THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

THE RULING

It is not without cause that the prophet Jeremiah is often described as ‘the weeping prophet’.  Consider his words:

‘I mourn, and horror grips me …
Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears!
I would weep day and night for the slain of my people’ [Jeremiah 8:11; 9:1].

‘Oh, my anguish, my anguish!
I writhe in pain.
Oh, the agony of my heart!
My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent’ [4:19].

The depth of his grief issued from the depth of his love – his love for his people and his love for God. The torment of his grief arose from the clarity and certainty of his knowledge – his knowledge of his people and his knowledge of God. Both aspects of this knowledge are encapsulated in a few sentences which he spoke on God’s behalf early in his ministry:

‘”Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols.
Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the LORD.
“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” ’ [2:11-13].

The Supreme Court Ruling, reflecting an escalating global move to ‘normalize’ ‘same-sex marriage’, is a similar ‘horror’ to that observed by Jeremiah: a nation that has its origins in faith in God, a nation whose ‘pilgrim fathers’ thanked God for their deliverance from mistreatment and for the new land to which he had safely brought them, now turning its back on the God who delivered them and putting in his place ‘other gods’ which are no gods at all. The Ruling itself is not the key issue. The Ruling is a logical out-working of an existing godlessness that has been over-taking the so-called ‘Christian’ countries for many years.

Liberal theology, secular humanism, Darwinism – these three combined to dilute or remove belief in the real existence of God, and in the resulting perceived absence of God, to set humans free from the Bible’s moral code. Two associated isms led to a further distancing from God and his ethic: hedonism tells us that whatever makes us feel good is right; relativism tells us that there is no such thing as absolute truth, and therefore no such thing as absolute moral standards – all is relative, morals are a moving bar, based on what the majority deems acceptable. Just as surely as Jeremiah’s compatriots had exchanged the true God for idols, so today’s previously ‘Christian’ nations have exchanged God for lies – for no real god at all, and, like the Israelites of Jeremiah’s day, have been progressively discarding whatever biblical ethics they deem uncomfortable.

The ‘same-sex marriage’ ruling is an extension of this repudiation of God and the standards of glory which he has set for human life. But let us pause and think for a moment: the real ‘horror’ of the ruling is not ‘homosexuality’ or ‘homosexual actions’ – they have been present to varying degrees since quite early in the long history of human rebellion against God. The real ‘horror’ of the ruling is that humans have here officially and deliberately overridden and redefined something put in place by God at the beginning of time, and have officially and deliberately replaced the word of God with their own human words: that by this ruling mere humans have accepted, affirmed and authorised what God has outlawed, and have legally imposed that acceptance, affirmation and authorisation on the whole nation.

Again we may quote Jeremiah:

‘A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land:
The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority…’

And then follows a terrible indictment and an even more terrible question:

‘… and my people love to have it this way.
But what will you do in the end?’ [5:31].

Naively, foolishly, deceiving themselves, they say of the LORD ‘He will do nothing! No harm will come to us …’ [5:12]. ‘They have taught their tongues to lie’ [9:5].

But Jeremiah knew with absolute certainty that ‘the end’ to which his nation was heading was judgment – not a judgment directed towards any specific sin, but a judgment that was inevitable for a nation which had rejected the God they once knew: a judgment that involved God turning away from them, God abandoning them, God giving them up.

So Jeremiah wept. Deeply. In inconsolable anguish.

Just as Jesus cried, expressing the deep, deep grief of God:

‘… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate …’ [Luke 13:34,35].

‘As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come when your enemies will build an embankment against you … they will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you’ [Luke 19:41-44].

The ‘same-sex marriage’ ruling is a human attempt to ensure equality and dignity. But Jeremiah knew, Jesus Christ knew, God knows, that true human equality, dignity, identity and fulfilment – true human glory, can be found only in God:

‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight’ [9:23,24].

The Supreme Court Ruling has evoked an avalanche of joy and praise: … and the people love to have it this way. But what will such an action, such a human usurpation of God’s role, do in the end?

Deep, deep should be the grief of God’s people – broken hearts, compassionate, anguished love. As deep and as patient as the deep grief and the deep grace of God.  As anguished as the deep cry of Jesus Christ from the cross: ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ [Luke 23:34].

© Rosemary Bardsley