“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 HIS 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 19:5-6
It is probably a safe statement to say that Jesus had a pretty good idea of what God had in mind regarding the institution of marriage. The Apostle Paul would later quote the same passage in his letter to the Church at Ephesus.
“We are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND HIS MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and His church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:30-33
These are only two of the passages of Scripture that are able to give us a firm foundation for a Biblical belief in marriage. They are rooted in Old Testament and New Testament Scripture, and they contain the very words of Jesus and those of one of the most prolific writers of Holy Scripture. Each of them concurred on the core values that are fundamental to the oldest institution of in human civilization. This belief in marriage as the inseparable union between a man and a woman became the basis of all Judeo-Christian jurisprudence and found its expression in English Common Law. It is this legal heritage that was brought by the earliest settlers to the New World that would become America.
By the summer of 1776 these two rivers of thought flowed from the minds, to the pens and onto the parchments and into a statement being prepared by the founding fathers that launched the birth of a new nation. In short it said,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are LIFE, LIBERTY and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.”
Two hundred and thirty-six years later we are seeing the results of a relentless secularist movement in this country that has attempted to kick the Creator to the curb and redefine the source and the substance of the rights that He granted to those He created. Current events have revealed that this efforts has not been in vain.
The recent statement of support for same-sex marriage by the POTUS, has raised the issue to a new level of visibility and intensity in the public arena. The basic nature of the issue has been difficult to grasp in the midst of a media blitz and the emotional reaction to his evolutionary statement. A wild flurry of issues seem to be shouting out for attention all at the same time. The following is a novice’s attempt at lowering the decibel level and gaining a degree of understanding at what is happening and the consequences that are at stake. As clearly as I can discern, I believe I have heard people shouting…
It is a social justice issue. There are those who say that there is a wrong that must be made right in the social fabric of contemporary culture. For too long the belief in marriage as a relationship between a man and woman has been inflicted upon people who hold a different view. They believe it is time to make things right, and they compare their concern with the early abolitionists who paved the way for the removal slavery as a public stain on the honor of the country.
It is a civil rights issue. This is an expression of the belief that a chosen life-style is a civil right and any personal preference of an oppressed minority must be protected by the law of the land. Regardless of what previous generations have believed about same-sex marriage, they hold that a government must protect those who reject the existing laws against same-sex marriage from any expression of discrimination against their behavior. Black voters are divided on this issue, and apparently not convinced that they are ready to equate same-sex marriage with access to the voting booth, and the removal of Jim Crow laws. From California to the Carolinas they have supported marriage propositions and amendments, that oppose same-sex marriage. One pastor in Texas made a public statement against this comparison by stating for the record, “Don’t confuse your sin with my skin.” This appears to be a tough sell to those who have known the fight, still bear the scars and cherish the memories of what was at stake in the battle for their civil rights.
It is a genetic issue. These people believe that homosexuals are genetically designed to have an attraction to their same sex, and they should not be denied the full protection of the law in their free expression of their genetic design. Those that resist this scientific finding are vilified as ignorant bigots who just can’t comprehend that at least 10-25% of the population carries this gene. Those who reject this finding counter with their own position that there may indeed be a genetic tendency towards homosexuality, but it impacts less than 2% of the population. There is no compromise in sight.
It is a fairness issue. For some, it is simply not fair to deny people access to or approval of the type of marriage relationship that they prefer. To hold up marriage between a man and a wife as the only form of the institution is mean, and hurtful to those who have no choice but to love those who share their same beliefs. One cynical contemporary comic expressed fairness this way, “I wish them well. Advocates of same-sex marriage deserve the same right to be miserable in their marriage as I have been in all of mine.”
It is a tolerance/diversity issue. Glenn Beck created a firestorm in conservative circles when he advocated that as far as he was concerned, what causes no harm to him raises no offense in him. Advocates of same-sex marriage may not share a personal preference for it, but they defend the right for it to exist for those who want it. They refuse to mandate the behavior of others, and criticize those who hold to the narrow-minded view of heterosexual marriage. They perceive their position as an open-minded and enlightened expression of political correctness.
It is a legal issue. These advocates believe that the separation of church and state excludes any and all religious opinions from the public arena. What is held as foundational beliefs inside the walls of one’s church has no place in the lawbooks of the land. In short, they believe the majority cannot legislate the behavior of a minority or restrict their free expression of their rights. These same people do not seem to see anything wrong with the state influencing what goes on in the church, but they countenance no interference from the church with the state. They refer to the law of man as supreme, but they are a bit cloudy where the absolutes or principles for these laws come from.
It is a cultural issue. Marriage between a man and a woman has been the accepted standard since the foundation of civilization. However, in the 21st Century 100% of mainstream media outlets have daily promoted the support for same-sex marriage. This effort has slanted the playing field toward sympathy for the position held by a minute minority of people. Local communities have the authority to codify laws and statutes even when they are based upon the shifting sand of public opinion and personal preference. Still, only seven states (14% of the nation) have established the legality of same-sex marriage. 35 states have statutes on the books or constitutional amendments opposing it.This may indicate the size of the disconnect between the Mainstream Media and Main Street.
