Good News About Obergefell

People used to blush when they were ashamed. Now they are ashamed if they blush. Modesty has disappeared and a brazen generation with no fear of God before its eyes mocks at sin.1 I’ve quit saying civilization’s going to the dogs out of respect for dogs. I wouldn’t want to insult the canine kingdom with any such remark as that.2 [Yet] it makes a difference when you’re looking up instead of when you’re looking down, like you’re going by what you read in the paper and see on television. May the Lord help you! Get your sights up! Your vision’s bad. Maybe you need your glasses cleaned. You can’t be optimistic with a misty optic! Get your eyes cleared up, and let the Lord open your eyes, and you’ll see things you didn’t even know where there. The outlook’s bad, I grant you that, but the uplook’s good—as good as ever!3

[The account of Elijah on Mt. Carmel demonstrates that] there had to be a confrontation on earth before there could be an intervention from heaven.…Elijah poured 12 barrels of water all over that sacrifice.…He wanted to make it perfectly clear to those people that there were not tricks about this thing, that nothing was going to happen unless God moved onto the scene.…I tell people all over the country it’s the drenched altar that God sets on fire.4

Christians, like snowflakes, are frail, but when they stick together they can stop traffic.5

—Vance Havner—

A couple had two young sons who were like night and day with regard to their outlooks on life. One was consistently positive and upbeat while the other was unwaveringly pessimistic. One morning the two awakened and discovered a massive pile of manure in their front yard. The pessimist wondered who would do such mean and cruel thing to their family—but the optimist went straight to the garage and grabbed a shovel. He promptly ran to front yard and began shoveling through the manure. “There’s got to be a pony in here someplace!” he exclaimed.

Of all people, Christians should be decidedly optimistic. Of course we must temper our optimism with realism, because we understand we live in a sinful world. In the language of our illustration, there really is a pile of manure in our front yard. Obergefell, the Supreme Court ruling that redefined marriage nationwide to include same-sex couples, underscores this. In saying this, we do not mean that those who fought for and celebrated the marriage ruling don’t deserve to be treated with dignity or respect. Surely they do, for they, like all human beings, have been made in God’s image (see Gen. 1:27). However, they are blinded and unable to see clearly the dangers of getting what they think they want (Prov. 14:12; 16:25; John 3:16-21; 2 Cor. 4:3-6). We must be burdened for them and seek to help them come to know Christ, but our responsibilities do not end there.

As Christians, we have been given the Great Commission (see Matt. 28:19-20) and the Cultural Commission (see Gen. 1:28). As Chuck Colson so eloquently said, “Christians are agents of God’s saving grace—bringing others to Christ. But we are also agents of His common grace: We’re to sustain and renew His creation, defend the created institutions of family and society, and critique false worldviews.” Defending man-woman marriage, even after the Obergefell ruling—perhaps especially after it—is part of our job, our duty, as believers.

Today I have some good news about Obergefell. As we resist this ruling—and we must resist it—we will be well served to remember these five things.

First, Obergefell rests on lies, propaganda, illegalities, a false view of reality, and injustices on many different levels. Put another way, we can say that the marriage ruling, like the seat on a three-legged stool, rests on three legs: judicial activism, a faulty worldview, and bullying by militant homosexual activists. I plan in the future to discuss this idea more fully; but for now, be aware that in previous entries, I have written about each one of these. The good news we must understand is that each one of these supports is illegitimate.

Second, we can work to point out the illegitimate nature of each of Obergefell’s supports. If we keep at it, then over time God will use our efforts to effectively weaken these supports, not just in the legal arena, but also in the public’s eyes. We have seen similar things happen with abortion because of the pro-life movement, and they can happen with marriage because of the protect-marriage movement as well.

Third, the church, which has been a sleeping giant on this issue, will be compelled to address it head-on. The good news is that the church has a strategic opportunity to take a stand for biblical truth, yet in ways that demonstrate respect for proponents of same-sex marriage (SSM). SSM proponents still may accuse the church of hate, but we must remember that regardless of appearances, it never is loving to look the other way when a fellow human being is being led astray by a lie.

