New Group Wants to Start a Conversation About Marriage Redefinition With Christians. But…
There’s a new group seeking to change evangelicals’ minds about the definition of marriage. It’s not a LGBT activist group or even a “liberal” same-sex “marriage” group. It’s a…evangelical group?
The group calling itself “Evangelicals for Marriage Equality” wants to start a “new evangelical conversation about civil marriage equality,” according to a recent ad by the group.
I’m not sure what is wrong with the old conversation, but, based on what I’ve seen so far from the group, the new conversation isn’t worth having.
The group’s spokesman said that the intent of EME is to show that Christians can be faithful to Scripture while supporting civil marriage equality.
“As spokesperson for the organization, I represent a growing number of millennial evangelicals that believes it’s possible to be a faithful Christian with a high regard for the authority of the Bible and a faithful supporter of civil marriage equality.”
For the record the group makes it clear that they are talking about “civil marriage equality” and seem to distance themselves from marriage as a religious institution. This is a positon many of my libertarian friends hold as they see marriage as both a civil and religious institution. The argument goes something like this: Pertaining to civil marriage the government cannot “discriminate” based on sexual orientation and should therefore allow homosexuals to marry. In keeping with the religious freedom of the country the government should also defend the right of pastors and churches to refuse performing these civil marriages if they violate their religious convictions.
This way, the argument says, everyone is happy. Homosexuals can marry and Christians that oppose marriage redefinition are protected from being forced to take part in what they believe is sin. The conversation EME wants to have sounds an awful lot like an old libertarian conversation.
But, as Andrew Walker, director of Policy Studies for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, noted, there’s nothing remotely convincing about the group’s push for a new conversation:
“I eagerly await the young evangelical that finally convinces me that the Bible and human history are wrong on marriage and that justice requires that both Christianity and society bestow marriage on same-sex relationships…I saw a lot of emotion. I saw appeals to injustice and craven caricatures of Christianity, but I didn’t see any real arguments.”
What arguments would the group have to offer? They can’t use biblical arguments because the Bible, from beginning to end, makes it clear that homosexual behavior is a sin. If homosexual behavior is a sin then so is same-sex “marriage.” It would be indefensible for any astute student of God’s Word to come to any other conclusion. The next logical position is for EME to use secular, non-theologically based arguments. But doing so would require Christians to separate their theology from their view of government.
But as Walker makes clear, even outside of theological arguments the definition of marriage can, and should be, confined to one man and one woman:
“You can arrive at a civil understanding of marriage that still upholds the man-woman definition as essential without making it a theological argument. We do this all the time. We make laws like this for common good purposes, none of which require a theological rationale. Consider stealing. The government forbids stealing, for example, not simply because the Decalogue forbids it, but because stealing violates the public trust. Because stealing undermines cooperation and a well-ordered civil society, common belief about the harms of theft leads to outlawing it. Of course, as evangelicals, we believe everything has God as its author, and so we view stealing as breaking God’s commandment. But that is not government’s interest in making theft illegal. The same is true of marriage. We uphold marriage because no institution like it in society can secure civilization’s stability and future.”
The arguments against marriage redefinition aren’t purely theological – they encompass both theological and common good ideas. As a society we want to see kids raised in a loving home with both their mother and father because we believe kids deserve both and need both. This is impossible in a homosexual relationship. We also believe that society should protect, defend, and strengthen the only means by which our society can continue – the man-woman relationship. Again, this is impossible in a homosexual relationship.
But, and this is the critical point, what EME is asking Christians to do is compartmentalize our faith. We are being asked by this group and others, to be Christians on Sunday but to separate our faith from our public lives. This is diametrically opposed to what the Bible teaches us. As a Christian it is our duty to shine the light of the Gospel on every square inch of our world. By separating our faith and our politics it becomes easy to support what the Bible calls sin; whether it’s homosexuality, polygamy, adultery, pornography, or gambling.
Even EME knows that they are asking Christians to compartmentalize. Their spokesman said:
“Many evangelicals believe the Bible describes same-sex relationships as sinful; others disagree. Regardless of whether we believe that God views these relationship or sinful or not, our particular Christian definition of marriage shouldn’t dictate the definition of marriage in a pluralistic and religiously diverse society such as ours.”
Umm…yes, it should. Yes, absolutely MY particular definition of marriage, based on my religious convictions, is what I want to see as the standard for our laws. If we aren’t using MY definition of marriage when who’s will we use? No doubt it will be the latest cultural fancy making the rounds. And how did I arrive at MY definition of marriage? Simple, I looked into the Bible and saw what God designed and surrendered my will to God’s and simply believe what God teaches.
Anything less than doing what the Bible commands is sin. Supporting something – even on purely secular political grounds – that the Bible calls sin is still sin. Somehow these young evangelicals miss this critical point as they ask other evangelicals to support sin. It’s a very confused worldview where Christ and His Word is King on Sunday but sin reigns every other day.