18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.”24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. Genesis 2
Evangelicals have gathered in huge numbers today in Washington, DC, to rally and protest, making their opinion known on the issue of whether or not the state should recognize same-sex marriages.
Once upon a time, marriage was about a covenant between a man, a woman, and God. The records were kept in the church, documentation in the family Bible. But during the time that the lines between church and state were blurred (think pre-Reformation, so we’re talking a LONG time ago), the state took over keeping up with marriage, and it’s been a legal contract ever since.
I don’t agree with same-sex relationships because I do believe that they do not fall in line with God’s designed purpose for intimate, sexual relationships.
However, I also disagree with Christians who protest the government’s ruling on marriage (which they claim is ordained by God, not the state) but still enjoy the tax, insurance, retirement and other benefits of a state recognized marriage.
Here’s a revolutionary thought: if believers seriously are against the changes the government is making concerning marriage, stop participating in government recognized marriages.
Return to church recognized, covenantal marriages. When the government goes against God, remove yourself from the government sponsored activity.
It will be a hardship. We will no longer enjoy the benefits the government offers people who join into a legal marriage.
But isn’t sacrifice expected when we stand in our moral beliefs?
So here’s my challenge: Count the cost of protesting or supporting the government’s definition of marriage, which is an understanding that marriage is a legally bound partnership between two consenting people. If we agree with that reductionist view of marriage, then we have NO RIGHT to protest the government withholding those rights from any couple seeking them.
If, however, we believe marriage is a sacred, lifetime covenant between one man, one woman, and God, then why do we allow the government to be involved in the first place?
If you are so strongly against the government redefining marriage, then stop participating in government acknowledged marriages and deal with the sacrifices made because of that stand.
Not a popular stance, and I’m certain I’ll take fire from both sides of the debate, but brothers and sisters, we cannot continue to speak out against an institution (the government) from which we benefit.
My friend Kim just made a beautiful point: our government is not bound to biblical standards, but as Christians, we are. We are not a theocracy, and cannot expect those who do not hold to our religious morals to abide by them.
God ordained governments to protect our right to practice our faith, not to enforce our faith. So if our government today chooses to enforce a law which you believe goes against biblical law, then stop participating in that government sanctioned activity.
File for legal divorce and ask your pastor for a church blessed covenant. Sacrifice the benefits of government sanctioned marriage and embrace community accountability and support.
Teach about the sanctity of marriage, the seriousness of the commitment.
Talk young people out of entering marriage until they understand the commitment they are making.
Talk married couples out of divorcing because they have made that covenant commitment.
(UPDATE: The above statement in NO way means that I condone staying in an unsafe situation in which abuse is taking place in a marriage. In an ideal situation, red flags of possible abuse would be revealed in the pre-marital time and the person would either be discipled to repentance or the marriage would not occur in the first place. If you are currently in an abusive relationship, get out of immediate danger, tell someone. Tell until someone believes you and empowers you to act. God NEVER condones the abuse of His children.)
Do those things, then get back to me about why you desire to withhold government sanctioned financial benefits from same-sex couples, some of whom have been in relationships longer than many heterosexual Christian marriages.
Let’s get marriage right in the Church again before we start critiquing how the world does it.
UPDATE: I’ve had some ask for clarification on my statements above, thinking I’ve meant Christians should isolate themselves from the world or remove ourselves from the political realm altogether.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m a history and Poli. Sci. junkie and ENCOURAGE Christians to be involved in the public square.
But on this particular issue, we as believers may need to find a way to signify a distinct difference in our understanding of marriage and the Gov’t’s.
I wrote his on another site yesterday and thought it might be helpful to include here:
The current definition of legal marriage as observed by the gov’t and God’s covenant standard are already so completely different, God wouldn’t recognize our gov’t’s view of marriage.
I say we separate marriage and legal unions. Once, they were assumed the same thing, but they are no longer in our society. Make covenant marriage the business of the church and if people want to add a gov’t sanctioned legal contract, then so be it.
On the other hand, if people wish a legal acknowledgment of their relationship w/o caring for a church commitment, then let them have a legal union alone.
When man’s law deviates from God’s law, as Christians, we stand more accountable to God.