Alliance Defending Freedom has a website that helps pastors address issues from the pulpit that many may consider controversial. When we’re tempted to think that preachers and churches need to “stick to presenting the gospel,” let’s remember that we must obey the Cultural Commission as well as the Great Commission. If we ignore the Cultural Commission, we’re also disobeying the Great Commission, for Jesus affirmed the importance of obeying “all things that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). Jesus’ teachings address not just spiritual matters, but every area of life, including marriage (see 19:4-6). When it acts as it should to fully represent Christ in the world, the church is indeed a powerful force. Jesus said of His church that “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).

Fourth, God is sovereign over all of life, and, despite appearances to the contrary, He remains in control. Proverbs 21:1 declares, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” In Psalm 11:3, David asked, “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” If we assume the answer to this question is in the next verse, then in times of moral decay we have a powerful reminder that will help us with every action we must take: “The Lord is in His holy temple, The Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men” (v. 4). Many more verses also speak to this issue, but we’ll cite just one more. Proverbs 15:3 states, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.”

Fifth, prayer is a powerful, forceful weapon in spiritual warfare. It is not mentioned as a specific piece in the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-17, but in verse 18 Paul writes, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” As James wrote in his letter, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

Thus, the Obergefell ruling offers Christians and the church opportunities to stand out for Christ and to represent Him effectively before a watching world. If we take advantage of these opportunities and remain faithful, we will marvel at how God will use us! (See Eph. 3:20-21.)

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.








Discernment Needed, Part 1

Why Being Nice Isn’t Enough

And this I pray, that your love may abound still
more and more in knowledge and all discernment…
—Philippians 1:9—

If there ever were a champion of winsomeness in making the case for Christianity and its values, Charles “Chuck” Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and the voice of the Christian worldview commentary BreakPoint, was that champion. For example, in the BreakPoint commentary for April 9, 2006, Colson observed, “To change the culture…we must learn how to engage the political process more winsomely. It requires a different mindset, a recognition that we’re appealing to hearts and minds, not twisting arms. In both fact and appearance we are not seeking to impose but rather to propose. The Christian Church makes a Great Proposal, inviting everyone to the table, regardless of color, ethnic origin, background, or economic status. We’re inviting people to consider a worldview that works, that makes sense, and through which people can discover shalom and human flourishing.”1

Given that this kind of encouragement was typical of Colson,2,3,4,5 a casual observer might be surprised at the BreakPoint commentary of May 14, 2015. It was titled “It’s What We Say, Not How We Say It: The Scandal of Christianity.”6 John Stonestreet, who, along with Eric Metaxas, took over BreakPoint following Colson’s death in 2012, said,

We should be reasonable, calm, and winsome when talking to, well, anyone and everyone, especially those who disagree with us: not as a debating tactic but as part of our loving our neighbors as ourselves. Just as we would want people to be reasonable, calm, and winsome when addressing us, we should do the same for them.

And in treating those who vituperate us with respect and kindness we, if nothing else, as Paul told the Romans, “heap burning coals on their heads.”

But we shouldn’t be so naïve as to think that what lies behind what sociologists David Williamson and George Yancey recently dubbed “Christianophobia”7 is a communication problem. The problem is what we’re saying, not just how we’re saying it.

Sure, there are Christians whom, in all Christian love, I wish would just be quiet. But when the New York Times8 and a major presidential candidate9 tell us that historic Christian teaching must yield to the new sexual orthodoxy, no amount of winsomeness can overcome that kind of antipathy.…

In the end, no matter how “nice” we are, our faith in Jesus and our faithfulness to His teaching will be a scandal to the world. And we are and will be treated accordingly.10

Rod Dreher, whom Stonestreet cited elsewhere in the commentary, had written a piece called “The Failure of Winsomeness.”11 Dreher expounded on some of his points in that article in an interview Stonestreet conducted with him on the May 16, 2015 edition of BreakPoint This Week.12 Dreher declared,

We in the church have watched relentless propaganda from the mainstream media for ten or twenty years about Christianity as being a source of bigotry against homosexuals, and on and on and on and on and on. I’ve worked in mainstream media newsrooms. I see that this is what they really believe. But it has had an effect on the broader culture.

It just blows my mind when I meet Christians who think that if they can only be nice, be winsome, and show that they’re not haters, that these social justice warriors on the left will like them. It’s not going to happen.

