“Far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you.” 1 Samuel 12:23
With the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court on same sex marriage expected before the end of this month, there is great concern among biblically faithful Christians. Not only could the Court effectively redefine marriage itself, but it could dramatically undermine the religious freedom of those who hold a traditional view of marriage.
How should we respond to such things? What should be our attitude toward those who advocate policies and behaviors which we believe to be wrong and hurtful both to individuals and to our society?
In 1 Samuel 12, the people of Israel rejected the Lord as their king and demanded an earthly king so that they could be like all the other nations. Samuel rebuked them for this, because they were actually rejecting the Lord as their King. Samuel warned them, but they persisted until, finally, God told Samuel to give the people the king they desired.
In the face of their rejection of his wise counsel and their rejection of the Lord, Samuel did two things:
1. He continued to be clear about sin. Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” (1 Samuel 12:20-22)
He didn’t accept their sin as the “new normal.” He kept calling on them to turn away from the idols that cannot save and turn back to the Lord.
2. And Samuel continued to pray for the people, even in their rebellion against God. He said, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.” Samuel didn’t allow himself to become hardened against the people he served. He remained loving and faithful and prayerful toward those who were rejecting his counsel and leadership and rejecting even the Lord himself.
God does not reveal sin to us so that we can be judgmental toward those who are in error, but rather so that we can intercede. He shows us truth and error so that we can pray, not so that we can feel smug. Our desire should not be for God’s judgment on those who deny the truth; instead we pray that they might turn from sin and receive God’s mercy.
Psalm 119 shows us the godly response of one grieving over the sins of his nation: “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.” (Psalm 119:136)
As we anticipate the Court’s ruling, let’s pray with fervency for the Court, for our nation and for those who are rejecting God’s design for marriage. When our hearts become hardened in judgmentalism, let’s be quick to repent and ask for the Lord’s heart of compassion.
May the Lord have mercy on us all.
The Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey