Over the past few months I have been quite active in the same-sex marriage battle in Maryland. Christians in this state gathered over three times the necessary signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot to nullify same-sex marriage legislation. It is now likely that the homosexual community will try to do what they did in California to those of us who signed the petition. In California they obtained the signature lists and were reported to have telephoned some of the signees trying to get them to renounce their support for the referendum. Realizing that many people who signed were not prepared to respond courageously and graciously, I prepared a series of ten bulletin-sized essays with pertinent Scripture considered. All ten should be posted on the Bible Framework Ministries website by September in a new section devoted to essays and papers I have written.
The term “traditional marriage” is commonly used to refer to heterosexual marriage to make the point that it has been the customary view of marriage for thousands of years. Furthermore, it also makes the point that homosexuality has not been tolerated within the broad stream of Judeo-Christian culture. Homosexuality, however, has been continuously present in pagan societies since before Moses (witness Sodom in Genesis 19 at 2000 B.C.). An advantage to the term “traditional marriage” is that it can help defuse a highly emotional conversation. We can depersonalize the dialogue by calmly saying that it isn’t a matter of you-versus-me; it’s a matter of the age-old difference between Judeo-Christianity and paganism. It’s been going on for at least 4000 years! Perhaps this ploy would enlarge the scope of the dialogue to include a peek at the basic questions of ethics (what is the standard of good and evil and where does it come from?), epistemology (are there truths that endure unchanged over time?), and metaphysics (what is the purpose of life and marriage?).
Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis has made an excellent point that our defense of marriage must ultimately stand on the foundation of creation, not tradition. If we’re not careful to keep the conversation moving toward the big questions, the person we’re talking with could capture the dialogue as follows. “Traditions change. The man-woman view of marriage has been a major tradition, but traditions are constructed by societies and societies constantly evolve. Our society got past slavery and segregation. So now it’s time we got past homophobia.”
Now we have to get back to creation to deny that marriage is a mere “social construct.” It is an institution that preceded civil government and goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden which Jesus affirmed (Matt 19:4). It is based upon the design of man and woman as together they show the image of God (Gen 1:27). The sex difference of humans is much different than that of animals as the Genesis 2 narrative of the special creation of woman suggests. Woman is the one who enables man to fulfill his designed role of subduing the world. She does so in numerous ways given throughout the progress in revelation recorded in the Bible. Wisdom is regarded as feminine in Proverbs, a book that ends with a profile of a righteously active woman. It was a woman who birthed Jesus. It was women who provided food and lodging, Women first saw the resurrection. It is women who play a major role in training the next generation.
Here is the thing: marriage is a relationship based upon the physical and psychological design of men and women. Therefore, it can’t be altered by changing the meaning of the word based merely upon social convention. Sure, homosexual couples can go through the motions and get government-given financial benefits, but in the final analysis their relationship can never produce life nor a man-woman environment for children. In the end it will fail because like other violations of God’s design, we reap what we sow.
by Charles Clough