Same-Sex Marriage: A Political Issue or a Moral Issue?
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.”
— Genesis 2:24
Our country today is literally ablaze with the emotionally-charged debate, not only about whether to legalize so-called “same-sex marriage” but whether to re-define “marriage” essentially as to what it IS. The issue is not whether to extend legal rights, social privileges, financial benefits and even protection under the law equally to all who live together in a “committed relationship,” in a permanent, life-long, intimate, conjugal association with one another. In many if not most cases those rights have already been extended by states, by other jurisdictions, and by many employers.
The “committed relationship” referred to involves more than being mere “friends with benefits.” The latter term, of course, is a socially sanitized euphemism for what used to be called “living together” — co-habiting in a joint residence with fornication as the assumed “fringe benefit” of sharing the same apartment, the same room, and the same bed, but maybe not the same toothbrush. The practice is widespread nowadays, even quite common, and is regarded as socially-acceptable by the world with no “hush-hush” stigma attached to it. Not surprisingly, the latest programming on television, from soap operas to dramatic series to situation comedies, features “living together” — whether by heterosexual couples or by homosexual couples — as a commonplace arrangement. Those who engage in the practice do not want to be regarded as “married” because their relationship is admittedly temporary, an arrangement of convenience, an uncommitted relationship from which they are entitled to back out at any given time “with no strings attached;” and they want to keep it that way. And so the re-definition of “marriage” does not apply to them. The issue that we as Christians have with their “arrangement” is that it violates God’s holy Sixth Commandment, which prohibits sexual intimacy outside of Holy Marriage
—whether in thought (Matthew 5:28), word (Ephesians 4:29; 5:4) or deed (Ephesians 5:3; I Corinthians 6:18)— and that the “benefits” they want outside of marriage are reserved by God Himself to the “marriage bed” wherein intimacy is “undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4).
The demanded legalization of “same-sex marriage” is the ultimate “in-your-face” assault upon society by the gay and lesbian community, which insists that its “lifestyle choice” be recognized as legitimate, as moral, and as a completely normal expression of “love” between “consenting adults.” It also has powerfully manipulated the concept of “political correctness” so that any criticism or denunciation of homosexuality is now branded as “homophobia” — literally an unfounded fear of homosexuality — which it is NOT, and “hate speech,” which again it is NOT. The GLBT (or LGBT) community — the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered alliance — has established such a powerful social and political agenda and lobby in the world, and particularly in our country, that not only social agencies and politicians, but also common everyday “straight” citizens are literally terrified of opposing it for fear of being branded as blindly-prejudiced “hatemongers,” “homophobes” and “bigots”! Interestingly, the matter of “same-sex marriage” is a 21st Century issue, with the real push for recognition coming only within the past ten years! As of August, 2013, only fifteen (15) countries allow same-sex couples to “marry.” It is represented by its adherents as a “political” issue, a “social” issue, a “human rights” issue, a “civil rights” issue, but also a “moral” issue.
The fact of the matter for Christians is that homosexual behavior (unlike differences in race, national origin and culture) is condemned by Holy Scripture, in both the Old and New Testaments, as a perversion of God’s natural order of things, as unnatural, as indecent, and as a particularly abominable form of fornication in His sight. We read, for example, in Leviticus 18:22, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination.” To God, this and other perversions are a moral outrage concerning which He says without equivocation: “Whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore shall ye keep Mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein. I am the Lord your God” (vv. 29–30).
But this was not merely an Old Testament “ceremonial” or “political” prohibition which was abrogated in the New Testament, for the Apostle Paul reiterates it in Romans chapter one, saying by inspiration of the Holy Ghost that “God also gave them [the heathen] up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves, who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections; for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly [i.e., indecent, shameful], and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient [i.e., appropriate];…without natural affection, …who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (24–28, 31–32). In Holy Scripture the description of homosexuality and its activity is unmistakable; the judgment of it as unnatural, as a perversion, as indecent and shameful, and as inappropriate is unequivocal; and the condemnation of it is unquestionable.
We also note that, in the apostle’s last words, not only those who “commit such things,” not only those who “do the same” — including the other gross sins mentioned in vv. 29–31 — but also those who “have pleasure in them that do them,” those who approve of their sinful actions, those who validate them, those who would legitimatize them, those who, in the context of “same-sex marriage” would grant the same status of definition to homosexual “unions” as to heterosexual “marriage” as instituted by God, fall under His condemnation.
