Can Marriage Be Redefined?

And he answered and said, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?" (Matthew 19:4-5)

In 1996, then president, Bill Clinton, signed into law the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), which restricted federal marriage benefits and required inter-state marriage recognition to only opposite-sex marriages in the United States.  On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down this law, thus allowing federal benefits to be given to legally married same-sex partners.


So, what does this mean for the United States of America, and for its Christian citizens?  People are on the Internet saying things like:

  • This is a sincerely sad day for America.
  • The end is near.. nothing more to say...
  • What a scandal!
  • Total disappointment - again! Another step downward in the moral decay of America!
  • Means God's judgment is at hand.
  • GOD's LAW IS THE ONLY LAW OF THE LAND! This ruling is based on man's law! The end of America is here!!!! Are you ready? Probably not...most Americans are more worried about their iPhones.

Is this, indeed, the seminal decision that spells the demise of a formerly great country?  Or is it just another step that our nation is taking away from God and his righteousness?  What should those do, who are seeking to walk humbly with God, and do his will?  Does the Bible give us any teaching that would indicate what decisions like this mean for our country, and what action Christians should be taking, if any?

These words of the psalmist are most relevant as we consider this action by the Supreme Court:

The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, "Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!" (Psalm 2:2-3)

Among the majority of the members of the Supreme Court, it seems that there is no fear of God, with regard to what he wants.  There is, apparently no respect for what the scriptures say, nor of the account that they will give to God for the decision they made in this matter.  As Jesus said, "If you're not for me, you're against me."  

Therefore, we can confidently say that the Supreme Court of the land has taken its stand and taken counsel against the Lord God and his Son, Jesus Christ.  They have declared by this action that they desire to tear apart and cast aside the wisdom of God's revealed word.  If there was any concern for what God might think, it was not as great as what man might think.

But, it could be argued, they were not making a decision on what God thinks about the matter, only about what the Constitution of the United States says about the matter.  And what does the U.S. Constitution say, after all, about homosexual partners, and benefits that may or may not be extended to them?  Clearly this was not an issue that the framers of the document could have envisioned in their wildest imaginations.

As a nation, we have enjoyed unmatched peace and prosperity, notwithstanding the wars and financial downturns we have experienced.  Many, including myself, attribute this to the fact that our nation was founded, for the most part, upon biblical truths and values.  But even though our founding documents have served us well, without the moral strength of character that dwelt in the documents' founders, our nation will surely crumble and fall.

Our founders acknowledged that without this moral character, and indeed, faith in God, all their efforts to secure liberty and prosperity would be vain:

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim tribute to patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness -- these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. . . . reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles." --George Washington

"Virtue, morality, and religion; this is the armor, my friend, and this alone that renders us invincible. These are the tactics we should study. If we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed . . . so long as our manners and principles remain sound, there is no danger."  --Patrick Henry

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our constitution as a whale goes through a net." --John Adams

But is God obligated to sustain this nation?  Genesis, chapter eleven, tells us that after the flood, God told Noah and his descendants to multiply, spread out, and fill the earth with people.  But mankind rebelled against the command of God, and defiantly banded together to find strength in unity.  God knew that their potential for evil was unbounded if they stayed together, so he divided them into many people groups by giving them each new languages.  They could no longer communicate with each other so they parted ways and spread out to fill the earth.  

In Paul's message to the philosophers on Mars Hill, he gave us some additional insight into why God separated mankind into various nations:

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)

Here we are told that God separated the people of the world into nations so that they would seek God.  Because they couldn't depend on everyone else in the world, they were motivated to seek God for wisdom, protection, and provision.  And even though that was the attitude of many of the leaders of our nation in its past, it seems that seeking God's wisdom, protection, and provision has fallen out of vogue for its current leaders.

Our leaders are more interested in pleasing the people who will vote them back into power than they are in pleasing the one before whom they will stand and give an account on judgment day.  Therefore, since they are no longer fearing God, they are likewise no longer making wise decisions, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.1

What then is the prognosis for our nation?  Well, while I have no "Thus saith the Lord," regarding the future of the U.S.A., I can say with certainty how God dealt with nations in the past.  God took down many rulers and their people, because they arrogantly defied God and his moral law, because they mistreated the powerless, because they worshiped other gods, or because they persecuted the righteous.

God has been no respecter of persons: he saw to the demise of his chosen people — the Jews — as well as he did the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Arameans, the Moabites, the Edomites, and many others.  If God doesn't judge America for its continuing and increasing arrogance, he will have to apologize, it seems, to these other nations whom he caused to fall.

