Christians and social conservatives are appalled at the speed with which gay marriage has gained the status of a civil right in the United States. Their attempts to push back the avalanche of change has been met with judicial decisions unfavorable to their cause, and reaction has been one of disbelief and consternation that something as basic as traditional marriage could so easily be redefined. Turning to the populace as a whole leaves them even more perplexed when they see the response to gay marriage to be a general blasé indifference or ho-hum acceptance.
But they really shouldn’t be all that surprised, because gay marriage is the logical and almost inevitable outcome of a much more basic issue. So everybody stop for a minute, take a breath, and give me a moment of your attention as I try to put this into some kind of perspective.
It all comes down to a fundamental definition of human sexuality that underpins any definition of marriage.
The biblical account of the creation of human beings emphasizes their identity as bearers of the image of God, and that identity as closely associated with their sexuality as male and female. Thus sexual complementarity is already implied in the creation narrative of Genesis 1.
But God doesn’t leave us to assume this, for in the next chapter of Genesis the precise meaning of this binary human sexuality is unfolded in detail.
There we find to our amazement that male and female sexuality was created for sexual pairing in marriage, marriage which is to be other-sexed, monogamous, and permanent according to Christ’s interpretation of these creation passages in Mt. 19:3–9 and Mk. 10:2–9. There is no hint here that human sexuality is to be expressed in any other way. Original sexual orientation was directed to and only to the other gender.
And consequently the only kind of marriage sanctioned by God is one in which the participants are male and female.
But if we subvert the original sexual design of creation and substitute, let’s say, same-sex attraction and activity as a viable alternative, then we shouldn’t be overly surprised if the original institution of marriage is transformed into something that God never intended. The two sort of go together. Mess with one, and you mess with the other. So the current messed up idea of homosexual marriage followed from an older messed up idea of human sexuality. Are you really surprised? Don’t be.
And it’s right here where I lose a lot of sympathy with much of the conservative, evangelical community and their astonished reaction to the issue of gay marriage.
If they had been thinking clearly, they would have seen this coming. It’s simply the inevitable result of the acceptance of homosexuality in general in our society, an acceptance which the evangelical church is partly responsible for.
Yes, that’s what I said. The evangelical tendency over the past few years to buy in to gay propaganda, rather than take an uncompromising stand on the biblical view of human sexuality, has helped to usher in the day of same-sex marriage.
The current acceptance by respected evangelical people and groups of such gay-influenced ideas as same-sex orientation, attraction irreversibility, mandatory celibacy, orientation unaccountability, and gay people being made in the image of God has played right into our culture and made the acceptance of gay marriage easier. Worldling society says it’s OK to be gay, so it’s not long before it’s OK to be gay-married. And if the church says a person can’t help being gay, then how long can Christian love withhold the right to such a person to know the happiness of a committed, loving relationship in gay marriage?
So the logic inevitably goes. Fortunately scripture trumps logic for most evangelicals, but for a world that cares nothing for the authority of the Bible the logic of Christians will be thrown back in their faces, and they’re going to have a hard time making any sensible defense of their position.
So my advice to the evangelical world is to stop pandering to the gay lobby and take a look at these issues from, of all things, a biblical perspective. There you will discover that male/female complementarity that finds sexual expression in monogamous and permanent other-sex marriage is the only prescribed and presumed form of sexual expression and marital union found in the scriptures. Every other kind of sexual desire and expression is proscribed quite plainly for any who want to see it. Those who don’t want to see it will pervert the scriptures to their own destruction, as many are currently doing quite effectively.
And the church needs to be careful that in its desire to help same-sex attracted people, it does not water down the biblical position on these issues in the name of love and compassion. The most compassionate thing it can do for homosexuals is to tell them about the gospel and its power to deliver from the mastery of sin.