The Gospel when it is rightly set forth reveals the righteousness of God: (1) it reveals our sinfulness before the perfect God; and (2) the righteousness imputed to us; the righteousness which justifies us.
The Gospel is good because of the bad news.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Who is suppressing? There is a pattern of preaching which says that “those people suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. But the truth is that is the children of Adam who suppress the truth.
This is the key to human epistmology:
Human beings suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
Even though the church answered Gnosticism, Gnosticism is still with us.
Even though the church answered Christological heresies, they are still with us.
There have been moments where the church had to answer controversies which would could have lead us out of Christianity.
A better reading of the history of the Church would be the church faces recurrent challenges.
We are now facing a controversy which is just as crucial as any other to the definition of Church and Christianity. It is a matter of whether we will preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ or some other Gospel. We are living in a time of moral revolution.
Theo Hobbson (on the “other side” so to speak): a comprehensive moral revolution can only take place if three conditions are met (all three): (1) That which was condemned must be celebrated. [That has happened.] (2) That which was celebrated is condemned — there must be a turning of the tables. (3) Those who refuse to celebrate must be condemned.
The case for homosexual normality must take on the characteristic of a moral crusade. The other side must be condemned as morally defective.
There is no historical precedent for a moral change to happen at this speed (example the abolition of the slave trade took centuries).
Sociologists are having difficulty explaining the speed of the reversal. The people who are changing positions are the same people (it is not even different people). No one has seen anything like this before.
How did this happen? Read Genesis 3. You also need to consider the entire modern project (the autonomous moral self). It takes the conditions of modernity to bring about a sexual moral revolution. It takes Kant & Decartes.
There were some specific events of the 20th century:
The founder of the dept of Sociology at Harvard (Peterine Sorokin sp?): when he came to America from Russa in early 20th century. He was one of the first to note the sexual revolution. Writing in 1956: He saw this revolution as well underway by the time he named it.
First time in history: the separation from marriage & procreation. [Did you realize that every Christian denomination was against birth control in the 19th Century.] This separation was necessary for the sexual revolution. [Church of England first to make moral separation in 1920’s] The pill made this completely possible. At that time, most evangelicals did not consider this very important. The moral concerns were not there. For the first time in history, you can have sex without having babies as a normal matter; therefore, you could now have sex without marriage.
Second, the divorce revolution. It made marriage tentative: every marriage fragile. Divorce no longer was a moral consideration: a marriage was now based upon the desire of both parties to continue: as soon as one wanted out, it was over.
Divorce has caused/will cause more damage to marriage than same sex marriage. Heterosexuals caused the injury first, by rendering marriage tentative.
Third, reproductive technologies: now you can have babies without sex.
Fourth, heterosexual misbehavior permitted. There have been skyrocketing cohabitation rates: it is the norm. Adultery is now normalized. Normalized heterosexual behavior outside of marriage.
The Church failed in many ways: church discipline, speaking, counseling, ministry, etc.
How did this really happen? Look at Romans 1:
Romans 1:18–19 (ESV)
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
God is there: no one can say, I did not know.
Even God’s invisible attributes are clearly perceived.
Romans 1:20–25 (ESV)
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
This is not an indictment of the other person: this is an indictment of us. Sin has so corrupted our knowledge, that we cannot see what is clearly there.
What is the use of the word “exchange”?
Glory of God for images: idolatry. Idolatry is the exchange of the glory of God for images resembling images. Isaiah and the tree: the man is deluded. Man cannot even realize, “I have a lie in my hands.”
This is not about some people at some time, it is about sinful humanity east of Eden.
Exchanged truth about God for a lie: idolatry
Romans 1:26–32 (ESV)
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
This text is about the United States. This text is not about what might happen: this is past tense. This has already happened.
Same sex acts are illustrative not of the sinfulness of homosexuals, it is illustrative of the sinfulness of humanity.
Against nature: there is a right sort of argument to be made based upon nature. Natural arguments can be right. However, we have too much relied upon this argument on this point.
God is revealed by nature, but we have no excuse for not relying upon revelation.
We can no longer rely upon culture to make our argument; we have no excuse for making an argument that is not based upon the Gospel.
Unlike the Pope, we cannot have a discontinuity between doctrine and pastoral application.
Those who accept natural law argument accept this because there is a greater argument based upon something higher: the natural law argument simply is not compelling on its own.
This moral revolution could not have taken place without being morally legitimized: which is why those pushing the revolution have centered in upon those institutions which grant legitimacy: courts, schools, churches.
Therefore our only response can be the Gospel.
Note that the indictment continues on through the passage: that’s all of us, beginning with disobedient to parents.
We should realize that the world cannot figure this out without the Gospel. Suppress the truth in unrighteous is sufficient to explain the court decisions.
We are not people who are morally superior to anyone: it is simply the unilateral grace of God to grant this. The only reason one will not join this revolution is because you are bound to the Word of God.
The temptation which is destroyed in this passage is the evangelical temptation to moralism. Paul no where in this passage says “Stop!” He says look at human brokenness, because it leads us to the Gospel.
32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Remember the three conditions for a moral revolution: look at this text. This situation is not really new. Here it is in the text.
Thus, the answer is only in the Gospel.