Genesis 1:26-27
Trinity 21

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In the name of the Father and of the ✠ Son and of the Holy Spirit

    The way that Satan attacks God is by attacking those who are made in the image of God.  We need to recognize, especially in today’s cultural context, that the devil’s #1 goal is to corrupt and pollute and ultimately destroy our humanity.  The way Satan lashes out at the Creator is by assaulting the crown of God’s creation, human beings.

    In particular, the devil is now attacking the most basic reality of our humanity, namely, that we are created male and female.  And here’s the way he does it: it starts with a lie that has actually been around for millennia.  The lie goes like this: material things are bad, or at least unimportant, and spiritual things are good.  The body is supposedly just a shell that you eventually cast aside; the soul is what counts.  It’s not outward things like maleness or femaleness but inward things that matter.  But do you see how that philosophy is a rejection of the Creator?  For what did God declare about His creation?  He said that it was good, even very good!  This is the way we should think of physical, bodily, material things; for they are created by God.  They’re not lower level stuff; they are good just as much as our souls are.  To be sure this fallen creation now groans under the curse of decay and death because of sin.  But the problem is sin, not the material creation.  Besides, if you think about it, sin is as much a matter of the soul as it is of the body; for all sin begins in the heart.

    Body and soul are one; they go together.  Too often we try to separate them into different categories, body over here, soul over there, and the soul just sort of rattles around in this bodily container for a while till death when it is set free.  But that’s not how it is.  Remember how Adam was created?  God formed him from the dust of the ground and breathed life into him.  That life is the soul.  It’s not as if there are some pre-existing souls floating around up in heaven somewhere, and when a woman gets pregnant, God sends a soul down to the little unborn baby.  Sadly, in fact, that’s how many people try to justify abortion.  They say the baby doesn’t have a soul until later in the pregnancy or until they’re born; so killing the unborn child is OK.  But of course that’s wrong.  At the moment of conception, God creates a new human person, including a new human soul.  The soul is the life of the body, the unique person that God creates.  null

    This means that the soul is not just a generic spirit.  If you’re a man, you have a male soul.  If you are a woman, you have a female soul.  None of this silliness that a man can be trapped in a woman’s body, or vice versa.  The soul is the life of that particular male or female body.  It is a demonic lie which tries to separate soul and body as if they’re two separate things, or as if they could be mismatched.  To say so is to rebel against the Creator and reject His creation of the body.  Now it’s true that under the curse, all sorts of things can go wrong with our bodies, as well as our minds, and so sometimes people will struggle with various feelings.  But since that’s a consequence of sin, it’s not something a person should embrace but something they should fight against with God’s help.  The way of faith is not to trust our feelings or the deceitfulness of our sinful hearts, but to trust God’s creative Word and His creating work.  That is what is for sure and certain, unlike our feelings which are always shifting.

    So let me put this in practical terms: when it comes to the current transgender fad–dare I call it the transgender contagion–we should never call someone by a designation of sex other than the one God gave them.  We don’t choose our own identity, it is given to us by God.  So if a man has supposedly transitioned to being a woman, it is not for us to deny reality, to deny the Creator, and call that man a “she.”  It’s Bruce, not Caitlyn, despite the game of pretend that’s being played.  If we call a person by their preferred pronoun which is contrary to their creation, we are joining in on a lie and giving support to the devil’s attempt to corrupt our humanity.  It’s pure hypocrisy to say transgender ideology is wrong, and then when confronted with an actual example of it to join in on the make-believe.  Christians refer to reality as God defines it, not as man defines it.  

    Now, I should hasten to add here, that in all things we should act with compassion and not behave like jerks.  In many of these cases there are serious spiritual and bodily and mental issues in play.  We want to help the people involved if at all possible and work to bring them back to the way of faith in God’s creative and redeeming work.  Since the people involved are created in the image of God, we’re not there to put them down but to help lift them up to fullness of life in Christ.  But that simply can’t be accomplished by affirming the mutilation of the body with surgeries and the pollution of the body with opposite sex hormones, especially when this is tragically being perpetrated on children.  Faith in the Creator means embracing our bodily creation by Him.

    “Male and female He created them.”  Two sexes, two genders, complementary to one another and created for one another for the one flesh union of holy marriage.  Which brings us to another way in which the devil seeks to degrade our humanity, namely through same sex unions and so-called same sex marriages.  Again, the only way this can be embraced and accepted is if you deny the way in which God created our bodies.  Only male and female form the wholeness and the fulness of what our humanity is.  And only male and female can be God’s instrument in creating new life.  Same sex unions are by definition contrary to the Creator, for they are sterile and non-creating–not for reasons of health or age which couples sometimes face–but by their very nature.  God’s Word says that one of the primary purposes of marriage is that man and woman be fruitful and multiply.  Same sex unions do not reflect the image of God, the Holy Trinity, for they cannot create that triad of life.

    So again, let me put this in practical terms: you may well believe correctly that homosexual unions are sinful, just as any sexual union outside of God-given marriage is sinful.  But how do you deal with this when you are confronted with it in your day to day life?  If a man refers to his “husband” or a woman to her “wife,” do you join in with using that terminology?  The language and the words we use are important–for they either express the truth of the living words of God in Holy Scripture or the lying words of the evil one.  It’s one thing to have to live under the ungodly laws of the land–and we do obey the civil laws insofar as we aren’t caused to sin.  As Scripture says, our default position is to “live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).  But above all, as Scripture also says, we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).  You should never talk as if these so-called marriages are actually real in anything more than a purely legal sense.  Before God, they are nothing but a rebellious illusion.  And we want no part in that.

