Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Defining marriage, part 2

Last week, I explained that the California Supreme Court will be deciding next month whether it is constitutional to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Although our state passed a law back in 1977 defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and although the public strongly affirmed this definition in Prop. 22, the mayor of San Francisco and the district Superior Court have more recently rejected this definition. Now, the matter is to be discussed at the highest court in our state.

But what’s the big deal, anyway? Why should same sex marriage be prohibited? Isn’t homosexuality a private matter of sexual preference? There are several reasons I strongly believe the traditional definition of marriage should be upheld at the state and federal level. But today I will give you just one – the biblical one.

“Wait a minute,” you may say. “I don’t believe in the Bible. I’m not even a Christian. Why should I care what your Bible says about homosexuality?” Well, since this is my blog, and since I am a Christian, and since the Bible is the Word of God, sufficient for all matters of life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), it’s only natural that I would begin with what the Bible says about this important issue. Even if you don’t agree with the Bible, I hope you would grant me the courtesy of listening to what I believe, and to see where my beliefs originate from.

I believe that from the very beginning, God defined marriage as between one man and woman. While still in the garden of Eden, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). And who was that perfect compliment to Adam? A woman, named Eve, who God perfectly created and presented to Adam for his wife:

The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22-24)

This design of one-man-one-woman marriage appears again and again throughout Scripture:

  • Proverbs 5:18 promotes exclusive marital devotion when it says, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth.” (Tragically, Solomon did not follow his own advice!).
  • Jesus upholds God’s original intention for marriage when He says, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his Father and Mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6). In other words, God Himself is sovereignly responsible for bringing a man and woman together permanently when they are married.
  • The Apostle Paul reveals that the husband-wife relationship is a reflection of an even deeper and more profound spiritual relationship: that of Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church (Ephesians 5).
  • And then of course, we are reminded of the sanctity of marriage in Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

This last passage in Hebrews reveals that divine judgment awaits those who alter God’s design for marriage and sexual intimacy. It specifically mentions the sin of fornication and adultery, but homosexuality could be added to this list as well. Just as God makes clear that monogamous, heterosexual marriage is morally right, so He declares unequivocally that homosexuality (and every other form of sexual deviancy) is morally wrong:

  • In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul asks, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Then the Apostle adds this glorious reminder, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified…” (v. 11).
  • In 1 Timothy 1:9-10, homosexuality is equated with lawlessness, sin, rebellion against God, and behavior which is “contrary to sound teaching.”
  • Romans 1:26-27 says that God is judging a society when He gives them “over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error” (Romans 1:26-27).
  • And we dare not forget God's swift and severe annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah because “their sin was exceedingly grave” (see Genesis 18-19).

While California - and other states - deliberate over the definition of marriage, God has already made Himself abundantly clear. Marriage is restricted to one man and one woman. Any alternative is a sin against God and worthy of His wrath. However, the great news is, forgiveness is freely available through Jesus Christ. God sent His one and only Son to die for all sinners, including homosexuals! By turning from our sin and trusting in His atoning death and victorious resurrection, we can find cleansing and forgiveness, no matter what sin we have committed against God!

The Southern Baptist Convention says it well in their official position statement: “We affirm God's plan for marriage and sexual intimacy – one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a ‘valid alternative lifestyle.’ The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ.”

Let’s be praying for our state Supreme Court justices as they prepare for this debate, and also for groups like the Campaign for California Families as they make a legal case for traditional marriage. But even more importantly, let’s reach out with genuine love and compassion to our homosexual friends, and offer them a freedom and forgiveness which are only available through Jesus Christ.

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