Can Marriage Be Redefined? Part 2

10218912636_7a62e90771_mTo some social revolutionaries of our day marriage is like play dough. It can be shaped according to whim. A marriage, they agree, may be the covenanted union of a man and woman, but they claim there should be other options, like unions of two males or two females. These too should be labeled marriage.

Consider certain realities that stand against that claim.

Ryan T Anderson Ph.D. of the Heritage Foundation writes, “[Marriage] is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are different and complementary.” Male and female bodies match in ways that same-sex bodies never can. The difference is anatomical.

And only because of this physical complementarity can a male and female together potentially conceive and bear children, giving the children the dual benefits of a mother and father, thus fulfilling a fundamental purpose of marriage.

This difference is not only anatomical, however; it is also neurological. Brain studies show that exceptions aside, in aggregate the male and female brains process the issues of life differently. In reality, this too contributes to their complementarity as husband and wife.

Beyond these anatomical and psycho-neurological differences the definition of marriage as, “one man and one woman for life” is etched into the history of language itself.

Consider the collection of words that gather around this definition and in doing so distinguish it. For examples, because the marriage of one man and one woman is distinctive, if a man has two wives he’s a bigamist, and if many wives he’s a polygamist. A woman with more than one husband is a polyandrist. In each case, the variance requires a name to distinguish it from traditional marriage.

The terms continue to gather. A bachelor is a man who is past the usual age for marrying and has never married. A widow is a woman whose marriage has been terminated by the death of her spouse. An engaged person is someone who is pledged formally to marry. A divorced person is someone, whether male or female, who was the partner of a marriage now dissolved. These words all assume derivation from or relationship to a one man, one woman covenanted relationship.

And to further support the legitimacy of traditional marriage certain words have been lodged deeply in the language through myriads of generations. Some such words exist to describe the violation of the covenanted relationship of marriage and in doing so to protect its integrity and legitimacy. Such words as adultery, fornication, common-law, annulment, etc. come to mind.

Yet even this proliferation of words does not exist to curb the liberty of anyone. In a free country unions can be formed in other ways too — as a legal contract, a business partnership, a shared apartment for economic reasons, etc. These are social partnerships but not marriage. The proliferation exists only to defend the historic nature of marriage as one man and one woman for life.

The reason for protecting marriage from more flexible notions is to follow the practices of centuries in recognizing that both the word and the relationship called “marriage” means a union between one man and one woman.

Some who do not think words should be taken so seriously will disagree; words, they say, can mean whatever we want them to mean, so why not stretch the meaning of the word, marriage to include same-sex unions and later even threesomes, and on and on? To act out that opinion broadly would make communication about domestic matters vague and confusing.

So those who believe words are the carefully planted and broadly accepted units enabling us to think, differentiate, nuance, and communicate, see the danger signs of innovation clearly.

Gather together these many words that assume marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman; add the wide-ranging traditions that cross many religions past and present; include the above anatomical realities known to the modern mind, and what do we have?

We have a strong barrier that would require centuries to breach even for those disinterested in religious belief. We have very high walls indeed against tampering with the boundaries of society’s basic institution — an institution that grounds human life in families established by a union of husband and wife.

(More next week)

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Photo credit: Walter (via flickr.com)
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4 thoughts on “Can Marriage Be Redefined? Part 2

  1. Hi Don: Delving into language you have made a more wide-ranging argument for traditional marriage that I’ve ever come across. Age seems to be sharpening your intellect. It is just too bad that words mean so little in our post-modern age, when there is no right or wrong, only feelings about issues and the conclusions are based on feelings.
    blessings, Roy Kenny–my blog to-day was about the Brazilian Carnival

  2. Thankyou Pastor, for another deeply thought provoking blog,helping clarify life according to Biblical standards,to the Christian pattern.

    .Anthropologically same gender marriages make no sense.All function of marriage is lost in same gender marriage.. It seems to me anthropologists study human beings as animals ,in our animal nature.But we are a kind of amphibian creature,living both in the world ,on material earth and in the water of the spirit. We are spiritual beings too and our two natures are intertwined,as I see it.

