What Do We Do Now?

Since the official ruling on June 26, 2015, by the U.S. Supreme Court — which changes the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples — I have offered a brief commentary via a video email and composed a joint statement with our convention president, Travis Coleman.

These comments have been an attempt to express dissent in response to the ruling and to offer a word of encouragement to evangelical Christians as we all try to find our footing and move forward following this historic landmark decision by the highest court in the land.

I cannot conceal my deep sadness and intense grief concerning the action of the court.

In one decision, five of the nine justices have served to change the law and the culture of our nation concerning marriage. The implications of this change will be realized even more in the not-too-distant future. Additional changes are bound to come our way.

I believe this is a green light for other cultural activists to advocate for their agendas as well. The court has now set a precedent for acting upon such advocacy.

People have asked me during the past several days, “What do we do now?” That is an appropriate question to consider. My response has been that the laws of the land have changed but the laws of God do not.

Our calling has not changed. Our mission has not changed. Our Gospel has not changed. We are still on mission with the Great Commission.

Yes, now more than ever, we must be the people of God in the most faithful sense of our calling to serve Him and to represent Him.

We still believe in the biblical definition of marriage: that is that marriage is between one man and one woman. The U.S. Supreme Court has offered an opinion on the legal and civil definition of marriage.

Long before there was a Supreme Court and a nation called the United States of America, God created marriage as being a man and a woman in a faithful relationship to Him and to each other. This is the teaching from Genesis to Revelation.

Indeed, God created marriage. Jesus affirmed it (Matt. 19:4-6), and the Apostle Paul interpreted it. From the biblical standpoint, there is no question about the definition of marriage.

WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

First, we remain faithful to our Lord and to the mission He has given us. The court did not change our mission. It does not have the power to do so. There is a higher and holier authority than the U.S. Supreme Court. The Lord God Almighty reigns. He alone is sovereign.

Second, we are to remain hopeful. We are people of hope. We are in the hope business, if you will. Our hope is not founded or grounded in this world. It is hope in the eternal God. Our hope is in Christ Who has saved us and granted us a heavenly citizenship. We must not despair! We are to be the most hopeful people in the world.

Third, we are to remain truthful. We know The Truth and that Truth has set us free. Paul reminds us to speak the truth in love and to represent Christ in this fallen world; we must speak His Truth with His love. This means we are not to be hateful people who despise and loathe those with whom we disagree. No, we are to have a missionary spirit, seeking to serve in a culture not inclined to look to Christ as the The Way, The Truth and The Life. We are to point the way to the cross, knowing that He has died for sinners and that we all have sinned.

Fourth, we must be careful to protect our religious liberties as Christians. There is a growing sense of encroachment upon these religious liberties. Christians and Christian institutions may well become the next step in the campaign for change in our culture.

The minority opinion expressed the sentiment that people of faith cannot take any comfort in the recent decision of the court. Those words are most disturbing. Our nation, historically, has respected people of faith. I pray that will continue in the future.

However, we cannot bank upon the past as a guarantee of the future. Whatever happens in the days to come may surprise us, but they will not catch our Lord off guard. He is able!

Executive Director of Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions

State Missionary Rick Lance was elected in June of 1998 to serve as executive director of the State Board of Missions and treasurer of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Rick leads state missions efforts and facilitates Great Commission Ministries for the Convention's 3,200+ churches and more than one million Alabama Baptists.

Rick and his wife, Pam, are members at First Baptist Church, Montgomery. They have two daughters.

Any requests for Rick Lance to speak in or visit your church should be directed to Billie Davis at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 253 or (334) 613-2253, bdavis@alsbom.org.

For questions about Dr. Lance's Facebook and Twitter accounts or his blog site, you may contact his social media assistant, Keith Hinson, at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 289 or (334) 613-2289, khinson@alsbom.org.