All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent - Thomas Jefferson
God’s original plan for marriage was one man and one woman together in a life-long committed relationship; with the two becoming one (Genesis 1-2). This model was instituted by God Himself at the time of creation. The account of this creation of the man and woman concludes with the statement, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one.
Jesus affirmed this original model of marriage saying that it had been so ordained from the beginning; and He warned that what God had established or joined together must not be abrogated or put asunder by any human court or authority (Matthew 19:4-5). The well-known Greek scholar, Marvin A Vincent, confirms this by pointing out that the perfect tense of the verb used in this passage indicates that “the original ordinance has never been abrogated or superseded but continues in force.”
We Must Define the Issue
That being the case, why is it that so many evangelical Christian leaders are so reticent to make a clear, proactive statement about marriage? The most recent example is Bryan Houston who gave a very ambiguous response when asked by a New York Times reporter his position on same-sex marriage. His answer, in fact, was so vague that some thought he was affirming same-sex marriage. He later clarified that he does hold to a Biblical view of marriage but explained that he does not want to alienate particular groups, such as the GLBT, by making public statements of condemnation.
I understand that concern, but making a clear statement of God’s plan for marriage and sexuality is not condemning anyone. I understand the need to avoid being reactionary and condemnatory towards any social group, but when publicly asked to give our take on a moral issue that is confronting people every day, we have a responsibility to give a clear, proactive statement of Biblical truth. If we are silent or ambiguous then we leave it to other voices to define the issue for our culture. What a terrible dereliction of our duty!
Silence Opens the Door to Tyranny
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent,” declared Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and our third president. What Jefferson warned about is beginning to be played out in America today. A prime example is the recent unprecedented demand of the lesbian mayor of Houston for certain Houston pastors to turn over their sermons if they contained references to homosexuality and gender identification, all part of a lawsuit concerning gender neutral bathroom legislation passed by the city council.
Her bullying, however, created such an outcry of protest from across the nation that she has decided to withdraw the subpoenas. The lawyer for the pastors said, “They were only intended to intimidate and bully the pastors into silence.”
The question we should ask is, “What created an atmosphere in which this activist mayor would think she could get away with such an act that is in direct violation of the Constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and freedom of speech?” I would suggest that the silence of so many Christian leaders on the issue has left a moral void that led this mayor to believe she could get away with such an act of tyranny. This is no time for silence!
Speak the Truth in Love
“Yes, we must show compassion but we must also speak the truth. Purporting to show love without speaking truth is mere sugar-coated niceness and will not bring healing and wholeness in a fallen world that is filled with lives that are broken by sin. If a surgeon withdraws the scalpel and leaves the cancer because the patient flinched and cried out in pain, he has not acted in love. In a similar way, if we draw back from speaking the truth to those whose lives are being destroyed by sin, we are not walking in love. You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free, Jesus said in John 8:32.
Declare the Whole Counsel of God
Paul revealed his sense of responsibility before God to speak the whole truth to his generation. This came forth in his visit with the elders of the church of Ephesus where he reminded these former pagans how, I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house. Because he had been forthcoming and not held back, Paul could then say, Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. (Acts 20:26-27; NIVUK).
In declaring himself innocent of the blood of any of you, Paul is alluding to the Old Testament account of God speaking to Ezekiel about his responsibility as a watchman for the house Israel. In Ezekiel 33:1-11, God reminded Ezekiel that a watchman is positioned on a city wall to watch for approaching danger and to then warn the inhabitants of that danger. God said that if the watchman sees danger approaching and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then regardless of what happens to the people and the city, the watchman is guiltless because he fulfilled his responsibility.
On the other hand, if the watchman sees danger approaching and does not blow the trumpet and warn the people and they are destroyed, the watchman is culpable for their deaths because he was silent and did not warn the people of the approaching danger. In a similar way, God told Ezekiel that if you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood (Ezekiel 33:8).
Paul, the preacher of grace, knew his responsibility to not be silent or compromising in the handling of God’s word. That is why he could say that he had declared the whole counsel of God, not just the fun and happy part. Paul, in fact, reminded them how, For three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears (Acts 20:31). In the Day of Judgment no one in Ephesus would be able to point at Paul and say, “He didn’t tell me.” It was because he had not been silent that Paul could say, I am free of the blood of any of you (Acts 20:26).
This is no time for silence, uncertainty and ambiguity in the Church. In I Corinthians 4:8, Paul said, For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle. It is time for Christians, and especially Christian leaders, to make a clear and certain Gospel sound. As Jefferson said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” This is no time for silence!
Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is an author, historian, revivalist and Bible teacher. He believes America's only hope is a moral and Spiritual awakening. He has, therefore, begun presenting "Revive America" events in churches and auditoriums across the nation, by which he demonstrates America's radical Christian origins and inspires people pray and believe God for another Great Awakening in the land.