Tertullian is famous for saying, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” (Apologeticus, Chapter 50). The persecution of Christians isn’t an objectively good thing, yet in God’s providence, he can and does use evil for good (Gen 50:19–20). I was saddened by the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize homosexual marriage nationally, but we should interpret these events in light of God’s omnipotence, wisdom, and ultimate desire to bring glory to himself. Government endorsement of homosexual marriage is not pleasing to the Lord, but that does not preclude him from using it to build his Church and advance his kingdom.
When the United States government makes decisions clearly opposed to both special and general revelation, we are reminded that Christians are a pilgrim people. In his common grace, the Lord has given the civil government as a blessing to the world to restrain evil and promote justice (cf. Gen 4:14–16; Rom 13:1–7). However, God’s common grace—including its institutions—ultimately serve the purposes of his special grace. God has delayed final judgment and given indiscriminate non-salvific blessing because he has more people to save. He has elected people whom the Spirit has yet to apply Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Therefore, this present age is a mixture of redeemed and unredeemed, of covenant keepers and covenant breakers, of those in Adam and those in Christ.
The Church exists in this present evil age as a body of believers whom have been called out of darkness into Christ’s marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9). The Church does not find its identity in the present evil age. As those found in Christ, we are a pilgrim people sojourning unto our homeland in the age-to-come, the New Heavens and New Earth. Indeed, “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20).
We must recognize eschatological tension here. On the one hand, Christians have been redeemed and presently are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Eph 2:6). We have come to the heavenly Mt. Zion (Heb 12:18–24). Yet on the other hand, a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God (Heb 4:8). Let us therefore strive to enter that rest (Heb 4:11).
The U. S. Supreme Court’s decision will not cause the world to end immediately. But even when the world that now exists (2 Pet 3:7) does end, it will end with the glorious and climactic victory of Jesus Christ.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified (Romans 8:28–30).
Remember that this glorious image of Christ is formed in us first through suffering. We are conformed to Christ’s suffering so that we too might share in his subsequent glories (Phil 2:5–11; 3:10–11). Let us not be surprised or defeated when God’s law is challenged by our governments. This is to be expected. Indeed, it is but one providential way through which God purifies his Church and testifies to the world of his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.