The battle over same-sex marriage continues, though not always on the front pages. The PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) Web site cites a new survey indicating that 52 percent of Americans would favor a law that prohibits same-sex marriage. A recent Washington Post poll found that fewer than four in 10 Americans support same-sex civil unions that would provide some of the rights and legal protections of marriage. Legislatures in 38 states have adopted so-called Defense of Marriage Acts, which define marriage as a contract between a man and a woman.
Yet two Canadian provinces have now made same-sex marriages legal. And the highest court in Massachusetts ruled last November to allow same-sex marriages, which began May 17.
PBS commentator Jeff Sheler referred to these cases as “a changing of the guard, a social shift of historic proportions.” He commented, “The controversial change has sent shock waves through legal and religious communities on both sides of the border.”
Theological positions regarding marriage
Reactions to the issue of same-sex marriage serve as the latest barometer of whether the Bible is acknowledged and used as the basis of morality. (Marriage and family are still reeling from earlier attacks of permissiveness, adultery, premarital sex, disrespect, rampant divorce and remarriage, abuse and a host of other societal changes.)
In many cases today, human reason trumps Scripture’s fundamental teachings. Bible passages are either misinterpreted or discounted by those who advocate a personal agenda that conflicts with its plain teachings.
Liberal theologians conveniently dismiss the inerrant authority of the Scriptures and consider many historical events, including the creation account of Genesis 1, to be myths. Many of the plain statements by the apostle Paul are seen as temporary, cultural matters.
One church official, after writing off the clear teachings of Scripture as “cultural” and thus obsolete and irrelevant in our present-day civilization, concluded, “Keeping the faith is what counts.” But faith in what? Apparently faith in a stripped-down version of Scripture tailored to individual preferences and prejudices.
Some claim that the human authors of the Bible were ignorant of the dynamics of homosexuality and the capacity for people to love someone of the same sex and to make a commitment of marriage. In their minds civil rights take precedence. Even some conservative Christians share that viewpoint, citing passages in Romans 13 that urge Christians to submit to civil authority.
Threats of homosexual issues to civilization
A homosexual man, who claims to be a devout Episcopalian, boldly stated in a PBS interview, “Family has been redefined. We no longer have, for various reasons, mother, father, two children. It can be now mother and two children; father, two children. It can be lesbians, one child, two children. It can be gay men.”
Herein lies the greatest concern. Same-sex marriage is not just about two people seeking permission and approval to make a legal commitment of marriage. It is about redefining longstanding, biblically based, fundamental aspects of our culture. It is the opening salvo on a moral battlefront with grave stakes for modern civilization, as we have known it.
Gay activists will not be content with the right to marry. They want equal rights and full acceptance of homosexuality as a legitimate “lifestyle.” This means that employers, including churches and schools, would be required to hire practicing homosexuals as teachers, pastors and in other occupations that influence the thoughts of others, including children.
Are you prepared for an even greater influx of love songs, television programs and movies based on homosexual couples? Even television commercials and other forms of advertising will pick up the trend. What effect will all of this have on your children and grandchildren?
We don’t need to guess at the answers. It has already begun. One young Christian husband and wife were shocked when their young son brought home a book from his elementary school titled The King and King. The story centers on a young prince who tells his parents that he loves someone of his own sex. So their destiny as a royal couple is dubbed king and king instead of the traditional king and queen. The young couple expressed their dismay to school officials who defended the teacher’s selection on the basis that other parents did not share their concerns.
This is one isolated incident, but one that will soon become commonplace if the present trend continues. Same-sex marriage is but a foot in the door to full recognition and legal approval of homosexuality in every aspect of life. Time appears to be in their favor. What is now the silent majority would become a silent minority, muzzled by “hate law” provisions geared to silence opposition. What is now the vocal minority would continue its campaign with the goal of becoming the majority and establishing homosexuality as the norm.
Think it can’t happen? It already did—in Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible exhorts us, “And don’t forget the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with sexual immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and are a warning of the eternal fire that will punish all who are evil” (Jude 7, New Living Translation).
