What’s wrong with same-sex marriage?

What’s wrong with same-sex marriage is simple: It does not fit in with God’s plan for human beings. It was God’s plan from the beginning of human history that humans “rule over all the earth,” Genesis 1:26, and he specifically created humans as  “male and female” for that purpose, verse 27.

God then told his male and female human creations to “Be fruitful and increase in number,” verse 28, because he’d also designed humans as  male and female to produce children. In just three verses in the first chapter of Genesis, therefore – at the very start of the human journey – God made it clear that his plan for creation would be fulfilled through male and female, and through the “one flesh” sexual union of a husband and his wife, Genesis 2:24.

There is no mention in verse 24 of a man “leaving father and mother” to be “united” in sexual union to a husband. It is clearly stated that a man will “be united to his wife,” and in the context of both these opening chapters there is no definition of “wife” other than a woman. And nowhere in scripture after this does God encourage same-sex marriage or approve of it. Jesus also makes it clear that God’s instructions in Genesis haven’t changed (Mark 10:6-9): Marriage is still man and woman, husband and wife.

But right after God gave these clear instructions in Genesis, the serpent arrives on the scene. He totally ignores God’s purpose for creating humans, male and female, to rule creation, and he totally ignores God’s means of fulfilling that purpose, through human male and female uniting in sexual union and producing children. He concentrates instead on God not making sense. Surely, the serpent reasons, humans need to know good and evil. How can anyone develop the wisdom they need to survive and grow without knowing right from wrong? And didn’t God himself agree with that, when it was he who’d created a a tree with that knowledge in the first place?

Clearly, then, Eve needed to do the sensible thing, which was take what God had created to “gain wisdom,” Genesis 2:6. It made much more sense to expand her ability to think for herself, especially when God’s instructions were so limited by comparison.

So instead of waiting on God for further instructions, she ventured out on her own, driven purely by her own desires. And isn’t that what same-sex marriage is driven by too? It certainly isn’t about following God’s instructions for male and female in the fulfillment of his purpose. It’s about what humans want, driven by and defined by their own idea of what’s right and wrong, And clearly it still is.

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Have the reasons for marriage changed?

The reasons given in Genesis for marriage were: To govern God’s creation (1:28), be a team (2:18), and create a home and family (2:24).

Marriage, in other words, was God’s starting point for his creation. Marriage would create a powerful husband and (one) wife team that could look after his creation perfectly, and produce children like themselves who would spread out further and further into God’s creation fulfilling his plan. Marriage was the key to the plan’s success.

Cain’s descendant Lamech, however, broke the pattern by marrying two wives (Genesis 4:23). The families of the great patriarchs, like Abraham and Jacob, weren’t exactly great examples of marriage either (Genesis 16:3-4 and 29:16-30). Sticking to God’s original reasons for marriage, therefore, wasn’t top priority in the Old Testament, even for the likes of King David, who had many wives and serious marriage problems. God also gave what sound like very odd instructions on marriage to Israel (like Deuteronomy 21:10-14 and 25:5-10), and divorce was easy. It’s interesting to note, then, that God’s plan for creation was going nowhere at the same time that marriage was a mess. The two went hand-in-hand.

Centuries later, however, at the end of the Old Testament, God had clearly had enough of the loosey-goosey attitude to marriage: “The Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth,” Malachi 2:14, “because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.”

Oh, so the marriage covenant between a husband and his wife WAS important after all. But centuries of treating wives and marriage as an afterthought had shown why: There was a clear connection between how husbands treated their wives and the success of God’s plan for Israel (verse 13). A husband’s faithfulness to his marriage covenant was directly connected to God’s blessing on the nation. Or, put another way: If husbands had loved their wives like God had loved Israel, the nation’s success was guaranteed.

No wonder Paul said in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” because if husbands in the new Israel, the church, can love their wives like Christ loves the church, the new creation is guaranteed success too. That’s how important marriage is.

