When Obergefell Falls

We are being taunted. The giant’s name is Obergefell; he is a six-fingered descendent of the Anakim. He has come out onto the battlefield arrayed in his impressive armor. He wears the media elites like a helmet of brass, and on his chest, he wears the deep pockets of multibillion dollar corporate CEOs. On his legs and shoulders he is clad with the brass of the apathetic masses. He is the hero of the Philistines, the champion of the so-called progressives. He beats his chest and defies the Christian Church, and the Philistine armies cheer and wave their flags and mock the God of Noah, the God of Israel, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And when giants come and taunt the armies of Israel, the temptation is always to run. The temptation is to flee and be greatly terrified. We do this with a veneer of biblical typology, calling our situation “exilic,” renewing calls for a monastic retreat, or else urging our friends to just calm down. There is nothing to be done now. There is nothing we can do against this show of force. The Philistines have been gaining a foothold in our land for decades now, what did you expect?

But that is not the response of faith. It is the response of the flesh. The response of faith is: “Who are these uncircumcised Philistines, that they should defy the armies of the Living God?” Christian potency is never a matter of the flesh. True Christian cultural influence is never about voting referendums, elections, or passing resolutions. It never has been. It never will be. If the letter of the law could save, there would have been no need for Jesus, no need for His death and resurrection, no need for His Spirit to be poured out on all flesh. God never saved His people by their works. He always saves by His grace. This means that the more humanly impossible a situation begins to look, the bigger the grin on the faces of His people. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, y’all.

This is a spiritual conflict; this is a spiritual culture war. Our citizenship is in heaven. It always has been. And that is why we are here: to colonize this world for King Jesus, that the Kingdom would come, and His will would be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Our fight is not with fleshly powers; our fight is with the spiritual forces of wickedness driving these political machinations. The eyes of faith can see through Obergefell. They see through the giants in our land, and see the strongholds of vain imaginations exalting themselves against the knowledge of God. And to this, we smile and look down and find that our hands already hold five smooth gospel stones, able to take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Do not look at things according to the outward appearance. The outward appearance looks like we are on the run, looks like we are surrounded, looks like the Church has lost all influence. But that is only if our influence is according to the flesh. But our influence is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Living God. It always has been. Our water is no mere water. Our bread and wine is no mere bread and wine. Our gospel is no mere fairytale. It is mighty for pulling down strongholds.

And so, like faithful David, we should be asking about rewards and crowns. “What kind of crown will be given to that courageous baker who stands up to this giant? What sort of reward will King Jesus give to that photographer who is fined for refusing to run away, that florist who loses her business for the sake of the Kingdom, that governor who laughs and refuses to acquiesce?”

If the images of exile or monasticism are meant to call any of the troops back from the front lines, let’s not have anything to do with such a retreat. But we may certainly recognize a multiplicity of tactical surges, aiming at both local and national levels. When Daniel went home and opened his windows to pray despite the king’s decree, He was running out to meet the giant. May the Lord give us boldness to pray against all evil. When the three friends refused to bow down to the statue, they were running out to meet the giant. May the Lord give us boldness to stand with Jesus no matter the cost. When Obadiah risked his life to hide prophets in a cave, he was running out to meet the giant. May the Lord give us the wisdom and courage to hide the innocent from bloodthirsty eyes.

In other words, we should be cheering one another on in our various vocations, assuring one another to have no fear and run out to meet this giant. We don’t need political clout. We don’t need economic security. We don’t need the armor of Saul. All we need is the name of Jesus; all we need is His Spirit. He is the God of armies, and therefore we are already His armies. And we are armed to the teeth with His strength. It is not a question of whether Obergefell will fall; it is only a question of when and who will get to hold his head aloft for everyone to see.

Toby Sumpter is Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church.

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