After listening online to a recent sermon on "same-sex marriage" by John Piper -- the pastor of the church in which one of my children married -- I was surprised to read an article in the Star Tribune ("Key Minnesota pastors opt out of marriage fight," June 21) that misrepresented how Piper is addressing the November vote on a proposed marriage amendment to the Minnesota Constitution.
The reporter wrote: "Two key conservative evangelical leaders in Minnesota are not endorsing the marriage amendment or directing followers to vote for it, marking the first time during debate over the measure that major faith leaders have not encouraged members to take a stand on the issue.
Influential preacher and theologian the Rev. John Piper came out against gay marriage during a sermon Sunday but did not explicitly urge members of his Minneapolis church to vote for the amendment."
The reporter was correct in saying that Piper did not "explicitly" urge church members to vote for the amendment, but she was disingenuous in suggesting that he did not direct -- which means to move or guide -- followers to vote for the amendment. She was equally wrong when she implied that Piper did not encourage his church members to take a stand on the issue.
It's clear that Piper did, indeed, direct his church members to vote to approve the amendment. He did so by explaining how to think through this critical cultural issue biblically and logically, rather than merely telling them what to do in the voting booth.
Piper said, among other things, the following:
• His sermon was going to address the amendment.
• There is no such thing as same-sex marriage, and we shouldn't use the word "marriage" to describe a sexual relationship between two people of the same sex.
• Endorsing "so-called same-sex marriage" contradicts both love and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
• Laws exist to preserve the public good. What constitutes the good is a moral question. All laws legislate morality. Voting is a moral activity.
• Constitutional amendments must address only significant issues. The people of Minnesota approved an amendment on the issue of hunting and fishing, which is not nearly as significant as marriage.
• Legalizing same-sex marriage would make a clear and tragic statement that either mothers or fathers or both are expendable and have no effect on the public good.
• Marriage is the most fundamental of human institutions, and legalizing same-sex marriage is a deceit that will bring incalculable dysfunction and destruction to children and society.
• No society in history has ever defined marriage as being between two people of the same sex.
• Legalizing same-sex marriage is unrighteous; unrighteousness destroys nations, and the celebration of unrighteousness hastens the destruction of nations.
The reporter must not have listened to or read Piper's wise and compassionate sermon, because no one could hear or read his words and conclude that Piper has opted out of the fight for marriage. In unequivocal language, Piper provided clear guidance to Christians on the issue of amending constitutions to protect marriage.
Piper concluded by saying, "If the whole counsel of God is preached with power week in and week out, Christians who are citizens of heaven and citizens of this democratic order will be energized as they ought to speak and act for the common good."
If this is what "opting out of the marriage fight" looks like, let's hope and pray that countless pastors across the country opt out as John Piper has.
Laurie Higgins is a cultural analyst with the Illinois Family Institute.