Have the reasons for marriage changed, then? Not at all, because as God shows in Genesis, the success of his plans for all creation were directly connected to Adam and Eve as a married couple working as a team. Their love for each other was the starting point, and the blueprint, for all marriages. And if Adam had really loved his wife, God’s plan would have turned out very differently.

“Is this all I can hope for in my marriage?”

I wonder how many marriages are “hanging in there” but there’s not much meeting of minds. In other words, there’s union but not much communion.

Husband and wife are wholeheartedly dedicated to keeping their union intact, but they have trouble sharing their innermost thoughts or being sensitive to each other’s needs. They’re almost on different wavelengths, where they never quite tune in to the other’s personality, humour and ideas about things. They aren’t upset by the same things either, so they have trouble expressing their real feelings for fear of making things worse.

So they both muddle through a relationship that’s wonderfully enduring but not tremendously satisfying. There’s a deep hunger for communion, but neither partner knows how to make it happen. They courageously avoid daydreaming about what they might have had instead, but on occasion they can’t help wondering if there could be more to their marriage than what they’ve got. And as they look into the future, perhaps the thought flits through their minds, “Is this all I can hope for in my marriage?”

That thought has crossed my mind – on behalf of my wife as well – because is what I provide for her all she can hope for in her marriage too? And that makes me feel woefully inadequate at times, because I know I can’t provide the communion I’m sure she longs for, and it hurts me that she’s had to settle for less. So I wondered if there was any help in Scripture and that’s when Colossians 1:8 came to mind, and the time when Paul expressed his delight to the Colossians on hearing “of your love in the Spirit.”

The report of their “love in the Spirit” had come from Epaphras, who couldn’t help noticing that something amazing was happening to people when they heard the gospel. First it was union, a shared “faith in Jesus Christ” (verse 4), but there was more. There was communion too, because Epaphras also mentioned “the love you have for all the saints.” This was love, he noticed, that enabled people of different backgrounds, different personalities, different ways of viewing things, different sensitivities, needs, wavelengths and humour, to love each other without those differences making any difference.

Ah, so this is what “love in the Spirit” provides; it’s love that makes differences make no difference. It doesn’t matter, therefore, how different a husband and wife are; the Spirit can provide communion for both of them, regardless. It happened to the Colossians. They didn’t even think about their differences. They just loved each other.

There is always hope in marriage, therefore, because of what the Spirit has yet to add to it.

The Holy Spirit’s gift to a marriage

I’d love to see my wife blossom, but I fear I hold her back. I don’t have in me what brings out the best in her personality, her humour, her gifts, or her love. I feel like I’m limiting her potential, and I’ve often wondered how much she would have blossomed in the company of a man more suited to her needs, her interests and her personality.

But then I realized it’s not me or my powers that bring out the best in her, it’s the Holy Spirit. It’s the Spirit’s job to transform us into something lovely. Without the Spirit we’re helpless victims of our own limited strengths and questionnable motives. A man can be most charming, for instance, but without the Spirit it could all be just self-aggrandizing gush and mouthwash, because you can’t help asking, “What he’s really after?”

But the Spirit goes right to the core of our being, that “old self, corrupted by its deceitful desires,” Ephesians 4:22, and creates a “new self, created to be like God,” verse 24. Out goes all that deceitful mouthwash designed to gratify self, and in comes a whole new attitude of mind motivated entirely by love (verse 23).

And it’s this love given to us by the Holy Spirit that transcends all differences. Two people can be vastly different in personally and interests, but the Spirit gives them a love for each other that doesn’t even see the differences. It doesn’t matter if the other person isn’t like you, or that you haven’t got it in you as a husband to make a wife blossom into her best. In Ephesians 2, Jews and Gentiles, who were always bringing out the worst in each other, suddenly became the best of friends when they received the Holy Spirit. Because that’s the Spirit’s speciality, enabling people to get along despite their differences.

My wife may be stuck with my limited personality and help, but that doesn’t hinder the Spirit enabling her to blossom into her best. I’m not letting my wife down, therefore, because of my inadequacies and lacks – and I don’t have to feel bad that my limitations are holding her back either – because the Spirit can make “one new person out of two,” Ephesians 2:15, no matter how different those two people are.

