Popular speaker and author Ravi Zacharias has warned that the US Supreme Court's recent decision to legalize same-sex marriage has brought the divide between Christians and the secular world to its "breaking point," but urged those who hold to a traditional view of marriage to nevertheless reach out those in the gay community with compassion and love.
In an op-ed published on his website, Zacharias, who chairs the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics (OCCA), first joins hundreds of other Christian leaders in affirming the belief that marriage should remain between one man and one woman.
"So profound is this union that the relationship of God to the Church bears that comparison. He is the bridegroom; the Church is the bride," he writes.
He recalls the moment the US Supreme Court announced its decision to redefine the Biblical definition of marriage, saying the ruling sent "tremors around the world."
"When the law passed, the first thought that came to my mind was Chesterton's prophetic comment more than half a century ago: 'For under the smooth legal surface of our society there are already moving very lawless things. We are always near the breaking-point when we care only for what is legal and nothing for what is lawful. Unless we have a moral principle about such delicate matters as marriage and murder, the whole world will become a welter of exceptions with no rules. There will be so many hard cases that everything will go soft,'" Zacharias writes.
"That breaking point is here."
However, the "Walking from East to West" author faults the Church for becoming indifferent to secular culture, which he says in turn "moved unabashedly towards the mockery of the Christian worldview". He emphasizes that this divide shouldn't surprise Christians, because the two groups view the world in a fundamentally different way.
First, Christians believe in the sacredness of the body as the temple of God, and place emphasis on the soul.
"We come from two different definitions of what it means to be human," Zacharias explains. "For the Christian, life is in the soul. The body is the temporal home...For the one who recognizes no such thing as the sacred, the body is the playing field of life and pleasure sets the rules."
Unlike the secular world, Christians also understand the world in terms of absolutes; trusting that the way in which God defines love is its true definition.
"The banner of the atheistic society in England during Christmas two years ago said it all: 'There probably is no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.' Relativism is the open door to fun, absolutes the closed door that destroys fun. That is the way it is seen," he writes.
Sexual intimacy outside of outside of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage, leads to the "emptying of essential purpose and meaning [which]...leads to the loss of essential purpose in life itself," Zacharias warns.
"This is why it is vacuous to say that if two people love each other they may express it in any way they choose," he continues. "Love is not defined in a way that is self-referencing. It ultimately hangs on the peg of God's love and how He defines love."
Zacharias urges Christians to hold continue to fast to a Biblical definition of marriage, but to do so in a compassionate and loving way.
"The gay community rightly cries out for identity and intimacy. These are, after all, the longings of the mind and heart of every human being, regardless of our position on this issue," Zacharias writes, explaining that the truth of the Gospel is the only possible bridge between the secular world and Christians.
He also addresses the Church, emphasizing it must be a place where "sermons are not merely heard but are also seen."
"The outreach of love will then be embodied and not be mere talk. The Church must not be a fortress guarded by a constabulary but a home where the Father ever awaits the return of each of us who is in the far country," he writes.
We must therefore live in a way in which we can never be accused of indifference towards others, or of hatred, but "let us also know that compromising the truth is a serious blunder and ends up celebrating that which is not in the will of our Father," Zacharias says.
"This is a painful tension for a believer. To be seen as rejecting a belief or a behavior is not the same as rejecting the person. But God helps us to carry that burden."
When we truly love those around us with a Christ-like love, "it will always make the faith attractive and even the one who opposes us will recognize the fearful symmetry of a conviction for the sacred that will swim against the tide and a commitment to the person that will find a bridge of hope," he concludes.
"We must so live the gospel that men and women will call upon God's name and make this body his home until we reach our Eternal City bought with the precious sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His body was broken for us so that ours might be mended for Him."