Importance of Christian reaction and response
The apostle Peter wrote that “God rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a good man who was sick of all the immorality and wickedness around him” (2 Peter 2:7, NLT).
Although God refers to him as righteous, in the eyes of many Lot would be labeled as “homophobic.” This is another tactic to turn the tables on opponents of same-sex marriage and homosexuality. The prophet Isaiah decries this tactic, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).
What about today? Is there enough commitment and determination by the majority of Christians and other citizens to resist the powerful efforts of the firmly entrenched gay activist minority? How deeply motivated are Christians to nip this in the bud? Jesus said in John 9:4, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (New Revised Standard Version).
In some areas of Canada it is even against the law to quote the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality.
In the United States legislators in several states have sought to protect the legal status of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In the recent election, voters in 11 states approved constitutional amendments limiting marriage to one man and one woman. The amendments won in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Utah and even Oregon—a state where gay-rights activists hoped to prevail.
President George W. Bush, too, has voiced support for a constitutional amendment that will limit marriage to heterosexual couples. The current version allows for civil unions for homosexual couples, giving the amendment opponents on both sides of the issue. Many traditional-marriage advocates consider this as an unacceptable compromise, and many homosexuals view it as unjustly discriminatory. However, even this weakened version has been given slim chances for congressional approval.
In 1 Timothy 2:2 Paul exhorts us to pray “for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” The Louw-Nida lexicon offers, “that we may live in entire godliness and propriety,” and adds the comment, “In some languages ‘propriety’ is best expressed as ‘to act in the right way’ or ‘to act as one ought.’”
Civil rights vs. legal responsibilities
Viewpoints on same-sex marriage reflect a growing trend of emphasizing rights over responsibility. One young homosexual in Portland, Oregon, protested in a television interview, “This is the 21st century; we should be able to do whatever we want to do.” This mindset is a recipe for anarchy, not freedom.
Some seem to forget that citizenship is not just about one’s own personal freedoms. It also includes the rights and freedoms of others. The laws of the Bible define true freedom and form the basis of the civil governments of the United States and other Western nations.
Some seem to forget that citizenship is not just about their own personal freedoms.
In the United States, the concept of “civil rights” seems to be elevated above the rights of governments to establish and enforce laws that define and safeguard the freedoms of everyone. The Bible presents the law of God as “the perfect law of liberty,” or as the New International Version translates it, “the perfect law that gives freedom” (James 1:25).
Redefining and rejecting the laws of God puts us on a course that threatens the freedoms that we presently enjoy and take for granted. Tampering with the longstanding definition of marriage, sometimes called a divine institution, as the union of one man and one woman, described in the opening chapters of Genesis, threatens the very building blocks of society—marriage and family.
God told the first man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). He designed the two sexes for that purpose. Two men or two women cannot produce children as biological parents. Marriage and family are also fundamental to the plan of God in the spiritual lessons that He wants us to learn from these relationships as He designed them.
Future of marriage and family
Jesus emphasized that “from the beginning of the creation God made [us] male and female” (Mark 10:6). That same Jesus promises to restore all things in His coming Kingdom (Acts 3:20-21). That will certainly include restoring the appropriate marriage and family relationships that are clearly spelled out in the Bible.
In the meantime mankind has some bitter lessons to learn from disregarding and defying these most fundamental truths of the Bible that form the moral basis of civilization.
Christian Hope and Help for Homosexuals
Often people have been raised in a dysfunctional home environment they could not control, which left them susceptible to sexual sins. In light of this, God’s ministers compassionately help Christians who wish to conquer wrong sexual inclinations of whatever nature. The United Church of God provides a compassionate ministry to help educate, comfort and assist Christian men and women in surmounting this challenging personal issue. We offer a publication titled Anchor, a magazine of hope for Christians struggling with homosexuality. More information about Anchor can be found at its Web site, www.anchorhelp.com.