In recent decades the USA has been undergoing significant moral and social changes, and some of these concern sexuality. We read about it and see it being reported in the media. We see it as entertainment on television and the movies. Now we see it on reality television. And its having an impact on our nation’s laws. Many religious people, including Evangelicals, who don’t approve of these changes are feeling pressure from society in general not to speak out about their opposition because they are increasingly becoming the minority, whereas they used to be part of the substantial majority.
Kody Brown stars in the reality TV show “Sister Wives.” In real life, he has four wives and seventeen children. Kody and his family are what the show is about. They live in Utah and are members of the Apostolic United Brethren Church, which approves of polygamy. This fundamentalist church is an off-shoot of the larger Mormon Church, also called the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. It is centered in Utah. Many years ago, it approved of polygamy, so that many Mormons were polygamous. But in 1879, the U.S. Supreme Court passed a decision supporting the right of states to have laws against polygamy.
In 1890, the Mormon Church disavowed polygamy in order for the State of Utah to pass a law against it. After fifty years of trying to become a state, this law enabled Utah to become accepted into the United States of America in 1896 as its forty-fifth state.
This year, Kody Brown sued the State of Utah for its 1890 anti-polygamy law. Last week, Federal Judge Clark Waddoups of the U.S. District of Utah–appointed there by U.S. President George W. Bush–ruled in favor of Brown. Thus, his ruling struck down Utah’s 1890 law banning polygamy, yet this ruling doesn’t make polygamy legal. In the judge’s ninety-one page ruling, he says that since that law was instituted, in 1890, “the intervening years have witnessed a significant strengthening of numerous provisions of the Bill of Rights.” He also cited the Supreme Court striking down a Texas anti-sodomy law in 2003. It remains to be seen if Utah will appeal this federal decision. The question probably will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Also in Judge Waddoups’ ruling, he quoted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing that the U.S. Constitution protects people from “unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places” and “autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.”
Only recently, a majority of the U.S. population has approved of same-sex marriage. States are increasingly passing laws approving of same-sex marriage. Some church denominations also have been changing to approving of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. In that 2003 Lawrence vs. Texas case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his opinion that the U.S. was ending legislation based on morality and headed toward legalizing “bigamy, some-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, bestiality and obscenity.”
Now, such laws about sexuality are becoming an international issue. Last week, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin–no champion of democracy and civil rights–publicly defended Russia’s law against homosexuality. In doing so, he chastised the West for approving of it and same-sex marriage. He touted Russia’s morality regarding family. But the Olympic Winter Games will be held in Sochi, Russia in February next year, and some Olympians who publicly admit being gay are alarmed about Putin’s comments. The International Olympic Committee assures all contestants of the 2014 Winter Games that they will not suffer discrimination no matter their sexual preferences.
I have believed for several decades that such things likely would happen in my lifetime. Why? It’s largely because of democracy, which I think is the best form of government except for a benevolent and righteous dictatorship. It’s because of human rights being so promoted in our Bill of Rights.
But I’ve also believed this moral decay would happen because such societal changes seem to coincide with Bible prophecies about the so-called “latter days,” “endtimes,” or “end of days.” It refers to the end of Gentile supremacy on the earth and Israel thereafter becoming chief of the nations. Jesus, in his prophetic discourse delivered days before his crucifixion, said, “because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24.12-13 NRSV).
The Apostle Paul wrote even more definitively of it, saying, “in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,” etc. (2 Timothy 3.1-2; cf. 1 Timothy 4.1-3). And he speaks against the evolutionary teaching of our time, saying, “Ever since the creation of the world his [God's] eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made” (Romans 1.20). Then Paul continues by writing a scathing indictment against homosexuality in vv. 26-27.
How are we Evangelicals supposed to react to such changes in our time? Stand for what is right, but speak the truth in love. Love our neighbors as ourselves. Proclaim God as being compassionate, loving, and forgiving toward all sinners who turn to him. Try to have a positive influence on our culture. Yet realize that God’s predictions will be fulfilled, that society will undergo moral decay in the endtimes, whenever that is. And know that by seeing such things happen we can be further strengthened in our faith that God knows the end from the beginning. And because of this we can be assured that God will bring about his kingdom of peace on earth through Messiah Jesus in God’s timing. And we who truly believe in him will have a part in it. As we sing at Christmas time, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors” (Luke 2.14).