gays as if that tag were the highest and truest expression of his/her humanity. We codify their demands, put them on the books as constitutional rights. We coddle them, as if they were needy, noisy children whom we appease just so they would not make another scene.

I see this time and time again in families. One member leaves home then returns with a special friend, maybe a child via adoption, etc. The shocked family flinches at first then over time stops flinching. To avoid another round of conflict, the family changes. The essentially selfish and immoral member wins by virtue of self-insinuation.

That is exactly how I feel about the gay marriage issue. I did not choose this battle. Marriage had been squarely defined as heterosexual in CA. Gay activists pushed until their appointment with the Supreme Court. Like foolish, codependent parents, the Court appeased the greedy children that they are.

So now we fight. And we should. To give gays marriage is to give the addict another fix. It will not satisfy their demand for ‘normal.’ It cannot. External measures cannot resolve their internal conflict between design and desire, as we have seen.

Budziszewski writes: “To remove the sting of guilt, we entomb it until it seems beautiful to us. Every movement to excuse a moral wrong becomes a movement to condone it, and every movement to condone a moral wrong becomes a movement to extend it.”

Stop the greed of gay activists. Do not reinforce their corporate immaturity. Do not cede marriage to them! Restrain ‘the greed, which is idolatry.’ (Eph.5:5) To allow ‘gay marriage’ to remain the law of the land is to allow a virulent strain of immoral greed to flourish in the land. Honor Marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“Father, we ask for the grace to fight the greed of gay activists. Give us the clear seeing that to merely concede to their demands is foolish and unloving. For all.”

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