This post first appeared on Precious Adornment in August 2010.
“…What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate”
Unless you’ve recently emerged from a hole in the ground, discussions regarding the all-out assault on marriage in our society have likely grown familiar to you. For many years, the voices of those opposing traditional marriage remained basically drowned out by the overwhelming volume of those voicing their support. Yet over time, what was once a quiet and occasional murmur of resistance has morphed into an almost constant and deafening roar for revolution.
The opponents of traditional marriage have driven their messages into every nook and cranny of society–the movies, media, bookstores, schoolrooms, and even many churches have the now popular mantras playing on a loop. Traditional marriage is a relic of a bygone age, they assert, a new era requires new openness. Claiming that no one has the right to restrict the happiness of another, they aim to demolish the definition of marriage upon which every stable society stands in order to erect another in its place.
If these revolutionaries succeed, the traditional definition of marriage as a sacred institution between one man and one woman for one lifetime will soon vanish, and another will take its place:
Marriage—A social institution between one man and one woman for as long as it’s convenient
…Perhaps this isn’t quite the revision you were expecting. I understand your confusion. We hear so much about the war against traditional marriage that when the subject is raised our thoughts automatically turn to the push for homosexual marriage. Although the drive to normalize homosexuality is indeed a major concern, it is not the concern of the article you’re currently reading. No, today I want to focus on a far more subtle, far more palatable, yet perhaps more dangerous threat to traditional marriage—the widespread occurrence and increasing acceptance of divorce within the church.
You see, long before the homosexual community ever dreamed of taking the idea seriously, professing Christians were busy redefining marriage. I suppose you wouldn’t be too far off if you theorized that the homosexual community may have been emboldened to advance its own cause after observing how the churchgoing crowd slowly but surely loosened up the restrictive definition of traditional marriage to accomodate its own desire for comfort. Surely, if you can make the switch from one man-one woman for one lifetime to one man-one woman for as long as it’s convenient, then the elimination of the gender distinction can’t be lagging too many years behind. It’s hard to ditch some of the sanctity of marriage without eventually losing it all.
Thousands upon thousands in the church today are joining in the defense of the traditional definition of marriage (which of course, they should), describing it as the fabric which holds our society together. Yet what so many seem perfectly happy to ignore is that we in the church have been clipping the threads of that fabric for decades now, and we did it one divorce at a time. Now, as we attempt to take a stand against the swell of opponents facing us on this new battlefront, we do so with our shredded banner flying overhead, wondering all the while why our opponents mock us as though we entered the fight without giving a single thought to our battle plan.
Of course, there was a day many years ago, when the church did have a leg to stand on in this debate. It was way back when the church took its definition of marriage from the Bible instead of from the culture, when marriage was not only defined as sacred, but also treated as such, and when one man-one woman-one lifetime wasn’t riddled with loopholes. Although the Word of God hasn’t changed in regard to marriage, if you observe the haphazard treatment of marriage among the people of God in modern times, you could very easily be led to believe that the Author had published a new edition of His marriage manual. Yet the Word of God still stands as a clear testimony of God’s eternal hatred of divorce (Mal. 2:16). If God’s Word hasn’t changed on the issue of divorce, it begs the question, “Why have we?”
In the next post, I want to look more at the vital issue of the sanctity of marriage. In this area, as in all other aspects of the Christian life, we must follow the infallible guidance God has provided for us in His Word. Although the world strives relentlessly to mold us into its ever-changing image, we must cling to the countercultural call of Scripture, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
Photo: Nat Arnett