    We are more than anatomical and just as male and female anatomies are different so too I believe,masculine and feminine spiritual natures or essences arte different and complimentary.Marriage must be more than the marriage of two complimentary bodies ,masculine and feminine.There is the marriage of two minds,masculine and feminine.Shakespeare wrote

    ‘’Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove.
    O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken;’’

    .Friendships can be true ,loyal and a great virtue.But the ancient archetype of marriage is unique.A lifelong loving union of complementary male and female halves of humanity,physically,memtally,spiritually.It is a gift of God ,something of great spiritual beaut,mysterious and sublime..

    Surely it is the duty of every Christlit Christian to stand up for a Biblical standard of marriage, in love for our Lord Jesus Christ,according to the Scriptures,according to our Lord’s words.Our Lord is very clear on marriage.
    ‘But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female For this reason a man shall leace his father and mother ,and the two shall become one flesh,so they are no no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Mark 10 :6-9
    This covers it all.One man ,one woman,monogamous in loving union for life.
    In our own lives and in guiding others we must stand for Christ’s understanding of marriage.

    We Christians must stand for Christian marriage. In our own lives and when guiding others .No sex outside marriage.No separation or divorce.Marriage a covenant ( for Protestants) or sacrament ( for Catholics and Orthodox Christians ) ,between one man and one woman ,equal but different ,in monogamous lifelong loving and forgiving union.No other kind of marriage will do for a Christian.

    This marriage is rewarded by God by being with filled with God’s gift of that mysterious union of two complementary people into one loving union of flesh and spirit,living in the beauty of holiness.What a beautiful reward for obedience to God.

    This established ,we mustn’t forget Jesus and His aposteles taught us other standards too.
    stated li 6“But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. 7“FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, 8AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no
    ’Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you’’ Ephesians 4:32 NAS

    ‘’Judge not, that ye be not judge’’ Matthew 7:1 AV

    So ,while we practise only Christian marriage ourselves and guide others only unto Christian marriage,,we must be kindhearted ,loving and forgiving to those who do not.

    We must not judge others .That is for God.For there but for the grace of God go we.

    Medical science ,at least many medical scientists have claimed to have discovered a ‘gay gene’.If that is true,then some humans may be incapable of fully loving,in body as well as heart ,one of a complementary gender.

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu said to exclude people on the basis of having a a homosexual orientation rather than a heterosexual orientation ,would be akin to apartheid.I take the Archbishops point.

    But philosophically one could argue every human is born into sin,born thoroughly depraved according to original sin. We are each born with a sinful orientation .Upon the new birth we are given grace to renounce that orientation.

    What makes me loathe to label homosexual desires as sinful ? I don’t know.Is it the current zeitgeist or is it a conviction that it is not for me to judge others.? It is certainly my Christian duty to be loving and tenderhearted to those who practise ways of coupling or living together which I do not recognize as marriage in the clear true sense.I recognize and accept scriptural truth but I don’t want to hurt others by judging them.

    The current Archbishop of Canterbury,Justin Welby ,came to our church as assisatant director of our international ministry, working with Director Andrew White.Pastor Andrew is now Vicar of Baghdad,his parish all Iraq.,

    Justin Welby is an orthodox Bible believing evangelical as was Coventry Cathedral’s dean at that time,John Irvine.Yet many of the cathedral staff and congregation,even senior staff held very different views on sexual ethics.Many were advocates for blessingf same sex unions.In Justin Welby’s words,homosexuality stood as a ‘lightning cinductor’ in the power struggle between the evangelical and liberal wings of Anglicanism.

    Now Coventry Cathedral is our national centre of Christian reconciliation,aiming to be a model of reconciliation.,commited to Anglican comprehensiveness and disagreement without rancour.

    There was a full and frank exchange of views on the subject in our church to the point where we mearly strayed from our ideal of reconciliation.Some liberals called evangelicals homophobic and equivalent to the Talibab.While evangelicals stated stated li berals owere not preaching the Gospel.
    Our church was in danger of falling into a crisis of division over the issue.Justin insisted we would have to find a safe way to work out the issues in a reconciled way without conflict,while he made his position quite clear.