When will this happen?  Only God knows.  We do know that he is patient, and very longsuffering, but there will, at some point, be an end to his mercy.  There will surely be a day of accounting for America, if it doesn't turn from its arrogant defiance of God and his moral law.

So what should we, as Christians, do in view of God's coming judgment on our country?  Letters to the editor, comments on Internet news sites, protesting in the street, filing initiatives, and signing petitions don't seem to be the way that our Lord approached the problems that existed in the government of his time.  Neither do we see the apostle Paul encouraging his converts to take political action against their government.  

But, you say, those were monarchies; we live in a democratic republic.  We have a freedom to redress grievances that no other nation in history has had.  Therefore it is our obligation to get involved in the political process, to make sure we have righteous leaders who make righteous decisions.  

Think about this: what if Jesus himself was elected to be president of the United States?  Would he be able to convince the legislative and judicial branches of our government, along with all the state, county, and municipal governments, to do what God wants done?  And would he be able to persuade the majority of the people to elect only godly leaders?  And could he induce all the citizenry to choose good over evil?  He was here on earth once before, and he couldn't even get the religious leaders to follow him.  This says nothing bad about Jesus, for he never forces someone to do what they are not willing to do.

Now, while Jesus will some day righteously and effectively rule the entire earth as a sovereign monarch, his time is not yet here.  Until then, we must give our energies and resources to:

  • Pray for God's mercy on our nation
  • Pray for all our leaders to fear and follow God and his moral law
  • Love our neighbors so that we can share God's truth with them
  • Live godly lives, denying ungodliness and worldly desires and living sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.2

Or, as the prophet, Micah, so succinctly put it: Do what's right, be passionate about showing mercy to others, and walk humbly with God.3

So how then does this approach apply to something like the steady advance of so-called homosexual "marriage"?  In the scripture quoted at the top, we see, in the Genesis context, that God created man first, and then made him realize that all the animals had mates, but he had none.  Then God created a woman for him to be his partner, and it is for this reason that a man should leave his mother and father, and be joined to his wife, and that the two should become one flesh.  What is the reason for marriage of a man and a woman?  Because God made them for each other!

The method for marriage has changed and been different from culture to culture, but this much seems to be common to all cultures: a commitment to one another, made before witnesses, consummated by a physical union.  It seems that somewhere in the history of our country the church of Jesus Christ ceded the authority for solemnizing marriages to the government.  It became a civil union with civil benefits rather than a spiritual union with spiritual benefits.

Once the marriage contract came under the auspices of the government, then any number of changes could be made.  When there was an illicit relationship in the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul did not instruct the church members to take it to the cvil government.  No, he instructed the church members to deal with the problem themselves in order to bring about repentance and to keep the church body pure.  

Perhaps the church of Jesus Christ needs to take back, in some way, the responsibility for marriage of a man and a woman, in a way that elevates it in the eyes of Christians.  Maybe we can give it a new name.  Let the secularists have the name "marriage"; perhaps we can coin a new name for a holy union between a man and a woman.  OK, maybe you think this is a stretch, but if practicing homosexuals can redefine "gay/happy" to mean "gay/homosexual", why can't Christians coin a new word for a holy union between a man and a woman?

I'm going to stick my neck out here, and make a suggestion.  Most Christians are familiar with the anglicized form of the Greek word for love - "agape".  Why not take off on this somewhat familiar word and use it like this:

Marry - Agapay

Married - Agapaid

Marriage - Agapage

But listen, brothers and sisters, whatever we call call a holy union between a man and a woman — even marriage — we need to stop being troubled by the usurpation of the word.  We're not going to stop this downhill momentum now.  And does it really matter to our God, what we call the holy union of a man and a woman in English?  We can still teach our children, by deed and word, what a biblical marriage is.

What's more important is that we love our neighbor.  When we're standing before the judgment seat of Christ, for which of these will he be more likely to congratulate us?

  • Fighting against the cultural redefinition of marriage
  • Loving the people who are in bondage to sin

Let's keep things in their eternal perspective.  Even if we could change the laws that allow for homosexual "marriage", that won't change people's hearts.  The truth of God spoken in the context of a loving relationship will be used by God to draw people to him.

Let's keep the main thing, the main thing!  Love your neighbor as yourself.4

1 Proverbs 9:10

2 Titus 2:12-13

3 Micah 6:8

4 The whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14)

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