To be completely clear, it should be recognized that the argument in society today is NOT merely to grant “equal rights,” “equal justice under law,” or even “equal benefits” under civil law to same-sex “unions” or “couples.” It is to legitimize the moral status of same-sex “unions” by re-defining “marriage” to include them. This is by no means a “closed debate” in human society as evidenced by the fact that only fifteen countries out of all the countries of the world allow “same-sex marriage.” Moreover, the fact that, in addition to the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and many main-line Protestant churches, the majority of Muslims, Hindu nationalists, orthodox Jews, and traditional Buddhists also reject same-sex marriage shows that this is not merely a “Judaeo-Christian” issue.
In the United States, only 28% of those polled in 2005 replied that they supported same-sex marriages; by 2013 the number had reached 50%; but the matter is far from being “settled” even politically in our own country. In Illinois, for example, the recognition of same-sex marriage was enacted by a one-vote margin in the General Assembly on November 5th as Illinois became only the fifteenth state out of fifty to pass such legislation.
The LGBT lobby is not satisfied that “committed” homosexual relationships, such as they are, are called and are granted the status of legally-recognized “civil unions” with equal protection under the law from discrimination (as is granted to racial, religious, cultural and national minorities). It demands that its “unions” be recognized and sanctioned as the establishment of “families,” the same basic unit of society that God established in the beginning for good order in the world, its core relationship being the civil estate of “marriage,” instituted by God for mutual companionship and love (Genesis 2:20b–24), for the lawful procreation of children (Genesis 1:28; 9:7; Psalm 127:3–5; etc.), and as an aid against unchastity (I Corinthians 7:1–2). Same-sex relationships, though they be “committed,” “permanent,” “life-long,” and even “sincerely and freely” established,” are NOT holy in the sight of God, as His Word clearly teaches. They are NOT what He instituted in the beginning. They are not the “mutual companionship” that He approves, nor are they the “love” that He ordained between husband and wife (Cf. Ephesians 5:22-33). Their appearance that they are intimate, committed, more-or-less permanent, and mutually established by “consenting adults” only makes them caricatures of marriage, not real marriages. Simply to re-define “marriage” to include them is as ludicrous as re-defining “fatherhood” to include females or “motherhood” to include males.
In His institution of marriage as the basic building-block of society, God first of all created a “female” (Genesis 1:27), “a woman” (Genesis 2:22), as a suitable companion, “an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18, 20), for His heretofore solitary “man” (“It is not good that the man should be alone,” v. 18a). He then instituted the relationship between the man (male) and the woman (female) in which the two would be united in “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). From thenceforth, “a man” would “leave” the family unit established by “his father and his mother” (v. 24a) and would “cleave unto,” adhere in a new relationship with, “his wife,” literally, his “woman” according to the Hebrew of the text. God’s definition of “marriage” according to His institution of that estate in the beginning, Christ’s citation of that institution in the Gospels (Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:7), and that of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:31, is completely clear, unequivocal, and unaccommodating of revision.
Where does all of this leave US as Bible-believing, Scripture-confessing Christians? Where does the effort not only to validate homosexual behavior but to re-define marriage as the union between any two persons regardless of gender leave US, who, motivated by God’s great love for us in Christ Jesus, earnestly desire to continue in His Word (John 8:31-32), to hold fast the form of sound words (II Timothy 1:13), to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), and to testify to our faith in clear and certain words, easy to be understood (I Corinthians 14:9)? Thankfully, the so-called “world-view” of those who reject Holy Scripture as the only source and norm of spiritual truth, of Christian doctrine, and of orthodox practice does not determine what WE believe, teach and confess. Neither does the legislation of civil governments nor judicial opinion rendered by their courts determine what is true or false, right or wrong, just or unjust in spiritual matters; for in all such cases where civil authorities command us to do or to observe what God in His Word forbids, or where they forbid us to do, or to judge, or to condemn what God in His Word commands us to do, to judge, and to condemn, “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Accordingly, as consistent Christians whose consciences are bound by the Word of God (II Corinthians 10:5),
- We dare not deny but are compelled to recognize that homosexuality is condemned by God as an abomination in His sight.
- We dare not deny but are compelled to recognize that homosexuality is described in Holy Scripture as a perversion of the natural order that God Himself established for the intimacy of human beings within holy marriage.
- We dare not minimize the sinful character of homosexuality by reducing it to a mere “lifestyle” or “preference” which people may legitimately choose without incurring the wrath of God.
- We dare not validate homosexuality by speaking approvingly of it or by refraining from any judgment or condemnation of it.
