“One of the most persistent thorns in John Calvin’s side was the libertines in Geneva. But here too his perseverance was triumphant in a remarkable way. In every city in Europe men kept mistresses. When Calvin began his ministry in Geneva in 1536 at the age of 27, there was a law that said a man could only keep ONE mistress. After Calvin had been preaching as pastor in St. Peter’s church for over 15 years, immorality was still a plague, even in the church. The libertines boasted in their license. For them, the “communion of saints” meant the common possession of goods, houses, bodies and wives. So they practiced adultery and indulged in sexual promiscuity in the name of Christian freedom. And at the time, they claimed the right to sit at the Lord’s Table. “(John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God, John Piper p. 42)
Let that sink in for a bit.
In 1536, there was a law that regulated sexual promiscuity……in the name of Christian freedom……and these people claimed the right to sit at the Lord’s Table.
Apparently having more than one mistress was a problem and common practice. Imagine the magnitude of the problem when the governing officials were forced to intervene to such a degree that a law had to be passed in order to take control of the rampant disregard for the marriage bed. So as not to quench too much the rule of lust of the land, they came up with a solution. That solution was to allow, give permission, accept that men had a fundamental right to not have to be faithful to one wife. Seeing as how there was no way to stop lustful desires, they regulated it.
And this….in 1536.
In spite of rampant sexual promiscuity, disregard and disrespect of marriage between one man and one woman, in spite of laws that were created to protect lust and immorality…..
the Sovereign God of history still reigned….then and now.
God sets up times and seasons, removes kings and sets up others. (Daniel 2)
There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13)
Scripture tells us that even those governing officials that go against what we think is ungodly or evil or just bad behavior, those officials are there because God puts them there.
In our desire to be in control, even of our governing officials, we want to know why God does what He does or allows what He allows. We are not called to know God’s business.
If we are his, we are called to trust Him….and be faithful to His Word.
Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you [God] anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. (Acts 4:27-28)
That law in 1536, the one in place to control how many mistresses a man could have says much about the culture and the problem of sexual immorality throughout the ages.
Think about that.
How would evangelical Christians respond to such a law today?
Point being, sexually immoral behavior is not a new issue or new problem that can be voted out or petitioned away. It always has been and always will be a deep rooted seemingly complex problem and consequence of a fallen broken sinful world.
There is absolutely nothing new about sexual immorality and the disregard for God’s first created relationship, that is the union between one man and one woman- now called marriage.
We can look back in history, not just secular history, but Biblical history as well, and see that the marriage bed and sex has never been sacred. It’s not surprising that it was not sacred during Calvin’s era. It sure is not sacred today.
We have never gotten this right.
Hence our desperate need for a Savior.
In spite of never getting it right, God reigns still…..and saves still. There have been countless people throughout the ages that Jesus has redeemed from sexual immorality by his transforming power- and no federal law, petition or boycott has ever been able to do that.
If today’s ruling on same sex marriage causes us to despair, we need to repent that we have placed our hope in something outside of Christ alone!
Our hope is not in the Supreme Court and the passing of laws, for or against us.
Our hope is not in fighting harder to preserve the sanctity of marriage, though a good fight it is.
Our hope is not in screaming louder on this issue, especially when the recipients of our screams are the very ones that need to see us loving our neighbor well.
Our hope is in Christ and only Christ.
Our Sovereign God is not surprised at today’s ruling.
He is not “disappointed” that evangelicalism failed at turning the cultural tide.
When faced with such rampant immorality, Calvin stood firm. He did not cave in and accept the status quo. He stood constant on the rock that is God’s Holy Word and never wavered in declaring that God is in control, in spite of the mess around him, even the mess that was in the church.
Throughout history, God not only sifts people, in that sifting he calls people to be his. The ones that stand firm are given the right to be called his. The fact that we are still reading about the enduring faith of Calvin means that what he did mattered.
We just need to be reminded that God is ruling, reigning and sifting! Rejoice!
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:9–14)
and if we need another reminder…this is probably one of the best articles I have read on this issue – Find it HERE