It is a constitutional issue. The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act was an attempt to settle this issue nationally. Still, opposing forces continue to call out to members local communities to establish a standard for marriage based upon their own personal mores and preferences. The result has been surprising. Polls continue to report a groundswell of support for same-sex marriage, but the ballot box seems to tell a different story. The 35 legislative initiatives opposing same-sex marriage have passed by an average margin of 60-40%. Even in California, their proposition passed by 8%, and in North Carolina by as much as a 22% margin. Apparently, the American people hold a very different view than they feel the freedom to express in the public arena. The secret ballot still trumps the latest poll results.
It is an integrity issue. Supporters of heterosexual marriage are often chided that they have little right to use the word “sacred” in the same sentence with “institution” to describe marriage. To describe it as a “sacred institution” is to deny that they have failed to hold the high ground. Government’s sanction of “no fault” divorce, and society’s acceptance of the practice of cohabitation as a means to beat the “marriage penalty” are only two of the subversive systems that have undermined the “sacred institution.” For three decades one out of two marriages in this country has ended in divorce. This has held true for marriages in and out of the church arena. Serial practitioners of divorce have lowered the standard of marriage even though they march under the matrimonial banner of one man and one woman. In fact, they have brought respect for the institution to a new low. They have allowed it to morph from a “sacred institution” to a form of practical polygamy. A person in this country is free to have as many marriage partners as they choose, as long as they hook up with them one at a time. Womanizing men, and marriage-mad women have created unions more likely made in heat than in Heaven. Honest brokers of traditional marriages are disgusted with this hypocrisy. Those who criticize same-sex marriage, while they destroy the integrity of traditional marriage are part of the pollution not the solution. This has led many traditionalists to express a personal desire to set their own marriage in order instead of investing angst and energy in denying another person access to theirs. This noble gesture is often interpreted as a sign of weakness. Only time will tell.
It is a political issue. Traditional family values are pitted against the redefinition of marriage and support for same-sex marriage. Opposing forces try to place essential planks on their political platforms. Each side is engaged in partisan politics. They each can justify the expensive mobilization of a campaign to demonize, marginalize and humiliate those who do not share the same view. The fabric of the American family is being rewoven year after year by forces that manipulate the masses to carry their water, and keep them in office.
It is a religious issue. Orthodox Christianity holds that Scripture is the Word of God and the final authority on moral standards and personal behavior. The Bible clearly defines homosexuality as a sin, but it is not considered unpardonable. It can be forgiven. Though a rejection of God’s plan, it is not to be set aside,and vilified in such a way that the critic is free to think more highly of himself than he ought to think. Though it is a sin against nature, and therefore particularly abhorrent, it is worth remembering that all sin is abhorrent to God. The slightest to the greatest sin required the same measure of His Son’s blood for the ultimate sacrifice that would purchase forgiveness for those who receive it. Within the broad borders of so called American Christianity there is a wide variety of opinion on the authority of Scripture. Those who hold on to its inerrency with a tight grip are prone to distrust any diluting or diversion from the application of God’s Word in the matter of same-sex marriage Those who hold a lower view of Scripture and a higher view of their own opinion, usually loosen their grip on ancient Scriptural mandates. They may take hold of some of the same words, but they have a tendency to rewrite the dictionary. They evolve into people more comfortable with being politically correct than being biblically accurate. Fear of man usually evolves into a disobedience to God’s Word. However, the following laundry list of the early church indicates that it was filled with people with an inglorious past, but a glorious future. It is worth remembering, when dealing with people who disagree with us, that God has a way of turning people around who we are prone to believe are too far gone. Gotta love the statement, “Such were some of you.”
“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. Such were some of you.” I Corinthians 6:9-11
It is too early to tell which one of these issues will carry the day. For the POTUS, it was a painful and agonizing process to stir up his courage and admit in public what he had held in private for a very long time. He is to be commended for clearing the air and setting the record straight. He has staked his political future on his personal belief in God, and his desire to be a faithful advocate of the “Golden Rule.”
If POTUS is right, then everything I know about God and His Word is wrong. His statement has not led me to a crisis of faith. Fear of God is still the best antidote for the fear of man. I have found that when I am intimate with Him, I am not intimidated by what man does. Parsing and dissecting the Word of God rather than obeying it, usually evolves into disobedience to God’s voice. If he is wrong, POTUS will have much to answer for, and a country will have much damage to repair. What a leader does in moderation, usually leads to excess in the lives of his people.
In spite of all the screaming and shouting in the public arena, I find comfort in an ancient Hebrew Proverb. It has helped me face these issues with a calm and a perspective that only God can bring to my heart. After I run into His Presence with a breathless report of all that I have seen going on in the world, I always discover that He has been aware of it all the time. I haven’t surprise Him yet, and He hasn’t panicked yet. Running into his Presence always ends with me rolling the issues into His hands and leaving them with Him. He is the only One that can make sense out of them. In short, I am learning to TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!
“Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor the onslaught of the wicked when it comes. For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” Proverbs 3:26
Dr. Gary Miller
For over 40 years, Gary and Dana Miller have invested their lives in the pastoral ministry of churches in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Georgia. Gary and Dana believe the hope of the world is the local church, and the strength of the church is sustained by praying people.
They have taught extensively on the role of prayer in spiritual awakening, counseled people to build strong marriages by equipping husbands and wives to pray together and have ministered internationally in Hong Kong, Japan, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia and Switzerland through their TALK LESS! PRAY MORE! Prayer Conferences.
Gary and Dana live in Fort Worth, Texas and have been married for 40 years. They are parents of two grown daughters, Ashley and Allyson.