Civil union and covenant marriage should be two separate things; let the state deal with the legal issues and let religious institutions deal with the sacred union before God as necessary. We should no longer assume the two are the same.
I was thinking I was getting another hate filled post ….. I was wrong.
I hear wisdom here.
Stop hatred in all it’s guises.
Christians have the courage of your convictions
Love all mankind.
Stand for what you believe and clean your own house first.
Sin is sin it is not measured in heaven by degrees.
Cast a first stone when you feel you have been perfected.
Jesus didn’t even do that.
Nor would He today.
Well said Teresa, however Jesus was perfect he wasn’t going to punish her though. He just forgave her. So Jesus not throwing a stone wasn’t because he wasn’t perfect its because he was calling the people out and teaching them of what you were saying about the equality of sin. Now you may know that and I may have taken your comment wrong on that part, but I feel that needed a little more clarification. God Bless..
Thank you Jake. Yes, I may have been unclear, but I do know Jesus walked as a man and did it perfectly as His Father’s son. Thank you for clarifying that for my post. I get nervous posting and appreciate your comment. Be blessed 🙂
Teresa and Jake, while I love the story of the woman caught in adultery, it’s Johannine authorship is (rightly) disputed, and so it’s probably not wise to build a doctrine from it.
Thank you for your comment drewpearce. I intend no doctrine. I was just glad to not be receiving another hate filled post. I shall consider your words and perhaps be more careful of what I speak in public. be blessed 😉
Maybe doctrine isn’t the right word… regardless, I too was enthused to not read hate. I like that this post caused me to stop and think.
Most Christians still see the U.S. as a “Christian” nation and thus the line that you want to place between church and state is not that clear. Christian marriages, man and woman, have all the state benefits precisely because the state once viewed marriage from a Judeo-Christian perspective. Granted, that may no longer be the case or soon may not, but I am just pointing out why so many Christians oppose state supported same sex marriage. The state once defined marriage as man and woman, as does the Bible, so part of the protest is not just about same sex marriage, but a loss of Christian perspective in and from the “state”, that is the U.S. In one sense you are asking Christians to denounce the U.S. that has been understood as a Christian nation since its beginning, at least by Christians.
Ed, I believe you are right, which was the direction in which my thought process was going with this post. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Judeo-Christian definition of marriage and the government’s definition are becoming increasingly different, it may be time to separate and differentiate between the religious sacrament and the legal ceremony, again making it two separate choices as opposed to assuming they are one and the same.
So are you saying the marriage argument is all about the tax code, which is always changing? Would not changing the tax code to benefit unmarried people help more people? What about when there was a marriage tax penalty?
Not just tax code; there are many more
legal benefits attached to a state recognized marriage than just taxes.
We have assumed in our nation that religious sacrament and legal recognition are connected; I’m simply questioning that connection since the two institutions seem to be further divided in their definition of marriage.
What are the other legal benefits which the gov’t grants only to married people?
There are financial benefits like disability and retirement, social security benefits that pass on to the spouse when the beneficiary dies.
There are custody issues concerning children.
And, in the case of marriage and divorce, the legal system aids in dividing assets at the end of the relationship when it is legally recognized.
There are medical issues as well. With a civil union, couples could determine issues of life support and the like that right now are not allowed.
Government recognized unions provide many benefits that are slowly changing even for single people (regardless of orientation) so that those benefits can be passed on to any person of choice, but we’re not there yet.
While I think you make many great points in your article—many of which I agree with—I also believe that as Christians we aren’t supposed to live in our own little bubble—cut off from the rest of the world (or government).
We are to be fishers of men and women calling others to follow Christ and walk in his foot steps.
Now, it while it’s true that Jesus forgave the adulterous woman, it’s also important to note that he also did not condone her sin. He told her to go and sin no more.
I guess my point is that while civil disobience may possibly be the answer in some cases when it comes to objecting to mans law. It still doesn’t mean we should live in seclusion and not share our faith with others in loving manner, even though at times it’s going to be interpreted as hate speech which it isn’t.
There was no mention of seclusion from society or civil disobedience in my post. Filing of a marriage certificate is only required for receiving government recognition of that marriage.
