Every day more and more people are lured to believe that secular ideas “make sense” in public life. Every day more and more Christians are lured to believe that they should not “impose” their worldview on other people. One of the ways that goal of secular political activists is achieved is the use of the word equality.
For example, the latest distortion of that word is its use in the campaign to redefine the word marriage. There is a fierce campaign nationwide to change the definition of marriage by using the allure of the word equality to legitimize the change. Activists for the change no longer use the word homosexual or even the word gay in their campaigns. They talk about marriage equality. The basis for this equality is the claim that marriage is a universal human right, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The change in verbiage allows activists for the redefinition of marriage to use an appealing argument. They simply ask, “Don’t you think everyone is equal?” or “Don’t you believe in equal rights for everyone?” or “Do you think people who love each other should be denied equal rights if they want to be married?” Nobody explains when or how marriage ever became a universal human right.
If marriage is a universal human right, then the next step is to examine the meaning of the word marriage. The commonly accepted definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is assaulted on two fronts – legal and religious. Until recently, it was not necessary to have a legal definition of marriage, because people assumed that the word marriage meant the union of a man and a woman. In the past ten years, LGBT political activists have tried to assert that marriage means any union of people who claim to love each other, regardless of the gender of the parties to the union. Further, until recently, Christians assumed that the biblical definition of marriage was the union of a man and a woman. This Biblical teaching is also under assault in more than one Christian denomination. Over the past few years, activists for the LGBT political agenda have actually worked on both the political and the spiritual fronts to achieve their goals. They have had some successes on both fronts.
For example, even though the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has yet to redefine the word marriage, the ELCA does roster homosexuals if they are living in an active homosexual union (there are terms and conditions surrounding this decision, but the bottom line is that active, public homosexuals will be placed in the pulpit in the office of word and sacrament in ELCA churches). This decision required the adoption of a statement on human sexuality that redefined biblical teachings that have stood firm for 2000 years. It is logical to assume that once the roster for clergy is salted with enough active homosexuals, the ELCA will be compelled to redefine marriage as well. The ELCA is not the only denomination to dip a toe into these waters.
On the political front, LGBT political activists have been able to win some legislative battles and pass laws legitimizing gay marriage. Interestingly, when such laws are tested at the polls, voters assert the traditional definition of marriage. Voters consistently reject the notion that the traditional definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is a denial of equality. Voters consistently reject a redefinition of equality as a justification to redefine marriage. Voters say that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. Christians do not consider voters to be authoritative for their theological positions; however, the evidence shows that the preponderance of voters choose the socially traditional definition of marriage just as the preponderance of Christians choose the theologically traditional definition of marriage.
Sadly, anyone who opposes the redefinition of marriage to include homosexual unions is subject to be called a bigot and a homophobe. It may be a shock to Christians when they hear pastors use such words from the pulpit, but it is happening. Many Christians, stunned and dismayed by this state of affairs, have asked when God changed his revelation of truth in the Bible and started saying such things.
The Bible has not changed. Secular thinking has changed. The Bible’s truth does not evolve or change with the times. Secular thinking evolves and changes with the times.
Christians experience both alarm and sadness when their spiritual leaders begin to speak like the political activists in the nightly news. Such things have happened before. In ancient Israel prophets lied to people while claiming to speak for God. In Nazi Germany, Lutheran pastors lied to people while claiming to speak for God. Today in the USA some religious leaders are lying to their congregations while claiming to speak for God.
The secular culture says that the idea that marriage as the union of a man and a woman is old-fashioned. To refuse to define unions of people of the same gender who love each other as marriage is, says the LGBT, an example of unequal treatment. In fact, they assert that heterosexual oppression of minority views is equivalent to racial persecution. The latest thrust in the battle to destroy the traditional definition of marriage is to call the campaign for marriage equality the sexual equivalent of Martin Luther King’s civil rights campaign.
