Last year Canada passed the C4 bill. It put churches and pastors in the crosshairs by penalizing attempts to confront or contest the GQBLT dogma. Similar legislation is being considered throughout the US and elsewhere. A group of Canadian pastors invited churches around the world to join them in setting aside this Sunday as both a formal protest of these rebellious laws, and an affirmation of Biblical Sexuality. Some might object and say that the pulpit isn’t the appropriate place for such a political topic. But the answer to that is that the pulpit is the battleground for all politics. For it’s here where we declare that Christ is King, His Word is truth, and we are summon all men everywhere to faith, repentance, and obedience.
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.Act 17:28-31
Summary of the Text
The Apostle Paul, in his sermon to the Athenians on Mars’ Hill, has provoked them with rebuking their idolatry and superstition. He goes on to proclaim to them the Unknown God which they sought to appease. While their conscience bore witness to this God, Paul sets forth, in the plain words of the Gospel, the God they knew was there.
From this God we receive our life, live our life, and sustain our life (v28). Even the pagan poet Aratus could tell you that (v28). God has made us, not we ourselves (Ps. 100:3). This should make it plain that God isn’t found in our carvings. Whether those carvings were, like in ancient times, in the form of gold, marble, or wood, or in our own time in the form of plastic surgery, hormone treatments, and Instagram filters (v29).
Those who worship the creation are ignorant (literally agnostics). But God, in His patience, bore with mankind until the day His redeeming purposes had fully come; we now live in dawning of that day and all men are summoned to repentance (v30). The reason for this repentance is that God has appointed a day of worldwide judgement. God has appointed a man to sit as judge, presiding over this global judgement. The man ordained as God’s judge is the man who once died but God raised from the dead: Jesus (v31).
The Bodily Resurrection
Notice Paul’s tactic. Rampant idolatry is confronted with the bodily resurrection of the Incarnate God. We live in a world which is governed by a man, a resurrected & glorified man. Christ is bodily at the Father’s right hand. This confronts modern idolaters with (at least) two problems.
First, it rebukes the escapist fantasies brought to us by the digital age (but whose taproot reaches further back into ancient mystery religions). Second, it reaffirms God’s creational decree that all He made was good, not icky as the gnostics imagined.
God declared His creation good; even after the first man shipwrecked the world by sin, God set about to rescue man & all creation from the wreckage. God saw all He’d made and it was very good. The resurrection of Christ is God repossessing His creation from Satan’s dominion, and restoring it to the creational good.
Idolaters want the world to be other than it is. They want a god of convenience. A god which holds up a mirror so man can admire himself. A world that is infinitely malleable to whatever whim or vice predominates. Modern ideas of sexuality & gender are nothing less than a reanimation of the corpse of ancient idolatries. The gods still lust for blood. The worshippers of sexual fulfillment as the greatest good carve themselves (and their unborn offspring) to appease these gods. Meanwhile, the priests of the pharmaceutical companies gladly line their pockets with the tribute of the devout.
The resurrection is the gavel summoning all mankind to live in the good world God made, and live in it as He made it. It dispels the notion that there is any other way to live but by grateful worship of the Living God, the God upon whom we are totally dependent. We are contingent creatures of the Almighty God, and the resurrection brought this into the middle of the human debate about what it means to be human.
The Wonder of Mundane
While the symptoms of our cultural idolatry are plain to see, underneath the skin the central corruption is that of ingratitude. Sheer, willful ingratitude.
The heavens declare God’s glory. The trees applaud their Maker. The hills stand aside out of reverence for the approach of their Lord. Rocks would break forth in praise. The lightning & thunder provide the stage lights and the soundtrack for the divine drama, while the clouds are a celestial fog machine creating a show beyond anything Broadway can produce.
For all this, mankind has opted to not only complain that he wasn’t made some other way, but he has refused to note that his very being is a gift. This is what Paul is getting at in the text. God made us, and all things, and this should lead us to humble reverence before our Maker and Judge. It should lead us to see glory in patterns of the wood-grain & the galaxies, the wonder of microwaves, and the miracle of music. Whether we descend into the depths of cellular biology or ascend into the heights of the celestial cosmology, we are hemmed in by being not of our doing or making. Where can you turn without bumping into stuff; stuff that God, by His Word, called into being, and by that continued Word holds in being.
The “there-ness” of creation is intended to lead us to bend the knee in worship, forsaking all idols, forsaking all manner of remaking the world according to our grasping lusts. Modern sexuality identity dogma insists on defiantly asking, “Why am I thus?” As Isaiah points out there is immense silliness in pots poising themselves as critics of the potters. All the stuff around us should lead us to humble ourselves before the Uncreated One.
The Rebellion Runs Deep
To get a bit granular, we are brought into existence by the sexual union of our parents. Your conception was the means whereby God brought you into being, and this was brought about, by His design, through the one flesh union of your parents. Thus, one avenue where Christians can make incursions against the gender madness which has possessed our culture is an appeal to the fifth commandment. Here is Paul’s recitation of it in Eph. 6:2 “Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise.”
The fifth commandment poses a real hurdle for those who would set about to redefine gender & sexuality while also trying to maintain any semblance of fidelity to Scripture. Notice what is presupposed in this commandment: male & female, covenantal union, and hierarchical duty. Paul adds his commentary and notes the covenantal promise of blessing which accompanies obedience to this command.
These are the precise things which men, given over to their lusts, have laid siege to. Rebelling against the 1st & 2nd commandment will lead to breaking the 5th commandment. This commandment not only presupposes these vital creational truths, it forces us to either affirm that God’s law is holy, good, and wise and thus submit to both the explicit command and the implicit creational good, or else adopt the serpent’s line of questioning: did God really say?
This is why faith in the resurrected Christ, followed by Spirit-born obedience is a potent refutation of the lies which surround us. Faithful fathers and mothers, nurturing their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, are a shield-wall against the madness. God made fathers, and mothers, and this is how we each came into being, by God’s decree. You didn’t come into being outside of the story, but as part of a long line of stories. Trying to live outside this story is to live in the madness of nightmares.
God Made You
The application is this. God made you. And God made all things. Combat the lies by looking to the cross. There is a man. A male human. There He is bleeding. There He is enduring the wrath of God for all your damned idolatries, all your lusts, your puffed up pride, every bitter gripe, every sexual kink. He did it all to redeem the world. Including you. All of you.