What is Marriage?

Maine has become the 5th State to change the definition of marriage. On Wednesday, May 5, 2009, Fox News  reported the event on its website:

The Maine Senate voted 21-13, with one absent, for a bill that authorizes marriage between any two people rather than between one man and one woman, as state law currently allows. The House had passed the bill Tuesday.

The reasoning behind this law is that any two people have the right to decide for themselves how marriage should be constituted. They believe it is unfair and arbitrary to restrict marriage to one man and one woman. The Fox News story also reports that Republican Sen. Debra Plowman of Hampden argued that the bill was being passed “at the expense of the people of faith.”

While we can appreciate Senator Plowman’s objection to the new bill, there is a larger issue at stake than something being done at the “expense of people of faith.” The larger issue is that man has presumed to improve upon God’s concept of marriage. Jesus Christ clearly teaches that God is the one who instituted marriage:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one… ” Matthew 19:4-6a

This is really the crux of the matter. Marriage was designed by God. He did not take a poll or consult a focus group. He spoke marriage into existence, just as he spoke the world into existence, because it pleased him to do so. Legislative and judicial activists have now decided it is within their power to alter the nature of marriage. That is the discussion you need to have with your children. Being fair or unfair is not the issue. Over and over again you will hear advocates of same-sex marriage arguing that is unfair to restrict the benefits of marriage to heterosexual couples only. This challenge is not primarily a challenge to existing laws and traditions, it is a challenge to God, whether these advocates realize it or not.

The belief is that man has “evolved” to the point where he no longer needs traditions that restrict his ability to have what he wants. In this view, marriage is something that man established and, therefore, man can change it. Indeed, as you follow these debates in the press about changing the definition of marriage, you will not read commentary, at least in the secular press, that talks about offending God. But this is the real issue, nevertheless. God, not evolutionary mores and human traditions, has constituted marriage. God created people to live together as families, with one man and one woman being the foundation of the family.

When you talk to your children, this is the point that you want to emphasize: God, not man, has decided that marriage is between a man and a woman. To challenge this is to challenge the very authority of God. The consequences of challenging God are severe. While we don’t know how God will respond to the mocking of his authority in this case, we do know that God is not mocked. We do know that he will respond in a way that is appropriate. We can pray that the church will stand firm as well.

As you talk to your children, remember that the desire of some people to have same-sex marriage is an indication that they are lost and blind. The solution is not simply to pass better laws. The real solution is the gospel of Christ. These attempts to redefine marriage merely confirm the lostness of our culture. Only the power of the gospel to change hearts can bring the change that is so urgently needed.

Many people are expressing much anger, bitterness, and despair over the direction of our government and culture. What is to keep the church from despair? It is all too easy to become cynical and pessimistic about the world in which we live and about the problems that pressure us on every side. Talk radio can be a source of anger and outrage. Why shouldn’t we despair? The answer is not easy, but it is simple. The church must remember who she is. God’s people can fully recognize the gravity of the issues and still have confidence that God offers the way to bring true change; his word is the solution: the wonderful message of the gospel. That is the antidote to despair. That is what will make the difference to your children. Anyone, Christian or not, can become outraged at the drift (or rush) of culture toward humanism, but only Christians can offer the person of Jesus Christ. These troubled times give Christians an opportunity to offer hope and certainty–for our culture and for our children–through the powerful message of the gospel.

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