- We dare not regard homosexual intimacy as a proper expression of conjugal love, as heterosexual intimacy is within holy marriage.
- We dare not legitimatize a “committed relationship” between persons of the same gender as being at all salutary in the eyes of God, since it expresses deliberate continuance in a particularly abominable form of fornication.
- We dare not presume to re-define what God Himself has defined and to change the essence and the parameters of marriage to include what He has expressly prohibited.
- We dare not recognize what God has prohibited between human beings as being tantamount to what He has joined together and therefore to judge that God is the author of what is currently referred to as “same-sex marriage.”
- “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) if and when we are ever required by our civil government or by authorities in the workplace to transgress the Word and will of God regarding these matters and thus to accommodate ourselves to the wicked world and to the commandments of men who would deceive us and seduce us into misbelief and other great shame and vice.
- We dare not yield to “political correctness” when it pressures us to “call evil good and good evil; [to] put darkness for light and light for darkness; [to] put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter; [to be] wise in [our] own eyes and prudent in [our] own sight” (Isaiah 5:20-21).
- We should, moreover, not be surprised when the world regards us as “strange” because we, having been redeemed by Christ and now being Christ-minded, do not want to “live the rest of [our] time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God,” and people “speak evil of [us]” because we do not join them in their sinful “excess of riot,” as they seek to legitimatize and even to praise what God has judged to be wicked and abominable (I Peter 4:1-4).
What can and should we do as Christians in these last and perverse days to be “the salt of the earth,” as Jesus calls us in Matthew 5:13? Throughout history, salt has been used as a cleansing agent in tending to open wounds, a drawing agent against pockets of infection, and a preserving agent to protect meat and fish against spoilage. “But if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and to be trodden down under foot of men,” Jesus tells us. That’s the difference between the power of salt and the neutrality of white sand, though they may look similar.
God swears upon His own existence that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live (Ezekiel 33:11); and He has given to us the responsibility of “getting the word out” about His primary will that “all men be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4). We Christians, observing the proper distinction between the Law and the Gospel, have the duty to engage the children of this world with regard to this pernicious evil. Using God’s Law in all its fierceness, we are to make known God’s own condemnation of homosexuality as a heinous sin in His sight (Romans 3:20), to convict those who practice and validate it as being “worthy of death” (Romans 1:32), to bring them to terrors of conscience and humble contrition before God for their abominable behavior (Romans 2:15; Psalm 51:3–4, 17), so that they do not seek to justify themselves by the Law (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16; 3:11b). And then, when such manifest sinners have been “hammered” by the Law (Jeremiah 23:29) and are troubled in their minds because of their sins (Acts 2:37; 16:30), it is our great privilege, as those who have been redeemed from and forgiven for our many heinous sins and transgressions, to bring to the brokenhearted the blessed news of the Gospel, namely, that Christ perfectly satisfied God’s justice on behalf of and in the stead of ALL men (I John 2:2), and that God, for His sake, reconciled the world of the ungodly unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them (II Corinthians 5:19). For it is by that blessed “Word of reconciliation” that a poor sinner is brought to confide in its message of forgiveness, so that the righteousness of Christ and God’s forgiveness are personally applied to him for his own comfort (Isaiah 40:1-2), for peace with God (Romans 5:1), for joy in God’s rescue of wretched sinners (Psalm 51:8, 12), and for the ultimate salvation of their souls (Acts 4:12).
Brethren, we have been “bought with a price,” St. Paul writes to the Corinthians (I, 7:23a). Christ Himself purchased us to be His own, “not with gold or silver but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death (cf. I Peter 1:18-19), that [we] may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness” (Luther). Therefore we are no longer, nor should we be, “the servants of men” (I Corinthians 7:23b), following after and serving the agenda of the children of this world who by virtue of unbelief are still in slavery to sin and in bondage to Satan, “denying the Lord that bought them and bring[ing] upon themselves swift destruction” (II Peter 2:1). Instead, we as God’s children should treasure His institution of Holy Marriage as an image of Christ’s relationship with His “bride,” the Church, which He has sanctified and cleansed “that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26-27), espoused and presented unto Him “as a chaste virgin” (II Corinthians 11:2). Therefore, let us “not henceforth live unto [our]selves but unto Him which died for [us] and rose again” (v. 15), gladly conforming also our mind, our judgment, and our confession to His holy Word (I Corinthians 1:10) to the praise of His grace!
D. T. M.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Note: The same-sex marriage logo debuted on Facebook, March 25, 2013, by the Human Rights Campaign.