Below is the email that I sent to the Faculty and Staff at Cedarville University on Saturday, June 27, 2015. I am posting it here so that students, parents, alumni, and friends can join in praying for Cedarville University in the coming days and specifically praying that God would visit our campus in a unique way this fall. I want to see God move like He did during the Great Awakenings and for all of us to come to clearer realization of who we are, who God is and to be more like Jesus.
Dear Cedarville Family,
Today, I am in Seattle, WA for an alumni meeting. Tomorrow, just blocks from my hotel room rainbow banners mark the route where a gay pride parade will celebrate, as none have in the past, the recent ruling of the Supreme Court.
I could not help but reflect upon the rainbow, a symbol of God’s mercy, which has been turned to mean something very different. I am burdened for our nation and for so many people hopelessly looking for fulfillment down the dead end road of a sexual revolution. They will soon discover the emptiness of their journey, and amidst their eventual despair, we must be ready to present a biblical worldview and the hope of the Gospel with more clarity, compassion, and boldness than ever before.
Walking beneath the banners, I found myself thinking back to Daniel and what he must have experienced as he remained faithful in a much more secular culture. He never lost hope as he faithfully prayed for about 70 years for God to restore His people, and even as I write this to you, I am praying that God would send a revival and an awakening to Universities and Churches this fall that would change our world forever.
In my lower moments, I have sought refuge by reflecting upon the God who taught the mightiest person on the earth at that time, King Nebuchadnezzar, who was really in control. Daniel 4:34-35 records Nebuchadnezzar’s words after this lesson,
34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,
for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”
I wonder if God has not allowed a winnowing of the chaff in our American society to distinguish true faith in the Gospel from cultural Christianity in our time? If so, perhaps in God’s infinite wisdom and overflowing mercy this turn of events may result in ultimate good.
I want to assure you that at Cedarville University, we will continue to affirm that marriage is between one man and one woman in a covenant relationship for life. We are taking every step we can to prepare for future obstacles. I want to encourage you to pray with me for God to visit us unlike ever before and show us His glory and heal our land. I am asking that we all continue to stand together for the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.
Toward that end, I and several others have signed on to a statement entitled, “Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage.” You can find it at this link: http://erlc.com/erlc/herewestand For your convenience, I have included the statement below.
In conclusion, we know that our God still reigns, the Gospel through the Holy Spirit still saves sinner, and Jesus still lives to come again one day in power. Our work is not finished, and we have an opportunity to make an eternal impact. I consider it an honor to serve King Jesus along side each of you, and I am confident that God has assembled each one of us at Cedarville University for just such a time as this. Let us be found faithful to our calling in this generation.
Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage
As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image. We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage represents what seems like the result of a half-century of witnessing marriage’s decline through divorce, cohabitation, and a worldview of almost limitless sexual freedom. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.
The Bible clearly teaches the enduring truth that marriage consists of one man and one woman. From Genesis to Revelation, the authority of Scripture witnesses to the nature of biblical marriage as uniquely bound to the complementarity of man and woman. This truth is not negotiable. The Lord Jesus himself said that marriage is from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6), so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Eph. 5:32). The Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage demonstrates mistaken judgment by disregarding what history and countless civilizations have passed on to us, but it also represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.
Evangelical churches must be faithful to the biblical witness on marriage regardless of the cultural shift. Evangelical churches in America now find themselves in a new moral landscape that calls us to minister in a context growing more hostile to a biblical sexual ethic. This is not new in the history of the church. From its earliest beginnings, whether on the margins of society or in a place of influence, the church is defined by the gospel. We insist that the gospel brings good news to all people, regardless of whether the culture considers the news good or not.
The gospel must inform our approach to public witness. As evangelicals animated by the good news that God offers reconciliation through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, we commit to:
- Respect and pray for our governing authorities even as we work through the democratic process to rebuild a culture of marriage (Rom. 13:1-7);
- the truth about biblical marriage in a way that brings healing to a sexually broken culture;
- affirm the biblical mandate that all persons, including LGBT persons, are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect;
- love our neighbors regardless of whatever disagreements arise as a result of conflicting beliefs about marriage;
- live respectfully and civilly alongside those who may disagree with us for the sake of the common good;
- cultivate a common culture of religious liberty that allows the freedom to live and believe differently to prosper.
The redefinition of marriage should not entail the erosion of religious liberty. In the coming years, evangelical institutions could be pressed to sacrifice their sacred beliefs about marriage and sexuality in order to accommodate whatever demands the culture and law require. We do not have the option to meet those demands without violating our consciences and surrendering the gospel. We will not allow the government to coerce or infringe upon the rights of institutions to live by the sacred belief that only men and women can enter into marriage.
The gospel of Jesus Christ determines the shape and tone of our ministry. Christian theology considers its teachings about marriage both timeless and unchanging, and therefore we must stand firm in this belief. Outrage and panic are not the responses of those confident in the promises of a reigning Christ Jesus. While we believe the Supreme Court has erred in its ruling, we pledge to stand steadfastly, faithfully witnessing to the biblical teaching that marriage is the chief cornerstone of society, designed to unite men, women, and children. We promise to proclaim and live this truth at all costs, with convictions that are communicated with kindness and love.