MARRIAGE: Do words have meanings?
With a single decision, a simple majority of five of nine justices on the Supreme Court of the United States, has successfully and irrevocably changed the meaning of a single word that has so clearly defined the most basic societal unit throughout history—a word with a meaning so clear and unambiguous that it had stood the test of time for millennia. Yet, on the morning of June 26, 2015, the meaning of “marriage” according to U.S. law changed forever.
The institution of marriage (and by extension, the family) is unlike any other societal custom or construct that has ever developed over the course of time. In Genesis 1:26-27: “God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to our likeness….so God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created He created him; male and female He created them.” In other words, God created humans in His image in such a way that the union of a single man and a single woman as husband and wife would most fully comprise the image of God in a complementary fashion—and as such, this design was woven into the very fabric of humanity and the world that they would populate.
This is not to suggest that marriage is necessary for someone to be considered to be made in the image of God. Both Jesus (Matt 19:12) and Paul (1 Cor 7:32-34) referred to unique situations where singleness were preferred for the sake of completing certain work in the kingdom of God. At the same time, it is equally clear that the union of a man and woman in a faithful marriage is a picture of the faithful relationship that is supposed to exist between God and His people (Eph 5:22-33). It is a testimony. It is an illustration. One designed, ordained and blessed by God.
There isn’t a single passage throughout Scripture that remotely hints that any type of loving relationship between two people of the same sex (even the very best of friends) can in any way fulfill the ultimately purposes of biblical marriage, of which only one aspect is sex—to say nothing of the impossibility of procreation—which is so obvious that it hardly warrants even bringing up among honest people.
This is to say nothing of the multiple passages in both the Old and New Testaments which explicitly condemn all attempts to fulfill sexual desires in any context outside biblical marriage. And therein is the key to entire semantic argument: “biblical marriage.”
Polygamy existed in the Old Testament, but these were not “biblical marriages”—even though God in His grace allowed them to continue without exercising immediate judgment. (In many cases, just trying to get by within a polygamous marriage was sufficient judgment for the moment.) God allowed for divorce, as Jesus noted in the New Testament, this was not the ideal, but due to “hardness of heart” (Mark 10:1-12). Divorce was not compatible with a “biblical marriage.”
One of the most tragic mistakes a believer can make is to confuse God’s tolerance for His blessing. In the case of the nation of Israel, God tolerated situations and even blessed people in His grace, before He ultimately executed judgment against the nation for a pattern of sin that had come to permeate the nation and become a way of life. They had foolishly mistaken tolerance and patience for acceptance and blessing.
Now that the United States has abandoned “biblical marriage” in favor of a very different definition, we are just one step closer to experiencing God’s judgment as a nation. The fact that the Supreme Court building and those celebrating the same-sex ruling from its steps on June 26, 2015 didn’t suffer an immediate strike from God is merely an example of His tolerance—not at all a sign of his acceptance and blessing. And those who foolishly mistake this redefinition of marriage as something that is pleasing to God—or simply don’t care what God thinks, have put the entire nation in a place of danger—perhaps imminent danger.
We can only pray for a spiritual revival (which is not likely in a pluralistic society that is anything but Christian) or we can pray for a merciful delay of what we deserve. But, either way, we must not be fooled into complacency. God is not mocked and for a time the rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matt 5:45).