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July 01, 2015

Marriage, Redefined

Marriage- it’s just a word, I suppose. The Supreme Court ruling that states must recognize same-sex marriage redefined the word, in order to apply the Constitution. It was a stunning moment, really, centuries of history and cultural norms seemingly overturned by the stroke of a pen. Many celebrated and many grieved, but the word and the institution had already moved very far from the ideal we thought we practiced. The fifty percent failure (divorce) rate, re-marriages, cohabitation, and various sexual freedoms had already changed the meaning of the word for the culture at large. For a minority, it remained a traditional, meaningful, and even sacred institution. In the aftermath, we consider what the effects will be, beyond the obvious of gratifying half the country. Celebrations continued - even the President giddily lit up the White House - but the grief is destined to continue for a long time.

Traditional marriage was not defeated or abolished by this decision (though the Constitution suffered another defeat). The real losers are our children. They will be faced with a confusing array of relationships as never before. More and more, children will be deprived of the traditional family, where they are nurtured and normal roles are modeled. This, of course leads to more confusion about gender roles and relationships. The adults got what they want; the children are left with the ongoing consequences. And of course, there will undoubtedly be more infringement on the rights of Christians and Christian organizations. Religious liberty will be sacrificed. It isn’t a great surprise to Christians; it is part of the ongoing slide to secularism/humanism.

Christians support traditional marriage, and do so from a different perspective. Understand, Christians are those who believe in, have a relationship with, and try to follow God, through Jesus Christ. As such, our world view and our paradigm are at odds with the rest of the world: We believe we must yield to the commands of God, even to the denial of self. Yes, this is foolishness to many; it is foolishness, unless it is true. Of course, our culture has evolved to favor self. The person is in center and first place. All choices are of equal value, with fewer and fewer exceptions. This world view is godless, by definition unavailable to Christians. Christians would do well to recognize that we are in the minority in this country, perhaps one-third, being generous. This is not a Christian nation; we should be happy we can be Christians in this nation. But, over the marriage issue, we are fairly evenly split, so it is not just a Christian issue. When I see such an even split, I understand there is a genuine difference of opinion, and try to respect that. We are not homophobes; we do not fear you. We do fear what our collective morality can do to our society and nation.

We should acknowledge that we Christians (and the we includes me) have failed to model what we preach when it comes to marriage, and also, especially, when it comes to loving one another, which is our second-greatest command. We need to take notice. At this time, we should see the opportunity to be more Christ like in loving others and to specifically take Christian unions more seriously. Pastors and churches should examine their wedding practices. The church needs to be involved from engagement through to the end. If the words “marriage” and “wedding” have become devalued, we can perform Christian unions under some other name in meaningful ways. We can do better, and we will. This is just the most recent moral slide; it is not the end.
Even in the governmental arena, options remain, and are already being exercised. This is the time when states need to get out of the marriage business. It is unnecessary for states to issue marriage licenses and perform weddings. Under the new definition of marriage, individuals can and should be able to declare their relationships with whomever or whatever they wish in secular society. People already marry their pets; their marriages must be recognized in the same way. I believe the government should not interfere with polygamy (and how else would “bisexuals” fulfill their compulsion?). Governments should do away with marriage licensing and do away with special treatment for married individuals. It’s the law; we have to learn to live with it. Let them have the word; it's just a word.