A Question About Marriage You Might Not Be Able to Answer
What is marriage?
That appears on the surface to be an easy question to answer. Perhaps you already have a clearly defined answer at the ready to share with anyone that might ask.
But if we go deeper in this discussion we will inevitably arrive at the root question of “where did your definition of marriage originate?”
Did you get your definition of marriage from your parents? Maybe it came from your church? Perhaps it comes from your understanding of social order and function. Regardless of where it came from we can be certain that our definition of marriage is influenced by its source.
But the question remains of where the definition of marriage originated? In the discussion of the definition of marriage two opposing sides believe they have the right to define marriage. But at the heart of the discussion is the question of where the original definition of marriage that has been firmly established in the history of society for centuries originated.
If humans first defined marriage then I suppose it would be easy to agree that humans have the right to redefine marriage. After-all, humans routinely redefine and alter various laws and societal codes of conduct as time progresses; so why not the definition of marriage? But, and this is critical, if the definition of marriage was ordained by someone other than humans then we must rightly agree that humans have neither the right nor the ability to redefine it. That leads us to the heart of the issue.
If we go back far enough into history at some point we come to the first people that lived on earth; depending on your worldview and theology this could be dramatically different. But the question we have to ask is, “Did humans first define marriage?” As far back as recorded history allows us to look we see marriage as the union of one man and one woman. While at times ideas such as polygamy existed, they were never the norm and never approved and supported by a majority of society. Somehow, as we look back into history we see the dominance of the one woman-one man marriage definition. Why?
I believe this is because God first ordained and defined marriage. What other explanation can plausibly account for the fact that human history overwhelmingly supports traditional marriage as the standard? Where did we get this idea? Why was it a foundational element to every major civilization? Why did other lifestyle and relationships never become just as “normal” as traditional marriage?
Each of these questions leads us to the reality that marriage was never defined by humans, never even conceived of by humans. God Himself first created, ordained, and defined marriage. In doing so God established the pattern for preserving humanity through the unique relationships that only a man and woman can possess with a primary result being procreation. For those seeking to redefine marriage every effort to separate the definition of marriage from any religious ties is a priority. If marriage is nothing more than a function of society then it becomes easy to define, redefine, or un-define.
Louis Markos, in his article at The Gospel Coalition, reiterates this:
“For those seeking to secure the rights of two men or two women to marry, the ultimate goal isn’t to extend political, legal, medical, and hereditary rights to homosexuals (civil unions would accomplish that), but the radical redefinition of marriage itself. Social engineering, not justice, is the endgame, and that is why those who refuse to acknowledge or participate in the redefinition have been increasingly silenced, subjected to ridicule, even threatened with legal action.”
Indeed, those with a religious conviction concerning the definition of marriage are most dangerous to the progressive plan of seizing control of marriage. As long as pastors, churches, and religious groups continue to teach the unalterable definition of marriage as defined by God Himself, there will always be a remnant of society that refuses to accept or support any attempt to redefine it.
So, what’s a good progressive revisionist to do? Separate the definition and even the institution of marriage from any and all religious ties. One good way to accomplish this goal is to argue “what is marriage”? Convoluting the idea of marriage with civil rights, race, and gender ideas has become a favorite tactic of those seeking to redefine marriage. But Markos, using information from a book by Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet, refutes such attempts:
“In their well-argued, irenic book, Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet wisely keep their readers’ attention fixed on the real question behind the debate: what is marriage? Engaging directly the false analogy between civil rights and same-sex marriage, McDowell and Stonestreet maintain that while the color of a person’s skin is irrelevant to the nature and function of marriage, the sexes of the partners is not: A male of one ethnicity and a female of another can become one in every sense that a couple of the same ethnicity can. And an interracial sexual union is ordered toward procreation and can abide by the same standards of exclusivity and permanence. . . . But same-sex couples cannot procreate nor can they become “one” in the same sense opposite-sex couples can. (61)”
That is a pointed piece of irrefutable evidence against same-sex “marriage.” The thought of using arguments from the civil-rights movement to defend and advocate for marriage redefinition falls flat. It’s like talking apples and oranges.
Christians must be prayerfully studied up concerning what marriage is. When someone asks us for our understanding we must, in humility and grace, teach God’s Word with clear, well-reasoned and biblical arguments. We have a responsibility too, to give our culture examples of God’s definition of marriage; but not just His definition, His practical picture of marriage. In other words we need to set the example for what a loving, biblical, Complementarian marriage looks like.
I am all for Christians studying the apologetics of marriage and being intellectually, philosophically, and culturally prepared to engage in robust conversation on the topic. But if our own marriages are in shambles all our arguments are empty shadows not worth listening to. Our lives, the example we set, will not only impact our kids – the next generation – but those around us. That argument is one that simply cannot be refuted.