“Stand at the crossroads and look;
Ask for the ancient paths,
Ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.”
(Jer. 6:16 – NIV)
My last post was first in a series of posts addressing the fact that some evangelicals are discarding belief that the Bible defines homosexual activity as sin. This became more widespread shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage. Each of these posts simply distills a major point of the sermon “How is the Gospel at Stake in Same-Sex Marriage?” (July 12, 2015).
The Gospel is at Stake Because The Gospel is Publically Portrayed in Biblical Marriage
What is marriage, biblically speaking? Marriage is a good gift designed and given by our Creator God (Gen. 2-3). It is a covenant between one man and one woman and God. This institution predates any human government and is the result of God’s actions and revelation (explaining His actions) and not a social construct. In this covenant the two become one flesh in consummation of the marriage. God created man in His own image; male and female He created them. He then brought the woman to the man. What follows this foundational moment is a divine pronouncement:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31)
Marriage has several purposes. One purpose of marriage is procreation. “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’” Procreation is the product (if God so blesses) of the consummation of a marriage – the union of two complimentary image bearers, brought together, to be fruitful, to multiply, to recreate, if you would, even as God created them to produce another. This cannot be done in same-sex marriage.
In addition, and more to our point, marriage is not only the context for our sexuality to be enjoyed and to procreate, but it also portrays the intimacy of our union with Christ. This is made evident in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. Following his quotation of Genesis 2:24 above, the apostle then states:
“Now this mystery is profound, and I’m saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Eph. 5:32).
A mystery, in Paul’s writing, does not refer to something strange or beyond understanding. Rather, it refers to something previously not understood that has now been revealed; the Gentile~Jewish church, for example. What makes this mystery of marriage so profound is the knowledge that, the union between Christ and church is really the original model, and the marriage of a man and woman is a copy. That’s the mystery, that all along it was a copy of an ultimate reality, not simply a functional necessity. The ultimate reality and the only permanent marriage lasting into eternity is our profound and unbreakable spiritual union with Jesus Christ.
Within the union of a man and woman there are specific roles and gifts that are not arbitrary. They are not roles conjured up by Paul, Moses or any other human society. God in Holy Scripture has revealed the purpose of each role. God doesn’t do things willy-nilly. Everything has purpose and meaning and often represents a spiritual reality. In this case, human marriage is a picture in miniature of the relationship between Christ and His Church.
There are many implications to this that the church would do well to consider and reflect upon in terms of our own community before we go and try to fix fallen people outside. This is what makes adultery so abhorrent: because it lies about the covenant faithfulness of Christ to His beloved bride. This is what makes pre-marital sex so abhorrent: because it wants and demands part of what marriage represents (spiritual union), without the complete picture of the covenant commitment and loyalty of Christ in His beloved.
And this is what makes so-called same-sex marriage so abhorrent: because it lies about the reality of roles in the covenant that are rooted in the gift of gender in the creation of God – male and female.
Married couples are not simply partners in the Bible – they are husband and wife. They are two complementary image bearers fulfilling different roles, reflecting different spiritual truths: husband and wife, head and body, Christ and church. And this is what’s lost in the attempt to unite people of the same sex. Regardless of whether it is legal in any society or any nation at any time.
We’re not talking about the legality of same-sex unions. We are talking about what some are promoting within the church. The attempt to redefine marriage, within the church, as including same-sex partners is a gross distortion. Gone is the picture of Christ’s loving and sacrificial headship and authority over the church. Gone is the picture of the church’s humble submission to Christ as lord. Gone is the picture of the gospel imagery of our union with Christ. Gone is the picture of Christ’s headship seeking us, wooing us, laying down His life in order to sanctify us and bring us into a spiritual union with Him. All of that is gone when we set aside the reality of gender differences as a gift of God’s creation order.
Be assured, the gospel is at stake in same-sex marriage when all this is lost. But I hasten to add; it is also at stake in our sins of adultery and fornication within the church. It is hard to talk to outsiders when our own house is a mess. So let us humbly we remember that as well. Judgment begins with the household of God.