by Pastor Nathan Cherry, The Family Policy Council of West Virginia.
The issues of life and marriage are not merely cultural, social, or political issues. They are biblical moral issues. Unfortunately, marriage and the sanctity of life have been so politicized that many pastors have failed in their duties to preach and teach in light of the Gospel.
Unwilling to offend anyone in their church, many pastors have abandoned biblical preaching on marriage and life in favor of a more appealing message of God’s love. To be sure, the message that God loves all people is important. But refusing to engage these moral issues facing our congregations is a disservice that has led to misunderstanding and lack of biblical literacy on these topics. The shepherds charged with guarding the flock have been asleep while the wolves have crept in and led the sheep astray.
I hear the excuses all the time. The one I get most often from fellow pastors is that they don’t preach on “political” issues because they only preach the Gospel and the Bible. This is a poor attempt to sound spiritual while failing to engage biblical moral issues in the church. The idea that the sanctity of life is not found within Scripture is absurd. Remember what God said about offering children to Molech (Lev. 18:21, 1 Kings 11:7)? This provides a biblical basis for preaching and teaching against abortion and standing for life. Ravi Zacharias said it this way:
“Can we really carry a burden for the world if we don’t carry a burden for every human life?”
A truly Gospel-centric pastor will no more be silent on the evils facing our culture than he will be silent on sin and repentance. Life is not a political issue. It is a biblical moral issue.
The same can be said regarding the definition of marriage. God created and ordained marriage. He defined marriage, Jesus affirmed that definition, and until God changes His mind no one has the right to redefine marriage. If anyone should be outspoken on the issue of marriage in all its facets, it should be the church. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church and as such should be fiercely defended by the church. And yet, too many pastors have watched silently as families fall apart, and marriage is given a bad name, all while we see the relationship between man and God distorted.
Not all are standing silent though. I’m encouraged by the pastors I’ve watched move from a place of inaction to a place of bold action. For me, this signals a growing trend back to Gospel-centered sermons on critical issues our society is facing. Ultimately the result will be well-equipped disciples prepared to engage a lost society around them. We need pastors willing to dive deep into all the issues encompassing these topics. This means talking about embryonic stem cell research and human cloning. It also means talking about divorce, pre-marital counseling, cohabitation, gender roles, and fidelity. We cannot be satisfied with shallow sermons that leave pressing questions unanswered. We must be willing to fully engage these topics with an aim of producing mature followers of Christ capable of critical thought and defending the Gospel!
And why do we do this? Why do we defend life and biblical marriage and engage in these conversations? Because the Gospel is worth it. These conversations provide an opportunity to share the Gospel with a very confused and lost community. We get to tell people that our convictions are based on Scripture and that the grace of Jesus allows us to stand firm even when the culture turns. Our convictions are not rooted in ourselves as if we are somehow great, moral people. Our convictions are rooted in the Gospel of Jesus because He is worth it.