Each year at the church we have a vision verse. It is an opportunity to focus our minds on one specific aspect of living as a Christian and we tend to explore it through a number of sermons across the year. Last year our focus was 1 Corinthians 10:31- “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Regulars at Woody Road will know that I repeated an illustration (I don’t have that many…) several times. In the 16th century, Nicolaus Copernicus argued that the sun was at the centre of the known universe rather than the earth. In many ways it was a complete change to the way people thought about the universe- something else was central. Essentially, 1 Cor 10:31 calls for a Copernican Revolution in the way we think about everything. I am not central. My desires, ambitions and longings are not the main reality. God- and His glory- are at the centre of the universe. I am only living in line with reality when I grasp that for God alone is the ultimately great One.
In some ways such thinking can be a bit of a shock to us- even as Christians. It is very easy for us to drift into a way of thinking where we pursue our ambitions and dreams and see God’s role as giving them to us. We dream of success, romantic love and a comfortable life- and we expect God to provide. The problem with this is that I am at the centre: it is not reality.
To remove ourselves from the centre in our thinking can feel daunting. And yet it really is the best way to live. I remember a friend of mine, who is an atheist, telling me that some of the most awesome moments of his life came as he simply looked at the night sky. There is something within us that makes us enjoy gazing on that which is great and magnificent. But if a night sky is awesome, how much more the One who made it? And what of the One whose love is so great that He would enter the agony of human existence and die for human rebels? We are made to enjoy and live for and glorify that God- it is where we find our ultimate pleasure and it is where we live in line with what is Real. The centrality of self constantly yanks us back yet the call is to recognise and live out the truth: God is at the centre of the universe and I am at my best when I acknowledge that.
Why mention all of this? Because it was this picture that came to my mind recently when I was asked about homosexual relationships. How can it be right to say that some people can get married and others can’t? How can that be fair? To be honest, if you start from a pre-Copernican position (in the illustration) with human beings at the centre, it is a pretty difficult question to answer. After all, if we are central then how can anybody argue against us carrying out our deeply felt desires and wishes if it seemingly won’t harm anybody? That’s the reason why the arguments against gay marriage held little traction in the recent debates- we live in a culture that is adamant that humanity is central and, by extension, that my desires are all important. The discussions lacked much sense of common ground- for we have a fundamental disagreement about the shape of the universe.
For minds to change, a Copernican Revolution needs to take place. Consider for a moment that God is central to the universe. That God has a plan. It is to bring people to an eternity of ecstatic joy as they enter into the most deeply satisfying relationship of all- with Jesus Christ. This plan is no mere speculation- it has been revealed in human history as Jesus walked on the earth and had his sayings and doings recorded by eyewitnesses. Now consider for a moment that God decided to put a big pointer to His plan deep within society. It is called marriage- for the ultimate plan of God is to bring people into a marriage relationship with His Son where He is enjoyed and glorified forever.
When this Copernican Revolution takes place, suddenly our thinking about sexuality and marriage changes. It is no longer primarily about an answer to my desires. It is now about fitting into God’s plan to have a picture pointing out the path to human joy forever. Isn’t that how Paul’s mind works in Ephesians 5?
So how does that impact somebody like me who experiences homosexual attraction? It means that I need to live with the centrality of God in all things. That’s not always easy- I often want to put myself central which will mean a longing to express my sexual desires or, perhaps, drift into self-pity. But when the Revolution takes place in my mind, I begin to see that history is heading to the final marriage where ultimate satisfaction alone can be found. And whilst some might appropriately prepare for that through heterosexual marriage, others will prepare through celibacy and with eyes fixed on Christ. All of this until the day when we rejoice and be glad for the wedding of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. Personally, I am infinitely more joyful when I have this perspective. For when we think like this we are at our best and we are living in line with the true shape of the universe.