A Different Approach to Same-Sex Marriage

Many people who profess to be Christians today claim to be opposed to same-sex marriage. It is quite possible that in a few years their viewpoint will change. An example of this is the switch made by Alan Chambers in 2013 who was at the helm of Exodus International, an organization helping homosexuals to come back to heterosexuality. Whether a person switches may well be decided by the basis on which his/her position rests.

There are many supports currently for same-sex marriage. For some it is the freedom to do what one wants: if someone wants to be homosexual and marry someone else, why not? For others it is viewed as an issue of civil rights; denying them the right to marry is seen as similar to denying certain basic rights to minority peoples in the past. Another support is that of legality; as I write about one third of the states in the United States have legalized homosexual marriage. If it is legal, why should anyone oppose it? It’s the law.

For some the example of others is powerful. Kori Ashton, a popular singer who claims to be a Christian, started a pro-gay group several years ago. Her example may well influence others. Sometimes Christians just grow weary in being opposers--might as well go along with the herd. Christians also sometimes support other immoral situations such as heterosexual couples living together unmarried, sexual activity before marriage, and even adulterous affairs. Why not include same-sex marriage? It’s just a little more variety in the accepted immoral family. Persecution may persuade some to accept gay marriage. Christians in various places have been singled out for public scorn for not serving gay couples in providing housing, wedding services, etc. It’s hard to hold a position when you must pay a price for it. Some will switch just because a family member announces that he is gay.

But probably the most significant reason that some Christians will change their views is that their beliefs in general are not based on God’s revelation. And really, this situation drives all the supports given in the two previous paragraphs. Basing one’s beliefs on God’s revelation is the sturdiest foundation a person can have. But if we have not made that the practice of our lives, then we are open to any conceivable viewpoint and deception that exists.

It may come as a surprise to some that we are lectured by someone in a different part of the world. In 2013 Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church pointed out to us the evils of same-sex marriage. He suggested it was a sign of the end of the world.

But we are most interested here in what the Bible says. It does after all present to us The Model of marriage. First, it does that in Genesis 2:21-24:
So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (All Scripture quotations are NASB)
We can call this sociological and Creation-related. On the day Adam and Eve were created God instituted marriage and demonstrated that one man and one woman is The Model for populating the earth. Surely this original institution should carry some importance for us.

Second, in Ephesians 5:22-33 the same relationship is outlined from another perspective:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.
This we can call theological and Christ-related. Earthly marriage is designed to be an analogy and a reflection of the spiritual relationship between Christ and the Church. This picture has not been given enough attention by Bible students and Christians in general, but it should hold high importance for them. These presentations are The Model, and they obviously have far-reaching consequences for the constitution of marriage and its execution as well.

However we examine same-sex marriage, it does not fit The Model. The creation mandate of Genesis 1:28 is to be fruitful and fill the earth. Same-sex marriage cannot accomplish this. In fact, if same-sex marriage had been the norm humanity would have been exterminated long ago.
And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
In the creation account of Genesis 2:20 (“And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.”) there is the matter of suitability. The word suitable means in front of and opposite. It indicates a complementary relationship. Again, homosexual marriage cannot fit this description.

One can even look forward to the prophecy of Jesus Christ’s marriage to the Church in Revelation 19:7, 11.
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” Ö And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.
The genders of the individuals involved are clear as indicated by the pronouns. If marriage is to be a valid picture of the Christ/Church relationship, then it must involve one man and one woman, and gay marriage cannot provide that.

Some might wonder whether those who consider themselves homosexual are doomed in that case to a life of singleness and loneliness. And the answer is that they are no more doomed to that than anyone else. There is the possibility of being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ. Present-day examples of this are Christopher Yuan whose story is told in Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God and Rosaria Butterfield whose story is told in The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. Anyone is free to marry a person of the opposite sex providing that both are agreed and willing to make that commitment before earthly and heavenly witnesses.

Lest we be unduly and unfairly critical of same-sex marriages, we need to know that there are hetero-sexual relationships which also do not fit The Model. We return again to the picture in Revelation 21:2, 4, 7:
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. Öand He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Öand nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
There is one husband and one bride, and they come together for a marriage which lasts for eternity. Legal marriage ended by some way other than the death of a spouse is not pleasing to God, even though many people, even in the Christian community, have ways of rationalizing it.

Sexual trysts before marriage or outside of marriage during marriage whether with another person or with pictures do not fit The Model. Consider Malachi 2:14:
“Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.”
Regardless of whether we do, God takes seriously the vows made during the wedding.

Some have sought a way out of marriage because of the lack of biblical fulfillment in their own marriage or because of examples of the same in the marriage of others. For example, the husband is to love and nourish his wife according to Ephesians 5:28-30.
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.
Similarly, the wife has a responsibility to fulfill, and failure to do that is also sin. Consider Ephesians 5:22, 33:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ö Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.
Shattering or even blurring the picture of Christ’s relationship to His Church is a sinful tragedy. Reflecting well the relationship of Christ to His Church is the best antidote for same-sex marriage and other departures from The Model set forth in the Scriptures.

The reader may or may not have noticed that in the article focusing mostly on same-sex marriage, the writer did not reference even one Scriptural text directly speaking of homosexuality. There are such texts, and they are important and carry the authority of God, but they are often considered polarizing. Rather the approach was to look at the lofty picture marriage is to reflect, a picture of the theological relationship of Jesus Christ with His people, and gay marriage can in no way be considered congruent with that. It is no wonder that in Romans 1 homosexuality is portrayed as a departure from God. Therefore the ultimate solution must be to return to God and begin to take seriously not only the clear instructions of His word but also the theological significance associated with them. We depart from Him at our own eternal peril.

For further discussion, you may contact the author at arlieandruth@cox.net.