God designed males and females to want to marry and spend their lifetimes together. Later on in marriage, however, husband and wife may suddenly realize how different they are, and wonder what might have been had they married someone else. But all that’s irrelevant to the Holy Spirit, who can make two into one in any marriage.

Can love change a personality?

I wonder how many married couples have asked that question: “Can love change a personality?” – when after thirty years of marriage a couple realizes their personalities are poles apart, and to be honest it’s a problem. One of them likes people, the other doesn’t. One likes cats, the other hates them. One likes to budget, the other likes to spend, and there’s no meeting of minds on any of those points. He likes golf with the lads and watching sports for hours on TV, she likes to go places together and try new things. He has no sense of humour, she giggles at the slightest chance. It’s not that either of them are bad people, or even stubborn people; they simply have personalities that aren’t on the same wavelength.

But they’re married. So now what? Do they bite their lips, put up with each other’s foibles, and sit out the rest of their married life cringing at the other’s objectionable habits, blind spots, childhood defects, and never being able to talk things through? But what kind of marriage is that? Is it a marriage at all?

But they can’t separate over personality differences, surely. It’s not that they’re in any danger or being abused, it’s just that….well, they’re so different. They don’t click. There are other people they get on with much easier and better with.

So why did they marry in the first place? Because love did something to them. It changed them. It lifted them into a dimension they’d never been in before. It made him tidy his room, perhaps. It made her stop gossiping. It made them ignore their differences. They were in love, and love changed their personalities in ways they would never have thought of, and in ways that made it easy getting along together.

Does that stop after thirty years of marriage, though? Do personalities become stuck in a groove after a while, and that’s it for life? Or can love still change a personality?

Well, the only way to find that out is to love the person you’re married to and see what happens. What a novel idea, just love and nothing else. No more negative thoughts, no more expectations, no more hints of improvements needed, no more wishing for better, no more sighs of irritation or displeasure, no more – well, no more of anything that isn’t love. You simply don’t go there anymore. Any negative thought, chuck it out, because only love will do. Is it worth it? It was when you got married, because the power of love did amazing things back then, so why not see if it has the same power now?

Marriage is not forever

In Matthew 22:30 Jesus drops a bombshell for all those celebrating Valentine’s Day that “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”

So marriage is not forever. Perhaps male and female won’t be forever, either, because marriage between male and female exists in part to create children. But if marriage for the purpose of producing children is no longer needed, then nor is the need for male and female.

I wonder how that affects the thinking of a man and woman romantically attracted to each other, who want to marry and spend buckets of money on a wedding, knowing that their marriage is only temporary. It’s not “forever and always,” or “happily ever after,” or expressing their undying love for eternity. Their wedding day isn’t the first day of an unending relationship, it’s the first day of a relationship made possible in this life only, to produce children, provide a “help meet” for a man (Genesis 2:18), and to experience how two people can operate as one and feel like another person is part of them (Genesis 2:23). And then at death it ends.

But why would God create such a relationship in the first place that gets us thinking it will last forever, when it doesn’t? And why create a love so strong between male and female that when one mate dies the surviving mate is left pining or incapable of functioning alone? It seems so cruel that male and female fall in love, spend years together learning from and about each other, sharing lots of lovely memories, only to have it all fizzle out into nothing, and not be married for eternity.

And for some couples marriage isn’t that good before it ends, either. Marriage is fraught with all sorts of problems like jealousy, infidelity, unrealistic expectations, personality differences, aloofness, boredom, boneheaded selfishness, depression, and the list goes on. I imagine for some people they’re glad that marriage isn’t forever; it’s painful. Some couples may even spend a lifetime together and be none the wiser at the end of it as to what life and love are all about.

And yet Christ chose marriage as the relationship he wishes to have with us forever. He calls us his bride (Revelations 21:9). It certainly explains why he gave us the desire to love someone forever, and made us think that marriage is forever and always, because what we dream of and hope for in marriage is exactly what he has in mind too, a marriage with humanity that really IS forever and always, and we really DO live happily together ever after.