I heard President Obama’s endorsement of homosexuality this week from a hotel situated across the street from Focus on the Family’s headquarters. Since 2006, leaders at Focus have transitioned the organization. Jim Daly replaced James Dobson, and they began to distance themselves from the political scene. “Helping families Thrive” became the mantra. They rebranded, cut staff, and lost supporters.
Many of Focus’ loyal followers ceased giving because they considered the shift from politics to family an irresponsible one. The battles of abortion, marriage, and extramarital sex raged, they argued. They predicted the collapse of our society without political action. To such people, President Obama’s agenda for same-sex marriage spells collapse. Thus, I was intrigued to see how Jim Daly would respond when he addressed my group attending a conference at Focus on the Family this week.
Jim Daly commanded our attention. He is gregarious, witty, and controlled. His casual delivery hides a breath of wisdom. His crooked smile gives no hint of cynicism.
In response to the initial question about same-sex marriage, Jim Daly stepped out from the podium. “We like to rate sins. Homosexuality—bad. Adultery—bad. Gossip...” He scanned the audience. “Lying,” he paused. “Have you ever done that?” Daly made reference to Paul’s vice list: “The Apostle spreads a large net for “’those who will not enter the kingdom of God’” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
Then, without apology or defeat, the figurehead of Focus declared, “Same-sex marriage will happen in our country. Instead of trying to stop or decry it, we must figure out in advance how we will respond. We do not want to be reactive.”
His statement shocked me. Republicans and journalists called the President’s comment a “political ploy.” Jim Daly called it a foregone conclusion. But the spokesman for family values is not a politician. Nor am I.
Truth be told, I am less interested in signing petitions and effecting policy than in preparing ourselves for a godless culture spiraling into further godless. (See Romans 1 for a full description. Moreover, see Romans 2:4 for God’s response to our wicked choices. “His kindness leads to repentance,” Daly quoted.)
So how do we prepare for Future America, where marriage no longer reflects God’s ideal (Holy Matrimony), but political ideology (Anything Goes…except for Absolute Standards)?
1. Let Go of the Idealized Past: Christian America (i.e., Moral America) is dead and gone
2. Acknowledge the Dismal Present: Divorce rates stink; marriage is optional to the majority
3. Advocate for Marriage: Talk about sex; celebrate marriage; help parents at all stages; clearly define marriage for your church as “lifelong covenant between man and woman” (Gn. 2; Mt 19)
4. Publish your Position: Due to religious convictions our staff will not counsel for/officiate a same-sex marriage; we will not use our building for a same-sex marriage. (see FGBC/Social Concerns)
5. Support the ‘Struggling’: For those who admit homosexuality as a “spiritual struggle” (i.e., something from which they seek release), our church will bear their burdens in love (Gal. 6:1-2).
(Originally published for my church on Sunday, May 13th)