Back to the Basics: Marriage as God's Design
- Thursday, July 08, 2004
How should we as Christians react to the current issues surrounding homosexual marriage? A clear understanding of God’s purposes for marriage helps us understand what’s at stake if our culture redefines what He originally created.
If you feel flustered when someone asks you to explain your views on the issue of homosexual marriage, you are not alone. Many Christians may perceive instinctively that gay marriage threatens the “sanctity” of marriage and the world their children will live in, but what does that mean?
Let’s start by recalling God’s blueprints that we find in Scripture. When we speak of the “sanctity of marriage,” we mean to say that marriage is a holy and sacred institution created not by man, but by God. That means it’s not ours to tamper with or redefine.
Our authority is the Scripture. Two different passages in the first two chapters of Genesis tell of the purposes God set forth for marriage. The first is Genesis 1:26-28: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness ... God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them ... and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth ...”
1. Mirroring God’s Image
The first critical purpose for marriage described here is to mirror God’s image. The Hebrew word for “mirror” means to reflect God, to magnify, exalt and glorify Him. We are to be God’s representatives to a world that desperately needs to see who He is.
The union of a man and woman reflects the image of God by forming a picture of the intimate relationship between Jesus Christ and His followers. This is a theme that appears throughout the New Testament in passages such as Ephesians 5:22-33. A husband’s love and sacrifice for his wife, for example, are pictures of Christ’s love and sacrifice for the Church.
Homosexuals have suggested for years that their practice is an acceptable alternative lifestyle. Yet God makes it clear in Scripture that homosexuality is not part of His design — it’s actually rebellion against the Designer. Romans 1:21-27 tells us that, as humans failed to honor God, “God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”
2. Multiplying a Godly Legacy
A second purpose for marriage is found in Genesis 1:28 when God commands Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth ...” The most obvious aspect of this command is that God designed male and female to join physically and reproduce children. Procreation is an integral part of God’s design for marriage.
In addition, God set up the family as a nurture center where children grow up to learn character, values, and integrity. Psalm 78 instructs parents to teach their children to “... put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but
keep His commandments ...”
Male-male or female-female relationships cannot produce children unless something is done to assist them. While it is true that gay couples can raise children, and can adopt needy children ... they will not multiply a godly legacy when they are living in rebellion to God.
3. Mutually Completing One Another
Another of God’s purposes for marriage is found in Genesis 2:18-24: Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” ... The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had takenfrom the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
Adam was in isolation in the Garden of Eden, and so God created woman for him. In 1 Corinthians 11:11, the Apostle Paul echoes the teachings in Genesis 2 when he writes: “However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.”
Male and female were created to be complementary to one another in every way — from their emotional and spiritual needs to their anatomical structure. The physical act of a husband and wife becoming one within marriage is easily understood. They were designed by God for one another.
However, two men or two women were not designed by God to become one flesh with one another. The physical joining of two men or two women is not a natural act.
Speak the truth in love
As you interact, balance truth with love and compassion.
No doubt you have joined most of America in watching news footage of homosexuals coming out of the courthouse doors— new marriage license in hand — and celebrating their “marriage” with a big kiss for the cameras. How did that make you feel?
Now read instructions from Colossians 3:5-8: … consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.
This passage makes it clear that God’s wrath is coming one day on those who are the sons of disobedience, those who practice immorality, and those who indulge in lustful passion. But without skipping a beat, it also instructs us to not respond to those practices with anger, wrath, malice, slander, or abusive speech.
The Bible doesn’t stop there. Colossians 3:12-14 tells us: So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is theperfect bond of unity.
To be honest, the Christian response to the homosexual movement in our country has often not been Christ-like. Not only is God displeased, but also our views are easily dismissed when our opponents see anger and disgust rather than kindness and compassion. Try these two steps before you speak out on this issue:
Step One: Look in the Mirror
Before engaging homosexuals, ask for forgiveness for the things Christians have said, done, or thought about homosexuals.
Jesus is very clear in His instructions to us. Before we stand to address the sin we see in the life of another person, we need to spend some time in front of the mirror (Matthew 7:4-5 and Galatians 6:1-2).
The reality is, there is enough sexual sin present in the church today that we may find ourselves disqualified from being able to address sexual sin in others. A fresh look at our own sexual sinfulness should drive us to the foot of the cross, where we can again find hope and forgiveness. Now, as those who have received the grace of God, we are ready to offer it to others.
Step Two: Cultivate Compassion
Remember Jesus’ encounter with a woman who was guilty of sexual sin? John 8:1-11 tells the story of the religious leaders who brought a woman to Christ who had been caught in the act of adultery. How did He respond?
First, He rebuked the self-righteous religious leaders; He knew that they were not motivated by compassion or kindness. He then turned to the woman and with humility and gentleness, granted her forgiveness, and exhorted her to holiness.
In the place of hearts that are full of anger and contempt for those who practice homosexuality, God wants to cultivate in us a heart for those who are living broken lives — whether they realize it or not. We are not ready to speak to this issue until our hearts are broken for the person who is caught in the snare of homosexual sin.
Remember the parable of the unmerciful slave? In Matthew 18:23-25, Jesus tells of a man whose master had forgiven a huge debt. This man then refused to forgive someone who owed him a little. Christ has forgiven us of our great sin. How can we do anything but to humbly hold out the same grace to others who are caught in sin?
In the months and years to come, some people who have either sampled or participated actively in homosexual activities will be looking for a way to deal with their shame and their guilt. They are going to be looking for a way out of the lifestyle. Would these people even think to look to the church for help?
Would they think of us as “kind people who really care about me” or as angry, hate-filled men and women who will only make them feel more ashamed of where they have been? Let’s make sure that as we stand for truth, we do it in a way that honors Christ.
How should we as Christians react to the current issues surrounding homosexual marriage? The current cultural battle to redefine marriage is a topic we as Christians…as parents…as grandparents, must be prepared to deal with right now. FamilyLife has information and resources for you and your family. Visit the Family Life website.
The roots of FamilyLife go back as far as 1951, with the beginning of Campus Crusade for Christ. Its founders, Bill and Vonette Bright, had a great desire to help fulfill Christ's Great Commission—taking the gospel to every nation. Starting on one college campus with one couple, Campus Crusade has grown into a multifaceted ministry with tens of thousands of full-time and associate staff serving in more than 150 countries.
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