Thinking Christianly about Marriage

By Mike Miller

The issue of “same-sex marriage” is an extremely hot topic today, and many Christians are struggling with how to think and respond biblically. On the one hand, this issue is a simple one for the Christian. The Bible is clear that homosexual behavior is sinful and deviant. It is also clear that by definition, marriage is the lifelong union between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6). According to the biblical framework, then, “same-sex marriage” is a nonsensical term. There can be no such thing.

On the other hand, even for the Christian, the issue is complex. I say it is complex because of the questions raised about legal rights and protections. Should people who love each other not be afforded the same legal status as others simply because of their sexual preferences? As Christians, shouldn’t we value people even if we don’t approve of their lifestyles? Therefore, while it might be easy for us to define marriage and develop a biblical position, what are we to think about public policy?

“Same-sex marriage” advocates believe that homosexuals are facing discrimination because they do not have the same right to marry that heterosexuals have. That is false. If marriage is a union between a man and a woman, homosexuals have the same right as anyone to enter into that union with someone of the opposite sex. They are being denied nothing. This is why they ultimately want to redefine marriage to be inclusive of their sexual preferences. They want to have the same kind of legal union, and they want to call it marriage. So, what’s wrong with that? Several things.

First, to allow homosexuals to “marry” one another strips marriage of one of its most fundamental purposes–procreation. To redefine marriage to allow for same-sex unions would be to deny the significance of having and raising children. Even if God is removed from the equation, nature has settled this issue for us. Two men or two women cannot make babies. Why is this important? This is what sets marriage apart from any other relationship. Marriage is more than just two people who love each other. Marriage is a special kind of relationship that results in the creation and development of the next generation. Homosexual unions can never fulfill this role.

Second, even though homosexuals can adopt or use other means such as surrogacy or in vitro fertilization, they do not provide the balanced family structure that is only found in marriage. Their children will be raised either with two female parents or two male parents, thus failing to provide the complementarian role models afforded by a mommy and a daddy. While many parents are bad parents (and this isn’t only true of heterosexuals), the data clearly shows that the healthiest home is one that has both mother and father present, married, and actively involved in the lives of their children.

Third, if marriage is to be redefined simply based on a committed relationship between any two people who love each other, and if procreation is not a factor, then should it also include siblings or best friends? And if it’s based on sexual preference alone, should relationships with multiple partners be included? What about people with weird fetishes who have romantic feelings toward their pets or inanimate objects?

Simply (and not just from a biblical point of view), if the definition of marriage is based solely on emotional bonds with or without a sexual component, and if procreation is not an essential element, then what makes it a special relationship? Eventually, any group of people with any kind of affections would be able to make the same case for their particular segment of the population. Then those people would also want the same rights (property, custody, hospital visitation, etc.) as those in monogamous heterosexual marriages. But if marriage is defined traditionally, then it is a unique social bond and the foundation of family and society. Such a union should therefore entitle its participants to certain unique rights and privileges.

I’m sure some will disagree with me, but I see the only tenable Christian view as the one that upholds the sanctity of marriage as demanded by both Scripture and nature. A danger we now face as Christians, however, is the spirit with which we participate in this discussion. Let’s be sure to make our case rationally and respectfully as we treat one another as highly valued individuals created in the image of God. Emotions tend to flare on this issue, but we need to be careful to honor Christ in all our dealings with others (2 Timothy 2:23-26; 1 Peter 3:15-16).

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