If you can look at what’s happening to Gordon College—a great school run by one of the kindest men you’ll ever meet, Mike Lindsay. They are being systematically dismantled by the state of Massachusetts, and by private industry, and by other colleges because they stand on biblical norms of sexuality. Nothing Gordon does—not the fact that those kids go…they sent kids into the poor schools, the impoverished schools in Lynn, Massachusetts, to help out. It didn’t matter. They were kicked out.13,14 The guy, the school committee member who led the charge to throw Gordon students out of these public school classrooms, compared Gordon College to the KKK.15,16 This is really how the activist left sees the church. I’m not saying the church should be militant and angry and show and ugly face to the world; what I’m saying is winsomeness will not get you very far. They really do hate us.17

Was Charles Colson wrong? No. We always need to be winsome and loving, and doing so will cause some to think carefully about what we say. In fact, we will have difficulty convincing people of the truth of the gospel if we don’t demonstrate these qualities. However, we must not be naïve. Even when these virtues are on display, the real thorn in some people’s sides is going to be, as John Stonestreet observed, “what we’re saying, not just how we’re saying it.”18

How do these people respond? Rather than sticking to the issues and contending for what they see as the merits of their positions, they paint Christians and other conservatives as mean and bigoted. Conservative columnist Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, writes,

That’s why so many Americans now seem comfortable giving the government power to violate freedom of conscience for conservatives: Evil people don’t deserve freedom and therefore, can be deprived of it. People who consider themselves civil libertarians suddenly find their inner totalitarian when it comes to Christian-owned bakeries. That can only happen when those people become convinced that Christian-owned bakeries are fronts of hatred and darkness. And that can only happen when they are falsely maligned as such, over and over again.19

In John 15:18-19, Jesus warned His disciples about the hostility they would face from the world. He said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Yes, Jesus told His disciples to love their enemies (see Matt. 5:43-44), but He also warned them to beware of all who would deceive. So did the apostles.

  • Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? (Matt. 7:15-16).
  • Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1).
  • Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! (Phil. 3:2).
  • For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things (Phil. 3:18-19).
  • Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ (Col. 2:8).
  • But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
  • For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward (2 John 7-8).
  • Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 3-4).

“But wait!” someone may say. Didn’t Jesus say, “Judge not, that you be not judged”? (Matt. 7:1). Yes, He did, but He was telling His followers not to be hypocritically judgmental (see vv. 2-5). Immediately after offering this warning, He added, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (v. 6).

The church, sadly, is woefully lacking in discretion, discernment, and shrewdness. In fact, shrewdness is the one trait possessed by Satan that believers need to cultivate and use for godly purposes.20 We must realize that some non-Christians will continue to hold a defiant posture toward God and will never yield to Him. It is not our place to assume anyone is beyond God’s saving reach, but we also must never think, even for a New York minute, that we have the ability to convince people to like us or the values we cherish. Fully aware of the acidic and unyielding hostility of some who are opposed to righteousness, Jesus told His disciples, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16).

Dr. Mike S. Adams understands the importance of this kind of wisdom. Hired to teach criminology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) in the early 1990s when he was a liberal and an atheist, Adams was well liked by both students and faculty. Several years later, however, through a process that took place over time, Adams became a Christian and a conservative. He also became an outspoken advocate for life, marriage, family, free speech, and other traditional values. Still loved by students, Adams now was hated by university administrators. This isn’t just my opinion, but a conclusion reached in court. In 2014, a federal jury determined that Adams had been denied promotion at UNCW because of the content of his work for the conservative website The court ordered that UNCW promote him and to give him seven years back pay.21,22,23

In his book Letters to a Young Progressive, Adams speaks straightforwardly about liberals who maliciously exploit others. He calls them Pharisees and hypocrites. A hypocrite is “One who preaches something that he does not practice and that he does not even believe.”24 Elaborating, Adams writes,

The people in my department who have no qualms about encouraging minors to get sex changes can rightly be called Pharisees.…[They] do not misrepresent the truth innocently. They knowingly lie about biological differences between the sexes…[and] they do so in order to attribute any differences in outcome between the sexes to ‘patriarchal oppression.’ This, in turn, is done to facilitate more social engineering, which creates more jobs for self-proclaimed social engineers. Of course, they are the social engineers who would benefit from those jobs.