    Marriage is between a man and a woman and sexual practice is only for marriage and this is the clear Biblical position.Such a view may be pastorally difficult but it’s what the Bible says! This was Justin’s position.

    In January 2004 ,Dean Irvine created space for a Sunday evening open conversation about homosexuality and marriage,in a generous ,friendly and prayerful approach to theological disagreement. Justin Welby led for the authority of scripture ,the canon precentor for the fact he had gay friends who were passionately devout evangelists. Of good behaviour.

    Justin replied if the success of his miistry depended on his own good behaviour it would have failed from start to finish. That it is God’s grace not his good behaviour that counts.God knows best and God speaks through scripture and obedience to scripture is the best way we can love God.

    Justin recognized there was great pain on both sides in this disagreement .He said he saw and felt the pain but added-

    ‘’But I come back to the fact that I believe at the bottom of my heart that what the Bible says is true …genital sex between people of the same gender is not permitted by the Bible’’Justin Welby addressing Coventry Cathedral

    The Coventry Cathedral debate was intended as a model for the whole church ,a debate between Christians passionate in their love for Jesus,to speak in transparency and integrity.Justin reflected ‘in God’s grace we managed to disagree without bitterness ,without rancour’’ .Justin said’’ we disagree on this one issue ,but we’re not going to let it break us’’

    I sincerely hope disagreements on what marriage is does not tear Christians apart.We should be united in Christ.We are one body because we all share in one bbread.We are one body and that body is Christ Jesus.

    Jesus is the Word incarnate.The Word is our Scripture,our Bible,our law. Is the world trying to tear Christians apart ,by pulling some of us away to it’s own secular standards of behaviour.Let we Christians stand together,not in obedience to the world which tempts us , but in obedience to God whom we love .

  3. Thankyou Pastor, for another deeply thought provoking blog,helping clarify life according to Biblical standards,to the Christian pattern.

    .Anthropologically same gender marriages make no sense.All function of marriage is lost in same gender marriage.. It seems to me anthropologists study human beings as animals ,in our animal nature.But we are a kind of amphibian creature,living both in the world ,on material earth and in the water of the spirit. We are spiritual beings too and our two natures are intertwined,as I see it.

    We are more than anatomical and just as male and female anatomies are different so too I believe,masculine and feminine spiritual natures or essences arte different and complimentary.Marriage must be more than the marriage of two complimentary bodies ,masculine and feminine.There is the marriage of two minds,masculine and feminine.Shakespeare wrote

    ‘’Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove.
    O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken;’’

    .Friendships can be true ,loyal and a great virtue.But the ancient archetype of marriage is unique.A lifelong loving union of complementary male and female halves of humanity,physically,memtally,spiritually.It is a gift of God ,something of great spiritual beaut,mysterious and sublime..

    Surely it is the duty of every Christlit Christian to stand up for a Biblical standard of marriage, in love for our Lord Jesus Christ,according to the Scriptures,according to our Lord’s words.Our Lord is very clear on marriage.
    ‘But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female For this reason a man shall leace his father and mother ,and the two shall become one flesh,so they are no no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Mark 10 :6-9
    This covers it all.One man ,one woman,monogamous in loving union for life.
    In our own lives and in guiding others we must stand for Christ’s understanding of marriage.

    We Christians must stand for Christian marriage. In our own lives and when guiding others .No sex outside marriage.No separation or divorce.Marriage a covenant ( for Protestants) or sacrament ( for Catholics and Orthodox Christians ) ,between one man and one woman ,equal but different ,in monogamous lifelong loving and forgiving union.No other kind of marriage will do for a Christian.

    This marriage is rewarded by God by being with filled with God’s gift of that mysterious union of two complementary people into one loving union of flesh and spirit,living in the beauty of holiness.What a beautiful reward for obedience to God.

    This established ,we mustn’t forget Jesus and His aposteles taught us other standards too.