Christians can be fully involved in the world, engaging the world in Gospel evangelism, without participating in government sanctioned marriages. I would argue, in fact, we could be more influential by no longer participating in “civil unions” and returning to a covenant made before God and the Body of Christ but lived out in front of a watching world.
This post is great. I agree with so much here, Bekah.
Side note: I think the debate is still alive and well as to the validity of the adulterous woman text in John. I disagree that it is “right” to be wary of forming a doctrine around it. That text is very much within the character of Yahweh.
Thanks, Megan. I appreciate the support and encouragement!
I would agree with your statement about the passage in John 8. Drew is right; that story is found “tacked” onto ancient MSS in over a half dozen places in the Gospels, so we aren’t sure of the authorship.
I choose to lean towards trusting God’s sovereignty in this case; humanity found a way to mess up the original order, but God deemed that particular story so rich in the character of Christ that He ensured it survived to today.
I guess a better way to say what I mean is that the text teaches a lot about God that is taught elsewhere in the scriptures, but I wouldn’t go to this text first to “prove” my case regarding those characteristics, simply because it is disputed.
Good point; supportive but not foundational text.
I think that Christians would be astonished if they undertook a serious study of the origins of the ‘prohibition’ on homosexuality (in the OT). Before taking a stand one should check one’s foundation…
I just want to make sure I understand what you’re saying; are you implying that Christians who support the biblical prohibition of homosexual practice do so out of ignorance?
Hmm…as one who has done serious study of both testaments, I am wondering what foundations you are questioning. You have to post some context of our proposed misunderstanding if you want a serious dialogue.
Oops, my previous comment came up as anonymous! Sorry.
[The following amazing article was discovered on the web. Reactions invited.]
(The following paper was inspired by Bill O’Reilly whose TV show favors God Dumpers and not “Bible Thumpers.” Quotes are from “Vital Quotations” by Emerson West.)
DANGEROUS BIBLE THUMPERS OF AMERICA
ROBERT E. LEE: “In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.” (p. 21)
DANIEL WEBSTER: “If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper.” (p. 21)
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS: “I have made it a practice for several years to read the Bible through in the course of every year.” (p. 22)
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated to us through this book.” (p. 22)
GEORGE WASHINGTON: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” (p. 22)
HORACE GREELEY: “It is impossible to mentally or socially enslave a Bible-reading people.” (p. 23)
THOMAS JEFFERSON: “I hold the precepts of Jesus as delivered by himself to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man. I adhere to the principles of the first age; and consider all subsequent innovations as corruptions of this religion, having no foundation in what came from him.” (p. 45)
THOMAS JEFFERSON: “Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they came from his lips, the whole civilized world would by now have become Christian.” (p. 47)
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: “As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see.” (p.49)
WOODROW WILSON: “The sum of the whole matter is this—-that our civilization cannot survive materially unless it be redeemed spiritually. It can only be saved by becoming permeated with the spirit of Christ and being made free and happy by practices which spring out of that spirit.” (p. 143)
PATRICK HENRY: “There is a just God who presides over the destiny of nations.” (p. 145)
THOMAS JEFFERSON: “Material abundance without character is the surest way to destruction.” (p. 225)
THOMAS JEFFERSON: “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus.” (p. 237)
GEORGE WASHINGTON: “The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low, that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.” (p. 283)
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: “Here is my creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshiped.” (p. 301)
CALVIN COOLIDGE: “The strength of a country is the strength of its religious convictions.” (p. 305)
GEORGE WASHINGTON: “The perpetuity of this nation depends upon the religious education of the young.” (p. 306)
Prior to our increasingly “Hell-Bound and Happy” era, America’s greatest leaders were part of the (gulp) Religious Right! Today we’ve forgotten God’s threat (to abort America) in Psa. 50:22—-“Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.” Memo to God Dumpers: In light of Rev. 16:19, can you be sure you won’t be in a city that God has already reserved for destruction?
Just in case you haven’t read this, I recommend it to you. It includes an interesting take on how to read the Bible about a number of divisive topics, including same sex attraction and sexuality.
The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart, Peter J. Gomes