CALL TO PRAYER: Romans 1 & a nation's tipping point
EDITOR'S NOTE: Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, has issued a call to prayer for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world during 2013. Baptist Press will carry First-Person articles during the year encouraging Southern Baptists to pray in specific areas and for specific needs as we petition the Father for spiritual awakening.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Romans 1 defines widespread acceptance of homosexual behavior as a tipping point in a nation's story. Using a threefold refrain, Scripture outlines God's release of a nation to the consequences of its rebellion against Him:
"Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.
"This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.
"And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong" (Romans 1:24-28).
I am certain that the attention of the Supreme Court's nine justices, along with the rest of the country, will be focused on Grapevine, Texas, this week when the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) holds its annual meeting. At issue is whether the BSA will affirm its longstanding membership policy or bow to the pressure of political correctness by affirming homosexual behavior as an acceptable lifestyle.
In the 12 months since President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage during the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, six states have legalized gay marriage, bringing to 12 the number of states that have done so. In addition, a small cadre of Boy Scouts leadership has proposed a resolution to change its historic membership policy, and the Supreme Court has heard oral arguments about the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8, both of which define marriage as between one man and one woman.
With the onslaught of attacks to traditional marriage in 2013, it's easy to lose sight of the 30 states that have adopted constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman. It's easy to forget that North Carolina became the 30th state to do so just one day before Obama's announcement. With so many things happening in so short a period of time, it could appear that the momentum for radical social change has shifted to those who oppose a biblical worldview and biblical values. It seems that many in the Christian community, overwhelmed by current events, have already run up the flag of defeat.
However, unless and until the Supreme Court reverses 237 years of biblical morality in regard to sexual matters enshrined in our nation's governing documents, we as a nation, despite the large numbers of our citizenry who are already there, have not yet moved into the latter part of Romans 1.
As we look forward to the Boy Scouts vote next week -- and beyond that to next month's anticipated Supreme Court decision about gay marriage -- we must answer for ourselves these questions:
-- Am I an "inevitable-ist" -- ("It's going to happen no matter what!")? Or am I a faithful prayer warrior?
-- Am I a "culturalist" -- ("Whatever! Live and let live!")? Or am I truly a "people of His own"?
-- Am I an "evangelist" -- ("I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation....")? Or am I merely a worried bystander?
The answer to these questions will guide the content of our prayers for our nation. As we pray for the representatives of the 1,400 chartered organizations who will vote at the Boy Scouts annual meeting, we need to realize that their decision will send a message to the nine justices and to the rest of the world. So, how do we pray?
Let us pray that the voting members of these 1,400 chartered organizations will have the moral courage to withstand the relentless assault they continue to face from gay rights activist groups that have ramped up the heat against them.
Let us pray that a majority of the Supreme Court justices will stand on biblical principle and established practice and not be swayed by recent current events that seek to elevate same-sex marriage.
Let us pray that God's people will engage their friends and neighbors in winsome evangelism, giving both verbal and lifestyle witness to the transforming power of the Gospel.
Let us pray that our churches will recommit themselves to biblical discipleship, shining as houses of hope and prayer.
Let us pray that our worship services will be oases of vibrant worship and momentary places of refuge from a lost and clamoring world, preparing and fortifying us to head back out into howling storms of spiritual battle.
Let us pray that our God, who is mighty to save, will bring across our path many whose hearts He has already filled with hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Let us pray as if we believe that God hears and answer prayer, for He does and will.
And let us not forget: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance" (Psalm 33:12, NIV).
Roger S. "Sing" Oldham is vice president for convention communications and relations with the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee. Initial articles about the Call to Prayer that Frank Page issued to Southern Baptists for 2013 can be read here and here. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).