President Richard Nixon explained his view of presidential authority in an interview with David Frost. As Frost pressed the former president about his questionable actions President Nixon responded, “When the President does it that means it’s not illegal.” A collective gasp of unbelief could be heard throughout the nation. Nixon appeared to suggest that the President of the United States is above the law.
The ancient people of Israel cried out, “Give us a king.” The desire for a king displeased Samuel, but Yahweh allowed Samuel to appoint a king over Israel. The desire for a king was an expression of idolatry. “The LORD said to Samuel, ‘they have rejected Me from being king over them… they have forsaken Me and served other gods'” (1 Samuel 8:5-8). The perennial temptation of humanity is to exalt human leaders to divine status. Admiration easily becomes adoration.
Paul described the Philippian believers as being filled with an abundance of joy in spite of suffering from a “great ordeal of affliction” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2). Christian joy transcends the sorrows of this present age.
The Roman Catholic Church has historically championed the sanctity and indissolubility of Christian marriage. Divorced and remarried Catholics are forbidden to receive the Eucharist, which is the heart of Catholic worship. Pope Francis has called the bishops to a Synod on the Family to rethink the Catholic tradition on marriage. The Synod has proved to be quite controversial and messy (see here and here). The Anglican Church has its own difficulties with this issue (here).
Recently, the mayor of Houston, Texas – the Honorable Annise Parker – directed her attorneys to subpoena the sermons, messages, speeches, etc. of selected pastors and religious leaders in the Houston area. At issue is a legal challenge to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). Frankly, I don’t object to the straightforward reading of the ordinance. Christians should demonstrate the love and grace of Christ to all humans – saints and sinners – and support basic human rights. I do have major concerns about the legalization of same-sex marriage or the legal redefinition of marriage. As a Christian pastor I will continue to preach and teach the sexual ethics of the New Testament, including the prohibition of pre-marital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.