A common reaction among evangelicals to the June Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage has been deflection from controversy. This laissez-faire approach has been most commonly expressed by closely connected beliefs about Christianity and morality:

  1. We should not expect non-Christians to think and live like Christians. So why all the fuss among Christians over the legalization of same-sex marriage?
  2. Since when do we depend on the government to enforce Christian morals?

Many who express these sentiments do so with well-meaning attempts to (rightly) keep evangelicals from panicking over misplaced trust in temporal earthly powers. Additionally, they want to remind themselves and fellow believers that to be a Christ follower will always be, as Jesus promised, countercultural.

Yet the two statements above reflect a poor understanding of how God ordered creation, morality, and the purpose he has given civil law. Assumptions like those above can lead to disastrous consequences for how we understand moral obligation.

Universal Expectations

In one sense, the Bible does describe the condition of humans, without Christ, as lost and depraved, incapable of pleasing God (Rom. 3:9–20). Apart from Christ, we are in a state of rebellion, and until regenerated by the Holy Spirit, cannot understand the ways of God (1 Cor. 2:14). It should not surprise us, then, when sinners act sinfully. Sin has been the human default ever since Eden.

However, by keeping the spotlight only on sinful humanity’s inability to live lives of obedience unto God, we overlook how failure to obey God shows that God’s commands for human obedience are grounded in his good and holy nature, and therefore obligatory on all persons at all ...

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