    ’Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you’’ Ephesians 4:32 NAS

    ‘’Judge not, that ye be not judge’’ Matthew 7:1 AV

    So ,while we practise only Christian marriage ourselves and guide others only unto Christian marriage,,we must be kindhearted ,loving and forgiving to those who do not.

    We must not judge others .That is for God.For there but for the grace of God go we.

    Medical science ,at least many medical scientists have claimed to have discovered a ‘gay gene’.If that is true,then some humans may be incapable of fully loving,in body as well as heart ,one of a complementary gender.

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu said to exclude people on the basis of having a a homosexual orientation rather than a heterosexual orientation ,would be akin to apartheid.I take the Archbishops point.

    But philosophically one could argue every human is born into sin,born thoroughly depraved according to original sin. We are each born with a sinful orientation .Upon the new birth we are given grace to renounce that orientation.

    What makes me loathe to label homosexual desires as sinful ? I don’t know.Is it the current zeitgeist or is it a conviction that it is not for me to judge others.? It is certainly my Christian duty to be loving and tenderhearted to those who practise ways of coupling or living together which I do not recognize as marriage in the clear true sense.I recognize and accept scriptural truth but I don’t want to hurt others by judging them.

    The current Archbishop of Canterbury,Justin Welby ,came to our church as assisatant director of our international ministry, working with Director Andrew White.Pastor Andrew is now Vicar of Baghdad,his parish all Iraq.,

    Justin Welby is an orthodox Bible believing evangelical as was Coventry Cathedral’s dean at that time,John Irvine.Yet many of the cathedral staff and congregation,even senior staff held very different views on sexual ethics.Many were advocates for blessingf same sex unions.In Justin Welby’s words,homosexuality stood as a ‘lightning cinductor’ in the power struggle between the evangelical and liberal wings of Anglicanism.

    Now Coventry Cathedral is our national centre of Christian reconciliation,aiming to be a model of reconciliation.,commited to Anglican comprehensiveness and disagreement without rancour.

    There was a full and frank exchange of views on the subject in our church to the point where we mearly strayed from our ideal of reconciliation.Some liberals called evangelicals homophobic and equivalent to the Talibab.While evangelicals stated stated li berals owere not preaching the Gospel.
    Our church was in danger of falling into a crisis of division over the issue.Justin insisted we would have to find a safe way to work out the issues in a reconciled way without conflict,while he made his position quite clear.

    Marriage is between a man and a woman and sexual practice is only for marriage and this is the clear Biblical position.Such a view may be pastorally difficult but it’s what the Bible says! This was Justin’s position.

    In January 2004 ,Dean Irvine created space for a Sunday evening open conversation about homosexuality and marriage,in a generous ,friendly and prayerful approach to theological disagreement. Justin Welby led for the authority of scripture ,the canon precentor for the fact he had gay friends who were passionately devout evangelists. Of good behaviour.

    Justin replied if the success of his miistry depended on his own good behaviour it would have failed from start to finish. That it is God’s grace not his good behaviour that counts.God knows best and God speaks through scripture and obedience to scripture is the best way we can love God.

    Justin recognized there was great pain on both sides in this disagreement .He said he saw and felt the pain but added-

    ‘’But I come back to the fact that I believe at the bottom of my heart that what the Bible says is true …genital sex between people of the same gender is not permitted by the Bible’’Justin Welby addressing Coventry Cathedral

    The Coventry Cathedral debate was intended as a model for the whole church ,a debate between Christians passionate in their love for Jesus,to speak in transparency and integrity.Justin reflected ‘in God’s grace we managed to disagree without bitterness ,without rancour’’ .Justin said’’ we disagree on this one issue ,but we’re not going to let it break us’’

    I sincerely hope disagreements on what marriage is does not tear Christians apart.We should be united in Christ.We are one body because we all share in one bbread.We are one body and that body is Christ Jesus.

    Jesus is the Word incarnate.The Word is our Scripture,our Bible,our law. Is the world trying to tear Christians apart ,by pulling some of us away to it’s own secular standards of behaviour.Let we Christians stand together,not in obedience to the world which tempts us , but in obedience to God whom we love .

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