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).

Is Belief in the Virgin Birth Important?

By Mike Miller

This time of year, as we are greeted once again by the old familiar story of the birth of Christ, it is important to guard our hearts to make sure we don’t lose the wonder of the incarnation. In order to hold on to that wonder (or recapture it), we need to take time to consider what makes it so wonderful in the first place. While I could write volumes, let’s just consider one aspect: the virgin birth.

The Bible teaches that Mary was a virgin when the Holy Spirit came upon her and miraculously impregnated her with the Son of God (Luke 1:26-38). Of course, as with any other biblical doctrine, many have rejected the belief in the virgin birth, and many have downplayed its importance. This is why some have asked if we need to believe in the virgin birth to be saved.

I’d like to start generally and then hone in on that particular question. What I mean is that instead of asking what a person needs to believe to be saved, let’s first ask what we need to tell people in order to share the Gospel. You see, I am of the conviction that much of what is passed off as “gospel” today is actually either less than or more than the Gospel (and really, when we add to the Gospel, we end up taking away from it–stay tuned).

Continue reading

Are People Good?

By Mike Miller

While enduring physical therapy this morning, a strange news story come from the TV mounted on the wall. My therapist asked, “Why would people do that kind of thing?” I responded, “Because people are twisted.”

Another therapist who overheard (and who also knows what I do) said, “Pastor! How can you say that? All people are good.”

I responded, “No. All people are bad.”

She insisted, “No. No one is bad. Everyone is good.”

I then explained, “Well, not according to the Bible. The Bible says that no one is good. Not even one.” I continued, “But we don’t even need the Bible to tell us that. How else could we possibly explain the mess that this world is? There is no other rational explanation for all the evil done and for the general condition of society.”

She replied, “I think I’ll go wrap some Christmas presents,” and she was gone.

Now, if you’re like me, you always wonder if you could have handled a situation better. After all, while lying on my back having my hamstrings stretched to the breaking point was not really the most conducive setting for a theological discussion. But this is a good discussion to have, nevertheless.

The general consensus seems to be that all people are basically good until something in their lives makes them do bad things. And even when they do bad things—unspeakable things even—they are still considered fundamentally good, if not somewhat flawed. Our prisons are filled with people whose mommas often repeat the line, “But he’s really a good boy at heart.” We attend funerals of really horrible people to hear them being eulogized as “really good.” And even when something like a school shooting takes place, someone will inevitably say of the shooter, “I don’t understand. He was really a good kid.”

Is any of that logical? Does it really make sense? You see, we need to consider our worldviews. We need to evaluate whether our underlying beliefs are consistent—whether they match reality. And the conviction that all people are good is simply inconsistent with reality.

Even the usual culprits for causing bad behavior cannot bear the blame with any consistency. Does poverty cause bad behavior? Then how do we explain crooked corporate CEOs? Is lack of education to blame? Again, not only are CEOs typically well educated, but even educators do bad things. What about bad parenting? Indeed, bad parenting can adversely affect people’s behavior, but many people with rough childhoods succeed and do well, while people from well-adjusted families can also turn out bad.

Really, the only rational and consistent worldview is a biblical one. What reason does the Bible give for why people do bad things? People are bad. That means you and me as well. “But,” you might say, “I’m not a murderer or a bank robber. I’m not that bad.” Maybe not, but you and I know very well that our hearts are not as pure as a fresh snowflake. It’s not that we are all as bad as humanly possible, but we are all bad nevertheless. Romans 3:10-12 says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Verse 23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Those words “none,” “no one,” and “all” are pretty absolute.

Do you see what good news this is? If all kinds of external things cause all the bad in the world, then we are without hope, for those things will never be fixed. But if the human heart is ultimately the problem, God has provided a solution: Jesus Christ. No man can change the human heart, even if we clean up our behavior. But when we turn to Jesus by faith, He gives us a new heart and a new spirit. That’s what it means to be born again.

So, aren’t you glad you aren’t just a hopeless product of your circumstances? Aren’t you glad there is hope for you? And aren’t you glad that hope doesn’t depend on others? The heart really is the heart of the problem, and the one who made your heart can give you a new one. Would you let Jesus change you today?