What is a Marriage?

It seems that for the last few years everyone has been talking about gay “marriage”. Here in Canada, gay “marriage” was legalized on July 20, 2005. In the United States, the Supreme Court ruled to legalize gay “marriage” on June 26, 2015. Christians everywhere are asking “Now what?” What are we to make of all the fuss over gay “marriage”? Where should we stand on this issue? How do we talk about it amongst our friends and colleagues?
As Christians, recognize that we operate in two spheres – the sphere of God’s Kingdom and the sphere of this world. Neither sphere shares the same values as the other. That’s what makes it so challenging for us as Christians to live out our faith in the world. Let’s look at the gay “marriage” issue from the perspective of both spheres.
The Sphere of God’s Kingdom:
1 – God instituted marriage at the time of Creation. He created one man and one woman and brought them together to be united as one. They were specifically designed, with different sexual functions, to be able to share each other’s bodies and from that, to be able to reproduce by having children. That’s the model for marriage for all time and really, that’s all we need to know to understand what God’s intention for a good and proper marriage is.
2 – Men perverted that model over time in various ways. Some of them took more than one wife; others committed adultery; others divorced from their marriage partners. Because of sin, marriage was distorted and degraded in various ways. Homosexual behaviour was a further distortion of God’s intention for sex. But none of that negates or nullifies what God’s plan was: one man, with one woman, as long as they were alive together.
3 – Thousands of years after Creation, Jesus was asked about marriage. The question was put to him in the context of divorce. His words in Matthew 19:8 are instructive for us today: “It was not this way from the beginning.” In other words, Jesus is saying if you want to know what we should think about marriage, divorce, homosexuality, or any other sexual relationship – go back to Creation. What was God’s intention when He created everything? It was: one man with one woman; til death separates them one from another.
The Sphere of this World:
1 – Don’t expect society to follow God’s plan. Society has never wanted to follow God’s plan. Granted, there have been certain times in history, in certain countries, when the church had great respect and was able to influence society to adhere to Biblical principles of behaviour. But those times are gone. The leaders and influencers of our society today have adopted the words of Psalm 2:3 when it comes to God’s standards: “Let us break their chains, they say, and throw off their fetters.” Society moves away from God, not towards Him. These government laws and supreme court rulings are all part of the natural movement of society away from God’s standard of morality.
2 – Since society does not recognize Biblical standards of morality, it is not the Christian’s responsibility to tell society how to live. Over and over in the New Testament, we see Paul and the other apostles talk about the degeneration of the society around them. But they don’t tell non-Christians to live according to God’s word. They tell Christians to do that. Peter says judgement must begin in the house of God. It’s not our job to yell at society telling them how bad they are. It’s our job to learn what God’s standards are and live by them. Then, in turn, we are to love non-Christians and let them know about a God who also loves them and a Saviour who wants to free them from sin and give them the gift of eternal life.
3 – Because of society’s antipathy toward God, we must be careful how we talk about moral issues. There are certain things that are part of society that we reject as sinful from a Christian perspective, but must accept and learn to live with. For example, we accept the fact that there are strip clubs, but we don’t frequent those places; we accept that people live together before marriage, but we don’t approve of it; we accept that people are greedy and bound by materialism, but we live to be generous and non-materialistic. In the same way we must accept the fact that homosexuality is now an approved lifestyle in our society, protected by law. Gay “marriage” is now part of our society’s makeup. Accept that fact, but don’t live by it.
You probably noticed that whenever I mentioned gay “marriage”, I did so with quotation marks around the word marriage. That’s because I’m writing from a Christian, Biblical perspective. According to the Bible, there is one form of marriage, instituted by God and affirmed by Jesus, and that’s heterosexual marriage. Anything else is an imposter. It’s as if we define a car as a vehicle with four wheels. Then someone decides to connect two bicycles together and says that since it has four wheels, we should call it a “car”. Fine, we say, have your “car”. But we all know it really isn’t one. So with gay “marriage”. Society has re-defined marriage to include same-sex unions. That doesn’t make those unions a marriage. Just because the courts say it’s so, doesn’t make it so. We take our morality from the Bible, not the Supreme Court.
I think we have just seen the start of this issue. There is nothing now to stop society from defining marriage as a union between all kinds of people – two men and one woman; one man and three women –  the sky’s the limit. People will say I’m being ridiculous, but I recall when the gay rights debate began ‘way back in the 1980s. The lobbyists were saying then, “Don’t worry! It’s not as if we’re asking to be able to get married!” Well – over time they did, and now they are. As society spirals downward, Christians will become more distinct in the differences we hold between God’s Kingdom and this world.
BUT! – as children of our Heavenly Father, and citizens of the eternal Kingdom, our calling now, as always, is to live according to God’s standard, as children of righteousness, “so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16)
When it comes to this issue of how we live as Kingdom citizens in the world, I like what Billy Graham said: “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict; it’s God’s job to judge: it’s my job to love.” Get out there and live for God and love people – whoever they are and however they live.