How do Christians even talk with people who are confused by the LGBT political agenda? There are three lines of reasoning that establish marriage as the union of a man and a woman and refute any argument that the union of two homosexuals is a marriage.
The first path ought to be quite acceptable to the secular culture. It doesn’t involve God or the Bible. The history of humankind shows a consistent practice of defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. From the most primitive cultures still in existence today to the most technologically advanced, the union of a man and a woman in marriage is the foundation of the society. Around the world, the union of a man and a woman is surrounded with a universe of religious and legal structures. Vastly more people define marriage as the union of a man and a woman than choose any other definition. Archeologists find artifacts that validate the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman far back to the dawn of human society. Marriage is a human institution that human beings have valued and protected as long as there have been human beings. The union of a man and a woman is the definition of marriage that has been the foundation of society and the nurturing environment for children. Many variations on that theme have been attempted, but no other variant has been consistently recognized by humans around the world. Marriage is naturally defined by human history and culture as the union of a man and a woman.
Second, the tradition of human societies is based on the biological truth that there is no accommodation in human biology for same-gender sexual expression or for the transmission of genetic predisposition to same-gender sexuality. If the weight of time means anything in this regard, humans have had plenty of time to study and observe if there is any reason to believe that same-gender sex is part of nature’s plan or to find a way to transmit congenital conditions without progeny. Genes that are not transmitted from one generation to the next by reproduction die out. Until now, cultures accepted the guidance of biology along with the natural social appreciation for the outcome of a union of a man and a woman in marriage.
The third path is important for Christians. The teaching of the Bible, God’s revealed truth for the guidance of humankind, demonstrates that God blesses the union of a man and a woman as marriage and rejects any other variant. Students of the Bible can easily find proscriptions of homosexual conduct inside or outside of a committed relationship. There is a whole arsenal of LGBT re-interpretations of these proscriptions that purports to defuse any effort to use old laws and customs to throw stones at the idea of homosexuality. It is not necessary, however, to rely on the negative to demonstrate God’s design for human sexuality. The Bible is filled with positive evidence of God’s blessing of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The images of God’s blessing of this union are not duplicated by imagery of non-heterosexual unions.
In the beginning of the Bible, at the beginning of time, God created humankind male and female. When he created the first man, Adam, Adam was alone. To alleviate that loneliness, God created the first woman, Eve. God blessed that union and it was the union of man and woman throughout the Bible that God blessed with his promises and with children. This union is so powerful and so good for people that God uses it as the model of his relationship with people throughout the Bible. Every time God speaks of his relationship with the people of Israel or with the church, he speaks of himself as the husband or the bridegroom. God speaks of the nation or the church as the bride.In the book of Revelation the marriage feast of male bridegroom and female bride is the celebration of God’s eternal victory over evil and the beginning of a new heaven and a new earth. Male and female. Man and woman. This revelation is positive and power-packed. Bible students who recognize the sexual power embodied in the relationship between a man and a woman will also recognize what God is saying about the power of a human relationship with him.
What should Christians conclude from Bible study? God blesses marriage, the union of a man and a woman. No other union is equal to that union. Political activism notwithstanding, inventing the idea that every sort of union is the same as marriage is not truth, and defining marriage as only one kind of union, the union of a man and a woman, is not inequality.
Christians who fervently believe the Bible feel bombarded when the LGBT agenda is adopted by political leaders, but they feel deeply betrayed when their spiritual leaders join in. They need to remember that the Bible does not evolve or change with the times. This sort of thing has happened before. The Bible itself records the fact that some people will garb themselves as spiritual leaders while actually speaking and acting in collaboration with evil agendas. Christians must not believe lies, even when pastors speak them. During the years of Nazi power in Germany, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others spoke out against the state church of Germany because its leaders had thrown in their lot with the Nazis. Christians in the USA who believe the Bible rather than politics may find themselves as thoroughly maligned by their church leaders as Bonhoeffer was. Worry not. The God “who is and who was and who is to come” has not changed his eternal truth, and he will bless and strengthen those who hold his truth fast.