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Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently spoke at Brigham Young University. His address was entitled, “A Clear and Present Danger: Religious Liberty, Marriage, and the Family in the Late Modern Age.” So why in the world would a Baptist be invited to speak at a Mormon university? Though many of their theological stands are universes apart, when it comes to marriage and family values, both share many of the same standards and face many of the same threats in today’s society.
There is so much we could talk about in this address, which you can read in full-length here. Below I have highlighted some passages that whet your appetite to read the whole thing.
Dr. Mohler may have gone in to the belly of the Mormon beast, as it were, but he did not go in with any inkling of theological compromise or wavering. Note his “polite frankness” in the following paragraphs:
I am not here because I believe we are going to heaven together. I do not believe that. I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone. I love and respect you as friends, and as friends we would speak only what we believe to be true, especially on matters of eternal significance. We inhabit separate and irreconcilable theological worlds, made clear with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity. And yet here I am, and gladly so. We will speak to one another of what we most sincerely believe to be true, precisely because we love and respect one another.
I do not believe that we are going to heaven together, but I do believe we may go to jail together. I do not mean to exaggerate, but we are living in the shadow of a great moral revolution that we commonly believe will have grave and devastating human consequences. Your faith has held high the importance of marriage and family. Your theology requires such an affirmation, and it is lovingly lived out by millions of Mormon families. That is why I and my evangelical brothers and sisters are so glad to have Mormon neighbors. We stand together for the natural family, for natural marriage, for the integrity of sexuality within marriage alone, and for the hope of human flourishing.
He then goes on to make his point that the redefinition of marriage in our country is not of contemporary ilk, but has been in a continuous state of redefinition over the past few decades.
We must note with honesty and candor that this moral revolution and the disestablishment of marriage did not begin with the demand of same-sex couples to marry. The subversion of marriage began within the context of the great intellectual shift of modernity. Marriage was redefined in terms of personal fulfillment rather than covenant obligation. Duty disappeared in the fog of demands for authenticity and the romanticized ideal of personal fulfillment. Marriage became merely a choice and then a personal expression. Companionate marriage was secularized and redefined solely in terms of erotic and romantic appeal—for so long as these might last…
The divorce revolution has not only made marriage a tentative, if not temporary, condition, it has redefined marriage as nothing more than a public celebration of an essentially and non-negotiably individual act of self-expression…
Heterosexuals did a very good job of undermining marriage before same-sex couples arrived with their demands. The marriage crisis is a moral crisis and it did not start with same-sex marriage, nor will it end there. The logic of same-sex marriage will not end with same-sex marriage. Once marriage can mean anything other than a heterosexual union, it can and must mean everything. It is just a matter of time.
As of yesterday, homosexual marriage is currently legal in 15 states plus Washington D.C. Ten years ago it was zero. (Massachusetts made it legal in November, 2003.) We did not begin losing the marriage battle in the last ten years with same-sex marriage. We lost it when we abandoned the biblical model of marriage of one man and one woman until one died.
The battle for marriage will not be won by the influence of a political party, the actions of a legislature or court, or by a groundswell of grass-roots movements. It can only happen by way of a God-sent revival that results in changed hearts and changed lives. So while we continue to fight for the one true definition of marriage, let us battle even harder for the salvation of souls and the surrender of hearts and minds to the truth of God’s Word.
Soli Deo Gloria
The Gospel Coalition has an article today talking about Pastor Henry Gerecke who led some of Hitler’s most notorious henchmen to Christ. I don’t know about you, but when I think of the horrific things that Hitler and his regime did, my natural (sinful) reaction is to take satisfaction that their eternal punishment is well-deserved.
Too bad my natural reaction isn’t a little more biblical: seeing my own sin as deserving of eternal punishment! A notable quote from the article reveals the truly scandalous nature of God’s grace:
“But the truth is that people are not condemned because they murder, or steal, or lie. They are condemned because they reject Jesus as the one who has already endured hell for them on the cross and earned a place for them in heaven. There is no one so vile that he is beyond redemption.”
When mass-murder, rape, tyranny, and terrorism aren’t the things that condemn us for eternity, we must conclude that the one thing that does condemn must be far worse than these other harrowing sins. And indeed it is. Jesus Christ had the sin of the world placed on Him as He was brutally crucified. To refuse that gift of mercy and grace is to be ultimately lost, and “…there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment…” (Hebrews 10:26-31). And that judgment has NOTHING to do with any crime committed, but ONLY to do with rejecting the Son of God.
Don’t believe me? Are you still reeling from the concept that someone who committed such atrocities could be saved by simple faith in the Son of God, while someone who has lived a nice moral life but failed to believe in Jesus would be condemned? Does that still make your blood boil a bit? Hear the words of Jesus found right after one of the Bible’s most well-known verses:
John 3:17–18 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
I am eternally glad that salvation is God’s gracious gift bestowed on us through Christ by faith alone. How about you?
Well, school’s back in full swing, and the wonderful chaotic schedule of summer is starting to simmer down. As our students head back to class, if there is one thing I would want them to take with them, it’s this: “Love God.”
Students are prone to information overload as various teachers instruct them in various subjects, all of which will have some level of importance in order to pass the class (regardless of if it is important to real life). So under this mountain of other stuff to know, if they can take only one more thing with them, it will always be: “Love God.”
As church leaders, it would be tempting to tell our students that the most important thing is to recruit others to Sunday School, youth group, or AWANA. We might want to tell them they need know how to share their faith with others and lead them to Christ. We might tell them to do their devotions, carry their Bibles to class, or encourage them to lead Bible studies after class. ALL these things are well and good, but if we were to boil it all down to one thing, it would always be: “Love God.”
See, if we love God, we WILL recruit people to church, we WILL share the gospel, we WILL place scripture in high priority among everything we do. We can’t love God and neglect these things! Jesus himself declared the kingpin of everything contained in the Old Testament hinged on this: “Love God.”
Matthew 22:36–40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV)