How Christians Can Impact Society Regarding Marriage by Being Different
A majority of the world, including a majority of Christians support marriage redefinition!
That is what the media would have us all believe. One post after another constantly trumps the “fact” that people the world over have almost unanimously embraced marriage redefinition. Not to mention the world’s Christians have decided to be “on the right side of history” and support marriage redefinition.
If I didn’t know better I would be tempted to believe that my biblical view of marriage as the union of one man and one woman the way God designed and ordained it – is a minority view no longer within the mainstream of respectable thought.
Thankfully, I know better.
But while the media and those seeking to recreate what God ordained are busy trying to convince everyone that the world, especially Christians, now support marriage redefinition and homosexuality, history reminds us that such is not the case. In fact, history reminds us that Christians have been, and continue to be distinctive based on their sexual ethic.
In an article at The Gospel Coalition, Michael J. Kruger takes us back to the 2nd century A.D. where Christianity has gained some popularity, much to the chagrin of the Roman Empire. Christians stood out for a number of reasons, such as refusing to pay homage to temple gods. But it was their sexual ethic that really distanced the Christians from the pagan Roman culture. While the cultural norms of the day included wife swapping, prostitutes, homosexual encounters, and multiple sexual partners; Christians became known for a monogamous, covenantal view of marriage that was sacred before God – and peculiar before society.
Kruger specifically notes the number of 2nd century texts that make it very clear where Christians stood on marriage and sexuality.
“One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives” (Apol. 39), Tertullian.
“[Christians] share their meals, but not their sexual partners” (Diogn. 5.7), Epistle to Diognetus
“Christians ‘do not commit adultery nor fornication’ and ‘their men keep themselves from every unlawful union,’” Apology of Aristides
“Among the Persians, a promiscuous association between sons and mothers is allowed. Marriages with sisters are legitimate among the Egyptians and in Athens. Your records and your tragedies, which you both read and hear with pleasure, glory in incests: thus also you worship incestuous gods, who have intercourse with mothers, with daughters, with sisters. With reason, therefore, is incest frequently detected among you, and is continually permitted. Miserable men, you may even, without knowing it, rush into what is unlawful: since you scatter your lusts promiscuously, since you everywhere beget children, since you frequently expose even those who are born at home to the mercy of others, it is inevitable that you must come back to your own children, and stray to your own offspring. Thus you continue the story of incest, even although you have no consciousness of your crime. But we maintain our modesty not in appearance, but in our heart we gladly abide by the bond of a single marriage; in the desire of procreating, we know either one wife, or none at all,” Apology of Minucius Felix.
Kruger points out that what we face today, an over-sexed culture, is nothing new. Early Christians were surrounded with a culture that glorified and worshipped at the altar of sex, no matter how perverse or degraded it was. To say that our society is “over-sexed” is an understatement. Our public schools want to teach Kindergartners about sex, teach 5th graders about anal sex, and make sure middle and high-school students are “sexperts.” Parades are held to allow people to walk nearly nude down the street proudly announcing details of their sex life. The Internet is full of any sexual imagery with just the click of a button. Prostitution and sex-trafficking are world-wide epidemics.
If the 2nd century could possibly be classified as “oversexed” then surely our present society can only be classified as “hyper-sexed on steroids.”
Despite the culture our early Christian ancestors faced, they created a name, a reputation for themselves by being…different. No doubt the politically correct of the 2nd century would have said Christians were “on the wrong side of history.” And yet the mighty Roman Empire is no more but Christianity has spread the world over. The distinctiveness which set Christians apart helped propel them into the future.
It’s true that we are faced with some uphill battles in our current culture. Christians have become susceptible to many sexual and marriage sins: divorce, adultery, pornography. There is a definite need to teach the biblical doctrine of marriage and accompanying sexual ethic clearly outlined in the Scriptures. Christians need a revitalization of one of our most cherished doctrines. We need to repent of our lack-luster view of marriage and sexuality and return to the sacred view God established when He created man and woman and ordained marriage.
It would go a long way in healing our view of marriage and sexuality if our churches would adhere to a strict policy regarding who will and will not be married in our church. Policies requiring pre-marital counseling that includes purity policies, biblical gender role lessons, and an explanation regarding the covenantal relationship between people and God in their marriage would make a significant impact. If churches took marriage more seriously the testimony to our culture could also be significant.
Kruger is right though, he said that 2nd century Christians had an opportunity to witness to people around them by being different in their marriage and sexual ethic. We have no less an opportunity.