(by Eric Phillips)
The practice of homosexuality is a sin. It’s not just a perversion of nature; it’s clearly condemned in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (e.g. Lev. 20:13, Rom. 1:22-27). But God has not called upon civil government to criminalize every sin,* and we, as Americans, are just as happy He hasn’t. We like our freedoms. We like it when the state stays out of the personal lives of consenting adults. We stand up for the other guy’s civil rights because in so doing, we are standing up for our own as well. So maybe some of us are wondering what makes gay “marriage” such a big deal. How is this different from the basic protection of personal rights for homosexuals? Why is this different?
The difference lies in the re-definition of the word (and legal institution of) “marriage.” It would have been reasonable for the state to come up with a new kind of civil union modeled on marriage in order to handle issues of inheritance, taxation, visitation rights, etc.—the legal side of the institution. But the movement jumped right over this solution and instead attacked marriage.
Let there be no mistake, it was an attack. So-called “marriage equality” has undermined marriage in the same way sappers used to undermine walls in ancient warfare, cutting out from under it the grounds of nature, civilization, and divine institution—its reasons for being. “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. …Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:22, 24). Even those who do not recognize these words as God’s Word can recognize in them a rational and universal definition. A marriage is naturally male-and-female because these are the two halves of the human race, which together produce more human beings, whom the spouses then nourish and protect and educate in a unit known as the Family, which is more basic even than the State. Marriage is the basic building block of every human civilization that has ever existed. But now the Supreme Court has redefined it as nothing more than a voluntary union of two otherwise unrelated adults who claim to love one another.
This completely arbitrary definition has no chance of standing for long. Why just two adults? Why can’t they be from the same family? No answer can be given that’s even half as convincing as the answers that have already been ignored. It seems unavoidable that polygyny, polyandry, group marriage, and incestuous marriage have already been approved in principle, now that marriage has been ruled a pure act of the will, unmoored from any natural or historical definition. And as we have already seen in several well-publicized cases involving bakers, there’s a whole new kind of legal bullying that’s possible now, targeting anyone who dares to let his religious convictions (with respect to this issue) affect the way he conducts his business.
It may be a position that attracts scorn, hatred, and even litigation, but we as Christians are going to have to be stubborn about this. God has defined marriage: first biologically, by making us male and female; second by His revelation, telling us expressly in Genesis 2 that this is what He has done; third, by forbidding homosexuality along with every other practice that would destroy or replace marriage (adultery, fornication, divorce); fourth, by revealing to us that He has intended marriage to be a picture of the union between Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:22-33). Human governments are not able change that definition. They can misuse the word, and they can arbitrarily grant to certain other kinds of sexual relationships the same legal considerations they have traditionally given to married couples, but that is the extent of their power.
*It was criminalized in Old Testament Israel, by God’s command, but Israel was a theocracy, having no purely civil government. The only other theocratic polity in the Bible (and the only one existing in the world today) is the Church, and the Church has not been given the power of the Sword (Rom. 13:1-7), but of the Keys (Matt. 16:19, 18:18).