Lying to students about basic biological facts in order to encourage genital mutilation is bad. The only thing worse would be lying about biological facts in order to encourage murder. As you will recall from our previous correspondence on abortion, the modern-day Pharisees are not above that either.25

No one ever should arbitrarily accuse anyone else of being a Pharisee, but Mike Adams has not done this. Rather, he has acted in the prophetic tradition of exposing evildoers, and consequently, the evil they promote. He’s done another essential service as well. Dr. Adams has acted to protect vulnerable minds and hearts from becoming entrapped in evil lies. Potential victims include people of all ages, although teenagers and young adults probably would be the first to be vulnerable in this instance. One is reminded of these statements of commendation and warning from Jesus—statements that have clear application here: “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:4-6).

The church can learn an important lesson from Dr. Mike Adams. It should—indeed, it must—with God’s help, recover and consistently use its prophetic voice. It can if it also will cultivate and exercise godly discernment and shrewdness, but just how did it lose such discernment in the first place? Next week we will seek to answer this question.

Part 2 is available here.













12BreakPoint This Week radio program:





17BreakPoint This Week radio program:







24Mike S. Adams, Letters to a Young Progressive: How to Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don’t Understand, (Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2013), 228.

25Adams, 229.

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Esse quam videri

He was a military leader like none other. His exploits “were considered classics of military strategy.”1 He’s been described as “more courageous” than all other soldiers, “more imaginative” than all his fellow generals, and “more daring” than all other field officers.2 Serving “with distinction in one battle after another,”3 this American military leader at one point even used his own savings to help the American cause.4 He had his horse shot out from under him during one battle, but he acted so courageously that Congress gave him a promotion in rank. Also, “as a token of their admiration of his gallant conduct,” lawmakers awarded him a new horse.5

Yet, even before the war had reached an end, he seriously considered leaving the military. The commander of the armed forces urged him to stay, however, because he valued his contributions to the war effort and his savvy as a military leader.6 The commander later appointed him to serve as commandant at Philadelphia.7 Eventually, based on this same commander’s trust, this military leader was given command of West Point, a strategic stronghold during the war.8

This general was none other than Benedict Arnold. Arnold had grown resentful when other, less experienced men had been promoted, even as he was not. Also, having grown convinced that the Colonists would lose the war, he decided to turn against them.9 Following through, he gave detailed plans of West Point to British Major John André. Had André been able to deliver the plans to other British soldiers, the Americans probably would have lost the war.10 Fortunately, however, the British officer was captured before he was able to complete his mission.

While a great many words can be used to describe Arnold’s treason, one stands out. At Arnold’s hands (and, we also might say, at the hands evil spiritual forces, for America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles) a lie threatened what would become American independence, freedom, and liberty. Put another way, it was only when the truth about Arnold was discovered and necessary actions were taken that Arnold’s deception was rendered powerless.

This is not a discussion of military tactics, including lies and spying during warfare. Rather, the lesson of Benedict Arnold is presented to illustrate profound spiritual truths, including the potentially devastating power of a lie and the liberating power of the truth to overcome it.

The writings of the apostle Paul echo these principles. In what we now know as chapter 10 of his second letter to the Corinthian Christians, Paul declared,

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

The word translated strongholds in verse 4 is especially significant. Used nowhere else in the New Testament, this Greek word can mean “a castle or a fortress.” It doesn’t mean a literal building in 2 Corinthians 10:4, however—it refers to the ideas on which an individual relies, the rationale a person uses to bolster and defend his opinion against God’s reality or truth.11 Verse 5 affirms this very thing when it elaborates on what “pulling down strongholds” (v. 4) means. Again, verse 5 says, “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Couldn’t we say, then, that a stronghold is either a lie or a system of lies standing contrary to the truth of God? How else can a lie be overcome but by its corresponding truth? The Latin phrase Esse quam videri, which means “To be, rather than to seem,”12 says it succinctly. This is the motto for the state of North Carolina.


