Same-Sex Marriage, a Modest Objection
By Brian Bailey
May 23, 2012
For I the LORD do not change…” (Mal 3:6)
Same sex marriage now seems to be all the rage in the media after the election Tuesday a few weeks back in North Carolina and after President Obama’s carefully choreographed ‘coming out’ on the same sex marriage issue. As much as I would personally rather side-step this cultural and political tar-baby I simply cannot. The issue at hand will not recede or fade; this seems to be the direction of our culture. Some would call it progress; as a Christian I can call it nothing but a spiritual and social regression.
I don’t enjoy battle. Some people love a fight; I do not. It would be nice if we could all sit around the campfire, all of us from different Christian perspectives hold hands and sing “Kumbaya”. Unfortunately, to do so with some would require a wholesale divesture of deeply held Biblical truth. There are issues of faith and conscience that cannot be ignored even in a quest for common ground.
There are some ‘fights’ or disagreements that cannot be avoided if we are to maintain convictions for faith. In short, there are non-negotiables. As a believer it is my conviction that same-sex marriage is not advocated or permitted. It is for scripture’s sake that I take this position; it is because the issues here are far, far deeper than just who is permitted to marry. Please allow me to say right now that I am addressing the area of changing the legal definition of marriage. In no way, is this missive a call to mistreat the gay community. In all honesty the church has been anything but loving to the gay community and we are called to love. There is a big difference between acting in a loving manner as opposed to accepting all behaviors however. What we have seen frankly from many in the church is hatred; we are not called to hate. Hatred is not Christian behavior. But neither do we have to agree.
Let me ask the question: Why cause a ruckus over a marriage? Why not let it slide and let others do as they jolly well please?
The ruckus originates not with the creation but the creator; Yahweh has a say in all of this mess. He is the owner of us all, the creator, and His ownership conveys rights. We may see ourselves as free moral agents but the freedom does not absolve us of accountability to God and consequence for our actions. At the end of the age we will give an account for ourselves and how we lived on this globe. To be honest, I will have more than enough of my own sin to give an account for. Everyone who has lived on this Island home we call earth except Jesus has sinned and transgressed God’s law. We are not sinners because we sin; no rather we sin because we are by nature, sinners. The true, complete debate over same-sex marriage cannot escape what we truly are: sinners. The starting point for this whole issue is that doctrine of original sin. I would say that a disagreement with the concept of original sin is where most who are pro same-sex marriage take the leap that helps to form their position.
The clear teaching of scripture is that man is sinful, broken, in need of redemption AND re-creation. Original sin explains that we come into this world broken and remain that way unless God intervenes. Indeed, as we read in Ephesians, we were dead in our trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1) We were created ‘very good’ but we rebelled and the true image of God within died. To illustrate, and this illustration is a gross simplification, we are as a clock that is missing some gears. We don’t function correctly; our timing is ‘off’.
Another example, perhaps more fitting is that we are on a life journey but our compass gives an incorrect reading; we will grow progressively off track if not corrected. Our sin leads us in the wrong direction. God tells us very clearly that we are off on a tangent but our rebellion leads to conclude that the character of God is suspect, He does not truly care for us, and we better look out for ourselves. We feel we cannot trust the one who made us. The seed of mistrust, planted into the hearts of men and women by the true enemy bore the fruit of falling from grace and total brokenness. This brokenness is past from generation to generation and from tribe to tribe; it is, as we have said, universal.
Some say that my belief in original sin is a leap of faith that cannot be proven. They say that man is born innately good or at worst a blank slate. Frankly, as I read the news daily I feel it is a far greater leap of faith to believe that they are right and I am wrong. We are, off the mark, we are sinners and missing the mark of God’s true holiness and goodness. This is what sin is all about. Because we are broken and dead in our sins we do not progress toward God and true goodness but ultimately we spiral downward.
Doing God’s will is not natural for us nor desired if we are still separated by our unrepentant and non-submissive hearts; we rebel and we head off in the direction that seems right for us. Proverbs has a serious warning for us about this self-wisdom: “There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
We have still not progressed very well, given our treatment of the poorest and most in need of medical coverage There are still failings in our justice system and we increasingly treat the most defenseless among us (children and the elderly) as burdens. Kindness, respect and civility are increasingly ignored in our treatment of others. So to this writer, taken as a whole it is hard to say that our society has truly progressed. Indeed, the socialization of Christian ethics and behavior is declining. It is hard to argue that people are progressively more loving, more joyful, more peaceful, more patient, more gentle and more self-controlled. Evidence shows that collective behavior is moving in the opposite direction: less loving, less joyful, more self-obsessed; less peaceful…you get the picture.
Any temporary goodness in man is through socialization but that socialization can evaporate in the tide of passions and emotions. This good socialization relies on restraint, restraint of emotions and restraint of behavior but these restraints are falling like the Berlin Wall. If you talk with the self-described elite you will be told that our society is progressing by the very removal of those restraints of passions and emotions. Our modern society has effective denuded the concept of and requirement for responsibility. Our new watchword is ‘personal happiness’. Increasingly, if personal happiness is threatened by responsibility, then responsibility is placed on the chopping block. If we are to be good members of society, if we are to be faithful to God there are, in fact, duties that cannot be denied.
We see these clearly when Paul in Philippians tells us how Jesus left Heaven to fulfill his responsibility and duty as our Savior. Yes, the joy was set before him, but Jesus had to go to the cross. A society that is held captive to the notion, that personal happiness before all other considerations is valid will come apart at the seams. Jesus did not promise total happiness on this earth but he did promise to grow his life and character in us. Any temporal happiness we achieve by denying the authority of God in our lives will ultimately leave us unhappy, perhaps in the short term and possibly in eternity.
By choosing our own wisdom and will, we choose the basest form of idolatry because we place our will above and against what is clearly revealed. We assume the throne of God for our lives. When we fight against His revealed will and wisdom for life we show the attitude of a three-year-old who loudly objects to not being allowed to use a busy street for a playground. It is for our own safety and good that we are restricted. Just because we do not have the sense or experience to see the danger doesn’t mean the danger is nonexistent. Our nature is to see restraints as a curse when it fact it may be a blessing and to protect us and others.
Same sex marriage is a progressive removal of ancient restraints and prejudices, it is said; I argue the point that it is a rebellion and in fact a regression. Just as the decline in Christian morals and ethics is a regression so the decline of family stability is an increasing regression in our society. I will assert that the family unit, comprised of a woman and a man with children is the primary, normative building block of society. This normative block has been the pattern across the globe for a very, very long time. In the Bible there is nothing written that indicates that this design is fluid and can be improved upon by the created. To attempt to change the pattern for family is to tell God that He didn’t know what He was doing or that we are smarter and wiser than Yahweh. Rather than question God’s design we need to bow our heads in worship and submission to His will. Same-sex marriage is not worship of Yahweh it is worship of the sinful self; it is rebellion against the clear decree of scripture. It is throwing off a restraint that should be in place.
It is clearly spelled out in both the Old and New Testament that the creation of marriage is bound in heterosexual relationships. We see this in the creation ordinance of Genesis one and two as well as Jesus’ own clear teaching in the gospels. Correspondingly, there is no mention of homosexual relationships, let alone homosexual unions allowed as a practice in the Jewish society or in the New Testament church. In fact, there is clear teaching against sexually immoral behavior and homosexual acts are included in the list of those immoral acts in the New Testament.
So, if this is so clear, why do people, even some in the church, disagree with my analysis? Put another way: what are their reasons to maintain that same-sex marriage is allowable? We will discuss this issue as well as some of the reasons used by people to justify same-sex marriage in our next post.