On the Issues of Gender, Sexuality, and Marriage – Christians Cannot Change
It seems that with each new attack on marriage by those seeking to redefine it Christians resolve all the more to stand for the true, traditional definition and image of marriage that has been foundational throughout civilization for centuries.
This fact draws the ire of activists that can’t understand why Christians are being so stubborn and resistant to change. After all, at times in history Christians have changed their position on issues that were controversial in culture (think slavery). And even issues that are not contentious in society have been debated by Christians (think alcohol). So if Christians have changed their views on various issues at times, why won’t they change their view on marriage?
A recent article ponders this very question:
“The false premise goes something like this: Christianity, as a historical social phenomenon, basically adjusts its moral doctrines depending on the prevailing social conditions. Christianity, after all, gets its doctrines from “the Bible,” a self-contradictory grab bag of miscellany. When some readings from the Bible fall into social disfavor, Christianity adjusts them accordingly. There are verses in the Bible that condemn homosexuality, but there are also verses that condemn wearing clothes made of two threads, and verses that allow slavery. Christians today find ways to lawyer their way out of those. Therefore, the implicit argument seems to go, if you just bully Christianity enough, it will find a way to change its view of homosexuality, and all will be well. After all, except for a few shut-ins in the Vatican, most Christians today are fine with sexual revolution innovations such as contraception and easy divorce.”
First of all we have to understand that some issues are non-essential to salvation and therefore require tolerance, liberty, and the freedom to disagree. A good example is alcohol. Some Christians believe it is wrong to consume alcohol while others believe that moderation in drinking alcohol is permitted. Regardless of where Christians stand on this issue it is clearly a non-essential issue to salvation (a person’s position on this issue doesn’t determine whether or not he or she is saved) and therefore the debate can continue with love and respect.
So when it comes to non-essential issues there is always room for healthy, loving debate as we seek to learn what the Bible teaches and solidify our convictions on the subject. But the issue of marriage is not a non-essential issue. Let me explain.
The issue of marriage begins with an understanding of the image of God in man and man’s sexuality. The Bible makes it clear that mankind was made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26) and that both male and female were made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). God made man and woman and instituted marriage as a way for man and woman to express themselves sexually which would unite man and woman as one flesh (body) and present a clear picture of the relationship between Christ and His church. Marriage and sexuality was intended to glorify God by reflecting the image of God as He created us.
By distorting the image of God through unnatural sexual relationships, man perverts not just the image of God but the Gospel that image was intended to present. This is true for pre-marital sex as it cheapens the value of the bride and groom by presenting something that is less than the best. This is true for adultery as it removes the faithfulness contained in the promises of the wedding vows and idolizes lust over covenant. This is true of homosexuality as it replaces the complimentarian partnership between man and woman intended to glorify God with a relationship that violates nature and God’s design.
The previously mentioned article says the same thing:
“The story Christians have been telling for 2,000 years goes something like this: The God who made the Universe is also, by his very nature, Love, and he made human beings with a very lofty vocation. Humans are meant to reflect His glory in the world; to be like God, that is to say, to be lovers and creators. Everything in the Universe has been put here to be used by God’s children to reflect his loving glory — and to teach them about God’s love. This is particularly true, or so the story goes, of the unique sexual complementarity between men and women. The sexual act is meant to reflect God’s love by fostering a union at once bodily and spiritual — and creates new life. The complementarity of the persons in a marriage reflects the complementarity of the Persons of the Trinity, and the bliss of marital union is an inkling of the bliss of the union of the Persons of the Trinity. The fruitfulness of the marriage act reflects that God is a creator and has charged man to be an agent of his ongoing work of creation. And, finally, if God’s love means total self-giving unto death on a Cross, then man and wife must give themselves to each other totally — no pettiness, no adultery, no polygamy, no divorce, and no nonmarital sexual acts.”
So is this fundamental to the Gospel and salvation? Indeed it is.
A person cannot be receptive to the Gospel while rejecting the image of God in their own person, or in the relationships in their life. For this reason it is incompatible with Scripture to be an openly practicing, proud gay person and a Christian (Rom. 1:18-32). It is equally impossible to be a proud transgender person while claiming to be a Christian. Anything that destroys the image of God in a person equally destroys the chance of being justified by faith.
Those seeking to redefine marriage have missed the fact that, for Christians, gender, sexuality, and marriage are all intended to make us holy while glorifying God. I recognize that not every person believes that; which makes it easy for some to support marriage redefinition. But in the conversation about why Christians refuse to change their belief it is a critical point that we cannot change what God has written in both natural law and the Bible. Any more than we can change the law of gravity.
Christians live to glorify God and to spread the good news of the Gospel. The issues of gender, sexuality and marriage are critical to that mission. WE cannot support that which God calls sin (Rom. 1:32), or push people into sin. And we cannot alter what God has designed for His glory and our good.