Marriage has been much on the minds of many in the last decade, and increasingly so. As the divorce rate and the rate of cohabitation without marriage keep climbing, there is also a desire among some homosexuals to have the state recognize their perverted union by calling it “marriage.” What a strange world! The apple has fallen far, far from the tree.
Government has been trying in various ways to tweak the definition or practice of marriage. Most recently, the Supreme Court of the United States has handed down a ruling that cancels a portion of the “Defense of Marriage Act” from about a decade ago. That act itself was an attempt to retain the traditional definition of marriage as found in American culture over against the continuing attempts of certain homosexuals to force a new view of marriage upon the entire nation. All of these attempts to define marriage are doomed to fail. All of them.
Practically everyone has accepted the false notion that the institution of marriage is 100% culturally determined. While there is a lot of cultural window dressing on the institution, its essence comes from an authority even above that of Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court combined. That authority is our Designer and Creator. He invented humanity (along with every other creature), and gave us gender, which dovetails with His design for marriage. No social movement, government, or even majority vote can unmake the institution that God has provided.
By design, marriage provides the best context for the most intimate human companionship, though friends who are not married may also be very close companions. By design, marriage provides the best context for protecting and raising children, though children can adapt to many other environments. By design, marriage provides for the basic unit of society to which individuals may belong: the family household. Intimate companionship, children, and a household may be established in a way that bypasses marriage, but they will be weaker because of it. Marriage is part of God’s design for our world.
Marriages are not perfect because our world is not perfect, and we are not perfect. But the abuse or misuse of something does not destroy its proper use. Despite the problems we have brought into the institution of marriage, it still stands as God’s design, and a blessing for those who seek to use it according to that design.
Christian congregations have an interest in performing the ceremony of holy matrimony, because the family built strongly upon God’s design will also listen to Him. Besides that, Christian congregations such as ours are among the last places in our society where God’s design for marriage is still remembered and taught. It forms an important part of what God has revealed in holy scripture.
The land’s government also has an interest in recognizing and promoting marriage, because children are the future of our country, and because family households are the stable building block of a healthy society. But it has recently come to my attention that a major shift has taken place in the thinking of American society. Where the nation was originally founded upon the notion that every individual has been given natural liberty over against the encroachment of others, and that this gift came from “nature’s god,” most people now believe that our liberty and rights come from the government, or at best, from the Constitution. So in terms of marriage, our society has shifted from believing that government recognizes marriage to thinking that government defines or blesses marriage. This is an error, even if everyone believed it.
The push by some homosexuals to impose a new definition of marriage by law, upon the whole nation, really stems from a wish that naturally follows from their twisted understanding of themselves. Since they wrongly believe that they were designed by God (or evolution) with homosexual desires, they think that God (or government) must also approve a kind of marriage that accomodates those desires. When they find it possible to love someone of the same gender, they think it validates their perverted version of things. To the point of denial, they overlook the fact that unmarried, unromantic friends may also love one another deeply, and the fact that the design of physical gender is complementary with the procreative and intimate purposes of marriage. Just as important, they overlook the fact that human desires are often habitually twisted into something that is neither in our best interest, nor in line with the will of our Creator. Homosexual desire is only one example among a great many.
Why do these homosexuals want to impose such a new definition of marriage? The answer is not hard. At bottom, they seek approval or blessing for their perverted behavior. While some churches (like ours) still deny that God will ever bless such unions, these homosexuals think they will find the blessing they seek elsewhere. It’s likely that at least some of them are experiencing guilt.
The now-dominant secular worldview considers marriage and other social institutions as developments of human evolution. Therefore, it would be possible to redefine them at the highest level of human authority. If such a thing were accomplished, then (it may be thought) the world would be forced to accept/bless the perversion of a homosexual lifestyle. Then those feelings of guilt might be assuaged. But not even that can remove the guilt, because man’s approval is not the same as God’s approval.
God calls us to live a life of purity before Him. That means a life of chastity. Chastity requires those who are not married to avoid sexually inappropriate thoughts and language, as well as any sexual behavior with others. We are to submit ourselves only to God as our Lord, not to the often addictive, impure sexual impulses that stem from the sinful flesh. That also means that until a couple has been married, they should not live together as though they were. Chastity requires those who are married to channel all sexual thoughts, words, and deeds through their spouse in an appropriate way. Again, God is our Lord, not the sinful flesh. Our purpose in life is not to be served by our neighbor, but to serve. That’s especially important in marriage, which is modeled upon the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church, which He redeemed with His own blood. As Jesus is always faithful to His Church, so husbands and wives should remain faithful to each other through their lives in this world.
I will speak for myself, and for the viewpoint of the Christian Church through the ages. Some individual Christians will have contradicted what I am about to say, but many have repented their contradiction, and for the rest, nobody has ever claimed that Christians can’t be wrong.
We do not hate homosexuals or any sinners, whether those who struggle with impure inner desires, or those who live out a twisted social lifestyle. We do not condemn them, not any more than we condemn thieves, murderers, or the other kinds of adulterers. Like every sinner, including ourselves, homosexuals are caught up in the wickedness of the sinful flesh that has been passed down to us from our forefathers. Like every sinner, including ourselves, homosexuals can be certain that all of their guilt was placed upon the Son of God, who suffered and died to make the atonement that guarantees our salvation. Like every sinner, homosexuals are called to repentance by God Himself, to resist the temptations of the flesh, and to receive God’s pronouncement of complete forgiveness. That’s why our church is here: to provide God’s forgiveness to penitent sinners. That’s why we come to church every Sunday. Every kind of sinner is welcome.
Marriage will always be what God made it to be. The best we can do is try to live according to His design, repenting of our sins, and casting ourselves upon the sure mercies of God in Jesus Christ, our Savior.