All the biblical truths we’ve highlighted thus far are entirely consistent with everything Paul wrote about spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10-17. Of all the equipment in the armor of God—

  • the belt of truth,
  • the breastplate of righteousness,
  • the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace,
  • the shield of faith,
  • the helmet of salvation, and
  • the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word—

only the sword is an offensive weapon. Strongholds cannot be torn down when we hold an exclusively defensive posture. And what is God’s Word? Jesus revealed the answer to this question in John 17:17. It is truth. We note that since truth is represented by both a belt and a sword, it has both defensive and offensive capabilities. Only truth, however, is an offensive weapon.

Eve learned that God’s Word is truth the hard way (just as we also often have). The serpent questioned God in her presence in Genesis 3:1; then in verse 4 he flatly contradicted what God had said. In other words, he lied. While Eve thought eating the forbidden fruit would liberate her, she found that it actually put her, and all of humanity as well, in bondage.13

Just as was true at the dawn of time and centuries ago in American history, lies continue to pose ominous threats to liberty. We must never underestimate the destructive potential of such lies—including the lie that the God-ordained institutions of marriage and family can be redefined to mean whatever government wants them to mean, to affirm whatever behavior patterns people find enjoyable and acceptable, to normalize behavior that goes against nature and nature’s God. As a nation, we will follow this lie to our own peril.

Fully armed for spiritual warfare, Christians must engage this falsehood head-on to tear it down and to reestablish God’s truth on marriage and the family as the cultural standard and as national policy, just as has been the case in our history until only recently. We do this not to enslave, but to liberate! Indeed, as Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

Let us keep in mind that as Americans, we have been fortunate to live in a land where the founding documents, including most obviously the Declaration of Independence in this case, affirm that liberties come from God. Contending for the biblical view of marriage and the family is therefore American in the most authentic sense of the word.

Recalling Benedict Arnold once again, let’s make just a few more observations.

  • The truth about Benedict Arnold was offensive—and
  • the lie about him was pleasurable to hear. Even so,
  • the lie about Arnold was far more destructive than it was soothing; and,
  • because the Colonists were willing to respond, the truth was far more liberating than it was tough to accept.


George Washington, the commander of the armed forces who previously had praised Arnold, communicated to his men the news of the discovery Arnold’s treachery. He described the treason as being “of the blackest dye” but joyfully affirmed that it had “been timely discovered, to prevent…fatal misfortune.” He added, “The Providential train of circumstances which led to it affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of Divine Protection.”14 He conveyed the same basic idea when he used these words to summarize the situation: “In no instance since the commencement of the War has the interposition of Providence appeared more conspicuous.”15

Thankfully, God intervened in America’s early days to give people an opportunity to allow the truth about Benedict Arnold to liberate.16 Let’s pray that He will intervene again and that the truth about marriage and the family will be upheld. Whether or not He intervenes through the Supreme Court, we as His people must cooperate with Him to lovingly yet forthrightly and boldly contend for the truth about marriage and the family in all our spheres of influence—not to impose anything on anyone, but for the benefit of all, that all may enjoy true freedom and liberty.

Read the Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage.


Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Update, added July 7, 2016

Here’s the point of application for us today. At the most rudimentary of levels, homosexuality is a lie! Same-sex marriage is a lie! So are other sins. They are lies because they deny the realities that God has set up in human relationships and in the natural world. When we understand this, we can comprehend the urgency of warning those who have been deceived and encouraging them to take a path consistent with the truth.


1Brad Cummings and Lance Wubbels, General Editors, The Founders’ Bible: The Origin of the Dream of Freedom, (Newbury Park, CA: Shiloh Road Publishers, 2012), 1637.


4Toby Mac and Michael Tait, Under God, (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2004), 162.


6Toby Mac and Michael Tait, 163.


8Brad Cummings and Lance Wubbels, General Editors, The Founders’ Bible: The Origin of the Dream of Freedom, (Newbury Park, CA: Shiloh Road Publishers, 2012), 1638.

9Toby Mac and Michael Tait, 163.

10Toby Mac and Michael Tait, 162.



13Star Parker’s story is but one modern example of this same principle. Read it and listen to it at

14,15Toby Mac and Michael Tait, 164.

16While it’s true that the lie Arnold perpetrated was, in one sense, a different kind of lie than the lies promoted about marriage today, in another sense a lie is a lie. We note again that we are using Arnold’s deception to illustrate a point. Focus on the parallels between these scenarios and the lessons that arise from history.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.