    In particular, here’s a situation that some of you may have had to face, and I’m sure it will be happening with greater frequency in the future: what do you do if you’re invited to a same-sex wedding?  This isn’t easy, because it may well be a family member or relative, a co-worker or client or friend who’s doing the inviting.  There’s a lot at stake in how you handle this.  As Christians we want to be clear that we don’t hate anyone or wish ill on anyone; there are no “phobias” at work.  “Phobia” means “fear”; this isn’t about fear for Christians but truth.  And if we really love the people involved as we should, we want to speak the truth for their eternal good.  You’re not loving someone if you’re “supporting” them in their sin and false belief.  It’s not kindness to show up and smile politely at actions that threaten to cut them off from God forever.  (E.g., 1 Cor. 6:9-10)

    So let me put the matter as clearly as I can.  There is simply no way in good conscience that a Christian can attend and be a part of the celebration of a so-called same sex wedding.  To do so is wrong and against God’s will.  First of all, examine what your motives have to be for taking part if you know that the whole thing is forbidden by God.  If it’s that you fear harming a relationship, doesn’t that mean that you fear people more than God, or put another way, that you love people and care about what they think more than God?  We like to fool ourselves into believing that if we can just maintain the relationship, that eventually we’ll be able to bring people around to the truth of God’s Word.  But in reality we just keep putting things off, and that time is always at some unspecified point in the future.  Meanwhile, our actions speak volumes to the contrary.  Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”  Or perhaps you fear some job-related, financial consequence.  There might be some blowback from a co-worker or client.  And so you try to play both sides and serve two masters.  But again Jesus clearly says, “You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).  “One who is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10).

    Some might say, “But didn’t Jesus eat with sinners?”  And the answer is, of course He did!  There is no sinner that Jesus would not engage with, including sexual sinners, and the same should be true for us.  But what was Jesus doing when He sat at table with them?  What was his message when He spoke to them?  It was this: “Repent, and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).  Jesus came calling sinners to repentance.  He came to seek and to save the lost.  He never condoned sin; He forgave sin.  But a same sex wedding is by its very nature an unrepentant approval of sin.  Now, if you can go to a same sex wedding ceremony and call the couple involved to repentance (not to mention everyone else who is approving of this rejection of the Creator), then that would be an exception to the rule.  But of course, that’s not going to happen.  When you go to a wedding, you’re obliged to be pleasant and nice, to laugh at the jokes, to congratulate the couple and the rest of the family, to give them a gift celebrating their union, to act as if everything is just fine and wonderful.  But the flowers and the fancy clothes are only covering rebellion against God.  And this is made all the worse if it takes place in a church, a blasphemy of God’s name.  It’s not angels that are rejoicing in these events, it’s demons.  And we should never join in with the worship of demons.

    We need to wake up to what’s happening.  These things are some of the defining issues of our times.  They are a test that you may well soon be faced with.  It’s easy to justify our actions and take the broad easy road rather than the narrow way.  But let us take the early Christian church as our example.  All they had to do to save their lives and their means of making a living was to offer a pinch of incense to Caesar and acknowledge him as Lord instead of Jesus.  They easily could have rationalized such actions by saying that they were doing those things insincerely, just going through the motions of idolatry, merely mouthing a curse against Christ to save their skins.  But they didn’t.  They would rather lose their lives than to do that.  And that’s how the church grew.  It didn’t grow based on the lukewarm compromise of those who loved their lives in this world, but because of the passionate faith of those who believed in a Creator who could and would raise their bodies from the dead to glory, even if they were mauled by lions or burned at the stake.  That sincere faith and love of God inspired others and eventually won over an empire.

    So let us, then, commit ourselves never to offer the modern pinch of incense to the gods of this world but steadfastly to hold to our confession of faith in the God of creation, the blessed Holy Trinity.  For we have a God who not only created us and our physical natures, but when we had fallen into sin and under the curse of death, He reaffirmed the goodness of His creation by entering into it Himself!  The Son of God, Jesus Christ, took up our human nature in order to restore our humanity again.  What does Scripture say?  “The Word became flesh.”  Notice the Gospel writer uses the most blatantly earthy word possible there–not just “body” but “flesh.”  And when Jesus shared in our flesh, He made it holy.  Through Him all things were made in the beginning, and through Him all things are recreated by the power of His death and resurrection.  Jesus died in the flesh to purge our human nature of its sin, and He rose again in the flesh so that we might also share in His bodily resurrection to glory in the new creation to come.  In the midst of our earthly groaning, we eagerly wait for the redemption of our bodies through our blood brother in the flesh, Jesus (Romans 8:23).

    The devil may do His worst to try to turn God’s creation upside down and corrupt and pollute it.  But Satan has been defeated.  For Jesus has cleansed your humanity forever by joining it to His own divine nature.  Your human nature is now holy and pure in Christ.  Even if you have polluted yourself in the past through various sins, your sins are forgiven and washed away from you forever through faith in His holy, precious blood.  Our maleness and femaleness is an image of how God is a husband to His chosen people, how Christ the holy Groom gives Himself and lays down His life for His elect Lady.  The Church is the baptized Bride of Christ, chosen and precious to Him.  

    So whatever you were before, you are now set apart and sanctified as God’s holy people, His beloved.  And His Word is still powerful to accomplish what it says.  Jesus said to the man in the Gospel “Your son lives,” and he did.  So also He says to you, “Your sins are forgiven.  Fear not.  I have called you by name; you are Mine.”  And it is so.

    Therefore, fellow believers in Jesus, in the midst of the spiritual warfare that we are in on every front, put on the breastplate of His righteousness and the helmet of His freely given salvation.  Take up the sword of the Spirit for the battle, which is the Word of God.  And in all circumstances raise the shield of faith in Christ, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.  

In the name of the Father and of the ✠ Son and of the Holy Spirit