We live in a culture that is attempting to redefine many things. At the top of the list is marriage. Let me start by saying I don’t believe marriage can be redefined. It has been traditionally established as a sacred union, unique in nature. Nonetheless, a lot of energy has gone into trying. To be clear, this blog is not about the homosexual lifestyle. It is not about sexual orientation or preference. It is about an ancient, biblical, sacramental rite.
Marriage in the Catholic Church is the covenantal relationship by which a man and a woman form a partnership that binds together every aspect of their life. By its nature, marriage is a union established for the well being of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. Although Protestants don’t officially consider marriage a “sacrament”, there is no denying that it’s sacramental in nature.
It’s only logical that a Christian conversation about marriage would start with dialogue about God’s unique design. To discover God’s design we should always start with scripture. Scripture is where God has revealed his will for those who desire a relationship with him. The ancient practice of marriage is not something we invented, and therefore not something we have the right to redefine. The foundation for this sacramental rite is discovered in Genesis 2.
The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’… Then the Lord God made a woman… and he brought her to the man… That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:18, 22, 24, NIV)
The above passage reveals God’s creative design for marriage. It’s straightforward, yet has deep implications. In Matthew 19 Jesus validates the first marriage, and every marriage since, declaring that God has joined members of the opposite sex together in a covenantal relationship unlike any other. Thus, both Testaments provide scriptural support pertaining to God’s intent for marriage.
God created sexual identity; in doing so he made human beings male and female, then brought them together in sacred union. God also created sexual intimacy, not just identity, but intimacy. Within that framework, God intended for the expression of sexual intimacy to take place between a man and a woman in the confines of marriage.
Both genders reflect God’s image. As they join in holy union they fulfill one another emotionally, physically, and spiritually, which means marriage is more than a contract. It’s more than filing tax returns, buying a house, and applying for health insurance. It’s more than a consumer relationship, where the main focus is how it benefits you. It is the foundational building block of human society. Biblically speaking, homosexual marriage doesn’t exist. So even if you do have a loving, exclusive relationship with someone of the same sex, it still opposes God’s unique design for marriage.
Some would argue that regardless of where you might stand on the issue, that gay marriage should be endorsed as a basic civil right. They argue that any pledge of commitment between two people can only be a positive move societally. However, I’m afraid that misses the point, because the issue is not about civil unions. It’s about marriage. Even more it’s about an agenda that wants to redefine marriage, which biblically speaking, you just can’t do.
Marriage isn’t something we make up as we go. God did it and we can’t undo it. With that said, we live in a culture that is reducing the idea of marriage to something far less meaningful. It’s more about personal benefits than living in a covenantal relationship. As a Christian, I can’t endorse it. As someone who believes the heart of God for humanity is revealed in scripture, I simply cannot call something marriage that God clearly doesn’t.
Some would argue that in the context of the current conversation the word “marriage” has already been culturally redefined. Christians are being forced to think about the issue from a new perspective. Things have become so diluted that the word “marriage” certainly doesn’t mean what it once did.
There is another phrase, however. One that I think really gets at the heart of the matter: Holy Matrimony. This is the biblical idea of what marriage really is about anyway. Holy matrimony is sacramental, set apart, unlike anything else. It has deep theological implications that have translated into every culture since the beginning of time. Not only does this traditional understanding transcend ethnicity and culture, it also transcends religion. Christians, Jews, and Muslims all have a male-female view of holy matrimony.
At this point the redefinition of marriage isn’t just about acceptance, but the desire to force others to affirm something that directly opposes God’s design. Those whose agenda has been to advocate for the legitimacy of homosexual marriage have gone to great lengths to discredit every biblical reference. The reason is because they know they can’t have it both ways; the bible simply doesn’t support gay marriage.
You can ignore 2000 years of church history if you like. You can try to discredit every biblical reference. You can attempt to redefine marriage to suit your personal views. But is doesn’t change anything. The conclusion remains: God has spoken. He created human beings as male and female. The bible teaches that any departure from that design is outside of God’s will for our lives.
To understand God’s original design all we have to do is start in the beginning. So, there’s really no ground for redefining marriage. Call same-sex unions something else. Don’t allow the courts, culture, or popular opinion to highjack something that God created, and certainly don’t try to force a secular view of a sacramental rite on the Church. Call it what you want, but you can’t call it marriage. You can’t call it biblical, covenantal, or sacramental; and you certainly can’t call it holy.
(Sources: Code of Canon Law at Vatican.va, Compelling Truth, Jonathan Pokluda of The Porch, James White of Church & Culture, Edith Humphrey of Christianity Today, Wikipedia: Sacrament of Marriage)